I wake up; it is still dark but I know I cannot sleep anymore. I get out of bed. Louise and Catherine, my sisters remain sound asleep. I slept nude, as we all do. I slip my feet into my high heeled slippers; pick up my bathrobe and leave.
In the corridor, I put on my bathrobe. It is the last piece of clothing that I shall wear. I make my way downstairs. In a sense, it is a violation of the rules that I wear any clothing on this, my last day. As of this morning, I am meat animal and meat animals do not wear clothes. There is no one awake in the house, this early in the morning, so I suppose it doesn't matter.
The kitchen smells of the barbecue sauce we made last night. Catherine turns eighteen today, old enough to enter the lottery, but she is the smartest of us. She aced all her tests and has earned meat classification A. Her number only enters the lottery on the official holidays, New Year, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The whole family and a bunch of friends and neighbors will turn out for her party and coming of age barbecue.
I will be the pig at the feast.
I slide open the patio doors and step outside. The chill air makes me shiver under the bathrobe and the friction of the terry cloth makes my nipples stand out, as if I was excited. I walk on the grass towards the pit. The moonlight bathes the backyard in its blue light. The oiled spit gleams on its iron supports over the charcoal filled pit. Dad set it up yesterday, the kindling, covered by the charcoal, and the four long wicks of rolled cotton that sink to the bottom of the pit, to light it. In between the regular charcoal he mixed self lighting one, to make sure it will light up easily. I helped him set it up, another family tradition I could have done without. A can of lighter fluid to soak the cotton wicks sits nearby.
I shiver again, and I know it is not from the cold.
The eastern sky begins to turn light.
I should return to the house but something keeps me outside. After yesterday's party, no one will be up early today.
Under the awning, the hardwood spitting table sits; the straps at the legs of the table await my ankles and wrists. The dark stains, on its surface, terrify me. I shake in terror and tears come to my eyes.
It is better I get this over with here, with no one watching. I fall to my knees beside the table; I almost believe I can smell the blood, the fear and the pain of those who went before me.
I have seen quite a few barbecues in my short adult life. Most of the sows smile, and try to say something witty before the straps close around their wrists and ankles. Some fight, or cry; that is considered bad form.
I always knew I would be meat. Since my first exams at school, I knew I'd never make the B or C grade. By the time I turned eighteen I was classified D. To be turned into meat before age 25.
I guess I should be happy to have lasted this long, being in the holiday, monthly and weekly lotteries. Not many D grades make it to 23.
I have never seen the sun rise. I stand by the table and dry my eyes; my shaking is mostly under control. The rim of the sun peeks above the roofs. It is beautiful. Pity I won't see it again.
I return to the house.
In the bathroom I begin to give myself the three enema series that will make sure I don't make a mess. Once the water runs clear, I give myself one large last one, just to make sure.