Sister Lizzy - updated

Sister Lizzy - updated

A Story by Dave "Doc" Rogers

Based on the analysis of the story that I did and the feedback from WC, I updated it. Enjoy.


Sister Lizzy
(As edited from original manuscript, circa 1986)
By David J. Rogers


        What is defiance? Is it the disregard for the laws that we ourselves made? No. Then, what is defiance? Is it something as simple as the recognition of something wrong? Maybe. We all see it. There is no way of getting away from it. It is there. And, there is everywhere we look. People, who see a thing that is wrong by the basics of nature and not knowing how to correct what they see, defy. Who and what do they defy against? They who defy defy against the very laws and dogmatic strictures that we as a race have placed on ourselves to stop just such a thing from happening. Then, if that is true, why do we still defy these very things that are supposed to help us? The professors will tell us that it is just our basic nature to defy. But, is it? I do not think so. What is the basis for our defiance? Is it just a desire to no be like everyone else, or has man trapped himself within his own prison? Not know or understanding the trap we have created for ourselves, some of us seek to leave the prison.

                *                                *                                *

        Sister Lizzy. That is what everyone called her. Not that she was part of any religious organization. She was not. It was just that everyone called her Sister Lizzy. Like she called everyone else Brother this or Sister that. It was just the way things were done. It has always been this way. No one thought it should be any other way, except Lizzy. Why? She thought to herself. Surely, we have not always called each other as brother and sister. Have we? No, there must have been a time when we did not. Brother Thomas said we have always called each other by brother and sister. He has never been wrong before. Or, has he? Why am I questioning this, she asked herself. Is not our lives comfortable? Do we ever want for anything? We have everything that could possibly be desired. Then, why does something seem to be missing? It was an off thought, and it stuck to her as a bramble to wool. Could there actually be something not covered? We have everything. There is no war, no starvation, and no poverty. Then why? There is even love and companionship. But, still something feels like it is definitely missing. What? Then the off thought worked its way to the surface.

