Matched Chapter 27

With all the tension in the air, Cassia is stressed. Probably because she’s never felt stress before and it’s entirely new to her. How does she deal with it? By meeting with Ky on a hill? That’s a very good guess and you’d normally be right. Ally, however, opted to shake things up. Not much mind you, but a little.

We open with the scene where the protagonist is exercising hard. Think any action movie where the character is unable to resolve their problem so they abuse themselves until they bleed, like in Soldier with Kurt Russell where he beats a muffler until his hands are pulped. Now dial it back about from bloody knuckles down to getting a stitch in his side while on a treadmill.

Warning. Warning. The light on the tracker flashes and words scroll across the screen. You have reached maximum speed earlier than recommended for this exercise session.

Not only does Ally use that scene and dumb it down but she has to have a computer tell us that Cassia is pushing herself. A good author would show us and it should be easy, especially in first person. But no, that’s too hard. It’s easier to create a puppet/talking computer and talk to the audience directly through it. ‘Cassia is really troubled, guys! She has problems and stress, identify with her!’

What’s even dumber is that Cassia knows she’s being monitored. So why not just run off the treadmill? Because then it wouldn’t be dramatic. She falls down, bleeds a bit and gets back on while telling us no one will know. Then she goes home and her dad says there’s a message for her on this thing called facebook.

The sorting Officials wait on the screen. “Your sort looks excellent,” the blond Official tells me. “Congratulations on passing the test. I’m sure you’ll hear news regarding your work position soon.”

I nod my head, sweat dripping off me and blood from my cuts running down my knees and my arms. She can only see the sweat, I think to myself. I tug my sleeves down a little to make sure they cover everything, so that no one will know that I am injured and bloody.

Ally has been avoiding it for awhile but no hack can keep their Unicus in check for long. Cassia is a special snowflake and the only person who’s ever sorted something so well. A parade will be held in her honor, computer generated singers will shower her in praise and thousands will be made to hold up signs declaring her their new messiah. They ask Cassia if she’s sure about her sort and asks if there aren’t any changes she’d like made.

My last chance to take back what I’ve done. I almost say it. I have his number memorized; it would be so easy. Then I remember what she told me about life expectancy, and the words turn to rocks in my mouth and I can’t speak around them.

The words turn into rocks? That makes me think that someone is mumbling rather than unable to speak. I really do wonder if the editor going over this was just skimming while submitting her resume for something that didn’t punish her for being literate. Cassia’s dad overhears this, congratulates her on being so awesome and then stands there while Cassia prepares a non sequitur. She asks him if he’s ever doubted that he was meant to be with her mom or almost does before stopping herself.

“Never mind,” I say, because I think I already know the answer. Of course he didn’t. They fell in love immediately and never looked back.

Of course, Cassia. Because you are the only person in the history of the world to doubt your “Match”. Then she goes to her room and starts looking through her things for her silver match box. Apparently Cassia has a lot of stuff to look through because it takes her awhile. I wouldn’t think it would take long to find the only possession that isn’t clothing in your room but I also haven’t been going to a phrenologist to fix my temperament and hysteria.

Cassia’s mom shows up and also toy with the idea of speaking about things that make sense. While Cassia is looking at her scrap of dress, her mom says that there used to be colored glass where people lived or worshipped. Cassia says she knows and her mom says she knows she knows but she’s tired. Yes, being tired often causes you to tell people things that you know they know. It’s why when I’m exhausted I’ll often go around reminding people that a square has to be equal on all sides and that cats are a domesticated feline used as pets.

For no apparent reason, Cassia’s mom has her dress sample just hanging around. Cassia puts them up on the windowsill to look at the light filtering through them. Cassia’s mom, says she imagines they looked something like that. Then Cassia goes on about feeling like she’s trapped in glass and wants to break out. You know, exactly like the cover art on the book.

Then Cassia’s mom demonstrate her plot specific telepathy. She says that she’s been watching Cassia fall in love but hasn’t been worried about it because it was shortly after her match. But then she noticed that she wasn’t spending time with Xander and came to the only conclusion that she could because the author dropped the knowledge right into her head. That Cassia is in love with someone else.

I hate when secondary characters just know things like this. Cassia’s mom has been busy doing stupid assignments to the government, she hasn’t been home for the past few weeks to observe Cassia. And yet she can just tell that Cassia’s not only in love but in love with someone that’s not Xander. Often because the author wants a character to help them but doesn’t want to write out the conversation between the two characters. Here’s a tip, Ally, you could just explain it in a single line. ‘Cassia could no longer take it. She told her mother about Xander, Ky and everything.’ Ok, that was two lines but it still works.

