Women in long flowing white dresses dotted the gathering place. The fragrance of flowers filled the air from the orchards nearby and men of all ages set down blanket for the picnic. This year it was going to be a wonderful gathering. The morning sun warmed the air and birds sang out from the massive trees that offered their shade. Her mother had kissed her forehead and placed the wreath in her hands, then sent her out.
She knew what this meant. She was the chosen this year. She wasn’t the prettiest, or the smartest, and she was far from being the most popular. But for some reason, which she didn’t quite understand, they had chosen her. She was quite sure of what she was supposed to do other than to pick someone. Her hands clutched the flowering wreath, and she hoped that no one would notice that her knuckles had turned white from her grip. Who was she going to pick?
She had to pick the right person; everyone was counting on it. Many people, both men and women flocked to her, as she wandered. They hoped that she would pick them. All she had to do was set the wreath upon someone’s head and it was done. Everyone would know who she picked and would gossip about it for forever. This is why she didn’t want to be the chosen, but they had picked her. Someone told her once that they drew the names out of a little hat. She wasn’t sure if it was true or not. No one knew for sure how they picked the chosen every year.
Her mother had beamed with pride, and with tears in her eyes. She told her that she had to choose well, because whomever she picked, she would have to live with it for the rest of her life.
“Please pick me.” Her sister whined. “You have to always pick family first.”
“But” she replied. “I don’t want to. I don’t really want to pick anyone.”
Her sister huffed and moved away. She could live with her sister’s disappointment.
The day wore on. People were starting to get impatient. They wanted to know who she would give the wreath to. No one could start cooking the festive meal until she had chosen, it was a sacred tradition that no one was willing to break. In the years, before, someone had always been picked fast in the morning. It was just past noon and the sun had already climbed to its zenith. People were starting to wonder about why she hadn’t chosen anyone yet. She could hear their whispers.
All eyes were now on her. Voices hushed whenever she walked by, and she knew without a doubt that they were talking about her. They didn’t think that she would choose anyone.
“Why don’t you just choose me.” Daisy snarked at her. “I don’t know why you were made chosen anyways. I deserved it more than you do. You are just a useless skank.”
“I don’t really want to choose anyone.” She replied. Daisy and the girls around her laughed. She hated their laughter. They had tormented her ever since she and her family came to this place.
“I know you don’t.” Another of the girls sneered. “Who would want to be with you anyway?” Someone pushed her from behind. She turned and didn’t see who. Daisy covered her mouth and snickered.
“You should let me choose for you.” Daisy laughed. “I will choose, and we will all get to eat tonight.”
“What?” Daisy gaped. “Are you serious?”
She nodded. “Point at who you want to me to pick and,” she held up the wreath. “I will crown them. I never wanted to be chosen.”
Daisy laughed. “Damn right. You are pathetic. A nobody. They should have picked me. In fact, I pick me. Hand it over.” Daisy held her hand out for the flowers.
She smirked. “No. We will do this the old traditional way. Kneel.”
Daisy rolled her eyes and kneed on the grass before her. She lifted the wreath high then slowly placed in on Daisy’s head. “There.” She said. “It’s done.
She took Daisy’s hand and lead her away. The picnic always happened in this same field because it was the farthest from the kitchens. They didn’t want the smoke from the ovens to disturb the community. The elders said that it was symbolic, this journey away from everyone. They said that it was important to spend this time with one’s chosen and to appreciate them.
She didn’t appreciate Daisy. Daisy snarked at her for the entire time of the walk. Why do you have to be so weird? Why don’t you dress better? You suck. The questions went on and on. Daisy never shut up. By the time they arrived at the steel doors of the kitchen, she had grown tired of listening. It was wrong of her to not totally appreciate Daisy. She knew that. Choosing Daisy was something that she could still live with, however.
She waved at the door, like her mother had told her. She hadn’t been this close to the kitchens before. The entire building had been made from thick steel and no one knew how long it had been there.
“So, what do we do now?”
They didn’t wait long. The entire building shook. The doors didn’t slid open to the side as she had imagined that they would. She could hear the gears grinding deep with the structure. The doors lurched upward revealing a cavernous space filled with shadows.
They stepped forward, a trio of elders. They moved silently over the dusty floor and their faces were hidden with the deep folds of their robes.
“You have chosen.”
She swallowed. “Yes.”
Their robes swirled around them as they turned towards Daisy. She took a deep breath, raised her chin, and stubbornly held her ground. “You have chosen well. Very well.” One placed his hands on Daisy’s shoulders; the other pulled a long knife from beneath the grey cloth.
“Wait!” Daisy tried to pull away. “What are you doing?”
“You have been chosen for the feast.” One of the grey ones said in a low whispering voice. “She was chosen, but she chose another, and she chose well.”
“No! Please! I don’t want to die.”
“It’s okay.” The grey one said and raised the blade.
“Wait.” She shouted. They turned towards her. She held out her hand. “I am the one who picked her. Please let me do it.”
The elder nodded and held the knife out to her. She took the blade. It was heavy in her hand and it felt, not good, but right. Daisy started screaming and struggling against the elder’s grip.
She smirked. She sliced open Daisy’s throat in one smooth motion. Blood turned the white dress red and splatted on the ground. Daisy’s bright blue eyes stared as her last breath guggled free.
“You should have been nicer to me.” She said.