The day of the Choosing Ceremony is a day of decision. Decisions that change your life. Decisions that change the lives of all those around you. Your family. Your friends. Your colleagues.
Faction transfers aren’t common, but when they do occur, it’s like a whirlwind swept through. Things – feelings, emotions – you didn’t even know existed, suddenly make themselves known by their gaping absence. One moment you’re there, and then, you’re not.
That’s what is running through my mind right now. Caleb, my only sibling, has just wrenched himself from my life – our lives. Mother, father, our neighbours, Susan and Robert, and me. And to Erudite of all factions. But now I see it. The glint in his eyes I always assumed was selfless hope for a better future for everyone was actually a hunger. A hunger for knowledge. A spark of curiosity. A thirst for the facts and understanding that could not be quenched within Abnegation. And why? I ask myself. Because Abnegation believe that knowledge is greedy, selfish. And as I look around the room at the stunned faces, I see my father’s furious one and I realise that there’s a little selfishness in all of us. As an Abnegation leader, he should be modelling putting others desires above one’s own. Meaning that if my brother wants to be in Erudite, then so be it. But we are only human. And it is the human part of us that feels the betrayal of this transfer to the faction my father hates so much.
It is my turn now, and I can feel everyone’s eyes boring into the back of my head as I walk up to the bowls. I think about how much harder Caleb’s transfer has made this. Now my parents will be losing not one, but both of their children. I think I made up my mind a while ago, I just hadn’t realised it until now. I don’t want to live a life of selflessness – I want to be free. I am handed the small blade to cut open my hand and drop blood onto the glass, water, earth, stones or coal. I want to run and jump off trains and just be free. I want to be Dauntless.
The knife is just brushing the palm of my hand when I stop. I close my eyes as an inexplicable wave of anger washes over me. I don’t know where it came from, but it’s here.
Dauntless won’t be any better. I won’t be free. I’ll be running from the people who blame selfishness to the people who blame cowardice. I breathe in and out as I desperately try to think of a faction that I believe in. Amity blames violence, Candor blames deception and Erudite blames ignorance. But there’s a little of all of this in all of us. No one can be completely selfless. Or brave, or peaceful, or honest of astute. We all have flaws and that is what makes us who we are. I don’t want to be part of a society who thinks that they can.
In a swift and impulsive movement, I roughly slice the blade across my hand and sweep my arm out, spraying crimson blood over the five bowls. It sizzles on the burning coals, dyes the water pink, sinks into the earth, stains the stones and reflects off the glass. I stand where I am and hardly hear the uproar that’s exploded behind me through the roaring sound in my ears. I have chosen to be factionless. I chose a fate that is supposedly worse than death. I will no longer take place in any initiation process and settle down with people exactly like me. My name is Beatrice Prior, and my future is entirely uncertain, unknown and definitely dangerous. I walk out of the Hub a free woman. “Dead girl walking!” I hear someone shout behind me but I keep going. I will always keep going. I am free.