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How long can someone live when they are locked up? Can a human survive in a cage for their entire lives? These questions are the reason I am here. I am a Dispensable, a name for the people society has no use for. We come here to the Labs where scientists hook us up to machines and then use us to answer their own questions. You are born a Dispensable. The world is overcrowded, so every family is only allowed to have one child. If they have another, that child becomes a Dispensable. I was an accident; I never knew my parents, but I heard that they were sad to give me up. I don’t believe that.
“Dispensable 10?” My scientist called. Oh, I forgot to mention that we don’t have names, but I always thought I was an Anne. We have numbers, 1 – 10. You see, the lifeline of a Dispensable is anywhere between a day to five years, depending on the experiment. Dispensable names are all reused. For example, there are always ten Dispensables, and when Dispensable 1 dies, a new one is brought in and named Dispensable 1. I am the 2000th Dispensable 10. Hopefully, I will be lucky enough to live longer than others.
“Come here Dispensable 10.”
I went. There was a big box on a table. The box was metal with two little windows, barred windows, on either side. There a little door on the door, for food I guess.
“Get in the box.”
Excuse me? That was my first thought. My second thought was, there goes my chance of living five years. But I got in. A Dispensable must always obey.
The box was pretty big. I could sit up straight and stretch my legs out, but I couldn’t stand up or lay down. There was a pillow and blanket inside the box, along with some books.
“Do I get more books when I finish those?” I asked, timidly.
“Of course. You will also get paper and pens to write down everything you experience.”
I sighed. That’s all I was, a scientific experiment. I picked up a book. It was called Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. There were also four others by her, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, and The Host. I had read about these books in antique stores. They were written hundreds of years ago in 2009! The Host had a promising sound so I picked that book up and started reading. I lost myself in the book until my stomach growled. Do I get food in here? Then, as though my scientist read my mind, the little door opened and a tray of food slid in. I dug in hungrily. And it wasn’t even real food. It’s that mush they serve prisoners and I had an urge to throw up, but I didn’t. It was all I get, so I better get used to it. A bottle of water slid in and I gulped at it. It was fresh water and I was grateful.
Several days past and I finished reading all the books and requested more. Nothing came. My life was becoming boring. I wanted to stretch my legs and breathe fresh air. When I looked out my barred windows, all I saw was the Lab filled with other Dispensables. Life was passing on while I was stuck in a box. I turned my thoughts to my childhood.
I grew up in the Dispensable Home. Well, you could call it a home, or you could call it a shabby building that could catch on fire at any time. I lived there with about 200 other Dispensables and we were camped together and we all hated each other. I only had one close friend, he had no number, but I thought of him as an Alex. He had the greenest eyes and the blackest hair you will ever find. He was sweet and nice and he was the seventh child in his family. His brothers were in the Home with us and they all looked really alike… but Alex was the prettiest of all. I can’t really say if I loved him or not, but I think I might have. It’s too late now. Alex is dead, he was sent to the Lab, here, a year before me and has already been replaced. All his other siblings are gone too, but rumors say that his parents keep having more children.
I had some other friends at the Home, but none of them really liked me. We just stuck together because we knew that we would be sent to the Lab together. Now two of the girls are in experiments and I’m not quite sure what happened to the third girl.
Hmm… When did Alex and I become friends? We are the same age, so he arrived at the Home around the time I did. At that time we were only two years old. As we got older, I started noticing him a lot. He was very handsome and, well, a lot of girls noticed him. Alex always hung around his older brothers and their friends. In other words, he was out of my league. Way out, but that didn’t stop me from talking to him. I was thirteen and blooming. Life was going well for me. I had some friends and I was already beautiful, so I decided that it was time to make a move.
“Hey.” I had said to him as I walked past to my lunch table.
All the girls in the lunchroom were silent. I was almost as though I was committing social suicide. Well, if he didn’t reply I would be. But he said, “Hey.” And then smiled at me. It wasn’t a pity smile, but a real smile. I grinned to myself and walked towards the lunch table. Everyone was glaring at me and I knew why. They were jealous. Simple answer. It wasn’t like I was going to start dating him, it was just a “hey”!
That all changed when we started saying “hey” to each other every day. Then we started saying “hey” to me outside of the lunchroom. We started talking more and one day he sat with me! The other girls were all over in a second, but he ignored them and we had a very down to earth talk about ourselves. He was so sweet and I was falling hard for him. To all the other girls’ amazement, he asked me to sit with him the next day. With his brother! And all the other older guys. I was surprised and very pleased. We became closer and closer, but he never asked me out. My heart was flying, but my head knew that we were meant to be just friends.
I was snapped out of the memory by more food sliding in. Time had stopped for me. Everyday was the same. Sleep, eat, dream, eat, sleep. I know you are wondering where I relieved my… fluids… Well, before I entered the box, I was given an injection. Apparently, it takes care of my… fluids…
What seemed like years passed and I was getting sick and tired of sitting in a box. My mind was made up. I had to escape. There were no sounds outside, so I guessed it was nighttime. The scientists all slept several miles from the Lab. Time to make my move. Somehow, I had to get my hand through that little door, reach up to the handle of the big door and open it. Well, can’t hurt to try.
My hand fit easily through the little door. It was painful to stretch my arm so far, but finally I got a firm grip on the handle and pulled. Surprisingly, the door wasn’t locked. It slid open and I fell out, landing with a quiet thump. I tried to stand up, but after being in the box for so long, my legs were very weak. I gripped the table and pulled myself up, grimacing. How could I escape in this condition?
Suddenly, all the lights went on.
“Congratulations!” A loud voice boomed. “You have successfully passed the entrance exam.”
“What?” I yelled. “What entrance exam?”
“You are now free to become a normal person.”
I gasped. “Are you kidding me? I can’t even WALK!”
“Someone is coming to get you.”
“Okay…” I mumbled and tumbled to the ground.
I heard brisk footsteps and a voice called. “Dispensable 10?”
That voice was so familiar. I looked up and saw green eyes. It was Alex! Or whatever his name is now…
“Yes?” I mumbled. “Do you remember me?”
“Huh? No, I don’t. I am an official helper and will settle you into your new home. From now on your name shall me Anne and I am Alex. My wife, Natasha, is waiting outside in the car.”
At the word wife, my heart sank to my knees and I started sobbing. He picked me up and dumped me in the car. Now, I am Anne and I am a normal person, not a Dispensable. I decided to work at the Dispensable Home and give names to all the children. My life is well and I haven’t seen Alex since he left me at my new, now old, house. I still miss him, but I have learned to move on, from him, and from Dispensable 10.
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