I am number 5502338491211465810223849455568101000234818679. I have not earned a name or the right to be a Person yet. Not everyone makes it. You get a chance to try when you turn eighteen, and if you are talented you get to pick a name out.
Karen Elizabeth. Ren for short. I am determined to earn that name one day. No one can know that, though. I am a number. Numbers are not allowed to feel anything unless they get promoted to People. Only People are allowed to feel or have any interests. Numbers just go about their days doing what people tell them to do.
We are not allowed to dislike anything People tell us to do. This is essentially a useless rule. Numbers are not allowed to feel anything or have any opinions anyway. No one would dislike anything. It would not be possible. People would rather be cautious, though. They want to be sure there are no loopholes to manipulate so they can keep us numbers under control.
Each number is tested by People at an early age to see what they have an affinity for. That is the only thing we are allowed to like; the one thing we must like. I do not, though. My affinity is for math. I dislike math, but its structure and predictability make it easy. To my knowledge no other number has ever disliked their affinity. Whether that is due to the fact that we are only allowed to like it, or that People drill into our heads that our affinity is our only chance at ever becoming a Person I do not know.
Yet another crime I am secretly guilty of. I do not believe the People who told us that. Everything People tell us is supposed to be absolute and go unquestioned. That statement in itself is inconceivable. People are allowed to have opinions and constantly contradict each other.
The bell rings, making me realize I zoned out all of math class, but that is alright. Math is my affinity. I will not have any trouble.
As I stand I feel a rush of dizziness to my head and I grab a chair to steady myself. I say nothing though. It is not my place to do so. Instead, I gather myself and walk towards my art class.
That thought alone has me fighting the illegal smile that threatens to spread across my face. Drawing and painting may not be considered my affinity, but it is what I love. At school we can not draw or paint anything creative or original. Everyone has to make the same copy-paste picture of whatever object it is the teacher decides on.
Creative thought is forbidden at home as well, but that is yet another rule I ignore. I lock myself in my room for hours on end, sketching and drawing and painting. All original and expressive. All projecting the darkness and oppression People place on numbers every day, even if I am the only one who can actually feel it.
I take my seat in art and pull out my pastels to begin outlining my copy of the picture of a tree hanging at the front of the room. All numbers with art affinities were done days ago, all cookie-cutter copies. When it is finished, mine will be unique. Generally unique is frowned upon in numbers, but it will be taken as a lack of skill seeing as art is not my affinity.
Another, more intense wave of dizziness hits me as I put the pastel down. I clutch my head and wait for it to pass. When it finally does, I pull out my paint set to color in the lines.
That does not last long. I smear a long thick line of brown paint across my work as I fall to the floor, completely incapacitated by the blinding dizziness.
I hear my teacher pick up the phone. "It's done. Be careful with that one. That's the largest dose I've ever had to give any number." The other numbers around me just continue to work as if nothing is going on as my grip on consciousness slips away.