To Feel, A Modern Tale (04.17.11)

CHAPTER ONE <Click here for all of CHAPTER ONE.>

CHAPTER TWO <Click here for all of CHAPTER TWO.>

CHAPTER THREE <Click here for all of CHAPTER THREE.>

CHAPTER FOUR <Click here for all of CHAPTER FOUR.>

CHAPTER FIVE<Click here for all of CHAPTER FIVE.>

CHAPTER SIX

“Chloe!”

The young girl awoke with a start as her group leader Niman shouted her name. She had dreamt about it again, that place she knew yet had never traveled to. This was a common occurrence. She had found herself often dozing off during lessons as she grew bored. Bored with the same routines– same lectures in classes, same discussions, same projects assigned. Let us just get going so we can see it for ourselves, she thought to herself.

Ecker nudged his friend. “You fell asleep again, and she is not happy with you one bit,” he whispered with a scolding in his tone. “She’s not going to let you come with all of us to CarthMoore if you keep being disrespectful.”

Chloe looked at him with disgust and rolled her eyes. But she knew he was right. And all she had ever wanted to do since she could remember was go on an OTE. An Outlying Travel Exploratory, her teachers called it. She didn’t know what it was exactly but she knew they would finally get to witness the people, the places and the events they had heard so much about. At only eight years old, this would be Chloe’s first one ever. Ecker had been on only one other OTE before when he was younger than Chloe, but told his friend that he could not recall any of his earlier experience.

Niman moved to the front of the classroom and picked up her pointer, touching the image on the wall beside her. As the pointer tapped each part of the map, the image of the region expanded and the contents of that region popped out and hovered over the wall in surrounding holograms. “We will be investigating each of these locations in our search for witnessing the phenomenon in person,” she said facing the wall images and occasionally peering over her shoulder to glance at the students. “Are there any questions?” A few hands went up in the group. Niman pointed to one young boy near the front. “How long will we be there?” he asked.

“We expect to be there for one full day but that could be extended if we are successful in our expedition,” she said to the boy while she pulled out a few tablets from the bookcase behind her. “Each of you will take a tablet with you to record anything of interest that you find. And of course, you will be expected not to talk to anyone while you’re there unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

Great, Chloe thought. How can we be expected to learn anything at all unless we can talk to people. After all, we had spent all of these years working on our communications, only to stay silent on the off chance we can enter into a real conversation? It just didn’t make sense to Chloe.

“Any more questions?” Niman asked but turned away from the classroom, not noticing a few hands still raised. She gathered her belongings and leather satchel. “Okay, then, you may go back to your centers now.” And with that, she turned away from the students and exited the classroom.

Ecker turned to his friend with a smile stretched across his face. “I can’t wait to go,” he said as he picked up his tablet and shoved it into his backpack. “We’re finally going to see it for ourselves!” He piled the backpack over his shoulder and began to walk toward the door.

Chloe watched him walk away, completely swept up in his own enthusiasm. She too couldn’t wait to go on this journey that she had hoped for all these years. But she also felt a little afraid, for she knew that if this place she had yearned to visit all this time offered her the kind of life she had always dreamed about, that she could find herself doing the unthinkable. What if she chose to stay behind, she wondered to herself. It would mean leaving the only world she had ever known and her best friend Ecker. She couldn’t bear to think about it but knew that she would sacrifice anything if it meant the experience of knowing a family for the first time in her short, empty life.

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