The Beautiful Ones
The Beautiful Ones Trilogy Book 1
by Kody Boye
Genre: YA Scifi Romance
My mother once said that only the Beautiful Ones survive. This is because, in the war-torn Great South, beauty is a currency, and to have it means you will never have to worry about a thing.
The only problem is: beauty is judged by our capital’s Gentlewomen, and there is no guarantee that we will past their test.
Every year, the Gentlewomen of the capital leave the Glittering City to oversee the annual Procession. They travel settlement to settlement selecting girls, aged sixteen and older, to become Beautiful Ones. If chosen, we will be lifted into a life of luxury, but the cost is our free will.
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My mother once said that only the Beautiful Ones survive. This is because, in the Great South, beauty is a currency, and to have it means that you will never have to worry about a thing. You will never be alone. You will never go hungry. You will never have to worry about being homeless. The people will love you—and most importantly: you will never have to worry about being persecuted for being less than.
“Remember,” my mother says on the day that my life may truly begin. “Chin up. Back straight. Eyes forward. Never look back.”
I look at her in the reflection of the mirror and nod regardless of the nerves fluttering about my stomach.
“All right, then,” she says. “Let’s go.”
She takes my hand and leads me from the small bedroom of our simple dwelling and into the kitchenette. There, she gathers up everything that will be necessary to lead me through town and, eventually, into the square. The first item is a hood, which will cover my head to shield my face from the sun, the next a pair of tinted glasses that will protect my eyes from the bright light and the blowing sand. Finally, she retrieves a simple handbag, which I already know contains within it a tin of fat, to keep my lips moist; a locket, to remind me of the family I may soon be leaving behind; and finally: currency, which are simply dirty bills stained with sweat and tears. My mother has slaved for hours in the sweatshops for this money—all to ensure that, should I happen to pass the Gentlewoman’s test, I will be able to eat on the train that will take me to the Glittering City.
If I pass.
The idea is daunting, the reality even more so. My red-and-yellow sun dress feels heavy upon my shoulders—not only from the weight of the fabric, but also its importance as a family heirloom. It has always been meant for me—always—yet at the same time, it feels wrong to wear it, especially in front of my mother, who is dressed in old clothes of her own.
“Mom,” I say, looking toward the clock. “It’s time to go.”
“Kelendra,” she says, taking a step toward me. I see myself in her features at this moment—her slender nose, her high cheekbones, her plump lips, her green eyes—and realize now how lucky I am to have had her as my mother. Her genetics, and those of my father who is off at war, will hopefully carry me beyond the life of poverty I have always known.
“Yes, Mom?” I ask when finally the reality of the situation begins to settle in.
She doesn’t say anything. Instead, she leans forward, takes hold of my arms, and squeezes. The whole while she is careful not to wrinkle the sun dress. “Good luck,” she says.
We both know this is an empty statement. Luck only plays a small role in what happens once we arrive at the annual Procession. The rest comes down to my appearance and how well I’ve taken care of myself for the past sixteen years.
With that in mind, I reach up to brush my mother’s hands away from my shirt and turn toward the doorway.
It isn’t long before we’re stepping outside. I immediately pull the hood over my head and push the tinted glasses over my eyes to prevent my hair from parting and my meticulously-curled eyelashes from being disturbed by the slight wind that skirts along the streets. Nervous, now more than ever, about the dangers the outside world holds for me, I cross my arms over my chest and wait for my mother to secure our modest dwelling behind us before starting down the street.
“Are you nervous?” she asks.
“Why should I be?” I reply, determined not to let my emotions get the best of me, lest I start crying and risk ruining what little homemade makeup I have on my face. “It’s not like anything will change if I don’t get accepted.”
My mother doesn’t say anything. Rather, she reaches down, takes hold of my hand, and squeezes it for a moment before relinquishing her hold.
As we make our way up the street, careful to make sure that we don’t stray toward the mounds of sand that the neighboring women have swept from the cobblestones, I try not to look at the houses of those neighbors who live alongside us and wonder just what it is they might be thinking. Already I can imagine their thoughts at hand—their doubts, their worries, their insecurities. My mother’s oldest friend, Mrs. Garret, waves at me as we pass, and I wave back to ensure that she is noticed. She is an elderly woman, crippled beyond compare from what Witch Doctor Emery describes as arthritis of the back, and was the one kind enough to supply the spices that my mother used to create the makeup I now wear on my face.
