27th of March | Current time; eight pm. Setting: homes of the factionless. Ugh-hem. It’s been a long day without you. Remember when you once told me there were all sorts of vengeance in this world? Vengeance of betrayal, revenge, hurt, agony. You said there was a vengeance more addictive than caffeine, colder than the streets of Chicago in this unforgiving winter. Then you mentioned the worst of them. Those who just want the watch the world burn. You once said a lot of things. That was once….
Now it’s eight pm. I made my choice, you made yours…
She tucked the metal recorder into her own private drawer; third from the bottom. Private was hardly the word; everyone felt the right to steal one another's possessions and toss them to the floor. The device was deft and easily covered by a scratch of an old jumper, handed down to her as uniform. At the bottom hem, she could see a paler patch of colour resembling the shadow of someone else’s vomit. She’d quickly learn there wasn’t room to be fussy. There wasn’t much room for anything. Girls of her age and younger burst from the large room and crammed into beds, grateful to have a place to be put up. It was a strange sight for her; in her faction, everyone had stuck to classic black and white, clashing like a a chess board.
The glass of the tall windows was cracked from their cores, and the grimy walls were off-white where they weren't the thriving green of moldy corners. It wasn't quiet, either – everyone was too busy taking nose-blocked breathes and moaning for home.The outdoors were too cold to stand around in, and the indoors stank of perspiration. Every surface felt waxy to touch. She was glad of the noise; it gave her solace to record if she hit beside her bed if she pillowed the sound with the thin blankets provided. If anyone found it; they’d sell it like all the other cheap material to feed a handful of them.
27th of March, still.| Current time; eight thirty pm. Still here, too.
It's not so bad here. No, I'm lying. It’s worse than bad. It’s worse than awful. The colour has been washed away from the world. All I see is grey. And not the calming grey of Abnegation either. It’s like the grey in industrial smoke; letting out something poisonous. I think it’s desperation.
Lying is better than you’d think it would be. First of all, it’s effortless. And spontaneous. When someone asked me if I’d brought any possessions with me, I lied. I didn’t tell them about the recorder; they’d just take it from me. It’s so small; I could fit it in the band of my trousers. I think I might still have our old recordings, when we used to interrogate each other. ..
…Hey, do you remember when we used to play with the lie detector test? Do you remember when you told me I was pretty and I knew it had to be true because we couldn’t lie?
Do you remember when months later, you told me you loved me? And you knew love was something you couldn’t lie about?
Maybe you did lie. No one else ever called me pretty anyway. Even mom. I can’t blame her; she’s the perfect member of Candor. Even when it’s her own daughter’s self worth at stake, she still won’t bend the truth. Maybe I had too big a conscious for being candid.
They used to teach us about filters in school; I think I was born with one instead of teeth. They didn’t like how long it always took me to speak, did they? They thought it seemed dishonest.
But I guess you know all there is to know about dishonesty….
Dishonesty is rampant, Dishonesty is temporary, Dishonesty makes evil possible." still didn't know why she was trying to talk to him. But when she closed her eyes and hummed her complaints out, she liked to pretend he could be there, listening. They could be on the walking routes off-campus; nestled on a bench. He was so quiet; it was hard to imagine he was there anyway. But then he’d squeeze her hand, or let out a little sigh to let her know he was still present.
She could pretend with her eyes closed that they were back before the ceremony, before the simulations. Her test had been one of the more vague of selection – but Amity had eventually prevailed. It made sense, she supposed. Her nature was always more delicate than her friends; her family liked to point out she seemed to be a layer of skin short to combat the brashness of thir culture. But she’d never told anyone her result; it was her own little white lie. White lies were toxic, they'd told her. She hid it somewhere deep and dark; somewhere only the two of them knew about.
1st of April | Current time; 9 am. The streets.
They used to hate this day in Candor. I don’t think anyone has the energy to hate anything here. I can’t blame them. While I’m waiting for a job, they send us out in the streets to scavenge the food from the arms of Abnegation. So much for selfless. They’re condescending. They look at us like wild animals that could rip their resources from their hands. We almost do. All I have time to think about is my hunger and lack of warmth. It’s good to be out in the air; but the buildings aren’t pretty when you stare from the alleyways.
I met another girl we used to go to school with today; they say with her fevers she won’t survive the winter.
I've seen it all, now.
No matter how long the log entries, there was too much she still wanted to say. I miss you, I hate you. I want you.
