“Get a hold of yourself, Claire. You sound like a crazy person.” Katherine grabbed her flailing hand and held it firmly.
Claire stepped closer and glared at her mother with burning intensity. “No one gets kidnapped because we have invasive tracking devices under our skin, but we aren’t free to move about our own country without setting off alarms as we travel across state borders. And no, there are no unwanted babies because you have to prove your loyalty to this screwed up society for the privilege of enough sperm for one. What if someone wants more than one child? What if I would love to have a sister or a brother? What if having a dad or a husband doesn’t sound repulsive to me?” Claire cried as tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Listen to me. This is the reason I don’t want you to associate with Nyla. I have no doubt you are getting these foolish ideas from her. Your grandmother never had a husband and obviously I haven’t and we’ve had fulfilled lives. I don’t understand why you don’t find comfort in knowing the authorities are there for you in every aspect of your life. You don’t have to worry about health care or being in an accident and no one finding you. With your chip, someone will always come for you. It’s like having an all-knowing being looking over your shoulder at all times to guide you and protect you.”
“People used to call that mighty being, ‘God’.”
The slap was so quick, Claire didn’t see it coming. She reached for her cheek and staggered back, stopped only by her mother’s iron hold on her wrist. Her mother had never struck her before and the shock left her speechless.
“Don’t ever say that word in this house again.”
Claire continued to stare at her mother, confusion and anger burning in her eyes. She watched as the color drained from the irate woman’s cheeks.
“I shouldn’t have struck you. It’s such an uncivilized act and strictly prohibited, but you know religion is illegal and I won’t allow you to shame this household. We don’t have to rely on a mystical being for guidance and comfort. We have the government to see to all of our needs.”
“But I’m lonely and if I give up my friends I will be all alone.”
“Nonsense—statistics confirm a career and a child will be sufficient for an average adult female to find fulfillment.”
“Average? Sufficient? Don’t you see anything sad about those goals?”
“Not at all. Wanting anything more than average is selfish and anything more than sufficient is greedy. When those two traits were allowed to proliferate, and in many instances were rewarded, society nearly collapsed. Selfish greed in a community is dangerous.”
Claire stared at her mother. She couldn’t understand how two women from the same house could have such opposing views on life. All of the things her mother found such comfort in, Claire found terrifying.
“I guess I see it as ambition, not selfish greed, and it’s only dangerous when there is no moral fiber left in a society.”