Detergent

In sixteen year old Beadtris Dryer's world, society is divided into five fashions, each dedicated to a particular virtue, in an attempt to form a perfect society after a terrible fashion show. (Divergent parody)

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8. EIGHT

 

“Listen up,” Four says, “The first thing you will do today is learn how to wash the dishes.”

“Are you serious?” Christee blurts out because she still hasn’t learnt to shut that Candior mouth.

“No,” Four laughs, “But if the idea of washing dishes horrifies you so much…” He doesn’t finish his sentence. Instead, he shoves a gun into her hand, and then mine and then works his way down the line of initiates. “Today, you’ll be learning how to shoot.”

I wonder if he’ll make us shoot each other because that’s probably what Dauntlouis do as their idea of fun.

Once Four reaches the end of the line, he starts talking again. He says something about three stages and rankings but I’m too caught up in staring at his booty that I don’t take notice until Christee shoves me.

I stop fantasising about my instructor and stare at the gun in my hand. I never thought I’d ever hold a gun, of any kind, if you know what I mean. Four starts talking again, but my mind wanders elsewhere thinking about guns; his gun. I find myself staring down where I shouldn’t. I vaguely hear the words physical and mental.

“What does shooting a gun have to do with bravery?” Sheeter asks.

Four points the gun at his head, “You look like you’re about to shit your pants.”

Sheeter doesn’t respond and Four lowers the gun. “My point exactly,” he says, “If you can defend yourself, you won’t go crying to mommy.”

He turns away from us and faces a wall with targets on it. Holding the gun firmly in his hands, he fires. There is a loud bang that hurts my ears. The only thing I wanted him to bang was me but who am I kidding. To my amazement, the bullet goes straight through the centre of the target.

We all spread out of line and face the target wall. Abnegucci would disapprove of using a gun but luckily for me, I am not Abnegucci anymore. I try to remember the way Four did it, feet shoulder width apart. Both my hands grip the handle but it is still heavy because I am weak. I fire the gun but the impact knocks me back and I bump into Four who for some reason was standing directly behind me. I hope he wasn’t looking at my butt. Is that what karma is?

My bullet didn’t hit the target so I try again and again and again and again and again but each time, I miss.

“Statistically speaking,” says Wool who stands beside me, “you should have hit the target at least once by now, even by accident.”

I turn back towards the target, and try again. I hope Wool is right because I’m the only one who is yet to hit it. I pull the trigger, and this time I stay in place. The bullet only just hits the target and I start yodelling.

After a few more rounds, I finally hit the centre of the circle. Waves of adrenaline rush through my veins making me feel alive and powerful.

I may not have belonged in Abnegucci but maybe I do belong here.

When we break up for lunch, my arms have fallen off and I’m as stiff as Four’s… My train of thought is cut off as I enter the dining hall with Christee, Wool and Al. We sit down at a table next to two of the other transfers, Erodarte. Wool tells us their names are Edwood and Myrag. In other circumstances I would have commented on their appearance but it’s difficult to do that when they’re eating each other’s faces.

“Do they really have to eat other?” I say, “Isn’t there enough food on the table?”

“They’re only kissing,” Al says, “It could be worse.” I shake away all the horrific and inappropriate thoughts that appear in my mind that second.

“But it’s not something you do in public,” I say, before I realise it’s only Abnegucci that believes in it. Al, Wool and Christee all stare at me and then suddenly we’re all laughing our butts off.

After eating, Four takes us to what looks like a training room. There are black bags hanging at one end. At the first glance, I thought they were actual black bags that you put your garbage in before I noticed they were punching bags. At another end, there’s a big chalkboard with all of our names. Seeing ‘Tris’ instead of ‘Beadtris’ makes me want to cry of happiness and ride along on my unicorn in a world of rainbows.

We all line up against the wall facing Four. “This is the part of initiation where you learn to fight,” says Four, “If you want to survive you’ll need to know how to kick some ass.” That though of kicking ass gives me a little adrenaline rush.

“Today, we practice,” he says, “Tomorrow, we fight.” He demonstrates some kicks and punches while we watch and then lets us practice. It takes me a while to get into it, like with the gun. But I persist with the fear of not getting through initiation and becoming Fashionless. My knuckles become red and sore and bloody from punching the black bag. At first, I find it difficult to get aggressive but then I pretend that it’s Cleanleb and punch and kick the shit out of him.

Four watching us practice doesn’t make it any easier. When he comes near me, it takes all my effort not to wet my pants. He stops behind me and I try not to make it obvious that I know he’s there staring me up and down and maybe checking out my non-existent booty.

“You’re weak,” he says.

“That’s nice,” I say, as I punch the bag harder.

“You don’t have muscle,” he says.

He suddenly presses his hand to my stomach. “Keep tension here,” he says. My heart tries to fight its way out of my ribcage. He keeps his hand there for a moment, strong and manly, against my small stomach. No guy has ever touched me like that before.

Even after he has gone, the pressure of his palm against my stomach lingers, and I hate to admit that I like it.

“That was tough,” Christee says when we’ve been dismissed.

“Yeah…” I reply, unfocused.

“What’s wrong?” She asks. Wool and Al have joined us now.

“I’m not going to make it,” I tell them, “Everyone is so much better than I am.”

“Practice makes perfect,” Wool adds.

“This is depressing,” says Christee, “Do you know what we should do?” We all stare at her because we don’t know what we should do. “Let’s get tattoos,” she finally says.

The thought of looking Dauntlouis terrifies me. But tattoos, they’re not so bad as piercings.

“I’ll get a tattoo,” I say, “But no piercings or dying my hair purple.”

“What’s wrong with piercings?” Al asks.

“You could pierce your belly button,” Christee says.

“Or your nipple. Or both your nipples,” Wool smirks.

“No! I already have a hole in my belly, I don’t need another one,” I say.

Christee grunts, “Fine, just tattoos.”

Because we’re done training for the day, we’re allowed to do what we want until our bedtime. Back at home, in Abnegucci, I would have been helping my mother wash the clothes. But this is home now.

The Pit is full of people and we have to squeeze our way between them to get to the tattoo parlour. When we get there, I wander around the room looking at the art on the walls. Abnegucci sees art as a waste of time that could be spent helping others so I’ve only ever seen it in school textbooks. It fascinates me and I find myself getting lost within it.

One of the pieces catches my eye. It is a sketch of three birds.

“Ravens,” says a voice behind me. I have heard the same voice before, while taking my Appearance Test. “Hello Beadtris,” she says.

“It’s just Tris,” I say. “Do you work here?”

“Yes I do. Tris… You got the first jumper?” she asks, smiling like a proud momma.

I nod. I think about asking her a question, about my Detergence, but I’m not sure it’s the right time. I know she has answers and she must be able to read my mind because she responds to the question I haven’t asked.

“I helped you as much as I could,” she whispers so the others can’t hear. Then, raising her voice, she says, “Want a tattoo?”

The ravens have been drawing me towards them all this time, like an invisible thread drawing me towards my old life.

“Yes,” I say, “I want this one.” I hand her the sketch. While I’m lying down on the chair, I see her tattoo again and remember what she told me about it. Whilst I would love to speculate about whether she is wearing any underwear today, I am more drawn to the fact that her tattoo has some sort of meaning. Maybe I can create a meaning for these three birds too.

“Three birds,” I whisper under my breath, “One for each member of my family that I left behind.” Yes, even backstabbing Cleanleb.

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