You are sixteen.
You’re different from the others in your neighborhood. Your family keeps to itself. You spend nine months of the year at a boarding school by the ocean, one not listed in any school directory. You don’t go there because you choose to, you go there because it’s what you do, what your parents did, what everyone like you does.
Because you are Aware.
Being Aware isn’t something you’ve chosen. It’s just part of you, like the color of your hair, the color of your eyes, the shape of your nose. The way you can see anger, or fear, or desire, as color, as texture, can watch them spread from one person to the next. To you.
The only place that’s safe, the only place that’s quiet, is the Estate. It’s school, it’s home, it’s the safe haven for the Aware. The only thing it asks for in return is your future, your mind, your body, all given to help preserve your endangered people.
The rules of the Estate keep you safe. They keep all the Aware safe, protecting those elegant fragile minds from the emotional debris of an overcrowded world. From the inside, in this safe place, you’ve no reason to question the rules.
But you’re not quite on the inside. You’ve been keeping a secret. Every mind around you gives off a pulse, a smell, a trail of pleasure and pain that you can follow. You shouldn’t know these things. Only Trackers do. And everyone knows what happens to girls with Tracker traits. At the end of a path through the woods waits a building with a chain link fence around it. Within its walls live the women born with and destroyed by skills only men should have.
The Estate keeps them safe too.
Sometimes life can change within a day, an hour, a minute. The way it does when you learn that other Aware exist, far from the reaches of the Estate. That your talent won’t destroy you, but not being allowed to use it will.
You are sixteen. You have a choice. Stay with The Estate. Fulfill your obligations. Hide who you are. Or betray everything you know, and be free.
You are Wren.