I'm quivering like a leaf, my palms sweaty and clammy.
They've called my name, and now I have to walk, up to the platform, one leg and then the other. Left, right, left, right. They say something else, but I can't hear them as the blood rushes through my head, distorting sounds and shapes and God knows what else. I shake myself, because I have to be brave enough to make a decision, and smart enough to choose what's right. I have to make a choice that will keep my family happy, and choose the home which I will cherish.
I have to make a choice.
Am I Dauntless? Do I dance with death and hope to win? Do I burn out bright and bold but quickly?
Am I Amity, home of the caring and the kind? Will it satisfy me to forget the fun of a fight?
Am I Erudite, cold but sharp - sharp like knives, sharp like paper, sharp like the glint that hides away in their eyes?
Or do I stay put? Am I really selfless enough to choose my family over my faction: An Abnegation member through and through.
My time has come; I have to pick.
A knife is pressed into my hands with considerable force, a warning glare given. After I Choose, I can't go back, not even if I want to. I suck in my breath and I run my fingers along the blade of the knife, stroking it, admiring its deadly beauty as it glints in the dim light.
I can't though, because I'm scared. Would it destroy my family if I picked away from Abnegation, condemned never to see them but on rare visits? I'm terrified, petrified to the spot.
I'm no Dauntless, but I have to do this.
My hand moves then, slowly but steadily towards the heap of dependable grey stones. I can be selfless, can't I? I can pick the choice which is best for everyone else. Abnegation. Here we go.
But this choice isn't best for me.
I have to tell the truth.
My hand jerks towards the cut Candor glass, the knife digging into my cream coloured skin.
I can do this.
I am selfish, I am stupid but I know what I want. I want the truth. I want the world to know the truth.
I make the cut, watch a crimson petalled flower bloom from my palm. It falls, splattering the glass, staining it red. It is done. Then,a shriek from the crowd: it's my mother. Her hands fly up to cover her mouth; my father stands next to her, shaking his head slowly.
It still shocks me that they've never seen through my feeble Abnegation mask - that their barely disguised horror is so great. Another sob is wrought from my mother, racking her thin frail body. Quick looks of sympathy are sent her way, but what is that going to help? It's my fault, I've made my decision. The only way to stop this, to comfort her truly is to become Abnegation, to be truly selfless and give up everything that I want. To decline all thoughts of hope to make her happy. For a second I think I will, that I'll run back on myself and make another cut, for Abnegation.
I can't do that.
I won't do that.
My entire life I've wanted more than satisfied selflessness. If I'm told off by my parents, I argue back, I crave the right to prove my point, to show them that they're wrong to be so disappointed in me. They shush me - this behaviour is not allowed - but it doesn't mean the urge to argue was never there. It was - still is - and it's stronger than any desire I have to be selfless.
Or someone will believe their child, a hideous, teasing creature, is above the rules. They'll never believe anything against it, and Abnegation, not wanting to hurt the parents or the child itself, will flatter the mother - telling her the child is so charming or very handsome.
Yet the things they say aren't true.
They're wrong, oh so wrong, and telling them won't help the parents or the child - the opposite, it will make them think the lies their community tells are true. And people have secrets too. Deadly secrets, that everyone could benefit from knowing and I. Can't. Live like that anymore. I make my way back towards the Abnegation seats, then realise that I'm not Abnegation any longer. I'm Candor, I'm truthful.
I smile wryly, despite the gnawing pain in my chest as I walk away from my family. Truthful is going to take some getting used to. A cheer erupts as I take my place with the other new Candor initiates - yet the Abnegation look on mournfully. Heads downcast, whispering amongst themselves.
I try to catch my parent's eyes now, to beg forgiveness and to plead acceptance, but they won't look at me. My neck is craned, my knuckles white as I dig my nails into my palms in frustration, but they won't look. They refuse, for it would cause them too much grief - and I know this, but I'm not selfless enough to end things like this. I want to apologise. I want to hug them one last time. Signs of affection are rare in Abnegation, but I want this one thing to finish with. A sob similar to my mother's threatens to emerge - I clamp my lips shut and glance warily at the initiates around me.
And then Caleb turns. My brother, my elder brother, the good sensible one who chose Abnegation to keep my parents happy. The selfless one who will make them proud. I look at him, my eyes wide, tears welling, and he looks back and then he nods. I smile, and he smiles back - just with the corner of his mouth but that's good enough.
Everything is going to be okay.
I have courage but I'm no Dauntless.
I have courage because I chose Candor.