The sun has barely risen over the distant horizon, smudges of pale pink and soft orange spreading like water colors on the edge of the blue canvas. The air is cool, a slight breeze dances around, causing the leaves on the branches overhead to rustle quietly. Today is the day I will sit my aptitude test, and discover which faction I am suited for the most.
Will I be Dauntless, brave and strong?
Will I be Candor, painfully honest?
Will I be Amity, peaceful and kind?
Will I be Abnegation, selfless, generous?
Or maybe Erudite, intelligent, brilliantly so.
A part of me is terrified that I am none of those things. That I am perhaps an aberration, and there is something wrong deep down inside of me, something broken, which will defy all expectations and show that I am do not fit in anywhere. This thought is the reason I am awake at five in the morning, hidden away in the cluster of trees that separate's Amity's borders from the inter-faction community, watching a deep river making its way slowly down towards the lake in Amity.
A lustrous, green field glows emerald in the early morning light on the other side, stretching out as far as the eye can see, ending at the large white fence surrounding our city. It was designed to keep us safe from the places in our world that never recovered from humanity's last, brutal war.
My mind's churning out a billion thoughts per second, running in circles and I cannot seem to pin any one single line of coherency down, to focus on. This test is supposed to give insight to what it is we are truly made of. Who we are, and who we could be. I am not so sure that I want to find out.
The sound of twigs snapping in the background startles me. Turning my neck, I see a tall figure, clad in black, making its way to the clearing, towards me. I watch the person get closer, eventually determining it to be A, a man, and B, a Dauntless. He has various tattoos along his neck and piercings stabbed through his lip and brow. His eyes are cold and grey as he watches me, making me a little uncomfortable. He wears tight black jeans and a thick hooded jacket, clinging to his torso and showing off every band of muscle in his chest and biceps. He's probably here for the test, to administer it, or keep an eye on the Dauntless born's, but I wonder why he is here, and at such an awful hour of the morning. Then, I realize that I don't really care, and, after weighing my chances of being murdered, I turn back to my previous position and watch outlines of birds flying high in the sky.
'Don't you have an aptitude test to take today?' His voice is deep and rough, a steely undertone running through his words. I laugh, humorlessly. 'Later on, yeah.'
'What are you doing up at 5AM? I would have thought most teenagers would be still asleep.'
I don't answer, instead bowing my head to watch the water trickling slowly by, wishing I could simply slip down between the soft ripples and completely disappear.
'I asked you a question.'
'I heard. But what I do is none of your business.' I turn my head to glance up at him, watching a mean smirk curling across his lips. He moves closer, and sits himself on the grass beside me.
'True. But I don't like being refused.'
Sighing, I rip a few blades of grass from the ground and begin threading them together. 'We don't always have the luxury of getting what we want in this world. Maybe it's time you learned to be refused.'
He stiffens, and I think, oh shit, I've pissed him off .
'You know I'm a Dauntless leader?' He asks, quietly, icy cold.
'You know I'm inter-faction?' My voice is softer but I put pressure behind the words, a warning, that I will not give in to his queries.
'Until tomorrow,' He muses, leaning back on his elbows. He appears to have relaxed all of a sudden. I watch him suspiciously out of the corner of my eye, not liking the dramatic change in emotion.
'Yeah,' I breathe out, trying to get a grip on my scattered thoughts.
'You don't sound very excited.' 'Were you?' The question takes us both by surprise; I did not intend on asking it, but I did.
He pauses. 'Yes. I couldn't wait to get out.' He stops speaking abruptly, features hardening.
'You weren't a dauntless born,' I state the obvious, and he nods.
I scan him, thinking deeply. Narrowing my eyes, I see him suddenly shift a little where he sits, as though my scrutiny has made him self conscious.
'Erudite or Candor.' I decide, watching his pierced eyebrow lifting curiously. 'Probably Erudite.' I add on, and watch as his face lifts in surprise.
'How could you tell?'
I shrug, smiling wanly. 'It's a gift.' I joke absently, debating with myself on whether or not I should ask another question, purposely this time.
He's chuckling lightly at my sarcasm, so I inhale deeply and blurt it out.
'Did you know?'
He stops laughing, brow furrowing in confusion. 'What?'
'Did you know you were going to leave Erudite?' The rest of the question hangs in the air between us, unspoken. Even before your test?
There is no hesitation in his reply this time. 'Yes.'
Now it is my turn to be confused. 'How?' How could anyone be sure, before their test? My friends, my brother, are convinced they know where they belong. They say they can feel in their hearts, that they know who they are. Maybe I just don't know myself well enough.
'I just didn't belong in Erudite. I always knew that. I envied the Dauntless, growing up. They always seemed so free and strong. So, when I tested for Dauntless, it just confirmed what I'd been thinking about anyway.'
Biting my lip, I wait for the question I know is coming.
'Do you know?'
'No. And I don't think I want to.' I admit, for the first time ever.
He sits forward, interested.
Considering my words carefully, I string them together in a manner which I hope will make sense..'Because, what if I'm not anything?'
'What do you mean?'
Okay, no, it didn't make sense. But my face was flushing deeply, my heart pounding against my ribs almost painfully and I couldn't think of any way to explain the jumble of fears inside of me. What if I didn't belong in the system? What if I had to be factionless? Nothing against them personally, but when I passed one on the street, they seemed like zombies, with empty eyes and dirty clothes hanging from their frail bodies. It was not a life I wanted.
It was not a life at all.
Pressing my palms tightly together, I shake my head. 'It doesn't matter. Ignore me, I'm just being stupid.
Silence stretches out between us, but it is comfortable, and I stare at my lap while he considers something.
'Everyone is something.' He says, finally. 'Those who are not part of the faction system have chosen so themselves.'
I jump, eyes widening as I meet the man's gaze. It's as though he has read my mind. At the same time, I realize that he isn't exactly a man. He looks young despite the muscles and body modifications and the title. I wonder how long it's been since he was my age.
I nod, showing that I understood what he had said. No one was born without at least one dominant trait, this was common knowledge and I always knew my fear was irrational, but it stayed with me all the same.
'It's just..what if I'm not good enough for any it? What if I'm not brave enough, kind enough, smart enough, selfless enough, honest enough?'
'You are. Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean its not there. The test will give you a clearer view of what choices you really have, and when the time comes to choose, you will know what to do. I promise.'
I face this stranger, tall and terrifying and cold, who has suddenly offered me advice in the softest tone I have ever heard anyone speak in. Swallowing hard, I nod, turning over his words in my mind.
'Thank you,' I say shyly, and he shrugs.
'Don't stress it. Just remember, go for what feels right.'
Pushing himself to his feet, he extends a large hand for me. I take it, marveling at the warm, calloused skin as he pulls me up swiftly. He squeezes my fingers for a moment, before letting go and heading back from where he came. Halting near the edge of where the trees began to thicken, he turns. 'And who knows?' He calls back. 'Maybe I'll see you tomorrow, in Dauntless.' He smiles, a genuine, pleasant smile that makes my stomach flip as it brightens his handsome features. I find myself returning the smile without thinking. 'Maybe you will.' I agree, watching his retreating back getting further and further away before disappearing completely.