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The satin feels like water under my hands. It is blue, bluer than blue. It is blue fire in a sea of other, paler colors. No one has a dress like mine. I feel vibrant and sensuous and new like I’ve never felt before. My grandmother wore this dress to her Receiving, and my mother to hers. Tonight is a night of honor, respect, beauty, and legacy.
I look around at all the others with me in the banquet hall. We are a garden of silk flowers, and the men are dressed in solidifying black; the soil to our petals. We are the future. We are all seventeen, and in under an hour my life, our lives, are going to change. We are going to Receive it.
It is not an object. It is not a word. It is that one thing that we will seek to fulfill our entire lives. It defines us, drives us, is the one steadfast thing when everything else may be raining from the sky.
I feel my heart beating in my throat, and my stomach drops in a familiar free fall. I look at my friends, and wonder what their Vitas will be. We all have some kind of idea—the aptitude tests last week told us our three most likely marks—except me. I pinch the blue satin between my fingers to keep from running my fingers over my empty collarbone for the hundredth time. I have no idea what the Consilium will choose for me. After my aptitude test, the results cam back without a color. The technician had smiled and said, "Don’t worry, these things happen sometimes," but I saw the lie in her eyes. Tests that came back without color were Blank.
Please, don’t let me be that.
I grasp at my senses to calm me down. There’s a constant, raucous tinkle of cutlery on china. A hubbub of voices in the crowded room echoing up and back from the vaults in the ceiling. I inhale the spices from our meal, sorting out the ones that indicated the different courses: clove, oregano, cinnamon. I force my heart to slow with each breath, force a smile, force eye contact with my friends.
We are the Six from Yarmouth: Jewla, Dalion, Romana, Corone, Kalor, and me—Calista. They are laughing about something that happened last year in class. A bird from the science aviary got loose and ended up ruining many people’s clothes. You can hardly blame it with how scared it was. I let the memory wash over me and find myself laughing right along with them, until I see Kalor.
He is laughing just as heartily as everyone else, but he wasn’t there. Kalor was absent on what the Consilium called a ‘gifted retreat’ all of the last school year. It happened when we were twelve too. What really happened to him during those years? We’ve never had the chance to talk about it. We never seem to get the chance to be alone, though it seems we both try… What if he is Blank?