By Brianne Barkley
Based of The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt
It’s the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year. Tonight at seven o’clock, we will pick the new Seven. Mother is beyond herself, with excitement or trepidation, I’m not entirely sure. Once every century, the world comes together to vote. Millions of seven-word sentences are sent in and it is narrowed down to seven choices: the most profound, the most ingenious, the most unique. And then we go to vote. Anyone over the age of ten is allowed a say in the new Seven.
I sit with the list of seven sentences perched in my lap, crinkled and full of my own little notes and questions. A crease is growing between my eyebrows as I study each line, each word, each tiny syllable.
“I remember the last time,” my grandmother interrupts my thoughts with a shaky voice , age spotting her withered skin from top to toes, “I was only eight, mind, but my whole family was all in a dither. They studied the Seven, they ripped apart each word in each sentence and judged them individually. No one told me what the choices were. No,” she adds, catching my look of surprise, “they weren’t allowed, were they? Under the age of ten, and you’re exempt. Until they pick the Seven, at least.
“They revealed it to the world the next morning at seven,” my grandmother giggles quietly to herself, “too many sevens if you ask me! Anyways, the world’s prime minister stood way up on a podium… taller than a mountain, I’m sure it was. Cameras were pointed at him from every angle. Millions of people were crammed into the stadium he overlooked, pushing and muttering angrily as they strained their ears for every breath of noise. I was at home,” she adds, “watching it on our little sixty inch screen…” (She glanced at our one-hundred-and-twenty inch screen, smaller than average by today’s standard), “And the prime minister, he cleared his throat real loud like. And he ran a pinky finger across his upper lip… some nervous twitch I’m sure. And then everything went real hushed.
“His mouth broke into a huge grin, happy or maybe just mad, I’m not sure. And he croaked out one loud hoarse laugh and then shut his trap just quick as that,” she snaps her bony fingers, “and he says, real quietly now… ‘We have our Seven,’ and I swear the whole world went on mute right then. Even the babies and the dogs seemed to shut their mouths and listen. He pulls out this thick envelope, brighter yellow than the sun. And he ran a stubby finger under the fold, carefully pulling it open like it may burst into flame at any moment.
“So he pulls out a piece of paper. It seemed strange to see just that flimsy sheet flapping in the breeze, holding our secret for the next one hundred years. The prime minister, his eyes scanned the paper and his mouth formed silent words. I think maybe it was the first time he had read the final choice too. And there was this one small moment where his eyes seemed to narrow, seemed to become little slits of anger, and I realized his choice wasn’t on that paper. But the moment passed, unnoticed by most I’m sure, and he cleared his voice once more…
“ ‘Our new Seven,’ he said, ‘We live in the Heavens, before death.’ ”
My grandmother shifts her eyes to me, studying my face as she utters the words I have heard hundreds of thousands of times, over and over since I was born.
“And you should’ve heard the silence, angel,” she tells me, “quiet enough to hear a moth’s wings fluttering. And then, pandemonium!” She slaps a spotted hand down on her chair’s arm, “Some people were happy, some were sobbing sadly into their hands, others were so angry it looked like they might explode at any second.
“You see, honey, you can’t please everyone. The Seven is our legacy; it’s the words we choose to connect us all as one person. And there is no way in hell that billions of people will ever agree on seven little words. So take a breath. Close your eyes, doll, and take that dull pencil you’ve been scribbling with for the last month and jab it into that paper. Let it pick for you. Because God knows, we don’t ever really have a choice to begin with, do we?”
Her eyes grow misted and sad as her mouth silently forms the words we have all uttered every day for one hundred years. Then her eyes found mine.
“You don’t need the Seven,” she whispers. “You’re the seventh wonder of this world.”