A boiled egg is sliced in half. Its yolk is scooped out, flipped over and covered with dry soil, dead grass and dirty water. On the opposite side of this egg you’ll find the opposite of everything. This egg is my home. This egg is what home looks like.
I'm not on the fortunate side, the side known as "Kif." "Oh, how beautiful Kif is rumored to be," is what all the elders say. Their sun and moon are nothing like usual spheres; instead, a beautiful, pale face of a maiden, rumored to be of the purest essence. Her face, which forever radiates an unending shine, also seems to fabricate a song that none wish to mute; for even in a hushed tone, it is heard in the souls of those among the Kif residence. Good health and riches are prevalent in Kif. It's a wonder as to how one who is from Rue does not bathe in envy.
Here in Rue we are without a sun, moon, and maiden. We wander here like pagans of the night, with only the wretched glow of a deep, horrifyingly red eye cast before us like a gateway to Hell. It serves only one purpose: to illuminate Rue in its red glow, to watch us, threaten us, and challenge us. The people of Rue do not fear those that govern, no, they fear the eye. It drives some insane.
I'm Haydn. Haydn Gabrielle. I’m an eighteen year-old musician, born and raised in Rue. My father calls it a hobby, but for me, this is the real deal. He wants me to practice law, but COME ON! Who in their right mind would practice law in a city as corrupt as our own, where even the Supreme Court \ commits crimes and the mobsters sit on thrones. Well, he can forget it. Easy money, I'm sure. Trust me, I'm damn good at arguing and lying to suckers, but music is my passion. My guitar is auto-equipped to my soul, and making it big is my goal. I bet you didn't know that the winner of the city's talent show gets an all-expenses paid tour in Kif. For some odd reason the Kiffians adore our musicians. I mean I've never been there personally, but my father visited a long time ago with my mom when she was still pregnant with me. He met her on a business trip. She's originally from Kif, but she fell in love with him and they eloped there. Unfortunately, he couldn't stay there with her. He was deported after her parents found out about me, and was told he could visit her again when she gave birth. Then he'd have to take me and leave, forever. He doesn't like to talk about it.
I want to become a musician. I want to see my mother, and bestow upon her the face of that beautiful maiden that glimmers in the night's sky. I want to hear her sing and fall in love with a Kiffian. I want to play my music to them all.
"I want, I want, I want..."
I couldn't keep a tune. A ripped up lyric sheet stuck to my palm due to honey I spilled on the dresser in my room this morning. I was on my way to my favorite spot. It's technically restricted, but I go there anyway; a twisted mass of land forming a cliff that defies gravity. It gives the impression that you're sitting on top of the eye, below Kif' moon. That's where I am now. The acoustics are great here; a lot of famous musicians came to this very spot when they wanted to play. Here, you can just get away from it all. A lot of folks lack the balls to approach the cliff, so they sealed it off with caution tape in fear of children falling off. My question is: where would they fall? You certainly can’t fall into the sky. Anyway, about those lyrics. I'd have re-written them on a clean sheet, but I can't afford to waste paper. You see, the eye doesn't work like a sun. It doesn't give warmth or help plants grow. It just provides a light source. Here, we've managed to keep warm by boiling a whole bunch of water in a huge pot. It was found somewhere in the heart of Rue. Three times a day the roof of the yolk-like building opens up to release a gust of steam, which the city is submerged in. Three times a day, a wave of tiny water droplets dance all around Rue like red marbles, giving our skin a kiss of artificial warmth and moisture. Only the wealthy can afford heaters here. It's the wealthy that live in the yolk, so when the heat comes, the poor and working class are usually found outside somewhere, sitting on the dead grass or on a rooftop, laid out on their backs like the smaller kids in the winter when they make snow angels. They count the minutes of every hour until it's time for another wave of warm, red marbles. As sad as it may sound, the heat shower is probably the only thing that motivates a lot of folks to keep going.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I can't waste paper. We don't have a lot of trees. Without trees, we can't make paper, so the price of paper skyrockets. Now you're paying ten leaves for a sheet of paper. I don't mean tree leaves either. Leaves are what we call the currency around here: the money, the cash, the Ca-Chang! They're these paper-thin slices of black gold, cut and molded into the shape of a leaf with the capital's seal embedded into the middle. One leaf is probably the equivalent to one thousand earth dollars. I said probably. I don't know a lot about earth. I heard about the Kif' building spaceships on the news, and one of the places they've encountered is Earth. They have a round moon and a round sun. The humans' planet is unlike ours, almost completely covered in blue water. Their trees are green, at least for the most part. Earth isn't as pretty as Kif, but it's a lot better than Rue. Once again, though, I'm starting to ramble.
