As usual, the tests are scheduled to take place after lunch, the names to be called ten at a time, I'm near the end. As the tests start up, I sit at the end of the table where we Amity students have taken residence. I sit down beside my best friend, Zahn.
He is busy joking around with the others at the table but I don't hear a word. My mind is in over drive with possible results of my test.
I don't notice as Zahn gently slides his hand over my hand that is resting on my thigh. I spread my fingers and he laces his with his with mine. His touch comforts me and I slow my thoughts down to match the pace of my breaths.
I take in his smiling appearance, his bright green eyes that stand out against his olive skin. His black hair sits neatly on top of his head, if he turns slightly the golden sun will show off honey tints in his hair. I have never seen anything other than pure joy in his eyes since I have known him, which is practically my entire life. I was born a month and five days after him and our parents were extremely close, so naturally we were always around each other.
This ultimately didn't give me much of a choice in being his friend or not, I grew up with him, we were thrown together, he was practically family.
That was, until his sixteenth birthday. We were alone outside and he gave me this long speech about living life to the full, a life with no regret but full of joy, peace and happiness. That we should do everything we can to prevent a life of regret. Then he kissed me.
He asked me out after that and at that time, I had no reason to say no. We get on extremely well and I love spending time with him, joking, laughing, never taking life seriously and generally just being together.
Things change though and I sometimes feel disconnected from him, from everyone. I can't help it, I've tried, it just happened.
As I hold tight to his hand, I hear as more names are called. “Tobias Eaton, Claire Eckles,” laughter breaks out from the Dauntless table behind me and I hear a name that sounds like Eric but I don't catch the second name.
I watch as a male from the Abnegation table rises, he pushes his hands into his grey jeans as he walks. He has short dark brown hair, a typical Abnegation haircut. His deep blue eyes seem lost in thought as he holds the door open for the others. The selfless, I wonder how hard it is to live that life, never putting yourself first and to never think of yourself or what you want in life. I find myself trying to figure out his story as he closes the door behind him.
I turn my head slightly and watch the mass of black clothes discuss the size of some object. Well when I say discuss, I actually mean they are very loud and extremely animated with their actions.
The Candor, behind the Dauntless table, are doing the same as me, observing and taking in their surroundings. Yet, they are more relaxed than me.
Another ten names are called and I let out a sigh of relief, my name has still not been called which gives me more time to mentally prepare for the looming choice that I will have to make.
“I think I would like to stay here. Amity is my home and I have everything I need here,” Zahn's soft voice drifts into my consciousness.
“So you would never leave? Where's the fun in that?”
I look up to see that Robin has joined us. She sits across from us and is busying herself with a sandwich as she waits for Zahn to reply.
He pauses for a moment, the way his forehead creases, I can tell he is thinking deeply about the question. He would make a great Erudite, especially since he's so smart.
I look up at him and his green eyes lock onto mine. “Well... there's one reason that would make me leave,” he then smiles his special smile, the one he only gives to me.
My stomach knots.
My hand climbs to his cheek, his light stubble grazing against my palm as he layers his hand on top of mine. I don't see her but I can tell that Robin is rolling her eyes. “Guys, get a room.”
Zahn smirks slightly, “don't worry, we will.”
My cheeks burn bright as the warmth of embarrassment spreads across. I roll my eyes at him, “oh just shush, Zahn.”
I pull his mouth to mine and our lips merge together in a soft kiss.
“Oh, that's fine then. I'll just sit here while you guys make out... I'll talk to my sandwich... such fun,” Robin says to no one in particular.
I remove my hand from his cheek and weave my fingers in his hair at the back of his head as we kiss. I feel his full lips smile against mine, our tongues brushing ever so slightly. He then pulls away, “you're no fun,” I grin.
His eyes dart to the door, “I've been called. I have to go for the test now.”
I nod, “See you soon?”
He kisses me again, a quick, fierce, warm kiss that leaves me wanting more as I watch him walk away. He winks at me before disappearing with the other nine of his selection. Robin's eyes follows him out too before turning back to her sandwich.
“Shiloh and Zahn, sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes-”
I throw a piece of my sandwich crust at her, “be quiet,” I say.
We share a momentary look which makes us both burst out laughing. We spend the next ten minutes in tears of laughter, receiving weird looks from the Erudite and the Abnegation tables. We don't care though, this might be the last time we will be together. If I go with what's in my head, I'll lose a lot of friends as well as family. I want to enjoy what I have at this very moment.
“You love me really, Shiloh,” she manages to say as her laughing subsides.
I give her a non-committal shrug, “maybe.”
She grins again, “wow, I'm really feeling the love from you today.”
She pauses as she picks at her half eaten sandwich. “Are you prepared for this?”
I pull the crusts off another sandwich, I hate them. “I think so, not much else can be prepared for. We don't know what will happen in there, do we?”