She still wanted him between the dirt and shame and the filth of the factionless. And while he became a solider; it was only a matter of time before she became just another statistic to collateral damage. Her new home was built over the rubble, in the trenches dug out of glass and brick. Her clothes were grubby. Her hair was unclean and hung in unsalvageable knots. He would have laughed if he could have seen what they did to it.
They cut the whole thing off right to her ears; from behind she must have looked like a boy. Maybe like him too; her hair fell in the same light shade as his. And she found it hard to separate the reflection of her eyes in his – they were much too similar. If he saw her on the street; he wouldn’t recognize her. Not in the mismatched clothes and sullen eyes and downcast glances. She was sure she wouldn’t miss him – how hard could it be to identify him in the flocks of black clothes? They cawed near their territory occasionally, swooping across the streets in manic adrenalin. Everytime she heard a thud of a fast footstep, she felt her heart kick-start into life. Her eyes would scavenge to see him, to know he was okay.
Maybe he wouldn’t pass. Maybe he’d end up here with her. That’s how it went with the Dauntless; the other factionless had told her. It wasn’t an automatic kinship. You had to make the cut. They told her they taught them how to shoot a gun before they told them how to think, too. At that the anger left her for a blind fear of his safety. Damn. She still loved him. Despite him; she loved him.
2nd of April| Current time; six pm. Factionless bedroom.
…I keep feeling along the cut of my palm; it’s clean but red. Knowing my luck, it’ll probably be infected by something nasty in here any time soon. When I look at it all I see is my blood falling in a fat, neat drop into Candor. For the most important decision of my life, the choices looked just like five bowls you could collect candy from.
I did want to leave to go, of course. You did too, but we both agreed I was too soft for the outside world. You were too headstrong. And we’d read somewhere about neutralizers, and decided how we could both balance each other out enough to fit into our hometown. It seemed sad, to think about walking the same streets and living the same lives forever. Our parents two doors down. But when I thought about doing it with you, it seemed right. It seemed too good to be true, honestly…
And it was.
But before that, we had said we’d run together – wherever I went, you followed. My name was always going to be first on the register. You’d said it was our choice. I’d chosen safe for the both of us…
All I can do is remember. But you’re blurring. I’m losing you. And as much as I want to make you disappear from my memories, as much as I want to scream and tell you that I hate you…
I know I can’t make it here alone.
She didn’t think she could say it out loud. When she watched from her neat line; as one name followed another by cheers and gasps. By that point, no one had transferred. Then he took to the bowls and sliced with one smooth, fearless gesture. Fearless. Fearless.
He picked Dauntless. He didn’t pick her.
He had kept his own white lies. At the time she remembered everything clearly. Don't cry. Don't scream. Don't react. It had been too much, in the end, to watch him join the black. Her pulse throbbed in almost cardiac arrest, and her teeth bit so hard on her lip she burst it open in a little hint of red.
Could she have seen it coming? The factions went hand in hand, to leap to one was as a smooth, slick cut to a family instead of the usual hurt garages. He was brave, sure. But everyone in Candor was brave. She tried to soothe herself with an empty manifesto: Dishonesty is rampant, Dishonesty is temporary, Dishonesty makes evil possible.
The words lay like saw dust in her mouth.
10%. 5%. 2%. The recorder was failing on her. She hadn’t thought to pack much else – it had all been such a blur. One minute, she’d been sitting in the jury. The next, she was kicked out. They’d found out about her test results. Amity. Amity. Amity. They didn’t mind if you stayed; even if it wasn’t how the test mapped you out. As long as you told them the truth… No goodbyes, no glory.
They’d been gracious enough to show her to the factionless. Where in Candor they said hello with handshakes, she was greeted with sour expressions and the stench of hunger. Each meal time was clouded with the faint spices of a thin, stringy soup she still couldn’t identify; even if she inhaled her portion twice daily.
8th of April | Current time; 8pm. Setting: Factionless through and through. Home.
So I guess I was more Candor than we both thought. Because I’ve recorded my every truth here, no matter how painful. It feels brave to be so honest. It feels good…
You were wrong. I couldn't care less about the world scorching anymore.
I just want to watch you burn. You and all your little white lies. After all, you were once my world.
She smiled, with foreign muscles stiff from up-keeping such a tight grimace. These last few days had ruined her, she knew. Maybe for the better. With one quick sweep of her thin arms she scooped up the recorder; clutching it firmly in her shaking fingers. She poised her feet apart and threw; hitting the broken center of the glass on target. The recorder smashed to the ground, the glass flinging like shrapnel to the bedroom in front of her. She had eyes like fire, a heart like stone and the rest of her so bleak from love – it had to be factionless.