کتاب 01 - فصل 14
- زمان مطالعه 7 دقیقه
- سطح سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این فصل را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی فصل
On the twelve-month anniversary of the day he had been born to her, Claire taught him to say her name. He had been officially a One since the previous ceremony, but now, Claire thought secretly, he is truly one year old.
The nurturer chuckled when he watched the newchild toddle over to her, calling, “Claire!” with a grin. “He’s a bright boy,” he said. “I just wish we could get his sleeping-pattern behavior squared away. If he’s not ready to be placed with a family unit by the time of the next Ceremony, well . . .” “What?” Claire asked when his voice drifted away without completing the thought.
“To be honest, I don’t know. They can’t give him to parents if he doesn’t sleep. It would interrupt their work habits to be kept awake at night. But we can’t keep him here indefinitely.” “Not even if he goes home with you at night? He’s fine here in the daytime. He hardly ever cries. Look at him!” Together they gazed at Thirty-six, who was seated on the floor, busily arranging wooden blocks in a stack. Feeling their gaze, he looked over. Impishly, he wrinkled his nose and thrust his tongue into his cheek, making the funny face that Claire had taught him. She made the same skewed face in reply and they both laughed.
“I can’t keep taking him home forever. My spouse is already somewhat annoyed about it. The children enjoy him, though. He’s been sleeping in my son’s room. He seems to do well there. But . . .” Again he failed to finish his thought. The nurturer shrugged and went to the other section of the room where younger infants needed attention.
“I wonder if I . . .” Claire murmured, then fell silent. Of course she couldn’t. Unmatched people weren’t given newchildren. Even if it were possible, how could she care for him? It was enough to contemplate (and she had) how she could manage a small infant. But now, so well acquainted with this growing, active twelve-month-old boy, she could see clearly that they required more, not less, care as they grew. He had to be watched constantly. Taught language. Fed carefully. Bathed and dressed and . . . She turned away, feeling tears well in her eyes. What on earth was the matter with her? No one else seemed to feel this kind of passionate attachment to other humans. Not to a newchild, not to a spouse, or a coworker, or friend. She had not felt it toward her own parents or brother. But now, toward this wobbly, drooling toddler— “Bye-bye,” she whispered to him, and he looked up at her and wiggled his fingers. It never distressed him when she left. He knew she’d be back.
But Claire choked back tears as she pedaled her bike back to the Hatchery. More and more she despised her life: the dull routine of the job, the mindless conversation with her coworkers, the endless repetition of her days. She wanted only to be with the child, to feel the warm softness of his neck as he curled against her, to whisper to him and to sense how he listened happily to her voice. It was not right to have these feelings, which were growing stronger as the weeks passed. Not normal. Not permitted. She knew that. But she did not know how to make them go away.
From time to time she saw the nurturer’s son. Jonas, she remembered. Months before she had seen his father wave to him one afternoon when he rode by with a friend, the two of them on their way apparently to the recreation field. The two boys had seemed carefree, calling to each other, racing their bicycles along the path.
He seemed different now, to Claire. She saw him one evening walking along the river, alone, deep in thought. Although he didn’t know her, and there would have been no real reason beyond politeness for a greeting, it was nonetheless customary for citizens to acknowledge one another with a nod or smile. But Jonas had not looked up as she passed him. It was not an intentional snub, she realized. It was that his mind was somewhere else. He seemed somehow troubled, she thought, and that was rare in a youngster.
She recalled that he had been singled out in some way at last year’s Ceremony. Her coworkers, in describing it, had chanted his name—Jonas, Jonas—as apparently the audience had. But they had not really known what his . . . What had they called it? Selection, that was it—what his selection had meant.
But his father, the nurturer, spoke of him warmly and without hesitation. He’s been sleeping in my son’s room, he had said cheerfully of Thirty-six. So perhaps she had simply happened on the boy at an unusual moment, when he had something on his mind, probably a school assignment. Claire could remember how troubling her own homework had been at times.
She saw him several more times, always on his bicycle, alone, after school hours. He was a Twelve now, and all Twelves would be working hard this year on the preparation related to their Assignments. Usually after school they would separate from their age-mates and go to the studies required for their future jobs. Sophia had been required to take infant-care classes, she recalled; and in fact Sophia had told her that even now, several years after their Ceremony year, the scholarly Marcus was still studying engineering. One girl in her group had taken up the study of law, as Claire’s brother had six years earlier, and still went each day after school to the hall of Law and Justice for training.
One afternoon she found herself watching Jonas as he rode his bicycle away from the school building, which she could see from the front of the Hatchery. He turned left at the end of the educational buildings and seemed to be heading toward the House of the Old. So perhaps, she thought, that was his Assignment: the care of the elderly. But what was so special about that? What would make an entire audience rise to their feet and chant his name?
Later, one day while walking, she continued past the House of the Old, turned down a path, and discovered a very small structure attached at the rear of the building. It had a door, a few windows, and nothing else. Most buildings had an informational plaque explaining the purpose of the structure. HATCHERY LABORATORY. NURTURING CENTER. BICYCLE REPAIR. But this undistinguished rectangle had only an unobtrusive, meaningless label on the door. ANNEX.
Claire had never heard of the Annex. She had no idea what could be housed inside. But she had a feeling that this was where the boy Jonas was spending his training time. She wondered vaguely if what was happening in there was causing him to become so oddly solemn and solitary.
What could Jonas have been selected for?
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