She nods, “true but still, I've tried to prepare for anything it can throw at me.”
“Very clever,” I say.
We sit in silence as I nervously make myself eat, I know going in with an empty stomach would make the situation worse so I force myself to eat the food.
I watch Robin as she turns to speak to the girl beside her. She seems so free in her actions and her speech, like nothing in this world fazes her. I wish I could be like her.
I start listing the things that she has that I want, her pretty oval shaped face, her bright sea green eyes. Her slim build and tanned skin, maybe if I was here, this day would be less of an anxious time for me. She seems to have the easy life.
My name is called.
Robin reaches over and squeezes my hand lightly then waves. I wave back then set off with the other nine teenagers. I start to breathe fast, what if the test is inconclusive? What if it doesn't say a thing? What if I break it?
We walk along the corridor that holds the tests and I am ushered into a room where an Abnegation woman is sitting, writing something with her head down.
I clear my throat, “um, Shiloh Gynne.”
I bite my lip as I look at the reclined chair that is set in the centre of the room. The woman raises her head and offers me a polite smile, “don't worry, it is perfectly safe.”
I nod. “So, what will happen then?”
“Well first, I introduce myself. My name is Jude, I am from Abnegation. I'm here-”
I accidentally interrupt, “I can see that, the grey sort of gives it away.”
The woman, about forty in age, looks at me with tired eyes. She runs a pale hand through her greying hair and smiles politely again. “If you could take a seat, we will start momentarily.”
I cross over to the chair, my sneakers squeaking on the polished floor as I walk. The noise unnerves me as I sit down and stare at the ceiling. Jude stands and walks to the machine that is on my left, she presses a few buttons while the light burns my eyes. I squeeze them shut as the light starts to make them water. I feel pressure on my forehead head as the circular electrodes are pressed onto my forehead.
I open my eyes to see her attaching wires to her electrode then she attaches them to me. After attaching the wires to the machine, she hands me a vial of liquid. “Please drink.”
I take a deep breath then pour the contents into my mouth. I swallow hard then relax back into the chair as my eyes close for the second time.
I open my eyes again and I am aware that my surroundings have changed, I am no longer in the test room. I spin on the spot and come to the conclusion that I am in the school gym. Under the basketball hoop, there is two baskets. I approach them warily as I keep my senses alert.
When I reach them, I kneel down to see two different objects. To my left is a slab of cheese and in the other, it is a threatening looking knife.
A voice sounds, “Choose.”
I nod then reach out with my left hand to touch the knife, running my finger over the handle. Without thinking, I clasp my hand around it and pick it up. It feels natural within my grasp. I quickly adjust to the weight of it.
As the shock of how easy it is to hold a dangerous weapon passes, the baskets disappear from view. I rub the back of my neck with my free right hand, the calm stillness of the air is unsettling to me. As I turn the knife in my hand, soft footsteps pad behind me. I turn swiftly, raising the knife instinctively at the incoming noise.
I come face to face with a snarling dog. It's lips curl back over it's huge sharp teeth, I let out a gasp of fear as I stare transfixed. It lowers its body into a crouch and edges towards me, a deep guttural growl resonating from it's throat.
I grip the knife harder as I spread my feet into a comfortable ready stance. If the dog attacks, I need to be ready.
My fingers dance on the knife handle as I start to back away, the dog moves with me so we end up circling each other. From my position, the dog looks to be twice the size of me, in weight and muscle. I have no chance to outrun it, to flee from its loud, terrifying barks.
“OK, OK, stay calm,” I mutter to myself as the dog takes a step forward.
I know that I can't show fear, showing fear will tell the dog that I am weak and that is not who I am. I am strong. I am brave.
The dog lunges.
I am dead.
I stumble backwards from the sudden movement and I trip over my own feet. I fall on to my back as it lands, it's front paws plant on the floor either side of my head. A strand of my hair is pinned underneath its muscular, think paw. I can't escape.
Its jaws snap at me, inches from my nose. I close my eyes, waiting for it to take the final snap, the one that rips my throat out, killing me instantly.
But it doesn't come, instead the huge black dog keeps me pinned, it's stomach pulsing with it's deep, long pants. It is deciding my fate, or it's seen the huge knife in my left hand.
With one quick movement, I use all the strength in my legs to kick out. The dog is surprised and momentarily stunned as I clamber to my feet. I am breathless as I adjust the knife in my hand again.
“Come at me, Fido,” I taunt.
It lunges towards me again and I throw my arm out. I scream in pain as a thick incisor pierces my left forearm. I am flattened to the ground as the mass of dog falls onto me. I can't move my left arm and my wrist is twisted as the knife sinks further into the black fur. I grunt as I try to push it off me with my right hand. I struggle but I am not strong enough to lift the beast from me.
I collapse on to my back and use the back of my right hand to wipe the sweat from my eyes. I grit my teeth at the pain and the suddenly, the dog disappears.