When love makes you selfish (Divergent)
The final ranks were flashed on the screen.
Claps and shouts thundered the whole place. Hands pushed me back and forth. Congratulations echoed my ears. It sank into me. She was cut off at the 13th place. I scanned for her face in the crowd. A while ago she was sitting with initiates, looked upon as the low achievers—who apparently ranked as the last ones. I should have persuaded her to stick with me and the rest with good ranks during the period of initiation but she would always refuse.
Dahlia and I were both Dauntless transfers that came from Erudite. She was top of the class when we were still in Erudite. During the Choosing Ceremony, I was next to her and I never thought she'd make that big decision. She headed to cut her palm at the Dauntless side. There were loud murmurs from the crowd of Erudite except from Dahlia's expressionless parents who showed no sense of disbelief.
If we would go back to the Choosing Ceremony, I would have followed Dahlia to any faction she chose. I guess, she wouldn't do the same if I happened to choose first than her. She was too independent. She had her own reasons for choosing Dauntless but she won't tell me.
"What's the matter, Dahlia? You left Erudite without even giving me a hint," I asked her right after the ceremony. I couldn't see her eyes clearly from her eye glass. She squinted before giving me an answer.
"I know I don't look brave to you but more than anything I've learned in Erudite, it is the truth that I seek." She said.
Before I could ask her for more, she looked at me and asked me with a questioning tone, "What made you leave Erudite?"
"It's because I,..I," I found myself stuttering. I couldn't say the right words. All my life she was the only girl I've grown very close with. I'd remember doing my assignments with her where in she'll voluntarily help me answer the most difficult questions. I'd walk her to her house which is just beside mine. Rose her sister would even tease us.
"Eric, why didn't you invite me to your date? I was supposed to look after my sister." I'd blush and Dahlia would elbow her sister.
Those were the happy moments that faded after Rose's death. But I never left Dahlia. Rose was gone but Dahlia was never that alone. Her happiness is my joy. Whatever she tells me to do, I'll do it. Wherever she goes, I'll go there with her.
I straightened my body posture and started my words again.
"I left Erudite because I," But before I could say "I wanted to be with you", she cut me off with words "You don't have to say it. I know." Dahlia was the reason I chose Dauntless in the Choosing Ceremony. She was the reason I had the guts to make it through the initiation. But to rank 2nd is nonsense if I wouldn't be with her.
From a distant, I found her and the rest of initiates who failed, escorted by Dauntless soldiers. I could feel my lungs bursting. Thoughts of beggars in shabby clothes, a muddy uneven road with piles of garbage on it, entered my mind. I ran after them until I reached them at the train station. She was standing at the back of her fellow initiates. Her hands were both closed into fists. Her auburn hair was covering her face.
"Dahlia!" I shouted her name but she didn't turn to look.
I was about to reach her when a Dauntless pushed me back with his arm.
"What do you think are you doing? The train will arrive in 5 minutes." The blond-haired Dauntless said. His arm pressed against my shoulder.
"Get your arms off me." My voice rose. I'm a Dauntless now but that wasn't my point in that moment. It wasn't my point even from the start.
With lowered but a firmer voice, I said," Give me a moment with her. I'll never gonna see her again."
The Dauntless smirked. "Missing the train won't make her Dauntless".
I ignored him and reached for Dahlia's right hand and turned her around. Her eye glass was wet with tears but I heard no sound of cry from her.
"I failed." Her voice almost cracked.
"We're in this together. I will never leave you." I assured her with my words, my words that would seem stupid for those who failed the initiation. I cupped her face to my hands and wiped her tears with my thumbs.
"I failed Rose." She said more to herself. Then I heard the sound of the coming train.
I wrapped my arms to her, her hair with scents of fragrance I smelled. Every bit of her, I wanted to enclose into me. I brushed my lips to her ear and whispered, "I'll come back for you. I promise."
As the head of the train started to appear, I was pulled by arms whose grip I couldn't counter. I watched as Dahlia jumped into the train with the other initiates or what they are known now as the factionless.
The hands let go of me. I turned around and recognized a Dauntless leader, our instructor, Max.
"Forget her," he said with a cold voice.
I gulped and just stared at him.
"Today, she's one of the factionless."Max continued.
"They are nothing now." His last words were a stab at my heart.
With fingers crossed at the back, I said in a plain voice, "Aye".
It takes a lot of courage to pass the Dauntless initiation. It takes love to betray my faction.
Blood drips from my foot as I half-run, half-limp away from the center of the Abnegation. I pass the blank-eyed Dauntless soldiers with guns pointed at some Abnegation members kneeling on the ground, heads down and hands up in the air.
