Boston, five years later
The final seminar of Emilie Turner’s second year at university was over. She couldn’t believe she’d made it this far – she’d never been as academic as the other kids back home in Beacon, but here she seemed to be more on a level.
She tried to envisage herself staying and finishing her education in one of the twelve communities, as the majority of her friends had done – tried to imagine marrying there, raising a family, as her parents had done, as her older brother and sister had. No, her passport may say that her nationality was Beaconese, but her soul was anything but.
She still remembered that first trip outside of Beacon that she and David had made with their parents. She was only fifteen at the time. They’d toured across three countries to meet grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that until that day they had never known existed. And now these were loved family members she saw at least once a year and Skyped or called or Facebooked regularly. She missed home, particularly her brothers and sister, her nieces and nephews, and Rocky, who was now elderly but still gave her the sloppiest of hugs when she came back in the holidays.
Her parents had encouraged her to make whatever choice she wanted, but she was always going to travel, because she’d loved that summer of exploring, of discovering shopping and make-up and new music and television – and so many hot boys, the likes of whom put Ivan and Tyler to shame! She saw in her parents’ faces every day how much they hated being in Beacon and were desperate to return – only staying there for the sake of David and to help Rebekah and Nihal and Steven and Carey with the kids. In a few years David would leave home too, and she knew her mum and dad would then travel. She knew she was never going back – not for good, not to stay.
After all, the food there was all so healthy and nutritious – and she’d never be able to live without the delights of a greasy burger from Sam’s truck.
‘Hey Cassie! School’s out for summer!’
Tonight was party time.