A Chapter by Hannah Rose

Second chapter to Harper’s City of Silence.

In her city no one was named
In her city everyone’s minds were the same
In her city no one was defined
In her city everyone with names were shamed

Harper liked the pencil factory. Despite the fact that the building displayed less color within its walls, as everything in the building was made of the same light colored wood, Harper liked walking into the only distinct building in the city that had always held her curiosity whenever she passed it by. She liked it’s light wooden walls as it was the only wooden building she had ever been in. While walking across the wooden floors, she like the sound of her footsteps, and the slight pitter pattern of sound detectable while in the building, made by the footsteps of other pencil makers.

She excelled in pencil making. Within 2 weeks of her training she had established a promising position as a pencil carver.

As the sun rose on Harper's second week of pencil making, she found herself lying in wait for the lights to turn on. She sprung out of bed the moment the light bulb on her ceiling, lit the yellow walls of her empty room. Her bed sheets made a slight sound as she threw them off, but she barely noticed. She was quick in getting ready, and was onto the silent city streets within moments. She walked with a spring in her step, bringing her to the factory steps sooner than previous mornings.

There was a women behind the welcoming desk where Harper checked in every morning. She wore red clothing, bright red lipstick(like most receptionists and secretaries in the silent city), and had a plain expression. Each morning when Harper walked up to the desk, the women would point to a sheet on the wooden counter between them and hand her a yellow pencil.

She picked up the pencil and moved it across the paper, filling out her information along a single column.

"Status: Pencil Carver ID: 27698 Gender: female"

Harper was reminded of her secret as she heard the sound of the pencil communicating her ID, the lead softly scratching against her conscious. She was reminded of the atrocity that was "Harper".

27698 returned the pencil. Convicted of her misdeed, she reminded herself to identify as 27698.

During the previous week she would report to training room B, but now as a pencil carver, 27698 was instructed to report directly to her work station.

As she walked into carving room 9, 27698 took in her new surroundings. There were three assembly tables, establishing three separate assembly lines. A box of wooden blocks and carving knives sat at the end of each table

Her spot was in seat 2 of assembly line 1. Already seated in seat 1 , was a senior pencil carver. A badge on his left shoulder stated his status, but judging by his age, he had only been at the factory for maybe a year.

This was a high position for such a young pencil carver. It was position 1's job to ensure the assembly line kept moving. Although their own pencil carving was a rather simple job, cutting small thin pieces of wood from a larger block, to be sent down the line, if the line slowed or did not meet its quota, position 1 was held responsible as the assembly line's manager.

Harper couldn't help the urge to give her new co-worker a name. An urge that caused her to name all her classmates in school. She judged that he had made much progress becoming a senior carver in no more than a year, so she decided to name him "Progress".

Within minutes of Harper finding her seat, the rest of the assembly workers filed in, all wearing yellow, along with the supervisor who wore green clothes and sleek black elevated shoes like most workers in higher positions within the silent city.

The third assembly worker of assembly line 1, was a senior pencil carver as well. He was still reasonably young for a senior position, but still several years older than both 27698 and Progress.

The third position was generally preserved for particularly skilled carvers. It was the job of this worker to ensure the pencil was smoothly carved without jagged edges before skewing a hole through the wood. This required precision. The pencils were thin and the wood was tough. If the carver was too forceful the pencil would break.

27698's own position was the easiest in the assembly line. She was simply to cut the corners of the wood given to her without slicing off too much, making the pencil too thin to be skewed.

Assembly worker three was rigid and had a smug face upon entering the room, causing Harper to name him Prune. He stoped in front of Progress, giving him a slight, almost forced nod, with a slight, forced smile, before taking his seat at the end of assembly line 1. Harper saw Progress crack an amused smile.

Once all the workers were seated, the supervisor walked up to each table, handing out ear plugs to each worker. Carving was a noisy profession and the pencil factory cared about it's workers. It did not want to expose them to the pitfalls of sound. After the ear plugs were handed out, a red light on the wall in the front of the room, turned green, signaling the start of the work day.

Progress began taking carving tools out of the box at the end of the table, handing the correct tools down the line to Harper who put some of the tools in front of her, and passed the rest to prune. Harper watched Progress carve the first block of wood into a smaller block, which Harper would then carve into a circular pencil shape, before handing it on to be smoothed and skewed.

She was amazed at the speed in which Progress was able to do his work. He set his carving down within moments of picking up his first wooden block, and began carving another smaller block from the same larger block of wood. Harper finished her part of the carving as fast and precisely as she could, but by the time she had passed her first carving to Prune, three more of Progress's carvings awaited her.

Harper carved another as quickly as she could, and passed it to Prune who was looking bored, having finished carving a hole in Harper's last carving, as a place to insert lead, in less than half the time it took Harper to carve the next pencil.

Harper began to fear she wouldn't be able to keep up, but was determined not to loose her position in an assembly line on the first day.

By the time the green light turned back to red, signaling it was time for lunch, the only meal of the day in the silent city, Harper had barely kept up with Progress and Prune. She still had 5 of Progress's pencils to carve before lunch, and none of them could go to lunch until she finished.

Having set his last carving down, Progress stretched his arms out in front of him before putting his hands behind his head and sitting back in his chair. Prune yawned and watched Harper annoyingly as she carved.

Once she passed her last carving to Prune she gave a silent sigh of relief. Progress gave a quiet chuckle, but Harper didn't notice, because she still had her ear plugs in. Harper did notice however, that Progress did not. The supervisor, along with the rest of the workers had already left for lunch, so there was no one but Harper and Prune to witness this atrocity.

Prune was still skewing, and Harper knew the sound would be piercing to ears without ear plugs. During the first week of training, Harper, along with the other trainees, was subjected to just a moment of pencil making sound, in order to be aware of how important ear plugs, and silent work was at the pencil factory. She still remembered the sound as one of the most unpleasant thing she had ever heard.

But even as he sat subjecting himself to the sound of metal scraping wood, Progress seemed at ease. He noticed Harper starring at him, but he ignored her.

When Prune had finished his carving he looked at Progress sitting without his earplugs in, ignoring Harper's stares, and gave a scoffing role of the eyes.

Acting as if he just noticed Harper looking at him, progress looked at her and smiled innocently before jumping up out of his seat. It was time for lunch, but Harper was still largely confused.

Progress's wrong doing reminded Harper of her own betrayals to society as she thought of "Harper", and all the names she had given on that day alone. She kicked herself and remembered to identify as 27698.

© 2018 Hannah Rose

Author's Note

Hannah Rose
I’m aware of grammar issues, but still welcome corrections!

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Added on January 3, 2018
Last Updated on January 3, 2018


Hannah Rose
Hannah Rose


I am 20, a barista, and a student. I plan on teaching English as a second language in a foreign country after graduating college, and I love to write. I am also a Christian and hope to use my writing .. more..