        Challenge. She just sat and pondered that for a moment. Challenge. What an off thought that is. We have challenge. Do we not? She say and pondered this a few minutes longer. Do we have challenge? Yes, of course we do. The Great Challenge that is placed on all of us. The challenge to live perfect lives and to give something to the rest of the whole. But suddenly, just as she thought of the words, their spark and enthusiasm seemed to pale. The whole phrase seemed to loose its luster and glow the more she gave the words thought. Is there a challenge to a perfect life? There must be. I was challenged as a little girl to be obedient to my elders. I was challenged by the proctors to be an excellent student. And now, as an adult, I am challenged to be a perfect, contributing citizen. When I am old enough, I will be challenged to be a perfect elder. Yes, I have challenge to my life. Her words even seemed dull to here own ears.
        Suddenly, she was shocked. Her tears began flowing uncontrollably. She had realized that she was not perfect. She had questioned the perfect order. No one, she sobbed to herself, questioned the system. She had heard of those that had questioned the system. They did not return to the community. She did not question their disappearance. They only left. She remembered her friend, Brother Jerry, who had asked Brother Thomas and Sister Mary at the Meeting. They only looked at him as though he had committed a crime. And then one day, we could no longer remember that Brother Jerry had been a part of the Community. She remembered him now and started to cry anew. She had liked him a lot. He was always making her smile. He had that certain spark that just made you like him. Why had he questioned the system? She had always thought he would have more happiness to the Community. But, now he was to be forgotten. And, she would have to try again to forget him. The elders only forgave you so many times for remembering the forgotten ones. And now that she was an adult… would she too be forgotten if she could not forget them? The thought made her spine tingle with unknown fears. What if now that she remembered him and could not forget him? No, she thought, I can and I will. I have forgotten the others. The others. That started a chain of remembered names and faces that she had hoped she would not have remembered.
        She cried more tears for those that she had not thought of in years. She had forced herself to blank out a lot of those the she had loved. Her own mother was not eve the one she was born to. How could her father, now Brother Benjamin, not remember her first mother? He always looks as though this is the way things have always been. She had stopped crying for the moment. Her eyes were still red from the tears, but the thought of her father shutting out the memory of her original mother was a sobering thought. What if I were to be one of those that were to be forgotten? Could he forget me as readily as he has forgotten the others? What would happen to all those that I love if I became one of the forgotten? Would any of them still remember me? Could they forget me as I have tried to forget all of those others?
        I have even had to get rid of the things the forgotten ones have given me. She looked around her room at the few things from the Community. We give so little, she thought. It is easier to forget if you do not have things to help you remember. The only things that decorated her modest apartment were things that she had made or bought herself. As she gazed at the gray walls, she realized maybe for the first time, how utilitarian everything was. We are all given just enough to be comfortable. She remembered how happy she was when she became an adult. The Community gave her a flat for her very own. She was so happy. It meant that she had become a functioning member of the Community. She had been given the job of being a Proctor. She knew this was a very important job within the Community, and only those who held the highest respect for the System were ever given this job. If she did her job well, as a Proctor, one day she too would be an elder like Sister Mary.
        But, what of my thoughts? I have not been thinking like a true member of the Community. I have doubted the System. I have remembered the forgotten ones. I have questioned the very nature of the System. She nearly succumbed to the fear of her own thoughts. She looked around her as though there was someone listening to her thoughts. But as always, there was only herself in her room listening. She remembered what had started all of this. One simple feeling that something was out of place with herself and the Community.
        Why after all these years living here should I start questioning living here? She brought her legs up hugging her knees to her chest. She rocked slightly as she pondered this new line of thinking. As a Proctor, she was given more time to herself to prepare the lessons for the next classes, but something she read or over heard had caused her to stop and think. She realized that stopping to think could possibly be dangerous. Yes, that must be why our days are filled with activity. And, that is good. To think of what horrors the young would come up with if we allowed them he time to think on their own. Of course, we give them time to think on their lessons. That only promotes better citizens. Yes, I have been given too much time to think on my own. I must get up right now and get back into my work for tomorrow. But, she did not get right up and get back to work. Her eyes wandered back to the page she was reading before.
        It was a page from the Glossary of Words. She was to make a lesson of a list of words for tomorrow when she had come across the word “defiance.” The word had initiated a whole series of thoughts that she had thought were totally alien to her way of thinking. And then, she had started questioning the order of things and remembering.
        Why would a simple word have this effect on me? The word seemed to speak something deep within me. And, I answered. She wiped a stray tear that had only ran half the length of her left cheek. She sniffled and wiped at her nose absentmindedly, and found herself staring at the page again. Defiance. Why? ‘Defiance- 1. a daring or bold resistance to authority. 2. open disregard, contempt.’ Brother Thomas says that it is possible to breed this our of the race. He even thinks that we have now accomplished this. Have we? But, what of the forgotten ones? Are we breeding it out, or just removing it from view? Is the Community really perfect as we hoped it to be? She rubbed her eyes hoping this would help her perplexed brain. It didn’t. She was still confused with these new feelings when she decided it would be best to go to sleep now and think about this later. If she still remembered to do so.

