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My inspiration was from simply reading the Divergent series and once the movies came out, I was obsessed. I hope readers take away that at one time even the worst of people were good. My love for the characters led onto this book and I hope that readers eventually are able to open their eyes to the so called “villains.”
Pages. How I loved those crisp pages of a new book. The smell of the spine cracking and the knowledge leaking into my eyes. Books were the only things that I never wanted to let go of from my past life.
Here, I suppose that it’s nearly forbidden for the aroma of freshly printed ink to linger in the air. Thus, attracting much unwanted attention from others. Many eyes darted toward my favorite book that was clutched neatly in my hands. I walk down the row of tables and seat myself at the far end where nearly no one else sat. I pay no attention to the strong smelling food that lies before me as I open my book.
The spine is tearing and most of the pages are falling out or stained. There was no need for a bookmark. I had read it so many times that I knew every page. I’ve had it ever since I was a child. Sneaking it away from my mother’s personal collection that was soon to be burned. Many of my old faction did not welcome aged knowledge, and instead accepted it as what caused the war and ignorance.
I welcomed leaving Eurdite, mainly to escape my unforgiving mother. She wanted to leave her burdened legacy with me. But after what happened at the choosing ceremony only hours ago, she will always decide to reject me.
“Lilly Matthews,” Marcus, leader of Abnegation, called out over the other factions. My name echoed across the gargantuan room, filling every bit of air. It suffocated me. My mother pulls my blue sleeve, pointing me towards the glaring stage. Her sharp, beady eyes burning a hole through mine, as I stand up quietly. I’m terrified. I want out of this burdened life that is full of hate and experience something truly remarkable. Something that will truly change my life.
I walk, confidently, one foot in front of the other; my black heels clicking with each step. I fix my posture, making my back as straight as a board, but still keeping my head down. My mind is racing as the stage becomes larger in front of me. My last few steps forward are slower and more delayed as I reach the bowls.
The bowl filled with water scowls me in the face, taunting and teasing me. But there were other lives I could choose to live. A life of Honesty, Kindness, Selflessness, or Bravery. That’s what I want. Isn’t it? Or am I destined to feel helpless and worthless for the rest of my wretched life?
A razor is forced into my palm, drawing blood. I close my eyes and throw my hand out in front of me. I feel the warm blood trickle down the side of my palm and crash onto the mystery element below. The sound I hear next is most inexplicable.
The sizzling of liquid on hot coals.
Romeo and Juliet. The beautiful symphony of love, locked into the spell binding pages of my book. I block out the rest of the world as my eyes burn through the beautiful, forbidden words.
“’What greater punishment is there than life when you’ve lost everything that made it worth living?’” a deep voice interrupted beside me, quoting the passage perfectly. I look up, my eyes tracing the tall, brooding figure next to me, “Eurdite, I’m guessing?”
I nod, meeting his piercing blue eyes. He had a square face with extremely definite cheekbones, with a straight nose that fit his face perfectly. If he didn’t have two piercings above his right eyebrow and gauged ears, he might have been considered attractive.
“Your Jeanine Matthews’s daughter, right?” he asked, but I didn’t want to answer, seeing that would continue the conversation and all I wanted to do was be left alone with my thoughts and book. Tattoos covered his neck.
“Lilly?” He asked. He was very questionable, but seeing that I was a new initiate, he probably had the right. I nodded, turning back to my book, still not wanting to expand, “You seem more of Rose to me.”
“What?” I snapped, looking up.
“’What in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet?’” he quoted once more, smirking as he walked off.
I turned back to my book in confusion, but a smile worked its way into my cheeks.
I didn’t stay at the dinner much after, seeing that I couldn’t focus and I was too nervous for tomorrow to eat. My head pounded as I made my way back to the initiate housing. I didn’t notice how exhausted I was until I hit the mattress. I almost instantly fell asleep, not dreaming.
I woke up, startled by the banging of metal on metal. I sat up quickly, but unintentionally hit my head on the board from the bunk above me, “Two minutes, in the pit!” a man with black hair and dark skin yelled at us as I rub my fore head.
I threw on my clothes, not caring who was watching. Before I left I tucked my book neatly under my mattress, then ran to catch up with the others. Of the eighteen other transfers, I was the only one from Eurdite. The rest were obviously from Candor, seeing no other factions hardly ever choose Dauntless. The other transfers were grouped together, creating a wall of backs, facing away from me. We finally arrived at the Pit.
