Three days define who a person will be for the rest of their life. The day they are born. Testing Day, where their abilities are determined. And, of course, Career Day, where social status, wealth, and future prospects are decided for them by an exhibition hall of employers.
I passed my birth with great pains. According to stories Mom told me, my labor gave her particular difficulty. After arriving too soon, too weak to survive on my own, I lived in an incubator for the first six weeks of my life in a struggle to survive. It’s why she sometimes—annoyingly—calls me, “tough guy.”
Up until Testing Day, everyone—from my teachers to my neighbors—called me a late bloomer and constantly reassured my parents that eventually I would fall into one of the Four Branches of Powers. They said it as if doing so was something I would just stumble over on the sidewalk one day and say, “Oh look, there’s my Power!”
Testing Day came early in my ninth year of schooling, alongside everyone else in my class. Those who had already developed their ability were divided into groups based on their Branch of Power: Somatic for Powers relating to the body; Naturalist for those with organic Powers; Psionic for the Power of the mind; and Divinic for those with Powers outside our world. Mostly, this division left me and three other kids—Mo, Dave, and Leo—uncategorized. By the end of the day, only I remained unclassified. Testing Day was a bitter disappointment for everyone in my family— including me.
Ordinary people have Powers and prospects. I have neither.
Now I face Career Day, where I get to parade around a convention center with all the other doeeyed, eleventh-year students and try to convince businesses why my Power is worth employment. Except I still don’t have one, and probably never will.
I’ve dreaded this day for years. Now, there’s no escaping it.
Miraculously, my parents haven’t given up on me. They still hold on to the hope that everything is about to change.
For all our sakes, I hope they are right.