I am brought back from the depths of my notes by a small beep on my wrist. It’s finally Break and remember that this is the last one I’ll have with Sophia. She’s been my best friend since we both earned the role of student. We ended up with the same student schedule for years and have been able to spend all of our Breaks in the city center and sometimes near the Edge. It’s difficult to imagine a city without her, but this is just how the world works. None of the official members of Quoise City are from here. They were all students from different cities. No one lives in the same place or with the same people as they had in their childhood and student role.
As I’m packing my bag, another small beep comes from my bracelet. I see that it’s a message from Sophia, Let’s meet at the Northern Edge today.
I glance at the time and reply, On my way, see you in a few minutes.
I head out of the library. It’s a bit of a distance from the library to the Northern Edge, so I hop onto one of the moving sidewalks that help speed up travel across the city. I swiftly walk past Teams headed into the City Center and move onto the path that leads to the northern part of the city. I get off where the sidewalk begins to loop back and continue walking. I see the opening where the buildings stop and see Sophia sitting against the side of one of the structures.
“Sophia! I’m here,” I yell out to her.
She turns her head and yells back, “Arilyn! Took you long enough. Did you turn into an old lady once the date of your Test got assigned?”
“Says the person who’s Test is in a couple of hours,” I retort with a smile.
“Hey, watch it. I’m about to become your superior.”
“Oh no, I’m so scared.”
We both fall into a small laughing fit, until Sophia finally gets her composure back and gets us back on track.
“So shall we head to the Edge?” she asks in a mockingly formal tone.
“We shall,” I reply in the same way.
We begin to walk down a one way path leading to the Edge. Although the Edge is completely accessible by all members of the city, not many venture all the way to the border of the city. This is probably because there isn’t much to do here but gaze at the surroundings. Compared to the City Center, full of activity and people, the Edge is like barren. The City Center has trees and bushes and flowers, but the Edge is just fields. While the rest of the city prefers the actual city, Sophia and I come here every so often. We finally reached the edge and I gaze out past the city to the endless seas. I listen to the waves crashing and see the wake being created by the city as we travel to our next destination away from the storms.
“I am so excited for tomorrow. For the start of the next step in my life, ” I quietly say to break the silence. “How are you feeling?”
“Is there really any other emotion someone could feel with their Life Test so close?” Sophia answers, her eagerness radiating off of her. “We finally get to have an actual productive role in the Nation of Sea Cities. We’ve been preparing for this our entire lives. Our perfect role is so close.”
“I bet you’re just excited to be assigned a partner in a few years and have a family,” I snort.
“Shut up, you know me better than that,” she says while pushing me. Starting to giggle she replies, “Although it’s not a downside.”
I regain my balance laughing, “You’re right I’m kidding, we’re still only eighteen anways. But I do I get it, I really do.”
There’s a pause as we gaze at the water in front of us, it’s salty smell washing over us with each gust of wind.
“When’s your Test?” I finally ask.
“Right after break ends. I should actually start heading towards the Testing Center.”
“Sure, let’s start heading back now,” I suggest.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
Our way back was a little quieter than usual, but that’s because daydreams of our futures were flooding our thoughts. We finally make it back to the buildings and instead of going towards the center head west towards the side of the city holds the Testing Center. We grab some food and eat it on the walk over. Once the building is in sight, we stop and turn towards each other.
“Well I guess this is it,” I finally say.
“I guess it is,” she says with her head tilted down. “You know, I think the first part of my life was pretty good.”
“Of course it was, I was here,” I say cheerily but become serious as I add,”But the second part is where you belong.”
She glances up with eyes watering, smiles and then shakes her head. When she looks up again the enthusiasm from earlier was back on her face.
“You’re right,” she states determinedly. She grabs me and pulls me into a hug. We separate from the embrace and go our separate ways. The Life Test is an important and joyous moment in a person’s life and tomorrow is my day. I smile to myself and start to go over material in my head on my way back to the library.