Alison, a twenty-something girl with straight brown hair and cool gray eyes, stood outside a large courthouse. The building loomed in front of her. She swayed a bit and wrung her hands. Her palms were cold and slick and her fingers were nearly numb. She swallowed, attempting to moisten the dry patch in the back of her throat. The air was nippy and her cheeks glowed red from the bite of the wind. The sky was a bright, cold blue. With each breath it looked as if she exhaled puffs of smoke.
“Up we go,” a gruff voice startled her as a man took her by the elbow and led her gently up the steps to the courthouse. “Don’t be nervous, Ally,” he said with a smile and a friendly sideways glance. “Your sister got married just last year and you see how that turned out. You’ll be fine.”
Alison stumbled along up the steps and into the building. “Not every girl’s as lucky as Christine,” she muttered. “Macy married that guy, Phillip, now look where she’s at. Four kids in four years and he doesn’t let her do anything.”
“Eh,” the man shrugged. “I’m sure that doesn’t happen often. Besides, I’ve met your fiance. Seems like a nice fellow.”
Alison raised a brow. “But papa…isn’t that against the –”
“Shh,” he raised his fingers to his lips and winked.
They approached a large oak desk that blocked off a hallway. Several clerks sat behind the long desk, filling out paperwork and leading men and women down the hallway. They stood in line for just a short amount of time before they were motioned over.
“How can I help you?” The woman behind the desk looked up at Alison and her father.
“Just engagement procedure,” he said.
A smirk flitted onto the woman’s face. “Fresh in, are ya?”
Alison nodded with a grimace and her face flushed with heat.
“Just sign these and get in line over there,” the clerk said, pointing to a relatively short line in front of a door beside the desk.
Alison signed the paperwork, one consenting to her marriage, the other consenting to the laws about children. Her fiance’s ineligible signature was already on the paperwork. She couldn’t even read his name. Alison frowned. Hopefully his sloppy handwriting did not have any link with poor grammar. She sighed and slumped off towards the line at the right end of the desk.
“This is where I leave you, sweetheart,” her father said. He gave her a kiss on the cheek and an endearing smile.
Alison could only give a horrified stare. “You can’t leave, papa! Please don’t leave me. I don’t even know this guy!” She grabbed his hand and he shook his head.
“Alison,” he tucked some stray hair behind her ear and cupped her cheek in his hand. “Chin up. Give him a chance. I don’t like this system any more than you do but…I don’t really have a choice. Neither do you. It’s just the way of the world.” He patted her cheek. “You’ll be alright, honey. Just give him a chance.”
Her eyes stung and she threw her arms around him, holding him tightly. He returned her embrace and, in only a few seconds, he pulled away from her and he was gone.
The sound of heels clacking against the cold tile floor filled the hall. Alison walked tentatively behind Claudia, a full figured woman with rich brown skin and tall, black stilettos. She chattered away about marriage and her own husband and how many girls she’d matched earlier that day. Alison only responded with vague “uh-huh”s and absent minded nods. The hallway seemed to go on forever.
Suddenly Alison collided with a large, hard body and she yelped, stumbling back. She jerked her eyes up to a handsome face and sparkling blue eyes. High forehead, chiseled jaw, defined biceps, even under the fitted long sleeved polo.
“Sorry! Excuse me,” he said, brushing her shoulder with his hand. He flashed a quick, nervous smile and then spun around. Should have known better, she thought. Of course he’s matched with someone else.
“Alison,” Claudia’s voice echoed from down the hall. “What are you doin’, girl, your room’s down here.” She stood, hip cocked, hand poised on her waist with a disapproving frown.
Alison jogged to her door. The harsh movement caused her hair to wriggle out of her bun and wisps of it fell into her eyes. She brushed it out of the way and slipped into the room, backing into it with a sheepish embarrassed smile. Claudia shut the door in her face and Alison could hear those heels clacking back down the hall to retrieve the next girl probably not ready for marriage
She turned around, eyes closed, and sighed. Giddiness rose in her chest. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Marriage. Maybe her father was right. She could do this. She opened her eyes and took a deep breath. The walls were a soft yellow. The room was smaller than she would have thought. A small bed sat in the middle of the room. There were no windows and the place was lit up with a flickering overhead light. On the pillow was an envelope with the name “Alison” written on it.
Goosebumps prickled her skin and she furrowed her brow. She picked up the envelope and fingered the lining. In one swift motion. She ripped the seal and withdrew the letter. She unfolded it and her eyes flitted over the type:
We regret to inform you that your fiance, Riley Moss, passed away of unknown causes yesterday evening. Unfortunately, we can only match you once and we are required to take the appropriate measures in preventing any deviation from the traditions and ideals we uphold. Due to this circumstance, we are afraid the only resolution is to eliminate single persons 23 years of age and older, as per the terms and conditions presented to you. We apologize for this fatal inconvenience. Please do not panic or cause any disturbances, as you are surrounded by others who are already nervous about meeting their matches. Your family will be notified of this unfortunate circumstance promptly. By the time you finish reading this, you very well may already be dead. In such a case, we wish you the best of luck on your afterlife endeavors.
Sincerely, Marriage Co.®
“Oh man, so you got the letter too?”
Alison jerked her head towards the voice and the man she’d bumped into earlier was leaning against the bed. “How did you…” She mumbled, aghast. He looked pointedly down at her feet and she followed his gaze. She found herself sprawled out on the ground, mouth agape and eyes rolled back.
This was written by me for my Fiction Writing class. Not half bad if I do say so myself, for having written it in an hour xD.