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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2. TWO

 

The Appearance Tests will be taken after lunch. Cleanleb and I are sitting next to each other in the canteen with our neighbour Sewsan opposite us. I wish I was more like Sewsan. She is so calm, and then there’s me, with my clothes sticking to my skin with sweat. The rules say that we are not allowed to be tested by someone from our own fashion or prepare for the test in anyway so I do not know what to expect, hence I have every right to be so nervous. Across the canteen, the Dauntlouis are shouting and fighting each other, the Erodarte have their heads buried inside books, the Armanity are sitting in a circle on the floor singing songs, and the Candior seem to be engaged in a debate. On the Abnegucci table however, we are sitting quietly waiting to hear our names. Cleanleb is called next, and he gets up and walks towards the testing rooms. I don’t wish him good luck because he knows where he belongs. He’s always known, unlike me. When we were little, he had scolded me for not giving my hat to a little Fashionless girl in the winter. He didn’t understand that I couldn’t give it to her because it was my favourite hat. I wouldn’t have given my coat to the Candior man on the bus either. I don’t think like that, because I am not the same as Cleanleb. It’s so easy for him, and I just wish that it was easy for me. After ten minutes, Cleanleb comes back and sits down. He is as pale as the soap powder my mother uses to wash the clothes. But I know that he can’t share his results with me, and I’m not supposed to ask.

I am called in the next round of names, “And from Abnegucci, Beadtris Dryer and Sewsan Rack.” As Sewsan and I walk to the testing rooms, I wonder if people from other fashions can tell us apart. We are wearing the same clothes and our hair is tied the same, but Sewsan is a lot prettier than me. There are ten rooms in this building that are only used for Appearance Tests. I walk into room 6. The rooms are not separated by walls, but by clothes of different colours to represent the different fashions. A Dauntlouis woman is waiting for me. She is wearing all black and has a tattoo of underwear on the back of her neck. I wonder if it signifies something. In the centre of the room, there is a chair. She tells me that I should sit in it and get comfortable. “It doesn’t hurt,” she says, “My name is Tailori.”

“Why do you have underwear on your neck?” I accidentally blurt out.

“You’re curious for an Abnegucci,” she replies, “I figured that if I ever forgot to wear my underwear, then I’d still have underwear on me.” I suddenly find myself looking in the wrong places, trying to figure out if she is wearing underwear today. “Don’t worry,” she says, “I didn’t forget today.” She connects me to a computer with wires and then passes me a vial of washing up liquid “Bottoms up.”

“What is it?” I ask.

“Just trust me,” she replies.

“Trust the test,” I say as I down the liquid in one. It tastes horrible and bubbly, and then my eyes close. When they open, I am somewhere else and I am all alone. On the table, there is a pile of clothes and a hammer. A voice echoes in the room. “Choose,” it says.

“Why?”

It doesn’t reply so I look around the room but no one is there. The clothes and hammer suddenly disappear. A giant washing machine appears and it looks angry. It’s making gurgling noises that resembles the growl of an angry dog. I remember learning something in Biology about the smell of fear making dogs attack. I wonder if it’s the same for washing machines because I smell of soap powder and maybe that’s why it’s attracted to me. I don’t run from it or try to fight it. Who even fights a washing machine? The pile of clothes would have kept it happy and the hammer would have destroyed it but I’m too late in realising this. Suddenly, the door of the machine bursts open and millions of soap bubbles begin to pour out. I sink to my knees and let them consume me, but then I hear giggling and open my eyes to see that the washing machine smiling and dancing. What the-? I blink and another machine appears, much smaller than the first. I know washing machines can’t talk but I swear I hear it shout “Hey washing machine, you’re so fat that instead of washing the clothes, you ate them!” This seems to anger the bigger washing machine who starts to run after the smaller one. I know washing machines can’t run either but I swear these ones have legs. Without thinking, I run and jump onto the big washing machine, praying that the force of the fall won’t hurt my boobs because I don’t have a padded bra on. Abnegucci don’t wear padded bras because it’s selfish to think about the safety of your breasts. I sink into the ground, and the washing machines are gone. I’m going to have nightmares about washing machines for the rest of my life.

I am now in a shop and a girl is trying on some clothes. She steps out of the fitting room and asks me “Does my butt look big in this?” The dress she has put on is too tight for her and her butt looks like a watermelon. I know that if I say yes, she will be angry with me and if I say no, she will also be angry with me when everyone else tells her that her butt does, in fact, look big. I am not sure which response I should give her so I just stay quiet.

After all, this is just a test.

It’s not real.

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