My name is Cas, and I have just been caught stealing. It was only a loaf of bread, mind you, but in my society, any type of crime, be it big or small, has the same exact punishment. Banishment from the Island. I remember last year, when Terry, the local psycho, had punched his doctor in the face. The ceremony was brief, and the same as it always was. The Elders put Terry in a boat, and explained to the crowd of people watching why it was wrong to physically injure or hurt another person. Then everyone responded with the same type of response as always, “Our lesson from Terry is not to hurt.” Then they told Terry that he had one cycle of moons to try and find other land, and if he returned by then, his crime would be forgiven. Then they pushed the boat out into the vast expanse of water, and everyone left.
No one has ever returned from banishment. They either died at sea, which was the most likely, or they found a mainland, and decided not to return. If that was the case, I don’t blame them, this place absolutely sucks. Not that I have much to go on, but I’m pretty sure most societies aren’t nearly as strict as this one, at least, based on the history books they weren’t. In other places the punishment fit the crime, as they say. But they Elders say that a crime is a crime, it doesn’t matter if it is stealing a loaf of bread, or murdering someone. “We will not stand for any disorder in Concordia.” is what they always tell people, “we don’t want to go back to the old days.” And everyone always accepts it, and people rarely make mistakes. But now, look at me, I’ve just made one, and it may cost me my life.
I stare out into the crowd as the Elders recite their usual speech. Nobody will look me in the eye, except for one person, my sister, Tessa. She is the only one who isn’t displaying any sort of emotion. Everyone else has looks of either sadness, disappointment, or disgust, disgust being the most common. But Tessa’s eyes burn into my soul, and I sense nothing from her. Her face is a blank slate of apparent indifference. Maybe she’s glad that I am being banished, then she will only have to fend for herself. No more little brother to take care of, she can have any and all the food that she can get. I close my eyes, trying to blink away tears. I need to stop thinking these depressing thoughts. My sister isn’t like that, she cares about me. I open my eyes and try to communicate to her that I’m sorry, but her expression doesn’t change. I feel the tears start to come back, so I look down at the ground.
Finally I hear the crowd recite the last of the usual phrases,
“Our lesson from Cas is not to steal.” and the elders lower me into the small boat, and untie the ropes from around my arms. I rub my wrists, trying to get the circulation back, and sit down on the bench.
“Cas, you have one cycle of moons to find other land, and if you return by then your crime will be forgiven” one of the Elders says to me, his voice indifferent. I give him the dirtiest look I can muster, but he remains unscathed. Then two men walk up to my boat, and push it out to sea. I start to row, looking out at the vast ocean, not even glancing back at the crowd, or the city. The image of my sister’s indifferent expression remaining, burned into my mind.