The first tests were unsurprisingly easy. Trivial rubbish. Each day we’d walk into those same rooms, see the same questioner and answer the questions.
Of course they got harder, especially when they began attaching the detectors to us so they’re mobile. Telling the truth all day’s easy. Having to hike around a massive lie detector suitcase isn’t.
People have failed. I’ve breezed through. That’s life. I don’t understand how you could fail. If you tell the truth, then who can judge? They’re not out to kill you with the truth, just cleansing you of lies.
“Did you have them jab things earlier?”Andrew was still fighting alongside me for a spot in our future. Visiting day had arrived and we were on our way to the station to see who had, or hadn’t, come.
“Yeah. They said it’s for another test. Probably how much we trust the government to give us unknown medication.” I wasn’t interested. If it had been something awful the leaders would have told us. “Who you waiting for today?” I loved Andrew, but he never talked about his family.
“Does your mum not like your choice?”
“Oh... sorry.” Instantly, I threaded my arm through his. He’d never said he’d lost someone close to him. “You should have said.”
“Never came up.” He shrugged, not looking at me but not rejecting my arm either. “I was a kid. Only remember her face. She had bushy blonde hair, rather like Dani.” She was the girl that didn’t like me, “Erudite got involved in her arrest apparently. She must’ve betrayed the factions or summert.” He went to fiddle with his eyebrow piercing, which he’d taken out when he came here.
His face lit up suddenly, “Look who’s arrived.”
The bus doors opened and out piled four in grey, one in red and a few in black. Andrew left me and embraced a bald man.
I stood motionless. “I didn’t think you’d want to come.” I said, honest but in a small voice.
“Why wouldn’t we see our girl?” Father approached me first. His words spoke kindness, his actions not carrying through. “How’s living where I grew up?”
“Good.” I knew father was a Candor. Some days I thought he would’ve been better in Candor, seeing him lie through his teeth about how “amazing” Mother’s flower arranging at church was, but then I remember when he gave up a top job interview in the government because I was sick. “We’ve learnt stuff like reading body language.”
I look towards Mother, wearing a mask. “Have you made any friends?”
“Well.” My eyes fell on Andrew, who’s looking over at me too. It was time to tell the truth. “I met Andrew.”
Gesturing over, Andrew brings his Father and I stifle a giggle at his face as my parents bow their heads. I get distracted by counting the piercings on his face.
“This is Ronny-Veronica, my girlfriend.”
All faces drop. Andrew’s Dad looked me up and down whereas my parents seemed as though they didn’t know what to do.
“I have been for quite some while.” I wouldn’t have them judge us without knowing the whole truth, taking Andrew’s hand.
“That’s... lovely.” Father smiled at Andrew, but his eyes don’t show happiness this time, “Did you meet at initiation?”
“We met at school last year and developed a relationship back then.”
“You kept it from us?” Mother finally shows her true feelings.
“We knew that Dauntless and Abnegation never get on. It wouldn’t be right parading it around.” I feel my voice raising.
“Not very Candor of you, keeping it secret.” Andrew’s Dad’s eyes burn into me.
“Don’t take my leaving you out on us.” Andrew spits back before my mother interrupts, mumbling quietly.
“I knew you were never Abnegation but... a Dauntless. It’s reckless.”
“I’m not Dauntless! And neither is Andrew. We chose Candor. We chose our love. You understood Father’s choice when he joined Abnegation.”
“He did that to help others. Not for a child’s fairytale.”
I felt my stomach twist. My Father finally interjected, “We’re just worried that you didn’t make the right choice, sweetheart.”
My voice raised to a shout but theirs’ remained calm, words always selfless. I wanted to stomp on that virtue.
“I’m not a child. I can choose my own future.”
“We know.” Putting his arm around Mother, he grabbed my hand. “We’re sorry. It’s our nature to worry. We’re parents and Abnegation. Not a good combination since we always want the best for you.” He laughed. I couldn’t smile.
“I didn’t want to come today, son.” Speaking up, I’d almost forgotten Andrew’s father was here too. “Everyone said you were a traitor to Dauntless. Turns out you betrayed me with this secret.”
Andrew hung his head, but large fingers tapped his chin up, “But now I know you’re brave enough to leave me and your faction for the right reasons; for your future. And that’s all I could ever hope for.”
I could have sworn I saw a tear in his eye, but Andrew engulfed his Father in a hug before I could look. I stared at my shoes.
“Are you... happy here?” My mother returns to mumbling.
“Then I accept that.”
Behind us, the bus still parked pips its horn. Andrew nods his head to his father as he gets back on. He goes to sit by the wall, waiting for me to tie things up.
“I just hope that your faction accepts that.”
The parting words of my mother imprint on my brain like a burning brand. She doesn’t think I’m good enough. She claims to be selfless and only thinking of me but then she wants to keep me under her choices.
“Stiffs will always be stiffs.” The Amity girl brushes past me, blowing smoke into my face.
Even though the bus had gone, I couldn’t move. I knew they probably wouldn’t like it but I didn’t think I’d be quite so bothered about their opinions. Andrew wraps himself around my waist. I was numb to his touch. Even Eldwin, who I hadn’t spoken to in years, placed a hand on my shoulder. “Just got the lecture from my parents. They say they’re selfless but it’s too much when they want you to have the best-”
A bang as loud as thunder came from behind us.
“What the-” Andrew ran over first as we followed slower, more cautious.
A blurred knot of two people were tangling themselves up on the floor. Diving in, Andrew separated the two whilst I stood back.
“What are you doing-” Andrew held one of the two at arm’s length and all I could see was the back of her curly blonde hair. Eldwin restrained the other. As both their eyes laid on the woman, they both froze.
Opening his mouth slightly, it was as if Andrew was about to say something when a fist collided with his face and he fell to the ground. Screaming, I couldn’t think of any other way to get authority’s attention.
I collapsed by Andrew’s body, supporting where his head met the concrete. The other in Eldwin’s grasp had pushed him aside, his eyes also fixed on the woman. She began to raise her arm. My gaze went to what she was holding. I screamed again.
The gun shot rang through the air.
My ears ringing louder than the shot Andrew and I had witnessed all those nights ago, Andrew’s eyes opened, fixed on the woman yet again. I followed his gaze.
Behind me Eldwin also spoke, but the name shocked me.
It was Dani; my enemy since I’d first arrived. I’d know her smirking face anywhere.
And she’d just murdered someone!
I felt a haziness creep in from the corners of my eyes but I forced them to stay open. Dani? Finally, I heard a huge explosion of sound, almost as loud as the bullet and Candor officials took to the scene. Pulling us all away, Dani disappeared from sight almost immediately.