        Her sleep was fitful. She dreamed of all those that she had spent years trying to forget. They kept asking her questions for which she had no answers. Would she, could she, or dare she answer them the answers that they wanted her to say? She kept answering all of their questions the same way. “It is not the way of the Community. The Community’s way is the best way for the whole.” She knew she did not convince them. She knew she did not even convince herself. But for the sake of the Community, she answered the only way she knew she could. She always argued for the benefit of the Community.
        She awoke in a cold sweat. The questions of last night still fresh in her mind. Sleep had relieved her of none of her problems from yesterday. She was still a Proctor of the Community, and she still felt the odd thoughts of yesterday. She decided that she would have to bury the thoughts of yesterday. She would have to try as best as she could for now and get on with the day ahead. She ate alone, preferring not to meet the Community just yet. Having dressed herself accordingly, she gathered the things that she would need for the day and headed out the relative comfort of her flat and into the Community.
        She tried to give the façade that nothing had happened. If anyone noticed she had changed slightly over the night, they said nothing. She made to the Institute of Learning without incident. All through the day, she noticed how everyone was a little changed. Or was it she had changed and they remained the same? Her greatest fear was realized when she was confronted with having to meet with Sister Mary. If anyone would realize she has changed, it would be her.
        She was justifiably nervous when it was her turn to go in and make her report of the days lessons. Her voice was a little cracked as she spoke to Sister Mary. She acted as though she did not notice and kept on listening politely as ever. This only made Lizzy even more nervous. “Child, you seem ill. Is everything aright?” Sister Mary’s voice rocked her entire system. She nearly broke down and told her everything that she was thinking the night before. “You have not forgotten to take your anti-bios, have you?” At the mention of the word ‘forgotten,’ Lizzy broke into a visible sweat and nearly fainted. She tried to stammer some excuse, but the words only came out as a jumbled mess of incoherency. The next thing she realized was something cold and wet was on her forehead, and someone was saying something to her.
        “Sister Lizzy…” The voice was distinctly male and sterner the second time. “Sister Elizabeth.” They only called me that when I did something wrong, she thought to herself. What could I have possibly done wrong? Is there crime in sleeping? Oh my, by the Laws of the Community, I have over slept and am now late for the Institute! She opened her eyes abruptly and was blinded by the bright light that seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. She shut her eyes immediately. She felt the twinges of a headache on the brink. She suddenly thought to herself that she does not know where she is. “Wh… where am I?” She asked.
        “Oh, thank the Law.” I know that voice, Lizzy thought. That is Sister Mary. “We thought we had lost you to the unknown. Sister Lizzy, are you well?”
        “Uh… Yes. Yes, thank you.” Risking the blindness again, she opened her eyes a little at a time until she could see properly. “What happened?”
        “You seemed to have fainted. Sister Mary said she was taking your report when you went pale and fainted. Have you been working yourself too hard, again? I know how hard you want to be a perfect citizen for the Community.” She could only look up into his face. The only other person she did not want to see as the memories started to catch up with her was Brother Thomas. She could only nod in ascent as he looked at her for an answer. The nod only seemed to mildly placate him. “Well, I will see to it that you get some time off to get rest. Sister Mary will see that you get back to you flat safely. We will talk later when are better rested.” He had said that in a tone that meant, we will talk soon and no argument about it. What had I told Sister Mary when I babbled my explanation, earlier? Did she notice the change so easily? Did she have the time to say anything to Brother Thomas? How long was I out? She looked down at her watch and found that she had been out for only a few minutes.
        Brother Thomas had covered for her with the Institute. As she was leaving with Sister Mary, the other Proctors were companionly scolding her for working so hard. She wondered if there was any jealousy of her in them. That would be impossible. Jealousy was also one of those things to be bred out of their race. She tried explaining to Sister Mary how foolish all this fuss over her was, but Sister Mary insisted. When an Elder insists, you do it without argument.
        Lately, they arrived at her flat. She made the usual attempt to clean an already immaculate room. The conversation at first was on her work at the Institute, and how Sister Mary was pleased at her progress as a Proctor. At the mentioning of the Community watching her for some time, Lizzy nearly passed out. She knew that Sister Mary would notice her nervousness right away. If she noticed, Sister Mary did not say anything to the effect. She kept right on with her train of thought just as though nothing untoward had happened. The conversation kept on, and instead of relaxing her and making Lizzy feel privileged at a private conversation with one of the two ranking Elders, she became more nervous and apprehensive.
