As I promised, I have Chapter Two for you. Read Chapter One here.
Love Is Illegal?
Selah and her student De Leon exchanged forbidden papers for six weeks. Sometimes they drew colored hearts and flowers on them. Sometimes they wrote verses from the Maker’s Scroll, with a pen on paper, as people used to do—before they were sucked into a Virtual World and Lost in Tech. Neither Selah nor De Leon felt guilty. They exchanged nothing but words and the unseen love that grew in their hearts and made them prone to smiles or laughter. They planned no jail escape, passed no drugs or money. Their only Contraband was love, which they were brave enough to express. If De Leon had not taken the risk to give Selah a Winter Solstice card, she would not have known that he loved her.
Their mailbox became lined notebook paper into which they slipped impassioned notes. He drew 2 gold rings on one letter and asked her to be his Mate. She drew a heart on a small pick notepaper with the words “Yes, I will” inside it. She summoned him a few more times, so they could talk alone. No one seemed to notice except the 2 of them. They were careful not to hug, kiss, or use any obvious gesture to show their love. They felt stressed but happy, and both saw not a prison but a precious place where they found each other. The plain-colored walls seemed infused with rainbows all around them, and they looked forward to each day they would be together. Selah’s drives across the desert seemed shorter. Diego’s nights alone in his narrow bunk, in the dormitory with 100 other inmates, passed quicker.
“Love changes everything,” Selah said to De Leon the day before Heart’s Day. She had dismissed her tutors early after De Leon showed up for the afternoon tutoring session. Lately they could not be alone at all in the afternoon, when the classroom was full with tech users and students in need of reading or math. But this day, they found themselves alone among the red hearts that Selah had decorated around the room on bright-colored paper.
“You know, I was amazed that my Counselor put me right into your class,” Diego told her as they sat at a respectful distance from each other. “I arrived during the Autumn festivals and started in your class that first week. Many inmates wait months before they can get into Education.”
“Oh, I didn’t know,” Selah said. She unconsciously leaned toward Diego so that he would not have to speak loudly. “I’m afraid I didn’t really notice what was going on back then.” She didn’t want to explain how sad she had felt that her daughter had moved away to the Golden City after a tragedy hit them both—and how lonely she was with the holidays approaching.
Diego noticed the shadow that passed over her blue-green eyes. “I saw how sad you were, and how beautiful,” he said in a low voice.
Selah never much considered how she looked or put her faith into appearances. She was wearing a red blouse that made her hair look brighter, and her silver necklace shone with crystals formed in the shape of the Maker’s Seal. Diego couldn’t help reaching out his hand toward her.
“Remember how I wrote that you have a hot smile?” he asked.
Selah blushed almost as red as her blouse. “Yes,” she whispered, smiling. She reached out and clasped his hand in hers.
“By the Maker!” they both exclaimed at the unexpected, forbidden touch of skin to skin.