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CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

TRIS

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

THEY ANNOUNCE THE attack drill in the morning, over the intercom, as we eat breakfast. The crisp, female voice instructs us to lock the door to whatever room we are in from the inside, cover the windows, and sit quietly until the alarms no longer sound. “It will take place at the top of the hour,” she says.

Tobias looks worn and pale, with dark circles under his eyes. He picks at a muffin, pinching small pieces off and sometimes eating them, sometimes forgetting to.

Most of us woke up late, at ten, I suspect because there was no reason not to. When we left the city, we lost our factions, our sense of purpose. Here there is nothing to do but wait for something to happen, and far from making me feel relaxed, it makes me feel jittery and tense. I am used to having something to do, something to fight, all the time. I try to remind myself to relax.

“They took us up in a plane yesterday,” I say to Tobias. “Where were you?”

“I just had to walk around. Process things. ” He sounds terse, irritated. “How was it?”

“Amazing, actually. ” I sit across from him so that our knees touch in the space between our beds. “The world is . . . a lot bigger than I thought it was. ”

He nods. “I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Heights, and all. ”

I don’t know why, but his reaction disappoints me. I want him to say that he wishes he had been there with me, to experience it with me. Or at least to ask me what I mean when I say that it was amazing. But all he can say is that he wouldn’t have liked it?

“Are you all right?” I say. “You look like you barely slept. ”

“Well, yesterday carried quite the revelation,” he says, putting his forehead into his hand. “You can’t really blame me for being upset about it. ”

“I mean, you can be upset about whatever you want,” I say, frowning. “But from my perspective, it doesn’t seem like there’s much to be upset about. I know it’s a shock, but as I said, you’re still the same person you were yesterday and the day before, no matter what these people say about it. ”

He shakes his head. “I’m not talking about my genes. I’m talking about Marcus. You really have no idea, do you?” The question is accusatory, but his tone isn’t. He gets up to toss his muffin in the trash.

I feel raw and frustrated. Of course I knew about Marcus. It was buzzing around the room when I woke up. But for some reason I didn’t think it would upset him to know his father wasn’t going to be executed. Apparently I was wrong.

It doesn’t help that the alarms sound at that exact moment, preventing me from saying anything else to him. They are loud, screeching, so painful to listen to that I can barely think, let alone move. I keep one hand clamped over my ear and slide my other hand under my pillow to pick up the screen with my mother’s journal on it.

Tobias locks the door and draws the curtains closed, and everyone sits on their cots. Carawraps a pillow around her head. Peter just sits with his back against the wall, his eyes closed. I don’t know where Caleb is—researching whatever made him so distant yesterday, probably—or where Christina and Uriah are—exploring the compound, maybe. Yesterday after dessert they seemed determined to discover every corner of the place. I decided to discover my mother’s thoughts about it instead—she wrote several entries about her first impressions of the compound, the strange cleanliness of the place, how everyone smiled all the time, how she fell in love with the city by watching it in the control room.

I turn on the screen, hoping to distract myself from the noise.

Today I volunteered to go inside the city. David said the Divergent are dying and someone has to stop it, because that’s a waste of our best genetic material. I think that’s a pretty sick way to put it, but David doesn’t mean it that way—he just means that if it wasn’t the Divergent dying, we wouldn’t intervene until a certain level of destruction, but since it’s them it has to be taken care of now.

Just a few years, he said. All I have here are a few friends, no family, and I’m young enough that it will be easy to insert me—just wipe and resupply a few people’s memories, and I’m in. They’ll put me in Dauntless, at first, because I already have tattoos, and that would be hard to explain to the people inside the experiment. The only problem is that at my Choosing Ceremony next year I’ll have to join Erudite, because that’s where the killer is, and I’m not sure I’m smart enough to make it through initiation. David says it doesn’t matter, he can alter my results, but that feels wrong. Even if the Bureau thinks the factions don’t mean anything, that they’re just a kind of behavioral modification that will help with the damage, those people believe they do, and it feels wrong to play with their system.

I’ve been watching them for a couple years now, so there’s not much I need to know about fitting in. I bet I know the city better than they do, at this point. It’s going to be difficult to send my updates—someone might notice that I’m connecting to a distant server instead of an intra-city server, so my entries will probably come less often, if at all. It will be hard to separate myself from everything I know, but maybe it will be good. Maybe it will be a fresh start.

I could really use one of those.

It’s a lot to take in, but I find myself rereading the sentence: The only problem is that at my Choosing Ceremony next year I’ll have to join Erudite, because that’s where the killer is. I don’t know what killer she’s referring to—Jeanine Matthews’s predecessor, maybe?—but more confusing even than that is that she didn’t join Erudite.

What happened to make her join Abnegation instead?

The alarms stop, and my ears feel muffled in their absence. The others trickle out slowly, but Tobias lingers for a moment, tapping his fingers against his leg. I don’t speak to him—I’m not sure I want to hear what he has to say right now, when we’re both on edge.

But all he says is, “Can I kiss you?”

“Yes,” I say, relieved.

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

He bends down and touches my cheek, then kisses me softly.

Well, he knows how to improve my mood, at least.

“I didn’t think about Marcus. I should have,” I say.

He shrugs. “It’s over now. ”

I know it’s not over. It’s never over with Marcus; the wrongs he committed are too great. But I don’t press the issue.

“More journal entries?” he says.

“Yes,” I say. “Just some memories of the compound so far. But it’s getting interesting. ”

“Good,” he says. “I’ll leave you with it. ”

He smiles a little, but I can tell he’s still tired, still upset. I don’t try to stop him from going. In a way, it feels like we are leaving each other to our grief, his over the loss of his Divergence and whatever hopes he had for Marcus’s trial, and mine, finally, over the loss of my parents.

I tap the screen to read the next entry.

Dear David,

I raise my eyebrows. Now she’s writing to David?

Dear David,

I’m sorry, but it’s not going to happen the way we planned it. I can’t do it. I know you’re just going to think I’m being a stupid teenager, but this is my life and if I’m going to be here for years, I have to do this my way. I’ll still be able to do my job from outside of Erudite. So tomorrow, at the Choosing Ceremony, Andrew and I are going to choose Abnegation together.

I hope you’re not angry. I guess even if you are, I won’t hear about it.

—Natalie

I read the entry again, and again, letting the words sink in. Andrew and I are going to choose Abnegation together.

I smile into my hand, lean my head against the window, and let the tears fall in silence.

My parents did love each other. Enough to forsake plans and factions. Enough to defy “faction before blood. ” Blood before faction—no, love before faction, always.

I turn off the screen. I don’t want to read anything that will spoil this feeling: that I am adrift in calm waters.

Watch Divergent 4: Ascendant (2017)

It’s strange how, even though I should be grieving, I feel like I am actually getting back pieces of her, word by word, line by line.

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