“Let’s stop for a moment,” my mother says.
“But,” I start.
“Her blessings will do you good, Kelendra.”
I am anxious beyond compare to get to the town square before the rest of the girls arrive, but know that I can’t refuse my mother this luxury. Mrs. Garret has always been one for prayer, and it would be wrong to deny her the chance to offer some spiritual guidance for me on this monumental day.
With that in mind, we turn and approach the woman’s front door.
“Well hello dear,” Mrs. Garret says, centering her old eyes on me. “Aren’t you looking beautiful today.”
“You can’t even see my eyes,” I say.
“It doesn’t matter. I can tell from your posture. The way you hold yourself is very regal.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Garret.”
“Now then,” the old woman says, turning her eyes on my mother. “Shall we pray?”
“We shall,” my mother says.
I reach out and take hold of my mother’s hand, then extend my palm to grace Mrs. Garret’s. I tremble as the hot sun beats down upon my shoulders and as the woman begins her prayer, calling upon a kind God who has ensured that we have always had food on the table and good health for both my mother and I.
“Hear me,” Mrs. Garret says, “as I pray for Wynnona Byron, and for her daughter, Kelendra—who, on this day, is to be tested by forces beyond her control, and her beauty witnessed by the masses.”
I raise my head from prayer to find both Mrs. Garret’s and my mother’s eyes closed and look toward the road, where other girls and their mothers are making their way down the road. I take note of Ashlynn, who is pretty but not exceptionally beautiful, then Sondra, who bears a disfiguring birthmark across her face, and nod at each of them—feeling, deep down, in the fibers of my being, that neither of them will make it regardless of their merits or characters. Most girls are picked based on what is traditionally beautiful—first being their eyes, clear and radiant in color; then their skin, smooth and clear as water. Their features must not be marred by scar or acne, blemish or disability, neither of which these girls are blessed with. I am, fortunately, and therefore have a better shot at being picked by one of the Gentlewomen during the Procession, but just because I am beautiful does not mean that will determine my fate.
There are rules that no one knows—boundaries that no Unfortunate Individual can understand—and for that reason, I will take all the blessings I can get.
Mrs. Garret says, “Amen” and lifts her head to look at me, a sad expression on her face as she realizes that I have dismissed the prayer in lieu of my own thoughts and feelings. “Kelendra,” she says.
“Yessum?” I ask.
“You will do well.”
“Thank you,” I say.
“I am fortunate to have known many fine young women throughout my life,” Mrs. Garret continues, “and though I realize that not all of you will make it through, those who do will do many great things. I know, if you are picked, you will do the same.”
“Thank you, ma’am,” I say.
“Now—don’t stand around on account of me. Go, and know that I will be praying for you.”
With a nod, I turn, guide my mother back toward the street, and begin to mentally prepare myself for what is to come.
Above all, I understand three things:
I am kind.
I am smart.
And, without a doubt: I am beautiful.
The War Outside
The Beautiful Ones Trilogy Book 2
I have accomplished the goal of my lifetime. I have become a Beautiful One.
But it is not at all what I expected. Between the glitz, the glam, the fame, fortune, and my recent wedding, it’s almost impossible to believe that a civil war rages beyond the capitol city’s walls, and that my life was nearly taken because of it. This is why, the day after the attempt on my life, I choose to designate my Purpose to the great war.
There’s no guarantee that my words will change anything. But as my presence within the Glittering City grows, it becomes quickly apparent that I am in danger… and that no one, not even my government, can save me.
Born and raised in Southeastern Idaho, Kody Boye began his writing career with the publication of his story [A] Prom Queen’s Revenge at the age of fourteen. Published nearly three-dozen times before going independent at eighteen, Boye has authored numerous works—including the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella The Diary of Dakota Hammell, the zombie novel Sunrise and the epic fantasy series The Brotherhood Saga.