The Aptitude Test
Lynn, Marlene, and I jump off the train in unison, thud our feet against the ground, and start running towards the school building, my arm finding its place around Mar's shoulders. But today, our running isn't filled with enthusiasm. More like nervousness.
We enter the school to find ourselves splitting to go to different classes: Lynn to Faction History, Mar to math, and me to Science. First period and all the classes before lunch are the only ones we are separated in.
"Have you made your choice, Uri?" Mar's tone, usually happy, comes out in a gentle whisper this time.
"Uh- yeah. Of course," I reply nonchalantly. "Dauntless till the end." I put on a goofy grin to put Lynn at ease, who takes more convincing.
"I'll see you guys at lunch, then." Marlene turns around with a smile and a wave, and Lynn takes a right into the next hallway.
I find the words repeating in my head.
Dauntless till the end.
Lunchtime is done.
I quickly scan the rest of the cafeteria to find Mar and Lynn sitting together, whispering. I hurry over and join them.
The cafeteria is the same as usual, but yet so different. The Abnegation are sitting quietly and poised without saying a word, while the Candor are openly arguing about something, yet smiling. I look towards the Amity to see them laughing and playing games, and a bitter taste comes into my mouth. The Erudite are holding newspapers and books and chattering, but not too loudly. And most of the Dauntless are laughing and shouting, holding cards. Aren't we supposed to be enjoying ourselves, too?
To put our minds at ease, I pull out a pack of cards. "Anyone up for a game of poker?"
Marlene grins. "You're on." Lynn grabs the pile and starts shuffling them.
Throughout the game, I pay attention somehow, but my mind is constantly wandering.
Who am I, really?
After ten minutes or so of playing, I heard my name through the midst of talking.
"From Dauntless: Uriah Pedrad and Devon Wood."
I look back at Lynn and Marlene and say, "I'll see you soon, then." Marlene gives my hand a squeeze with a smile, and I turn away, not yet ready to face what is about to come.
I enter a room to find an Abnegation member ready to test me. She smiles.
"Hi. I'm Katherine Travers, and I'll be overlooking your test today. Take a seat." She points to a metal chair and I sit down, gripping the hand rests tightly. She prepares the machine, looking at a bunch of wires and buttons. I bite my lip and tap my foot, making a rhythm on the floor.
"Nervous about the test?" This reminds me so much of my mother that it causes a pang in my heart.
"Uh... A little." I force myself to lopsidedly smile, wondering what she is going to say next.
She smiles at me. "Don't worry. Remember, the test doesn't have to change your choice."
"But doesn't it?" I blurt out, then close my mouth immediately.
Her smile fades a little, and she looks at me intently. "You remind me a bit of my son. Transferred to Erudite." She stares at me for a second or two, and then shakes herself. "I really must get the test started now."
She pushes a few electrodes to my head and puts one on herself. Then, she attaches all of them to the machine next to her. She hands me a vial of... something.
I silently take the glass and down it in one go, not wanting to taste it much.
"Good luck" is the last thing I hear before I find myself staring at darkness.
When I open my eyes, I find myself staring at the school cafeteria. In front of me are two baskets. In one is cheese, and in the other is a knife.
From somewhere behind me, a woman's voice says, "Choose."
"What am I going to use it for?" I question.
"Choose," she insists.
I shake my head in impatience and hesitate.
Knife or cheese?
I slowly put my hand around the knife and grip it. I chose the knife.
The baskets disapparate, and I hear a squeak behind me. I turn around to find myself facing a dog... A growling, drooling, angry dog.
I understand now. I have to kill it with my knife. If I had chosen the cheese, I could have fed it to the dog.
I study the dog. It looks thin, like it hasn't had a good meal for a long time. The brown eyes look angry, but also tired and desperate. I let the knife clang to the floor. I could never kill it. Not if I had a choice.
I walk slowly towards the dog. I have nothing in my hands, nothing to protect me, other than nearby tables, but I still move towards it.
"Come here," I say soothingly, smiling. The dog continues to growl, but it turns into sort of a whimper after it feels my hand brushing its coat.
"Good boy," I whisper, and it licks my ear, now happily woofing. I grin and laugh.
Suddenly, a young girl appears out of nowhere, and the dog immediately turns toward her viciously, the happy look on his face now gone. It starts sprinting toward her.
"No!" I run after the dog, pumping my legs hard.
I grab the girl's hand and manage to push us out of the dog's way. Then the scene disappears.