I watch as the skinned-head girl, Lynn, aims her gun to an older guy from Abnegation that crosses his way to the other house with no hesitation. She pulls the trigger. For a moment, I hear silence. The guy made it. He was fast. He was brave—but no…not good enough to make it. At the corner of the wall, I see patches of red slide down the white-colored walls and a ring finger wriggling for seconds.
For us this is unforgiving: to be attacked on our backs is cowardice. But we aren't the victims. Protectors they look on us. Our manifesto of bravery is a way of selflessness for the Abnegation. But bringing their faction down and having control over them is the cause of all this. Are they selfless enough to understand our ways? After this commotion, they will remember us. They will hate us for killing their loved ones, for taking over them but in the end they'll see us as flawed beings worthy of being forgiven. I could never be in Abnegation. I'm not forgiving enough to forgive myself.
Under the simulation, the Dauntless soldiers aren't awake but are controlled. From the time they wake up, they'll not remember shooting a boy's head or hearing a woman's cries of pain. But I will. It's all about the plan and the plan will go my way. I am selfish but I have my reasons.
I watch as a girl lodges the bullets where in one passes through her blond hair. She is selfless enough, standing up against me, risking her life for Four. Brave enough to kill her simulated friends to save the defenseless ones. I've always known Tris is different. I hope she puts an end to this before every Dauntless' innocence is marked by an unknown guilt.
I shouldn't be watching this. I put all my weight to my right foot and drag my left leg, biting my lower lip to shut down my whines. I'm now far away from the heart of the Abnegation headquarters. The houses or the slums that I see now are surrounded by garbage, dark stagnant waters inhabited by crowd of mosquitoes. The unpleasant odor is worse. I keep my breath every minute to make my way to the unending road of the factionless. Is she still here? Am I worthy of her wait? Will she recognize me or will she fall on her knees to recognize my superiority? The thought makes me more than nervous. My wound slows me down but I'm not going to stop.
The silence is deafening. An old woman shudders beside a trash bin, her short quilt loosed in threads. Are they unaware of what's happening in the Abnegation or do they choose not to care? I hear another gunshot from a far but everything stays still in this place of the factionless. Then I see two figures just beside a house with shattered windows and a door lying on the ground.
I can see the back of the guy in black clothing which apparently identifies him as a Dauntless but this one isn't under the simulation for most likely those in simulation move in unison, with orders. His left hand is pointing a gun at the head of a woman whose hair is illuminated by the full moon's light; I see an auburn color. My heart skips a beat.
"Where did you hide them?" His right hand clutches the woman's jaw. As I move closer, I have a clearer view of the woman-lady's face. My teeth clench. My instinct tells me to aim and fire at the Dauntless' head. But the Dauntless' voice seems familiar.
"You'll tell me or I'll blow your head off?" The guy with the cold voice says. The voice I recognize as Max's.
I wipe the sweat off my eyebrows, my fingers brushing with the piercings on it.
"Hey Max, what's the matter in here?" I ask in a cool voice that seems to say –I just want to join the fun. I put my weight on both of my feet, drowning the pain from my wounded foot, inside of me. Tapping the head of my gun on my left hand, I walk towards them.
"Do you mind if I join the fun?" I let out a condescending look and out of the corner of the girl's eye, I see disgust. I start to hate myself but I have to put up this show of mine.
Max lowers the gun. Dahlia fixes the position of her eyeglass that has traces of lines on it as if the lens will break any second you put force on it. Her hair reaches down to her hips. But something more about her is different. Her posture's straight, breasts outward, her head slightly up. I see no sign of fear from her.
"I saw some Abnegation ran this direction and I had a feeling some of these factionless are helping them." Max says briefly but he's still pointing the gun at Dahlia. He clearly does not remember her but I do.
"Well let me handle it. You already had so much fun." I wear an evil smile, levelling my eyebrows which make the piercings wiggle in place. Max snorts, lowering his gun obliquely down. I can't skip a chance. In a breeze, I knock out his face with the top of my gun, kick his left hand which disentangles his grip from his gun, and catches the gun with my right hand before it falls to the ground.
Lying in the ground with a bleeding nose, Max lets out a look of disbelief.
"You traitor! Since when did you learn to be a two-faced man?" He wipes off the blood from his nose and tries to stand but i point two of my guns at his face.
"You won't shoot me right? After all I've done for you, helping you climb your way to the top." He says.
"You have no right to harass an innocent woman, no matter if she's factionless." I answer back but even I can't believe those words. I have my other reasons.