My feet swing back and forth over the cliff. They dangle like chimes in the wind, and I begin to play once more. I play whatever comes to mind, starting out with a little tune my father used to sing to me when I was younger. He'd get all hyped and pretend he was some big rock star, swinging his hands in the air and ripping at the strings of his air-guitar. It was sick! Then when he finished his guitar solo, he'd pass it to me, with a “yeah baby, blow them away Haydn!" I giggled every time. Dad hasn't been the same since then. Now he won't even look at another guitar. When the radio comes on he turns it off, and whenever I bring up my musician dreams, he completely shuts me down. Just thinking about it pisses me off. If he doesn't want to listen to music, fine, but he doesn't have the right to control my future career. I'm my own person!
With a sigh I elude my previous thoughts. This time I think of nothing, nothing but an empty void. The hand holding my guitar pick strums along the strings with it in simple, long notes. Soon it hype's and intensifies; an acoustic battle song. I'm at war with my father, myself. An empty void; I placed myself there.
“Haydn?” "Haydn is that you!?"
A hushed holler breaks the bubble of perplexity I placed myself in. Turning my head slowly, I could see my father, angry as usual,
Stomping towards me with a letter in his hand, my father grew near. He was a proper looking man. Cleaned up and polished, he stood six feet tall. He was slender but fit, with midnight, chest-length hair and golden eyes full of pain and wisdom. Women often found him to be gorgeous. Several times I caught his female and male colleagues flirting with him. He's a lawyer at a law firm in the yolk. He’s never lost a single case. For weeks he's been trying to get me into this hot-shot college at the bridge. The bridge is the link between Rue and Kif. It's how we get from one world to another. It's kind of like a rest stop for travelers, but there are a couple of fancy buildings there. There's no security guards or police, but you just can't walk into Kif all, "willy-dilly". The Maiden sends down a hologram of herself - full body; she grants you permission only if she has business with you or thinks you're worthy. You can't force your way into Kif because she's her own army. Four years ago a group of thugs, envious of Kif, tried to gun their way through, and she annihilated them. Skinless road kill gift wrapped in white coffins, she was even nice enough to engrave, "R.I.P" and their names on top. I wouldn't want to upset her, but I managed to upset my father again.
"Hayden! You know this area is restricted. Being here isn't only extremely dangerous- it's a felony. So hurry up and get down from there. I've got good news!"- His voice was warm, and he hadn't even greeted me. The cold expression on his face managed to mold into a smile, something I hadn't seen him do in years.
"Good news? Let’s hear it." With a tilt of my head, I replied. My feet lifted from the ground with a wobble, I turned to face him at the edge. My hands hugged around my instrument like a mother cradling her child, Something I don't quite remember.
"The school I enrolled you in over the summer replied, they think you're just the kind of girl they need. We did it, Haydn, You're in. You'll be a top scholar, elite!" I could tell he was trying to convince himself that this was both of our dreams by all the gesticulations, His hands constantly moving about when he talks as if he were some kind of cartoon character.
"Good for you dad, you got what you want. You must be so proud of yourself." I sighed, there was a hint of sarcasm in my words, but a part of me thought it was pretty sincere.
"It'll be good for you Haydn. We both know you're a little antisocial, but studying at the bridge will allow you to integrate with others from all around Rue, there will even be Kiffians." - He refined.
"Antisocial? People at my school can't even get me to shut up for a second!" I huffed. He weakly chuckled.
"I don’t know, dad..." I wanted to say something. I wanted to reject his offer, but I know he worked way too hard for this.
"Haydn," He interrupted. "I know this isn't something you want to do, but this is something you HAVE to do. You have to get out of rue. You'll be a lot safer at the bridge. Just trust me for once! Forget about the music, the fame, and your naive dream of being a musician. Forget about the talent show, this cliff and your mother. Please, forget about your mother. Hayden, you're going to the bridge. I already sent for your things while you were out here fooling around with that toy. “There was an uncomfortable base in his voice. His smile faded; the usual glare. Once again he was lecturing me.
