Mary is stuck in Section One, living with three hundred women in a crumbling hospital. She wonders what life was like two centuries ago, before the Cleansing wiped out all the men. But the rules—the Matriarch's senseless rules—prevent her from exploring the vacant city to find out.
Taylor's got a dangerous secret: he's a boy. His compound's been destroyed, and he's been relocated to Section One. Living under the Matriarch means giving up possessions, eating canned food and avoiding all physical contact. Baggy clothes hide his flat chest and skinny legs, but if anyone discovers what lies beneath, he'll be exiled. Maybe even executed.
Mary's never seen a boy—the Matriarch cut the pictures of men from the textbooks—and she doesn't suspect Taylor's secret. If she knew, she might understand the need to stop the girls from teasing him. If she knew, she might realize why she breaks the rules, just to be near him. Then again, she might be frightened to death of him.
Taylor should go. The Matriarch is watching his every move. But running means leaving Mary—and braving the land beyond the compound's boundaries.
From Mary’s Point of View
I hoped a new arrival—someone who hadn’t spent every day locked inside—might bring a sense of adventure, or at least have interesting stories. But Taylor doesn’t even want to talk to me. What a letdown.
After lunch, I go back to class. When I see who’s sitting at the desk next to mine, my face grows hot. It’s bad enough I have to suffer through another of the Matriarch’s lectures, but to have Taylor beside me the whole time, that’s going to be torture. I sit at my desk and face the front wall—painted black, with lines of chalk dust ground into the cracks.
Taylor speaks in a faint mumble. “Sorry.”
When I can no longer stop myself from looking, I turn my head. Taylor’s eyes catch mine. Blue eyes. Haunting eyes. I open my mouth to speak, to accept the apology, but can’t even breathe.
The Matriarch steps inside the room and flashes one of her fake smiles. “Taylor, would you come to the front of the class?”
The girls whisper as Taylor inches forward. Hanging above is an Emergency Room sign. A piece has broken off, and some of the letters have peeled away. Now, the sign reads EMERGE.
Jordan Locke lives in Connecticut with his wife, two lively daughters and a well-behaved whippet. A graphic designer by trade, his creativity spilled over into the literary world. After years of writing, reading and learning the craft, his fifth novel, The Only Boy, brought him offers of representation from two well-known agents. Now, after the dog is fed and the kids are in bed, you will find him tapping away at the keyboard.
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