It’s hard to remember when I first felt this urge, to fill the emptiness in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t lack for anything at the farm. We had plenty of food, all the fruit and vegetables you could possibly eat, but it never satisfied me. I was very rarely alone yet loneliness had always followed me down the white corridors into the crowded dining hall. I wanted to reach out and touch someone, but that wasn’t allowed. In the shower when I had some privacy, I would touch myself the way that Max touches me now, pretending that it was someone else, pretending that they cared about me. Not in the way that Sweetie and Pip cared.
As the ship charged through the sea away, from the farm toward the unknown, I lay in bed in anticipation. I was alone and completely naked, blissing out at the tingling in my toes. I could feel the space where the air caressed my skin and tickled the hairs on my arm. I could feel the light layer of sweat evaporate as my breathing slowed. The taste of his skin danced on my tongue, salty, savoury, satisfying. The smell of sex hung in the air, it was a warm blanket that wrapped around me. My nipples pointed to the ceiling as they tingled from the memory of Max’s lips. A knock on the door broke the spell and I panicked, grabbing the sheet and pulling it to my chest.
By the time we had got to the dock the sky had clouded over and it was grey and cold. We unloaded the bus right by the sea and half the people made their way to a large boat that sat on the water looming over us. The rest branched off and hopped in cars, taking a road that curved around the coast.
“They live in the guard’s quarters while they’re working. There are some nice apartments on this island but most of us live on the mainland when we have time off. It’s good to get away.”
Looking back I realise I may have been using him. Not using him to help me escape the farm I was an animal in. I used him to escape my reality. In Max’s body I found food for my soul. The day I found out I was being farmed for my offspring and eventually my flesh, at the time I didn’t let myself think about what that meant. In my world up until that point I was brought up believing a comet had hit earth and wiped out all of the animals and most of the people. We were told that we were all that was left, so we had to do everything we could to keep the human race alive. Lies.
Recently I’ve been wondering if I made the right choice. Sleepless nights stalk me. When we’re lying in bed his breath fills the air, filling me with doubt. He inevitably rolls over toward me draping his arms and legs over me as if I were his possession. I haven’t gotten used to sleeping with someone else. His every move wakes me from my restless dreams. Dreams of white walls, white uniforms, and electric fences that hum a gentle lullaby. Sometimes I see their faces, the faces of friends I need to forget, but it’s only been a month. The blinds across our bedroom window haunt me. They look like bars I used to watch the sunrise through, the rays scattering light that sparkled like diamonds on the walls. Now neon lights throw a dancing kaleidoscope of colours on the ceiling, taunting me. I have to move on. I need to stop thinking of that place.
“He’s good looking for a Maori boy aye?” Jen has a coffee clasped in one hand, a cigarette in the other and last nights makeup melted down her face. Beth watches her as she watches George mowing the lawn out the window.
“Yeah I guess.” He takes off his t-shirt and rubs his face with it before draping it over his shoulder. He’s just hot. No question about it. Look at those abs! “He’s pretty nice too, came over last night to help with dinner.”
“You been crying to Kara again?”
“Hey, I’m George. You’re Beth right? Aunty always talks about you lot.”
“Hey.” Beth says, “Yeah, come in”. Why am I still in my uniform? It’s so ugly. I look like a kid. How long has he ben living there, I’ve never seen him before. Beth leads him into the kitchen where Kara is boiling, frying, mixing all at once.
“Hey boy, thanks for that. You all moved in?”
“Yeah just unloaded the last box, I’ll take Dad’s Ute back to him tonight and pick up me bike.” He grins at Beth.
“What’s wrong with you huh?” Beth asks Lena. Lena grizzles in response. “Okay let’s check out that nappy cause you stink kid.”
Beth takes a towel out of the cupboard and lays Lena down on it before grabbing the wipes and a nappy.
“Boys? Where are you?” She calls out as she wipes bright yellow shit from Lena’s thigh rolls. “No wonder you stank girl, this is next level. What has your mother been feeding you?” Once Lena is clean she gives Beth a big smile. “See life’s not so bad is it? Let’s go see what your brothers are up to.”
Beth watches the clock from the third row, second desk from the right. Come on, I have to go. It’s now 4pm, she looks expectantly and Mrs Willis who sits at her desk doing a crossword. Beth puts her hand up.
“Miss?” she asks. Mrs Willis raises her eyebrow in Beth’s direction. “It’s time to go, Miss.”
“It’s time to go, when I say it’s time to go, Beth. Perhaps if you focused during class instead of distracting everyone you wouldn’t be in detention in the first place.”