As we know, children want to play. As we also know, sometimes parents have loose tongues. A combination of these factors can be disastrous. This was seen when Witt tried to organise a game of doctors and nurses in the playground, which his mother said she'd enjoyed when she was young. But that was then, this was now, and his actions received more than a little opprobrium. He was six.
At seven, after hearing of it from his father, he persuaded his schoolmates to play a different game. Again, it was believed that certain stereotypical roles may have been assigned. Consequently, his name was placed on The List and his parents were reprimanded.
From then on, his schooldays were spent under strict supervision. These and other transgressions were kept on record and it was decided that he be sent to Wykenham College in order to undergo a program of evaluation and repair until he was finally pronounced suitable to enter adult society.
And let the importance of such rehabilitation not be ignored. For as President Wykenham often said, most people managed not to infringe. Those, like Witt, who failed to assimilate, were guilty of jeopardising the personal development of others and thereby undermining the very foundations of the system itself.
It was to protect Witt from himself, as much as anyone else, that he was assigned a mentor named Sam. Witt, being his usual self, immediately set himself back one year by referencing Sam incorrectly. Naturally, this necessitated a period of correction before the pair of them could think of addressing the conditions that would allow Witt to open a bank account and, thus, properly begin his advancement in the system.
Being denied access to a bank account was tantamount to not existing. Without it, you could make only low-level purchases and you wouldn’t be able to find full-time employment or secure independent accommodation. Witt was encouraged to feel fortunate in the sense that he was under the aegis of the government as ‘a special case’. But that was already becoming somewhat limiting, debilitating even, especially when he compared his situation to that of his peers.
Witt’s journey then was long and fraught. His triumphs were characterised by the completion of small steps. A job here. A better job there. A modest place to live. A slightly better one. He did manage to earn some money. Not much, but enough. He had various acquaintances but missed out on anything deeper as soon as potential friends or partners exercised their right to vet him.
Years turned into decades, and Witt’s insular life meant that he wasn’t aware of how grumblings about the system had become more persistent.
“Hey, have you heard the news?” his co-worker asked one morning. “Wykenham’s finally out, Andersen’s in: you can say what you like now!”
Witt was speechless.