I rub my eyes with my forefinger and thumb. Blue light floods through the tiny window next to my bed; the sun hasn’t yet risen. I have a couple more hours left, so I roll onto my left side, away from the window, even though I know it’s completely useless. I let my mind wander over everything, over everything that’s soon to come. Today is the day the sixteen-year-olds of every faction go through an aptitude test, determining which faction they belong to best. Today is the day some of their lives may change, when some of them may leave their families forever, not looking back.
Faction before blood.
I don’t believe it. We’ve put down the virtues of other factions in the process of bolstering our own.
And for me, it’s another day of preparing to torture future initiates. Another day of having to look at Eric’s ugly, pierced face. His smirk alone is enough to make any initiate beg to become factionless. And I’m glad I have the power to wipe it off his face. I’m glad he’s still scared of me, though he doesn’t need to be. A puny Stiff with absolutely no fighting skills? Yeah, more like your worst nightmare. But I’m suspicious of him. Well, I’m suspicious of people in general, I expect the worst of them. And Eric’s the worst of his kind. He may act like he’s Dauntless through and through, but here and there, you can see Erudite. A ruthless Dauntless and a brilliant Erudite is not a very good combination, and I know he’s using his brains to put himself in Max’s favor. There’s something he knows that I don’t, and I’m trying to figure it out.
I’ve found a way into the Dauntless secure files. And I’ve found files sent by Erudite. War plans.
But what for?
Light flows into the room, and fingers of gold dance across the bedspread. The darkness of night still hides in the shadows of the corners of the room. Sunlight hits my face, and even when I close my eyes, light still permeates through my eyelids. I take that as a sign that Mother Nature wants me to get up, and I roll out of bed and head into the bathroom, still a bit groggy. The air feels warm; summer has finally decided to come. The cold bathroom tile stings my toes as I turn on the tap. Each splash of water on my face makes me stronger; it wipes away any emotion I might show. Dauntless flames peek out above the neckline of my black shirt. It’s a fire that will never go out, tattooed on me.
People think I’m amazing; they think I can do anything, but however hard I try, I never feel Dauntless. I never feel strong enough. I’m not worth this faction. I’m a coward through and through.
I can’t look weak. I can’t.
I briefly look at the mirror, trying to avoid my eyes, because every time I look at my eyes, or I look at my face, I hate myself. Marcus will follow me wherever I go, no matter how hard I want to leave him.
I crack my knuckles, trying to distract my mind from reaching too deep within myself. Some things need to stay hidden.
I rub the stubble on my cheek, feeling too lazy to do anything about it. Pulling a comb through my hair, even though it makes no difference, I head back into the bedroom. Long hair is not something I can get used to.
There’s a little bit of Stiff in me that urges me to make my bed every morning. I try to tame it, but it hasn’t worked out in two years. After all, I’m not so Dauntless as to be selfish enough to neglect my responsibilities.