“DAD, NO!" “I’m tired of living my life for you. In fact, I’m tired of acting like a princess so that you and your, "Acquaintances" won't think less of me. I already know I'm a freak! An abomination! Half Rue' and half Kiffian, I'm a monster! People stop and stare at me. They point and laugh, they call me different, well I don't care! I'm tired of living in the yolk with those pompous Rue' who think they're Kiffians, anyway! I'm tired of laughing at the Mayor's corny jokes, and playing the piano instead of my guitar during common hour." My fist shook with anger, but I wasn't prepared to use them. I just wanted him to hear me. I stood there before him, before my dad who slowly stalked closer.
I knew I wasn't normal. I stand out. Anybody could tell because I don't look like everybody else. Rue' have a distinct appearance: pale skin, dark hair, small bodies, black eyes, and plates, we have brain plates. Brain plates protect the skull from infractions; rectangular plates screwed to our skulls at birth with a black oval in the middle taking up most of our forehead. We get these because most Rue' are laborers. We work the mines, build the cities, and grow the crops. People in Kif don't have to work very hard because of this. They really don't need anything besides our black gold, black oak tree sap, and labor workers. All the hard work is up to us. Brain plates also tag you with your identification, and can be scanned with the appropriate equipment. Plates suppress and control our powers. We're physically stronger than Kiffians, we're faster, and we can jump pretty high, too. Kif' don't have brain plates; they have these thingies called, “Brain Wings." I read in a textbook somewhere during my senior year that brain wings hold a large storage of energy that helps the Kif' to defy their small size; the huge amount of energy in this compression has enough power to lift their bodies. The can basically levitate, and so can I. I was born with both a Plate and wings; I have a dark and light eye, and two sets of identification. It doesn't sound like that big a difference but if you saw me, and you saw them. You'd think otherwise.
One of my fists gripped my guitar shaft so tight it hurt and the other fist shook with anger. My father held onto my guitar with a sudden look of empathy and opened his mouth as if he were about to speak, then all of a sudden, he changed. You’d have thought my father was a ghost the way he moved so fast, and quietly. For a man I knew all my life, the closer he got, the more he started to resemble a stranger. I had to move back, but I was close, so close to the edge, I could feel myself slipping. He didn't say a single word, until eventually, when there wasn't anywhere else for me to go. He stopped moving. The expression on his face was so alien, one I've never seen before. Cold and angry like these hands, the one that hurt and the one that shook with anger. I wasn't prepared to use them, but maybe I should have because for a second there, I thought I lost him. This man was a monster, he wasn't my dad anymore. His hand reached out, closing in on me, and grabbed my guitar shaft. I held onto it tightly, I hugged it close to my chest and shook my head vigorously in disagreement.
“Dad what are you doing, let go! Come on, let go of it!" I pleaded with him. This isn't the first time he's confiscated one of my guitars. He's broken a few in his monthly fit whenever I skipped school to practice here, or brought up mom in an argument. This is my last guitar; this one’s my favorite. Caldera, I named it after my mother.
He didn't try to snatch it. He didn't tug, or yell. No warning or threats. He raised his hand with my guitar in his grasp, lifting it and me above the ground. Why was he so incredibly strong all of a sudden? The dad I knew begged me to open all spotted-slug pickle jars. My feet dangled like wind chimes, like car keys and tree ornaments. Looking down at him, with shock and despair, I didn't see my father, but he had the same face. For some reason it felt like the eye below us got a little brighter, and I felt warm inside. He took as step forward with me and Caldera, holding us both over the edge before he started to mumble.
“Calder, my love... Why did you leave me the burden of raising a rebellious child?" He released me.
His hand opened, and my body, in slow-motion picture sank down into space. It felt like a rock was stuck in my trachea because I couldn't speak. Tears were my response, and they flooded my sight. If my heart beats any faster, it could burst. “Act fast,” I thought, but couldn't remember how to levitate. I laid there, falling into the sky, tears rushing down my face. I lay there, falling; illuminated in the eye's red glow, like a tiny, red water marble.