And they lived (1)  happily (2) forever (3) after (4).


(1) Note: For a given value of ‘lived’. They were both alive but with the restrictions on what they could eat, what they could wear, where they could get housing, where they could get their kids educated, when they could travel, how much money they were paid, and the sanctions imposed on them where they strayed outside the boundaries, they spent a lot of their time ensuring that they were following the rules.

(2) Note: For a given value of ‘happily’. Following the rules meant they rarely had to cope with unexpected payday shortfalls however emergencies were not always easy to budget for. Giving up the car meant fewer large bills but it also curtailed their ability to visit friends and family further than 30 mins by bus away. Little luxuries were budgeted for and any deviation from the plan usually resulted in a discussion over ‘what was necessary’ versus ‘what was nice to have’. Their definitions were sometimes different.

(3) Note: For a given value of ‘forever’. It wasn’t really long enough for either of their tastes.

(4) After the living stopped for one of them, the other went into mourning hibernation for a year. When she emerged from the black cave she had hidden herself in, she discovered that she had been charged with ‘Duping the System With the Intention to Benefit.’ Punishment was 25 lashes delivered by her Case Worker. She didn’t have enough time to protest the charge. The Whipping took 40 minutes. A bell was rung after every 5 lashes. During further investigation it was discovered that she had filed all the correct paperwork but the Accountability Office had lost it.  She went into her local office and confronted the Manager and Case Worker. The Manager said the Case Worker would be appropriately disciplined.

She never found her flogger after that.


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