“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire,
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.”
― Robert Frost
Zalia had long known this day was coming, the Summoning day. A birthday, she was told, had once been an occasion to celebrate and yet for her it was something she had dreaded most of her life. Her 16th year marked the time where she was of age to be evaluated sent to the academy for pairing. Her eyes glanced around her at the others who had reached their sixteenth year that month, there were only about ten of them in their sector and most of them she had known since birth. Their walk through the dusty grounds that had once been lush crop fields meant the edge of her white dress was growing greyer with each step she took towards the train. White clothes were customary for Summoning day a reminder of what you were being sent to achieve. The Kingdom of Westwell had placed the pairing law into effect after the great fire had destroyed everything, and almost everyone. Marriage was not only mandatory but it was arranged. Every surviving sixteen year old across the Sectors was rounded up and shipped to the Academy. It was there she would be evaluated and paired with a husband and they would be assigned employment, a sector and a reproduction schedule and once they turned eighteen they would be married and shipped off together. If her parents’ pairing was anything to go off of she doubted she would have an enjoyable life. Her father was a pleasant man, hardworking and cared for them as a father was meant to but her mother, her mother resented everything about her life and in turn Zalia and her siblings had been a target for her resentment. There was an upside to the academy, a life away from the daily poison her mother spewed at them in the form of hateful words, in slammed doors and passive aggressive actions. She would, perhaps miss her father in time and her siblings would be sent to their own lives, in time perhaps she would see them, or never again it didn’t matter much, it was no shock to her that this day had come, only the speed which it had arrived.
“So what do you think it’s like?” a voice spoke suddenly and it took a moment for her to realize the question had been directed to her. “The Academy I mean” her violet eyes settled on the boy beside her and she simply shrugged her shoulders.
“Efficient” she said a hint of sarcasm in her otherwise emotionless voice. She had no care what the academy was like; the venture wasn’t one of excitement, at least not for her.
“Well I’ve heard they’ve added an exception to the rules” he continued and her shoulders tensed as she closed her eyes. She was uncertain why he was talking to her, she was quite sure there was nothing about her that deemed her welcoming. “There’s been whispers that if you fall in love while in the academy, they’ll allow you to complete your own pairing” her eyes opened quickly and turned to the boy.
“Rubbish” she said hesitantly, she might have heard something of it herself if that had been going on. “they would never relinquish that power over us” she said angrily. Dreamers like him, gossipers did nothing more than give false hope to those where there was none. “And that is the only thing you can be sure to count on”