We grouped around a trainer. It was the black haired man from two minutes ago. His name was Max, and he was explaining how we were going to be ranked and what tasks we were going to be required to complete. A half of initiation was devoted to our physical abilities and the other half was mostly mental and emotional.
We were later released to watch a technique lesson. We surrounded an open ring. At first I didn’t pay any attention to what was going on, and ended up staring at the tip of my boots.
“I’m Eric, and I’ll be teaching you the techniques of a fight,” a familiar voice boomed. I looked up. It was him, the one who quoted my book. I was slightly surprised, as I stared in shock. He looked at me, our eyes locking, and then he winked.
I could feel the heat rushing to my cheeks so I quickly focused on something else.
Eric taught us several types of punches and blocks. We were later released to practice blocking with a partner. I was paired with a girl named Ann. She was a Candor transfer; she had a twin sister named Abigail who was slightly shorter than herself. They shared the same solid cheekbones, but Ann’s eyes were blue, while Abigail’s eyes were a dark brown.
We spent two hours hitting each other’s forearms together. I was so focused, that I hardly noticed Eric’s brooding presence orbiting us; until I could feel Ann becoming more tense and anxious. If anything it wasn’t Eric’s presence that was bothering me, it was Ann’s.
“Ann, you keep missing! You need to focus,” I snapped.
“Sorry! I’m just nervous!” she snapped back, while wiping her sweaty palms on her pants. She dropped her hands to her sides, defeated, “It’s been two hours,” she whined.
I sighed, I didn’t want to admit it but I was tired as well. I wiped my forehead on my sleeve.
Suddenly, there was a lot of yelling at the other side of the pit. Two of the Candor transfers where snapping at each other. Max broke them up, clearly unhappy.
“If they want to fight, let them fight,” Eric said to Max, irritated.
“No one’s even close to that point, Eric,” Max retorted. At this point everyone was focused on the debacle at the end of the Pit, rather than the task in front of them.
Eric smirked at Max, “We’ll see then?” He grabbed the instigator by the collar of his shirt and dragged him over to the ring. They made their way over to the ring, each step of theirs echoing through the air as the room fell completely silent. Eric shoved the initiate into the boxed ring.
Then he stopped, scratching his chin while looking at me, “Rose, in the ring,” his voice was deadly quiet, losing all of its irritation from before.
I was stuck in my steps, until Ann finally pushed me forward. I was met with nearly thirty pairs of eyes. The other initiates took a step back, making a path for me.
I stepped quietly up into the ring. The other initiate towered over me; not to mention that he was probably a hundred pounds heavier than me. He wasn’t fat, but he definitely wasn’t fit. A mop of dirty blonde hair covered his eyes.
“How long do we fight for?” the boy asked c***ily, as he prepared himself.
“You’ll know,” Eric answered snidely. Everyone was collected around the ring, watching with anticipation.
Then, before I could even think, the initiate lunged at me; sending me to the floor. I fell on my butt, jarring my spine. A few of the other Candor initiates chuckled under their breath as I let out a frustrated grunt.
I jumped up, not needing to check myself. Adrenaline coursed through my veins, no longer feeling the pain of the fall. I swung at him, my knuckles crashing into his throat. He recoiled, gagging. I wasted no time as I threw another punch at his face, knocking him straight in the nose. I could feel the skin on my knuckles breaking. A mixture of his and my blood gushed onto his shirt.
I swept his feet out from under him and he fell, gravity pulling his bloodied face into the floor. He jumped up, dazed. I swung back for another punch, but he elbowed me in stomach. I put aside the pain and kneed him in the groin. He gave out an astonished moan but surprisingly, that didn’t slow him down for long.
He grabbed my shoulder and pushed me down, putting me into a head lock. I couldn’t breathe. Air wasn’t filling my lungs anymore, and they became severely dry and empty. Deprived, I stopped struggling and looked up.
Eric stared at me with an unreadable expression. It was a mix between pity and anger. My vision started to give out, becoming blurry.
But I wasn’t going to give up just yet. I wiggled my mouth under the boy’s lanky arm and bit down. The boy screamed out, releasing me just enough to squirm out of his deadly grasp. I knocked him in the jaw, sending him to the ground unmoving. He looked up, eyes begging for mercy. But I was unforgiving and my foot sailed into his already broken nose, knocking him out.