“Cassia,” she tells me, and the love in her eyes for me is pure and true and that’s what makes her next words cut deep, because I know she has my best interests at heart. “I’m married to someone wonderful. I have two beautiful children and a job I love. It’s a good life.” She holds out the piece of blue satin. “Do you know what would happen if I broke this glass?”

More of the old tell not show. Her mom can tell Cassia’s been falling in love but no signs are present for us. Cassia’s mom has love in her eyes and it’s pure and true, so says the author. You don’t have the credibility to sell us on that, Ally, so quit it. And quit it with the faux symbolism already!

Cassia’s mom says it would be ruined then goes off on a tangent about how the trees being cut down wasn’t a warning , just something that needed to be done. Then she tells Cassia about what she’s been up to the past few weeks. You know, the same few weeks she spent away while watching her daughter fall in love. She and a few biologists were dragged out to look at new crops showing up in the outskirts. One was a flower and the other was wild carrot and the government wanted to know if it was a viable food crop. Cassia says that makes sense because no one knows how to farm things entirely so that way they’re dependent on each other. Because farming is impossible to figure out on your own. Just ask the people that managed it without the aid of the internet or the written word.

So two of her colleagues filed conflicting reports; one saying they were trying to grow food and the other saying they just liked the pretty flowers. Cassia’s mom took a second trip “to be sure” and then decided he had to report the truth because it’s her job and her duty and it would keep them safe. Then Cassia goes to her room, finds her box and thinks about how different things would be if Ky hadn’t appeared on screen. Why she would be almost exactly the same kind of snotty brat she’s always been.

Lying in bed, my body and soul bruised and tired, I realize that the Officials are right. Once you want something, everything changes. Now I want everything. More and more and more. I want to pick my work position. Marry who I choose. Eat pie for breakfast and run down a real street instead of on a tracker. Go fast when I want and slow when I want. Decide which poems I want to read and what words I want to write. There is so much that I want. I feel it so much that I am water, a river of want, pooled in the shape of a girl named Cassia.

Most of all I want Ky.

A river of want that’s pooled? Wow, just, wow. The metaphors and similies are getting thrown to the wall yet none of them are sticking. I guess at this point we’re supposed to be sad because it means Ky will be leaving and Cassia’s stuck with Xander. Boo-hoo, I can’t see the bad writing for all the emotions it’s evoking. Have I mentioned that this is long chapter? For Ally it’s a marathon and it’s just as dull as all the other stuff so it’s become a sort of gauntlet for me.

Flash forward to the hill where Cassia and Ky are the only people in the world who can talk with each other. Cassia syas they’re running out of time and Ky says he knows. She says they have only a couple of weeks left of hiking and Ky says he was talking about something else. He says that the “shortage” of “Officials” and slashing of free time means something is happening and changing. Yeah, yeah, rebels are rising and the evil empire will fall. Been there, done that Ally.

Then Ky tells Cassia about how they came to him and asked him how his life would be if he weren’t a member of the untouchable caste. He told them he didn’t really think about it and then they said he’d been entered in the matching pool. Then they showed him a picture of the girl he would have been matched with if it weren’t for his status. And that girl…was Cleopatra. Yup, he was all set to be sent back in time to love an ancient Egyptian leader. Or it was Cassia.

Cassia starts crying and lamenting how “they” orchestrated their entire “love affair”—an amusing way to refer to an almost contact free romance—the entire time. Flash forward again and Xander and Cassia are having lunch. Nothing makes for good writing quite like people having a meal together. Xander is surprised by her sudden appearance because he thought she was eating elsewhere.

“I changed my mind,” I tell him. “I wanted to eat here today.” The nutrition personnel frowned at me when I asked for one of the extra meals they keep on hand, but after checking my data, they handed over the meal without further comment. They must have seen that I hardly ever do this. Or maybe there’s some other flag on my data that I can’t think about right now. Not after the revelation from Ky.

Wait, you can request and extra meal? What kind of hard assed evil controlling society is this? One minute they’re extremely strict and mean, the next they’ll give you a snack if you want it. Or is this just more evidence that Cassia gets special treatment and that rules are for the little people, Ally?

Now it’s time for Cassis to take Xander aside and give him the just friends speech. He’s hurt for all the usual reasons and Cassia is so self centered she can’t understand why he doesn’t wants to leave. Apparently she thought he’d just want to stand around and listen to her problems with Ky after being told that she only likes him as a friend. She complains that everyone she could talk to is gone, including her grandpa, mom and now Xander. Then she wonders if she’s strong enough to go on. As if Cassia is facing an actual hardship of some kind.

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