A New Chance To Explore Life

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It was a beautiful, sunny day as Ellie Duong went on a trip.

She had just graduated from Yale a few weeks ago, her bachelor's degree in hand. Yet she still had to sit on this private bus with "other talented graduates" because of this fucking work-study program. She thought back on why she was sent here. Her mother was a talented woman, but she was too strict to her children. Education, eating, entertainment, socializing… as if Ellie had been a doll. After all those years of studying, she would have more freedom, no longer having her time micromanaged— yet it still wasn’t the truth, because she found herself trapped in the struggle for jobs. How long will it be until she becomes finally free? Ever since she was a little girl, she had always believed that she was not the only person with such thinking. Humans were no more than animals in a cage, and those managing to escape their smaller restraints would still be trapped in bigger cages, still isolated from the rest of the world.

Years of conformity made her constantly desire to live the life outside her reach, even for just a moment. She promised herself she would exchange everything for that, and it was time for her to do it. "I could always turn them down as soon as I get there. Then I could finally travel as much as I like.", she looked out of the bus window, lost in thought. "How long has it been since the last time I looked at the blue sky?". Maybe it was a peaceful day for her.

Suddenly, a message popped up on her phone.

mom

7:35 PM 04/03/2026

Remember to go to the piano lesson when you finish the meal.

You have already missed Mr. Smith's lesson twice.

11:00 AM 10/05/2027

Someone told me that you didn't attend class today.

where the f*ck have you been

talk to me young girl

I'm so sorry mom, my car broke down this morning 😢

no more explanations, I will talk to your father

6:27 PM 21/08/2029

hey mom, can i go hang out with my friends tonight?

for just about an hour, and then i will come back to the dorm.

i promise

no.

7:00 PM 02/12/2030

Mom, two more days until my graduation.

can you two come, either of you is fine

…hello?

We are very busy lately. Your father has to meet an important customer on that day so we won't attend.

I hope you can understand. This business is very important.

Today

Are you coming there soon?

I have prepared a presentation for you. Remember to read that.

We have spent a lot of money to get you the opportunity to apply for the company, so don't disappoint me.

Not yet mom, still have a long trip. I'm pretty tired, so please don't text me more. Will call back when I get there.

She texted back then threw the phone aside. Boredom and disappointment took over her, forcing her to find something else for entertainment. She noticed an iPad next to her seat. "The instructor says we should use this device to know more about the company during the trip. Well, I have nothing to do anyways." She picked up the iPad as she thought, tapping on the only app visible on the screen. One video file showed up on the device after a few seconds.




A new feeling crept through her spine. This amount of information came so quickly, rushing into her mind. So many questions to be solved, so many things to be answered. While Ellie’s mind was filled with thoughts, the bus stopped.

She got off, in awe with the scenery before her eyes. The blue sky was replaced by a strong, solid dome. A large facility with hundreds of people pacing back and forth, all up to their ears in work. She walked briskly, past the sealed adjacent rooms, having nothing on the exterior but a large glass pane. Inside each of them, advanced machinery that she had never seen before were working, as well as those things- “anomalies”, as they called them. Strange creatures were trapped inside, shrieking, emitting blood-curdling noises. Scientists stood right before them, calmly and composedly taking notes. Their faces displayed exhaustion after long working hours.

She heard a ting from her phone.

Are you there yet?

She smiled, "Maybe this place is not that bad".

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