PERFECT WORLD, by Rosamund Hodge
“Hello. My name is Claire Lewis. I had my bad luck removed at age ten, and it’s made a wonderful change in my life.”
Because ten year olds, such underachievers, am I right?
I glare at the bathroom mirror. My stomach is a knot of fear. It’s fine for Mom to stride onto the TV screen, wearing her stilettos and her pinstriped suits and that steely smile make everyone love and fear her. And Lara, my older sister, she’s got that warm grin, a double degree in pre-med and politics, and the Fulbright scholarship to Oxford.
I try a smile. It looks way too full of teeth.
“I’m seventeen years old, I got a perfect score on the SAT, and there’s a full ride waiting for me at Harvard.”
Except I don’t have any of that yet, except the seventeen years old part.
Right now I’ve got a tutor, a load of AP classes, choir practice, soccer practice, and student newspaper duties. Also: bloodshot eyes, no boyfriend, and twelve extra pounds from all the stress-induced doubleshot mochas.
And I’m supposed to walk onto a sound stage and convince the nation that early-intervention luck adjustment is such a good idea it ought to be mandatory.
I have to make Mom proud.
I take a deep breath and look myself in the eye.
“I know people say that early intervention puts too much pressure on kids. Makes them feel like they have to achieve. Doesn’t let them learn from their mistakes. But all it’s ever done is give me freedom! I’ve made plenty of mistakes—like the pink hair incident, ha ha—”
I pause. Try the laugh again. Give up on it.
“—but the procedure means my mistakes don’t have to define me. That the deck isn’t stacked against me. That I’m getting a chance to stretch my wings and fly.”