I am now on a bus next to a man with a scarred face. He's holding a newspaper with a man on it. He shakes the paper at me violently.
"Do you know this guy?" he growls. I take a good look at the man and realize that I do know him from somewhere. But giving him information is the absolute last thing I feel like I should do.
"Are you sure?"
Of course not. "I'm sure." I turn away from him, but he pulls me by the shoulder to face him again, and this time, I hear a plea of desperation in his voice.
"If you know him, you could save me. You could save me!" he states loudly.
I avoid looking him straight in the eye. "I told you, I don't know him."
He scowls at me. "So be it."
And I wake up in the simulation chair with beads of sweat rolling down my face. Katherine is looking at me with a puzzled look on her face, and she looks towards the door many times, as if to check if anyone is eavesdropping.
"Yeah." I nod my head slowly, wondering what in the world I am going to hear next.
"Well, Uriah, your test results were inconclusive."
I stare at her blankly. "And that means...?"
"This means you're Divergent," she whispers softly. I can hardly hear her.
I gulp and try to control the shakiness in my voice. "So that means I don't belong in a faction?"
She knits her eyebrows. "Half and half. It means that you belong in more than one faction, which technically means that you aren't fit for only one faction."
"Which factions did I have the aptitude for?"
She sighs, putting her face in her hands. Then she looks up. "This part was pretty confusing. You had the aptitude for Dauntless because you took the knife. But since you hesitated, I had to make sure you weren't an Amity. The problem there is that you were extremely friendly with the dog. And in the end, when you were arguing with the man, you didn't firmly tell him you didn't know him. So you have the aptitude for both Dauntless and Amity. Candor was ruled out because you lied, Abnegation was ruled out because you pulled both the girl and yourself away from the dog, and you showed no signs of Erudite."
She chuckles a bit. "Yeah, pretty confusing. But Uriah, you can't tell anyone you're Divergent. No one."
Katherine looks away. "I can't tell you that, but trust me, it is for the best."
I try to retort back to her, but when I saw those brown eyes, they reminded me exactly of...
"Okay, M- Katherine. Thank you."
I quietly exit the room and walk back to the cafeteria, a little dazed. I spot Lynn already back at the table. She waves to me, and I sit down next to her.
"So how did it go?" she asks. I see that same glint of satisfaction in her eyes as I did the first day we jumped of the train together, and I knww immediately she had gotten Dauntless as her result.
I shrug. "Okay, I guess."
She looks at me with her eyes narrowed, and I quickly bring up another topic.
"Marlene back yet?"
"Not yet. I think she's still testing."
At that exact moment, Marlene walked back into the room with a huge grin on her face.
She got Dauntless. Thank God.
"Come on," Marlene exclaims. "Let's get on the train home."
I enter my house to see my mom at the kitchen, whipping something delicious up. I recognize the aroma. Pasta. My favorite.
"Hey, Uri!" She smiles at me. "Come on, eat up."
I sit down at the table and wait for Zeke to arrive. Sure enough, two seconds later...
I shake my head, grinning. Typical Zeke.
"So how did this aptitude test go, bro?" Zeke chimes. "I bet you got Amity!"
When I throw a 'you're an idiot' look at him, my mom focuses her eyes on me.
"Uriah, eat your pasta," she chides jokingly, but I see the seriousness in her face. She knows. She knows.
I stick my fork into the pasta and start wolfing it all up. I eat when I'm confused. Or sad. Or angry. Or happy. Or excited. So basically, all the time.
In two minutes, my huge bowl is empty and in the sink.
"I'm going to go sleep," I announce. Zeke shoots me a thumbs up sign and says, "Choose well, little bro." My mom stays mysteriously silent.
When I'm at the top of the stairs and near the door to enter my room, I hear her.
I turn around to find my mom right behind me. She places one hand on my shoulder and the other is brushing the hair away from my forehead.
"No matter what the aptitude test says," she gives me a pointed look, "the choice is ultimately yours."
I sigh. "I know, Mom."
She smiles wanly and suddenly pulls me into her arms, giving me a bear hug. This is rare in our family, since Dauntless don't usually show much sentiment, but I know this is a rare occasion.
"Choose well, Uriah," she murmurs into my ears, running her long fingers through my hair.
She turns away from me without looking, and I know in that moment that she's crying. Another rare occurrence.
I'll make the right choice.
If there even is such a thing.