A for alizarin, the liquid that fills the syringe and blends with her blood every morning. Her eyes are blank as she stares at the ceiling. The paint is peeling, she notices apathetically. The needle pierces into her vein and the drug blends into her bloodstream.
B for betrayal, the black tendrils that twisted through her heart and polluted her brain when she was merely a child. A trade, they had said, it’ll be better for all of you. Your daughter for your guaranteed security; these are dangerous times. No hesitation, just an exchanging of hands.
C for climacteric, the critical point in her life that is missing. White, the walls that block her in. White, the ceiling that crumbles day by day. White, immaculately swept, the floor that completes her prisonlike cell and restricts her from her life. She doesn’t remember what life is, but she believes them.
D for dacnomania, the consuming obsession to kill, the consuming obsession to not only kill but completely annihilate any dwindling sprouts of chaos, any possible signs of pandemonium.
E for eternal, the time that she will be working for them. She sits at the screen for every waking hour, watching the expressions of people she does not know and listening to voices of people she does not know. Her eyes are blank. A hand rests lightly over the red button by her side, the only drop of vibrancy in the blankness of her confining room. Funny, she thinks, because the button takes away the vibrancy of those whom she is unfamiliar with.
F for forgotten, a reflection of who she is and who she will be. As the night approaches—or at least, that’s what the clock says; she hasn’t looked out of a window since she was younger than she can remember—her memories, or are they dreams, flash. Just a flicker, so temporary, so fleeting. Then the needle is back, silver and red sliding into her bloodstream. They disappear. It doesn’t really matter.
G for glorious; they say they are glorious. She believes them.
H for home, a word that rings no bells. They say it’s unimportant, it’s trivial, it’s pointless, and she listens to their quiet commands and soothing, lush voice and nods her head.
I for illuminated, the screen that she stares at day after day. The strangers look around and whisper quietly, suspiciously; a paper slips between their hands. The button goes down. They will never be seen again.
J for journey, what she lacks but never searches for, what she watches and never joins. She watches what’s outside. She never joins. How can she, when they are always watching? But a worry never crosses her mind, because she believes them.
K for kingdom, the massively perfect institution that has risen around them and now controls the country. Privacy is exchanged for order. Freedom is exchanged for safety. They are watching; she is part of them. She is the one who presses the button, who reinforces the laws, who watches with a careful eye and cannot afford a single slip up. Everything is built upon the foundation in which she reinforces.
L for lilting, the way their voices drift over the speakers. She never sees them, but the voice is melodious and gentle yet dominating. It is a voice that is familiar and that she understands, so she simply doesn’t understand why the strangers wince when the speakers begin to crackle. She believes them.
M for malison, the curse that slips out of his mouth when the drug begins to falter. He watches as she sits at her screen, looking for any sign of disruption. A flicker of interest appears in her eyes, just the slightest glimmer of confusion, and he flicks his hand airily. The man in the white coat disappears from his side and he watches as the syringe punctures her wrist.
N for non negotiable, the deal that he has cut out with the parents. He informs them out of pure kindheartedness and they beg to take her back, she’ll never cause any trouble, they’ve regretted the trade ever since that fateful day. Regret, he hears, and the parents’ voices over the line fall silent. He presses the button next to his hand. Those who regret won’t be heard from again.
O for open, the way her mind feels though the needle keeps coming back. Just to make sure, the man in the white coat says. She believes him, though something in her gut whispers words of doubt.
P for promise, the words of anger that escape his mouth. Her eyes gleam with newfound knowledge and she watches with a quiet curiosity that must be exterminated. He must paint the expression of intent across her face and sear the message into her mind. Intent to kill, intent to destroy, intent to annihilate.
Q for quiet, her mental state after an indeterminable amount of time at the screen. It used to be blank, but now the strangers seem less strange and the Outside seems vaster.
R for rage, a shroud that swirls around the man and displays his ill will in the open. He watches as she stares at the screen, head slightly tilted and mindfully curious. The drug is almost obsolete; he knows when two men pass a paper across the screen and the red button remains untouched. The man in the white coat returns, empty syringe in hand. Her eyes remain clear.
S for surprise, the way her eyes open just a bit wider when she sees the signal that the stranger flashes. Three fingers up, thumb and index finger curled down. There’s a slight nod from the woman beside him, barely distinguishable, and her hand curls into the same signal. The button remains untouched as she stares, mouth agape. There is order outside of the system that they have established, no matter how slight that order. The strangers seem free. He stares in disbelief and slams his hands on the table, shaking from the anger that claws at his eyes and blinds him. Seize her.
T for tracker; she was a tracker, but she was being tracked. She is led into the man’s room, extremely confused and slightly suspicious. The drug has not been administered for a long time. She can feel the blood pounding in her heart when she sees his screen—is that her empty chair?
U for unprecedented; she sees this man for the first time. He smiles grimly, a harsh red line twisting across his pale face. The fluorescent lights do nothing to flatter him, but perhaps this is the way he wants to look: dark hair, slender face with a ghostly pallor, piercing eyes that radiate nothing but cold.
V for “Very bold, dear. How daring of you to hold your little rebellion against me; your growing immunity has surely served you well.” His voice, just as gentle as she remembers, clashes with the expression on his face as he drawls out his words. A quiet snap, and the man in the white coat reappears at his side. The syringe lies unhidden in his open hands, dark liquid sloshing gently inside.
W for waiting, and it feels like forever as she squeezes her eyes shut. A shorter forever than staying in that room, but her eyes jolt open when cold metal cuffs slide around her wrist. Orders are being followed because the institution cannot lose its power. Any yielding, any allowance for the birth of chaos must be destroyed.
X for xenophobia; her fear and confusion towards strangers disappears when she realizes that the people she has believed for so long are to be trusted even less. Her shoes click against the marble floor as she is led down the hall, bullet shots in the silence.
Y for you, the person she yearns so desperately for, the person she has never seen, the person she does not know. Perhaps you can tell her where she’s going. Perhaps you can tell her what her fate will be. Perhaps you will save her from the life—or lack thereof—that she’s been strangled in for so long. No idea? It’s too late anyways.
Z for zephyr, the slight wind that caresses her face when she steps Outside. It’s stunning. She’s never seen a color as pure and innocent as the blue of the sky, or as dazzling as the radiant yellow of the sun, or the green grass that yields under her feet. The guard kicks her behind the knees and she buckles, landing softly on the ground. Face forward, and his voice is gruff yet it cannot dampen her spirits when the carefree birds are chirping so prettily. She doesn’t dare turn to the man in fear that if she looks away from the beauty in front of her, it will disappear in a snap of the fingers. The sun blinds her temporarily; she sees nothing but a plane of white. Click. It’s cold against the back of her head and she freezes. The man pulls the trigger just as her sight is coming back to her.
She’s right; her freedom disappears in a snap of the fingers. She doesn’t even have to turn away to see it vanish.