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Jules

He was not going to be just anybody, he was going to matter, he thought, looking at the crowd beneath him, and then he blacked out for a while, not listening a word of the headmaster's carefully prepared speech.
“You are gathered here today to celebrate the end of the first courses of these students.” Mister Gontrand said, mopping the sweat from his forehead with a knitted tissue. “The work done during these four years has at least been rewarding: your diploma shows that you are ready to become adults. To take your place into our society.” The mothers, who were until then quietly sitting on the folding chairs arranged in rows and columns in the main hall, looked proudly at their offsprings gathered on the scene behind the headmaster and began to clap. “It is now time to announce your vocation in public,” he continued when the noise had stopped. “This is when you decide who you will be. The choice of your future school will decide your entire life. Will it be politics, engineering, research, poetry...? You must decide.” He turned his large body to face directly the throngs of mothers and raised his voice : “And I am proud to announce that some of our students here were chosen to be part of the special program of reproduction and education.” The women, as a single being, stopped breathing for an instant. “Having followed a similar program yourselves, you understand the luck of these young girls. Having the right to create life and to care for it is in our society one of the rarest gifts and an honour.”
“Honour”, he heard behind the fog of his thoughts and suddenly he was not day-dreaming anymore. He felt very conscious of the warm beam of sunlight on his right leg and every little noise in the large room. The cracking of an old chair as a mother replaced her dress. […] Soon it was going to be his turn to go alone in front of the microphone and once again, like a song stuck in his head, he repeated to himself “I am not going to be just anybody”. It has been months now, years maybe or even perhaps since he was old enough to formulate a thought, that he had known he was going to be a father. He had tried to talk about it to his mum but each time she had patted his head and had told him to stop being silly and finish his dish. He had never mentioned it at school. It was not something to be trifled with, one of his teachers said one day. “Everybody knows that women are inherently better equipped to deal with parenthood and that in our society we cannot afford the luxury to let people breed as they would like. Birth rules are here to protect the people from themselves.” He had thrown up in the school bathroom after this History class. And now it was his turn. He stepped forward into the artificial light and opened his mouth. But nothing came. At first, the mothers were smiling; a shy one. Then, there was coughs and the headmaster hurried next to him. “Young man, what do you decide : science, politics, art?”