Sex outside of marriage just wasn’t frowned upon in Aklava, it was against the law. Hell, it was even punishable by death. Although, teenage girls were sometimes shown mercy. All forms of birth control and abortion were also illegal – usually punished by jail time and sometimes by death when Chieftains wanted to make an example of you.

The sad thing was that even though the law technically applied to everyone, men were usually given a free pass. The double standard against my gender was nervy, although I guess it wasn’t totally surprising.

But where do I, Cecily Jones, fit into this? Well, let’s just say Aklava isn’t the best place for a seventeen year old girl to come of age.

I got up out of my bed. It was yet another sleepless night – an unfortunately frequent occurrence. I looked outside the window and saw someone across the street being shoved into a black car. It must have been the secret police. They always spied on everyone and somehow they knew everything.

There was one thing besides my supportive parents that made life bearable, though. Julian. He was amazing. He was tall, tan, blond and happened to live in my town.

Unfortunately, that didn’t matter, though, since besides being with male family members, it was forbidden for a female to be seen with a male in public.

I sat down in the chair in front of my desk and pulled out a notebook from the top drawer. I scribbled down my thoughts.

Despite the fact that it was forbidden for women to go to school, they were still allowed to read and write. Girls or women seldom learned to read or write, though. I guess they just didn’t see the point. I couldn’t say I blamed them. After all, what was the point for a girl or a woman to be educated if there was no hope of elevating their status in society?

That was the sad but realistic truth.

The following morning after my Dad went to work and my Mom went out to run errands, Julian and I were lying in my bed next to each other with a giant comforter pulled over us masking everything below our necks, and sweat continued to slowly trickle down our faces.

I gazed into his eyes. “I love you,” I confessed.
“Me too,” agreed Julian.
“You really are such a great guy.”
“You’re rather fantastic yourself,” said Julian.
I decided to put my head on his chest but was worried about him. After all, he hadn’t been to school in a long time.
“It was nice of you to skip school again.”

“You’re worth it.”
“And I appreciate that but I would hate for you to get into trouble because of me. I mean you haven’t even been to school in over a week. I’m sure someone is bound to notice.”
“You worry too much.”
“And, you’re too cavalier.”
“Honestly, you just need to relax a little.”
“I can’t imagine what the Chieftains would think of us.”
“Screw them,” said Julian.
“Yeah. You’re right. They are a bunch of fools.”
“They really are tyrants though.”
“They can’t break us up,” said Julian with a slight degree of arrogance. I couldn’t help but be fixated on him.
“No matter what though, I love you.”
“What do you mean no matter what?”
“Forget it,” I responded.
“I really wish that you would lighten up.”
“Over my dead body.”
“Don’t even think that,” said Julian.

If the Chieftains ever found out about my dalliances with Julian, I don’t know what I would do.
I didn’t even want consider that possibility.

“I have to go,” said Julian as he started to get up.

“No,” I said as I tried to grab his arm and get him to stay. But, it was too late. He was already putting his pants and shirt on, and before I knew it he was gone and I was lying in bed all alone. Not that I blamed Julian though, since it was probably best that he left before people became suspicious.

The following day was Friday, which meant that it was execution day. Everyone was required to gather in the town square for the event.

If you ask me, it was really a massacre.

I walked over to my closet and put on my shirt and pants. The dress code was rather strict in Aklava in the sense that you didn’t dare wear anything that wasn’t conservative, which meant no cleavage or midriff.

Oh well, the dress code was the least of my problems.

I glanced down at my shirt. In addition to all the other absurdities in Aklava it was required for unmarried females 13 and up to wear a giant blood red colored stitched V on all their shirts. It supposedly stood for virginity, and how girls had to save themselves for marriage.

Thirty minutes later everyone was gathered in the town center at the massive stadium. I was seated next to my parents as I scanned the crowd for Julian. After a moment I noticed him, and for a brief second we both locked eyes – but only for a second, since we didn’t dare attract attention.

One thousand feet in front of the stadium a line of 20 women gasped in horror as they approached the executioner.

A bearded man cleared his throat as he prepared to read the indictments.

“On behalf of the Chieftains I hereby pronounce you women to death for premarital sex, adultery, prostitution, sabotage, treason and all other crimes both named and unnamed against the state,” he said.

The first woman who walked up to the executioner sported black attire. I couldn’t help but notice as she trembled in fear.
She placed her head on the flat square podium. With one swift movement the executioner dropped his axe and the lady’s head went flying.

I put my hand over my mouth! It really was quite horrifying, even if I had seen it happen hundreds of times before…

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