I’d prefer to start like this: I’m Astrid. Everything is perfect in my life. I love school and my family is very supporting. I have a boyfriend and we are very happy. Add to that that I am the most popular girl in school and I almost feel sick from sheer euphoria.
Back to the real Astrid: I’ll be seventeen in a few weeks time, which means leaving school. It’s going to be good to leave since I can’t say I’m the most popular girl here. That would be quite impossible with my family.There aren’t many opportunities for women in Londinium, the city I live in, apart from becoming a servant– unless you get married. I’m not planning to get married.
I’ll be seventeen in a few weeks time and the only plan I have for my future is to survive. I believe I’m being stalked and I have made every mistake possible since I was thrown out, on the Outside.
The bullets hit the ground in front of her, spraying her with grit. Briefly, Astrid was rooted to the spot, unable to understand what was happening. Run, you idiot. They are shooting at you! Her own people were trying to kill her.
This should be enough to cause some commotion. He has been lulled into a false feeling of security for too long, wrongly believing I have forgotten. I know she’s out there somewhere – both of them – biding their time; he would never have kept her unless he believed he would have some use for her. But when her file is stolen – in this most spectacular manner – there will be no more hiding. He will have to expose her before anyone starts making connections, asking awkward questions. And I need her. I need the information her mother stole. In the wrong hands it can do immense harm to me. The daughter is bound to know where she is hiding; mothers will not just abandon their children like that. Surely.
I’m at the end of it – at last. The novel “The Wall to Protect Us All” is finished. Only spelling and grammar mistakes to check for; making sure that Auntie Mabel, who was killed off on page 4, is not resurrected by mistake, on page 97.
No, honestly, there is no Auntie Mabel in the book (I hope). But there are others, such as Astrid, the main character – and Sam. They’ll be here, in small installments, over the next few weeks, while I’m checking for those Auntie Mabels that have snuck in while I’ve not been looking.
‘We are the Blessed. Together we are strong. Together we are free. We understand that freedom is our enemy, that my freedom is my neighbour’s shackles. Freedom causes enmity and hatred. We understand we have to accept authority, love and obey it. The symbol of this obedience – the true freedom – is the Wall that Protects Us All.’
Why do these words seem so wrong? What is wrong with me for not believing them? What if they find out what I’m thinking? Elder Pearson is scanning row after row of girls and teachers listening to his Friday lecture. He’s studying each and every one of us to expose those who might doubt. The doubters will be Shunned. Then you’ll be on the other side of the wall – without protection. There is nothing in this world I fear more.
I am working on my YA novel – due to come out in December as an ebook and I will post snippets from it here – on my blog.
“I’ve got a birthmark on my neck. It looks exactly like a horseshoe; it’s the wrong way around and so all the luck fell out. My school shirt doesn’t cover it and people are very superstitious around here. You see, where I live you don’t want to stand out – for any reason.”