I wiped my sweaty forehead off with my bloodied hands. The crowd around me stared in shock. I looked over to Eric who had a hint of smile, tucked in his lips. My breaths became longer as I started to calm down, my lungs finding air once more. I shakily walked down off of the ring.
I walked over to one of the benches as Max and Eric announced the next match up. A couple of the other initiates dragged my opponent off to the infirmary. I watched as Ann and another boy named Lucas traded blows. Eventually, I calmed down enough to stop shaking.
I stared down at my hands. Blood stained all the way up to the middle of my forearms. I could feel blood drying on my forehead from when I had wiped the sweat off. My knuckles were extremely torn up and they ached terribly.
Suddenly, something touched me and I jumped, extremely surprised. I flipped around, “Here, let me see,” Eric sighed. I groaned, exhausted.
He walked around the bench and sat down next to me, holding a rag and a cup of water. He handed me the cup of water. I swallowed the cup of water in one chug, my mouth ached for the cold liquid. He seized my hand softly and rinsed the blood off of my raw skin with the cold rag. It stung; I could feel the water seeping into the lacerations.
I watched him; his cold, blue eyes working tediously, trying to avoid pressing any harder, “You were hitting with too much force,” he starts, his eyes flicking up to mine but quickly moving back to the task at hand, “keep punching like that and you’ll shatter your hand.”
I watched his hands, moving lightly over mine. Scabs covered the tops of his knuckles as well, “I suppose you’re speaking from experience?”
He smirks, slightly unpleased by the question, but the corner of his lip turns up slightly, “Maybe instead of Rose, we should call you Thorn?”
I snort, “I was just getting used to Rose,” looking down.
My hands are clean now; the uneasiness of the fight is washed away with the blood. He tilts my chin up with his finger, making it level with his own face. He brings the rag up to my forehead, scrubbing the dried blood off. I shivered at his surprisingly warm and comforting touch.
His finger leaves my chin as the rag leaves my forehead, “You should be fine now.”
I smiled, “Thank you,” I said, quieter than normal.
He looked slightly surprised, like he’d never been thanked for anything before. He nodded and started to walk off, but turned around, “Do you think I could borrow that book sometime, Flower?”
“Uh—yeah, sure,” I rushed, being caught off guard. Flower? He smiled and walked back to join the rest of the group who was now watching a match close to ending between Abigail and a hefty girl named Melissa. Melissa eventually came out on top.
That was the last of the matches for the day. Therefore, Max and Eric gathered everyone around an electronic board, “Everyday, we will rank you on how well you did. If you’re still under the red line by the end of the first stage, we will ask you to leave. Here are your rankings for the first day.”
Names flew up on the board, but I wasn’t extremely interested, “Great job!” Ann exclaimed, patting me on the back. I look up at the board, surprised to find my name in the first slot. I smile, astonished by my results.
Ann had placed sixth, while Abigail placed fourteenth. “It must’ve been a pretty big deal you beat Jheremy, because he’s almost last,” Abigail sighed. I looked up at the board for the name Jheremy. Abigail was right; Jheremy was twenty-sixth out of twenty-nine. The line was drawn at twenty.
I brushed off the pity I felt for anyone under the line and was thrown into a group of hollering initiates. The majority of the transfers headed back to the initiate housing to shower before we headed to the dining hall to eat dinner.
As I waited, I snuck my book under my jacket, placing it carefully under my arm. I hid it in just the nick of time before Jheremy burst into the room. He looked truly terrible. His nose was bent at the most awkward angle, while both of his eyes were a swollen mixture of black and blue. He shot a deadly glare my way; behind him stood Melissa, Lucas and his brother Logan.
“Look everyone, it’s the ‘teacher’s pet’!” Jheremy snarled, his lip curling in disgust. Melissa and Lucas laughed manically, “I wouldn’t expect anything less from Jeanine Matthews’ daughter.”
“Shut up, Jheremy,” Ann retorted.
“There’s truly no need for conflict on just the second day,” Abigail said, backing Ann up.
“Some people never change,” Jheremy spit, pushing past us.
Ann, Abigail and I left quickly, not feeling the need to stay in the presence of the people who most likely hate our guts now. We walked down numerous hallways until we finally arrived at the immensely large dining hall.
