| EXTRACTED FROM KNIJÄ TĀU /
HOME LOT 2807 OF 81SUB / 28.2.3450 | 11:27ppm |
| KNIJÄ: 16 YEARS OLD |
I stare into my reflection and, as always, uncertainty clogs my insides. From the moment I was able to articulate my thoughts, I knew I was different. Different from my Mūm, my Dād and everyone else. It’s as simple as it is puzzling: they don’t act, think or behave like meē. Or, perhaps, I don’t act, think or behave like them.
This is still something that’s difficult to process and, as I stare into my fake reflection, my U-chip realises that I’m reflecting on my life and my memorī tab automatically props open. A scene from pre-edūcation plays out in front of meē, the snippet captured from my own eyes. I watch.
I’ve just turned six and it’s the first daāy that I am on complete show to the world. It’s the first time that I will meet everyone and anyone, and I am both nervous and excited.
“Maybe I’ll find someone else like meē, Mūmmy,” I tug on her hand and she nods but doesn’t say anything.
“Remember to be on your best behaviour,” Dād says cheerfully and I grin proudly and give him a thumbs up.
The glass doors open and my young eyes widen. Watching the U-vid of the memorī in real time, I see a sea full of clones. Small U-mans copied and pasted and multiplied many times over. Young boys and girls who are uniform, compliant and well mannered. Who have filters and social tact. Who conform to all of society’s expectations. I had none of that then, and I still have none of that now.
Unlike the children who I see in the pixels, I have had to learn. Learn to only say polite and respectful comments, learn to monitor my thoughts, learn to act like a U-man.
“Hihi,” a girl a little shorter than the rest, with curly pigtails of white blonde hair, greets my younger self. “I am Hoslū.”
“I’m Knijä!” I see my younger-self wrap my arms around the young girl who is stunned at my forwardness.
“You just touched meē.” It isn’t an objection, it’s a statement. In fact, her voice has keenness to it.
“Sure,” my young voice echoes in my Receivers. “Can we be friends?”
“You are different,” Hoslū then says. Her eyes narrow like she’s processing this information, before her face lights up like a reset sky. “I like it!”
The memorī then dissolves away. My whole life has been about being different and about masking it. Masking meē. My parents explained to meē when I was young that a doctor came to them daāys after I was born to inform them of my difference and explain that I needed to blend in. Clearly they wanted more answers. But without a reason to attend our local sub’s memorial, neither my parents nor I have had the chance to meet or question the doctor again, or any other doctor for that matter.
We would have attended a memorial to speak to one, but speaking to a doctor or visiting a memorial is illegal unless it is by official appointment.
I’ve still got so many questions.
On the 2nd of each month I’m sent a package. The package is sent in the weirdest form, not through U-mail or U-file, but in a thing called cardboard. Inside this cardboard are my adjustments and paper. Paper is a one-dimensional platform that has no other purpose or use but to communicate something. It’s simply words on an unchangeable screen. Weird, but also kind of cool.
These papers always instruct meē, but never inform meē, of my purpose. “Follow the rules”. For what reason? What point? Why? The packages do nothing but generate more questions and I’ve had to settle on the realisation that nothing is ever going to be answered on my terms.
As I stand in front of the mirror in the wellroom and look at myself, I’m conflicted at what I see. From the outside I ‘blend in,’ but believe meē, it’s not easy. Everyone looks so, so perfect. U-mans are faultless, flawless, effortless and I posses none of those attributes.
Women are thin, with petite waists and long legs. They have even, plump and healthy creamy skin, shiny lustrous blonde hair that sweeps down their body and sky blū eyes. Men have broad shoulders and strong muscles, trimmed light hair, shimmering blū eyes, manicured facial hair and thick legs. I must be the first person ever to comment on the fact that they all appear the same. The differences are miniscule such as slighter longer eyelashes or a lighter shade of hair. Sometimes fashions are added in updates with the choice of a Peār Approved style modification option enabled, but even these happen infrequently, especially in an outer sub like the one I live in.
I’m completely different.
At times it can take three or fours hours to change meē. It usually takes up most of my reflect period. I start by lathering my entire body in cream, creating a second skin. Extra creams are applied to my forehead, under my eyes and on cheeks to make my complexion look clearer and ideal. I then cinch my waist. My human hips and waist are naturally wider and plumper. I am provided with a thing called a ‘corset’ that squeezes meē in, making it look like I have a female U-man’s silhouette. This process is both tedious and extremely painful. I sculpt my eyebrows, burying my dark hair under a thick layer of powder, before meticulously drawing new blonde ones over the top, an act that initially took weeks to perfect. I place plastic films over my eyes and adhere the tight blonde cap of hair over my forehead.
I’m now standing in front of the mirror, in the process of removing all of these adjustments just so that I can have a few moments where I’m not uncomfortable. When I do, I’m nothing like anyone has ever seen. My parents make meē apply my mask at the beginning of every reflect period and I have to re-adjust them at least four to five times a daāy. I stand over the Well and allow the Waterlite to run through my fingers. The temporary adhesives on the tips of my fingers and palms dissolve at the liquid’s touch, a light watery cream spilling down the drain from the paint that washes off my hands. I put my fingertips to my face and begin to wash away my disguise. I remove the contacts from my eyes. I pull the cap of Synthetī hair that is tightly fused to my head away. I run the Waterlite over every inch of my face and on all of my exposed skin. I remove the disguise that makes meē like everyone else and I stare into my reflection. My true reflection.
- The Cure will be published in full on Monday the 15th of August.
- The Cure is written by J. R Knight, illustrated by Paul Ikin and edited by Kayla Marie Murphy.
- The first 15 instalments of The Cure will be published week by week on The Knight Life. The next instalment will continue this coming Monday.
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