31 DaysDay 5: LIFE STORY {the prompt follows at the end of this post}

{start}

The Truthseekers

Ruth sat with her back against the wall and took in the other candidates. There were fewer of them now and she wondered where those who went into the Sealed Room already had gone when they finished. There were rumors, of course, but she tended not to believe most of what the Mentors told them. She’d long since figured out that they liked to feed misinformation to the candidates and watch the panic build into a frenzy. Ruth was pretty sure it was one of the ways they weeded out the candidates long before they ever even entered the Sealed Room.

Across from her, slouched forward with her head resting on arms wrapped tightly around her legs, sat Ruth’s childhood friend Vivian. She wondered what Vivian was thinking right now and wished she could move next to her friend, but knew that to draw the attention of the Mentors at this point was a grim fate. She’d seen more than one candidate escorted aggressively from the hall. Instead, Ruth leaned her head against the cinder blocks, closed her eyes and let her mind drift over her 16 years in the Colony.

Even though she’d heard stories of a life of freedoms before the Colony, Ruth had lived only under the control of the Mentors since she entered school at the age of five. Life before the school was nothing but a filmy memory, like peering through gauzy muslin and trying to define details of a room. It was like her life started only after she entered the school.

That’s when she met Vivian. From the first moment she knew Vivian was different, like her, and she trusted her instantly. She felt Vivian’s hand in hers after lights out during their first year. The comfort, the friendship, of another person, which she would learn was strictly frowned upon, made that first year bearable. As hard as the days were, the nights were worse. Back then, Vivian and Ruth often fell for the lies the Mentors fed them. Stories of masked rebels who sought to steal young girls from the school. Well-placed screams caused Ruth and Vivian to squeeze each others’ hands across the aisle that separated their beds and tremble.

One night, in their third year, Ruth woke to find her hand draped on the floor, Vivian’s bed empty. For weeks after she returned Vivian turned toward the wall, curled into a ball, not offering her hand to Ruth in the dark. The candidates were assigned roles by the third year, when they turned eight. Ruth was assigned to the Historians where she spent her days recording events of the past onto scrolls. Vivian was assigned to the Researchers. Except for the fact that the Researchers worked with weaker candidates, Ruth didn’t know what Vivian did during the day.

In their fifth year Ruth began piecing together a history that was not part of her role or the scrolls she recorded. The Colony was a controlled environment, a sterile environment, a place where differences and thoughts and expression were not only frowned upon, they were considered criminal activity. Apparently, since the Colony began its rule, crime rates had all but disappeared.

And yet fear remained constant, so much a way of life, Ruth almost failed to notice it sometimes. She spent so much time with her eyes down, challenging nothing, following the rules and worrying about being singled out that she was a perfect Candidate. Until the night she came across Vivian in the bathroom sobbing silently while the shower ran over her fully clothed body. Ruth didn’t remember the last time she’d seen anybody cry.

Without thinking, she crouched beside her friend and touched her shoulder lightly and Vivian started. Their whispers were drowned out by the showers and in those few minutes, Ruth pieced together a new picture of the Colony. And she formed a plan for the coming days, for the days leading up to her time in the Sealed Room. At the time there were still five years before she and Vivian would be called into the Room, but Ruth knew it would take that long to put her plan into action.

She returned to her work with the Historians and she towed the line as she always had; at least on the outside. A year after that night in the showers, Ruth requested a transfer to the Researchers. She petitioned the Mentors using their own tactics and received a transfer and access to the weaker Candidates. Now, Ruth and Vivian worked side by side, never speaking but trading secrets out of sight of their fellow Candidates and the Mentors. Ruth began recruiting other Candidates. She created a code name for herself and trembled when she heard the Mentors discussing her in front of her.

So often the Mentors insisted that she had been stopped by the Colony, feeding lies to the Candidates that she had been tortured, crucified, thrown into the sea. Ruth knew these lies could easily become true but she continue her efforts to recruit and grow an army of Truthseekers. She devised means of communication that allowed her to reach all members of the Seekers without detection.

There had been close calls. Several more zealous members of the Truthseekers moved too quickly, were not careful and were arrested. Ruth wondered if they would come for her, but they never had. She still wondered what happened to those friends.

Today, she watched as several members of the Truthseekers entered the Sealed Room. She knew what they would do in the Room, but she could not predict the reaction of the Mentors. Rumors zipped up and down the row of candidates of arrests and torture and that the Colony was closing in on the Seeker who’d started this rebellion. Ruth breathed deeply, in and out, in and out.

Vivian’s name was called and she lifted her head. For one brief moment her eyes locked on Ruth’s and the two were first-year students again, holding hands across the aisle between their beds. Vivian raised up to her full height, head high and one quick tug at one corner of her mouth and Ruth blinked slowly, their sign of friendship, of love, of seeking the truth.

And then Vivian turned and walked into the Sealed Room and the door clanged loudly behind her.

{stop}

{Just a reminder, we try to keep these writing exercises to 30 minutes maximum. And I will say that in order to keep my writing within the 15 to 30 minute time, I have created a playlist on Spotify that allows me to put together songs that come close to 30 minutes. When the final note plays on the last song…I stop writing.}

Writing Prompt: LIFE STORY – write a short first-person story of someone’s entire life. Make the sentences islands of themselves, the scene of action, and detail. Don’t worry about making “sense” from sentence to sentence; create a trail of footprints for the reader to follow. Focus on the details that reveal the personality and the changes in personality of this character. {Exercise 94 from The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction by Brian Kiteley; note, this is an affiliate link}

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8 thoughts on “The Truthseekers

  1. At first when I scanned, it looked too long to read. But since I like truth seekers, I read it anyway. I like the story and how it was developed to the final scene. Keep writing.

    1. I think it looked pretty long, too, and because it didn’t have any dialog, I might have considered skimming it had I come across something similar elsewhere.

      Thank you for taking time to read it.

      These exercises are quite helpful to me in learning to focus on different aspects of developing and telling my stories and this one definitely stretched me a bit.

    1. Thank you, Michele, for your words of encouragement each day. I appreciate that you’re reading my stories and giving me encouraging feedback.

  2. Cliffhanger! This one had a Divergent feel to it. There has been a trend as of late with these type of themes in the movie from recent books. I could easily see this as one of these as well.

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