I fidget as I step forward. I always fidget when I’m nervous. It drives my mother insane.
I glance at her as I walk past. She looks back with a cold, hard expression. No smile. Not even an encouraging nod. That’s the way it’s always been. To her, it’s obvious I’ll choose to stay in Erudite. There can be no other conclusion. She thinks I’m too afraid to choose anything other than what I know. She thinks she knows me better than I know myself, that she’s scared me into submission.
I have no intention of staying under her thumb, to live my life as she commands. I don’t want her to think she has everything laid out perfectly. But most of all, I want everyone to see who she really is, underneath all that intelligence and psychological warfare. I want to expose her real self to all who believe everything she’s put out about Abnegation. I want to expose her lies for what they really are. I want them to see what’s coming.
I guess I inherited her intelligence after all.
I stand in front of the five bowls, knife in hand. I know I could easily belong in any one of the factions if I wanted to. I know what would be expected of me in each; all I’d have to do is mimic the behaviour they want to see.
I glance at my mother again. There it is, in her eyes, just beneath the surface. That fear I learned to recognise early on. The fear of losing control, of being faced with the unexpected. I saw that every time she shouted at me, during every violent outburst. I know it well. Soon, everyone else will, too.
I cut my hand. I barely feel the pain as I focus on the bowls in front of me. I know which one I will choose. I look back to my mother.
With very little hesitation, I thrust my cut hand over the bowl furthest to my left, never taking my eyes off the person I called ‘mother’ once upon a time. I watch the blood drip onto the grey stones below, staining them red, from the corner of my eye.
There is a shocked silence as I stand behind the members of Abnegation and their born initiates. Jeanine Matthews’s daughter, choosing Abnegation? I can almost hear them think. What does that say about her reports? Can they still be believed? Can Jeanine Matthews, the great Jeanine Matthews, still be trusted? What did she do to make her daughter go to the faction she was so outspoken against?
That one seed of doubt is worth more than a lifetime of arguments and counterarguments. With the right encouragement, maybe everyone can see what she was really doing the whole time.
During the rest of the Choosing Ceremony, there is an odd whisper here or there. People are already exchanging theories.
I’m not sure if this act of open defiance was purely selfish, or the most selfless thing I have ever done.
Guess I’ll find out.