Most of the food was pretty picked over by now, but we managed to get a couple of entrees before they were completely diminished. I didn’t notice how hungry I was until I had shoved a gigantic spoon full of mashed potatoes into my mouth.
Ann sat by me while Abigail decided to sit across from us next to one of the other Candor initiates. I tried the best I could to avoid eye contact with him, but it was almost impossible when he kept staring at me. When finally, “Heavy penguins…”
Our group fell silent, giving our full attention to the boy who had finally opened his mouth. Ann raised her eyebrow suspiciously, “Heavy penguins…” the initiate said again. Abigail looked extremely uncomfortable.
“Sorry…” he said, “I thought that would break the ice. I’m Reese, Candor,” he reached an outstretched hand over the table.
Ann and Abigail burst out laughing. Eventually, so did I. I shook his hand confidently, “Rose,” the name slid off my tongue like I had owned it for years rather than just a couple of days, “This is Ann and Abigail,” I introduced. I scooped up another spoonful of mashed potatoes, shoving them into my mouth.
Ann and Abigail burst into conversation with Reese, but I remained withdrawn. I stared down at my blue plate that was covered in different types of vegetables and meats. Most of the food remained on my plate as I pushed it into different piles.
I looked up, my eyes flickering around the substantial room. Then accidentally, I fell upon a set of familiar blue eyes. Eric. I felt the collection of pages pressed into my side.
“So a Eurdite walked into a—.”
“Excuse me for a second,” I said, interrupting Reese. I stood up, and walked over to Eric, who was waiting impatiently by the entrance. I stood next to him, waiting for him to acknowledge me.
“I see you’ve made some friends, Flower,” he smirked. I couldn’t tell if he was being rude or sincere, but the jealousy swam in his eyes
I took the book out of my jacket and handed it to him, “Here, and don’t call me that.”
He chuckled, “Alright, Rose.”
I started to walk away but quickly turned back, “How did you know about the book?” I asked. I thought back to when he quoted two of the passages perfectly.
“Surely, you can’t be the only one who’s read this. Things were much different,” he said grimly, his expression falling deadly, the cluster of pages clutched in his beaten hands.
“But why would they have wanted to get rid of something like this?” I asked, solemnly.
Eric shakes his head befuddled, “Probably for a really good reason, but whatever it is I’m sure no one will ever find out.”
I gave him a half-hearted smile, then turned away and rejoined my friends. As I take my seat, I watch Eric flip through the tattered pages. He stops in the middle of the book, and walks out of the dining hall, thoughts eaten by the book.
I pondered Eric’s answer. Why did Erudite want to forbid something as alluring as that? Did they have something to hide? Many of my memories are extremely blurry from that time. I remember my mother not coming home till past midnight and being angry at me for waiting for her. She was so angry that she slapped me across the face and locked me in my bedroom till the smoke cleared the air.
I push the thoughts out of my head and rejoin the conversation, “What was your placing from today?” Abigail asked smugly. She was extremely unhappy with her placement from earlier this evening after she lost to Melissa.
“Eighth, I won against Logan,” Reese exclaimed excitedly. Abigail sighed angrily. Ann glared at Abigail as if it wasn’t accepted to be jealous.
“Well, Rose is in the first slot. Can we already start calling you leader?” Ann joked. Reese’s jaw dropped in amazement.
I laughed. The idea was extremely profound. Plus, I don’t know if I’d specifically want to become a leader, not after my mom pushed me to become something I didn’t want to be, “It’s been one day.”
“Initiates, please report back to your housing. Lights out is in five minutes,” Max announced over the abundant crowd. Many of the initiates got up immediately, walking towards the dorms. We four decided it was time to head back to the initiate housing. The halls were extremely cold and most of our feet were soaking from passing over the chasm.
When we finally arrived, I changed my sopping wet socks with dry clean ones. I shivered as I climbed into my sleeping bag. One of the other initiates turned off the light, but I didn’t go to sleep. I laid in the silent darkness. I heard a soft sob, muffled by a pillow come from Abigail’s bed. I felt bad for her; she must’ve been extremely attached to Candor. It was fortunate that she had a sister to comfort and help her through the initiation.
I finally was able to silence my thoughts as I fell asleep to Abigail’s growing sobs.