        The pressure of the conversation was getting to Lizzy. The ever-present light smile of Sister Mary began to cause her to feel resentment to the Elder. This was a new emotion. She had never felt resentment toward anyone before. And what was worse, Sister Mary could see it and only smiled the more. Lizzy made an excuse to change the conversation away from the Community for lunch. But, Sister Mary only steered it back toward it with remarks on the more popular forms that the Community takes its luncheons. Lizzy was frantic. What could she do to keep herself from falling apart before the Elder? She busied herself with the preparation of the lunch. Sister Mary seemed to be satisfied with the momentary lapse in conversation. Lizzy was able to forget the strain for the while as she prepared their lunch.
        Lizzy was almost back to her normal self as she set lunch out on the table. She even started the conversation back up herself. She always liked talking about the pupils and how bright they seem to get from year to year. They were seated comfortably at her breakfast nook idly chatting. She was once again her normal self. Sister Mary had steered the conversation, again. This time, she led their conversation to Lizzy’s days at the Institute. Sister Mary told her how she always knew that she would one day be a Proctor. How she had great hopes of her one day becoming on of the Elders of the Community. She talked of Lizzy’s classmates and how bright they all were. Lizzy had fallen into the conversation with relaxed practice of old memories.
        “Yes, but as bright as we all were, none were as bright or as precocious as Brother Jerr… ry.” Lizzy knew she had been caught. She could not even offer and excuse. The tears flowed, and she could not stop them. She did not want to stop them. “We knew,” said sister Mary. “All we had to do is wait.” She said it with venom to her voice that Lizzy had never heard before. “We will leave now to meet with Brother Thomas. He is expecting us.”
        All the way there, Lizzy had cried. Sister Mary took them away she had never taken before. She had no idea that this part of the Community even existed. The trial lasted only a few minutes. Most of the time was spent in the location of the things that she had done for the Community. Brother Thomas led the Table of Elders in a unanimous vote of dismissal. Of her personal effects, she was wearing them. The Elders led her down another part of the Community that she never knew existed. They stopped before a common door. They pronounced the final judgment in unison. Brother Thomas did something to the door jam and it slid open on the last phrase of the proclamation. She turned to the Elders one last time. The look in their eyes was that of no pleas will change the Law of the Community. As she looked on the last of her life, she cried uncontrollably. She would be thrust now into whatever death awaited her beyond the door. The Elders waited almost too patiently for Lizzy to finish her mourning. She too realized the finality of it.
        She picked herself up off of the floor where she had slumped, and turning away from them, she proceeded walking through the door. She heard the door shut behind her. She resisted the urge to turn around and look one more time. The way wasn’t as long as she first thought it to be. She did notice that the air started not to smell the same as in the Community. By the time she had reached the end of the way, the air was full of this new aroma. There was a door here also. It came open as she came within arms reach of it. The light that poured in blinded her. She could not believe that there could be light that bright anywhere. She was not sure of the time, but she knew she stood there for some time before her eyes adjusted. When they did, a sight more dazzling than all the sights she had ever seen before accosted her. She could only take a few steps toward this magnificent panorama before she dropped to her knees then just sat and stared.
        It was some time before she felt like moving. It was even longer before she noticed that she was not alone. She spun quickly to look in that direction. She was ready for whatever nameless horror awaited her, but she was not ready for what she saw.
        “Hello, Sister Lizzy.”
        She was near shocked into fainting. All she could stammer out was his name. “Jerr… Jerr… Jerry.”
        “Don’t you like the irony of it? They have taken us out of the prison and sentenced us to life.”

© 2008 Dave "Doc" Rogers

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This was a rewrite from a an analysis I did for Story Craft Group. It never received a review so I couldn't capture using the Restore tool provided by WC. So here it is. Tell me what you think.


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Added on February 7, 2008
Last Updated on October 11, 2008


Dave "Doc" Rogers
Dave "Doc" Rogers

Montgomery, AL

Artist • Author • Poet • Preacher I am a thinker, ponderer, assayer of thoughts. I have had a penchant for writing since childhood. I prefer "Doc" as an hommage to my grandfather Rob.. more..