"Don't talk to me about what's honorable. You're part of this mess, Eric. Don't go on talking as if I'm doing wrong. You abandoned your manifesto of bravery for power. We both did. You had the guts to talk about innocence when all you did was watched those Dauntless soldiers under the simulation kill without them knowing it. We agreed on the plan and we should stick to it. Stop this joke of yours." He blurts out.
"Your faction isn't worthy of my loyalty. I have my own plans, plans that wouldn't have existed if you, Dauntless leaders, didn't play games on us, who were once initiates. That's what you call a joke. Call me selfish 'coz indeed I am. Dauntless robbed Dahlia of her future. But this time, no one should hurt her anymore. You'll have to go through me before you even lay your hands on her again. I'll do anything for Dahlia even if it means killing you." I deliberately say to him. Words come out of my lips like darts, targeting him as the bull's eye.
"Oh, how come I forgot? Every woman's face the same to me or no, any factionless means nothing to me. Dauntless disposed them because they are pieces of trash, nobody wants them. "
"Shut up!" I shout at him.
The exchange of words made me forget that Dahlia is just a few feet away from me. I turn to look at her but she's gone. Then in a second, I see her appear from the house, holding in her right hand what seems to be a large metal pail.
"Leave him to me." It's the first time in two years that I hear her voice. It hasn't changed much but the tone is of command.
"I've waited so long for this day, Max." She pauses for a moment and continues, "You're the traitor, making my sister fall in love with you. When I went in your Visiting Day, I found her deeply in love with you, telling me stories about you, while you, you selfish, coward traitor, worked your way to her death." Dahlia's voice is so stern. It's as if the day of Choosing Ceremony, she was so sure of what she was doing and this time, she's so sure of what she's saying as if she finally got the chance to deliver that speech.
"You don't know what you're saying. Everyone loved Rose. I was jealous. We were drunk. We didn't know what we were doing.." Max tries to explain but Dahlia interrupts her.
"And so you pushed her to the chasm. She was reported to have been with you on the day of her death. I had nightmares of her asking your help but you just stared at her with disgust. "She takes off her eyeglass, drops it to the ground and stomps her left foot on it. She lifts her head to meet Max's eye. How bright her blue eyes are.
"You have the same eyes." Max lets out a sigh.
"You're not worthy to look at them." Dahlia raises the large pail with both hands and throws its content at Max, who's still lying on the ground. Max shouts in pain, his eyes bleeding, face burning and his whole body fidgeting in pain. The substance seems to be some sort of strong acid or hazardous substance mixed with boiling water. It seems like Dahlia had a synthesis of experiments we learned in Erudite and applied it in the content she put in that pail.
She breaks her stare from Max and looks at me. She steps back her left foot.
"It's me." I say. Then next is her right foot. She turns around and is about to run away but I throw my guns aside, jumps a foot, and wraps my fingers to her waist. I bury my head to her shoulders and drops of tears fall from my eyes.
"I came back Dahlia." I speak but I hear no response.
"I don't care if you're factionless, if you're a beggar or if you forgot me. You're still the Dahlia I've known, the girl I've liked, the woman I'll love." I say.
She turns around and stares at me for a moment. Then she lifts her left hand and scans her fingers to my eyebrows and piercings, to my nose and cheeks and stops to touch my lips.
"You look….different, but not enough for me to forget you." She says as she lays her left hand to my shoulder.
"Rose is in peace now." I tell her and she smiles. The world seems so beautiful and perfect when she smiles.
"I've always known you're not that violent." She snickers and lays her right hand to my left shoulder while I put my hands back to her waist and pull her closer until I can hear her breathe.
"I could, just to be with you."
"Now, you don't have to." She says softly.
I lean my forehead to hers.
"So your eyes got better now?" The tip of our noses touches.
"I didn't stomp on my glasses for nothing, Eric." I meet her gentle lips with mine. The coldness of my lips makes her shiver and I feel her fingers stroke my neck as her body presses into mine. I kiss her even more as she runs her fingers through my hair. The world is around us. She is mine and I am hers.
Suddenly, I feel a sudden pang. Dahlia has stepped on my left foot.
"Arrggh!" I almost fall if she isn't there to hold me in my position.
"Oh my god, you can't walk right with that foot. Give me your right arm." She says in alarm. I can still carry my weight but I put my right arm to her shoulder, to be as close to her, the heat of her body radiating to me.
"Where do we go?" She asks.
"To Amity." I answer.
"I share as much guilt as you do about those simulated Dauntless. I put my judgment on them not knowing they were unconscious of what they were doing."
"Then we're both selfish." I say which makes her laugh. How relieving it is to hear her laugh again.
"Don't worry. The plan will go my way. Divergents will take care of them. For now let me take care of you—or well, you can take care of me." I kiss the side of her head as we walk.Start writing here ...