By Ryan Matejka
Based on the writing prompt: As you turn 18 you must choose between two worlds to live in. One is totalitarian where the government controls your life, with no poverty or crime. The other is anarchistic with no government or laws. You can never change your mind.
James blew out all 18 candles, silently wishing that he had more time.
One door would lead to riches and peace, but also slavery. The other door would lead to absolute freedom and opportunity, but also danger and chaos. Once you stepped through one door, there was no going back.
So what kind of man was he? Was he the type of man who preferred safety or wonder? Survival or life?
If only the question were so simple.
Unlike all of his friends, at 18 years old, James' desire for his future wasn't tied to a preferred political climate, nor to a friend or high school sweetheart he wanted to step into the next world with, nor a particular career path or societal status that could only be achieved in one world or the other.
No, James wanted one simple thing out of his choice. He wanted to know his lineage. He wanted to know his parents. He wanted to know if they were still alive, if they knew about him, and more importantly, what kind of people they were.
But to know that, he'd need to know what door they chose, and to do that, he'd need a response to the request he'd filed with the Department of Populace months ago.
If only he'd had more time. If only he could be granted a delay. If only he knew which door led to his own flesh and blood.
Jame's third best friend cut the cake. His first best friend had already turned 18 two months before and chosen freedom. His second best friend had already turned 18 and chosen safety. His girlfriend had already dumped him for someone younger.
The cake, so fresh, moist, and sugary on his tongue, tasted stale to 18-year-old James.
Presents usually came after cake, but not this time. There was no reason to receive gifts you could not take with you.
There was a sudden, sharp rap at James' door. One of the younger guests he didn't recognize - probably someone just there to take inventory of James' possessions that would soon be up for grabs - answered the door. The room fell silent. Had the collectors come early?
"Letter for you, James," the boy shouted, disappointed.
James' heart skipped a beat. He ran for the boy and snatched the letter out of his hands. The return address was that of the Department of Populace.
James ripped into the envelope, pulled out the letter inside, and read.
A smile crossed his face.
He folded the letter back up, said his goodbyes, and set off to the next world.