I tapped my pencil on the edge of my spiral notebook, clicking my tongue as I look down at the sketch on the paper. I pursed my lips, spinning my grandma's ring around on my finger. The metal scrapping the pads of my fingers as it went in circles. Going around and round, on my skin. I took it off, placing it on my bag, my skin turning red with irritation.
The stream in front of me trickled, the sound of water running over rocks soothed me. Today was my very first Culling. I was terrified, but my chances of being chosen were slim to none. I had only one slip in the pool. My older brother made sure if we needed anything extra, he put his name in instead, lessening my chances of being taken away to become a slave to the Beasts.
But still, that one slip being in there made my nerves skyrocket, fear of being chosen causing collapse to my every atom. I've heard of girls being chosen out of the pool with a single slip before. I've heard of girls being chosen their last year, their first, every disadvantage, or every hope. They seem to take that away. Some never get chosen, who gets to move on with their lives, who get to have children, who get to grow old with their families. I prayed that I was one of those people. I had so many hopes and dreams, I was so young but I knew that I wanted more in life.
I heard movement behind me, causing me to jump. I turned to see a small little squirrel, looking as equally frightened as me. I held my chest, chucking at the feeble soul. "You poor thing," I giggled, looking at the furry creature, "I'm sorry if I scared you. But you scared me too." I smiled, looking back down at my book.
"Amelia!" My brother's voice called to me from further up the stream. My head snapped in the direction of my brother's voice and I immediately began to pack up my things. "Sorry little guy, but I gotta go." I sighed, sliding down from the rock perch I sat on. "Maybe I'll see you some other time." I reached for my grandma's ring, gasping when I realized that it was gone. "Oh no!" I whispered to myself, scrambling around to see where the family relic had gotten off to. "Oh no, oh no, oh no." I panicked, searching high and low as my brother called my name yet again, "Coming!" I shouted back, my irritation growing. "Shit." I cursed, giving up. I was in deep crap, already sensing my father's tirade.
I palmed my face, quickly slinging my bag over my shoulder and heading down the small creek to my waiting brother. "I lost grandmas ring," I grumbled. By the look on his face, he didn't seem to care too much. "It doesn't surprise me." He joked. I rolled my eyes, "Dad's gonna kill me." I whispered, head hanging in shame. "I'm sure it'll be here tomorrow or the next day. No one comes out here, just the one crazy girl who likes to draw the same spot of the creek." He nudged me, ruffling my hair. I smiled, his reassurance filling me to the brim with happiness.
That was the last time I got to see my brother. That very evening, he was chosen to be the Culling. I felt a part of me left with him, as they pulled him away from me. My family was never the same, everything seems to spiral downward out of control. My brother was the glue to our family and I tried desperately to keep it together, but I failed. The following year, my childhood best friend and someone I thought to be my sister was chosen. The next, some girl who was two years younger than I. The year after that, another boy who was on his last year.
And now, this was my last year, and I wouldn't let my sister be chosen. I knew that if anyone was going to go, it would be me. I would not let her go anywhere near those beasts who decided that this was what was best for the humans.