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I wake up the next morning to someone shaking me.
"Liss, Liss get up," Will says, his voice sounds strained.
My eyes flutter open; Will stands above me, his jaw is clenched and his eyes look watery, but he's not crying.
"It's Al," he tells me. "Come on."
I get out of bed quickly and follow Will out of the dorm. Some of the initiates are up and crying while others like Peter stay in their beds. I jog with Will to the pit, trying to force myself to wake up. A group of people surround the chasm, and two men stand next to the edge pulling something up. I feel my stomach drop; Will stops a few feet away, but I move closer so that I'm next to the railing.
I look down at the roaring water, then shift my gaze to the side. I see a huge dark body, when it's pulled further up it turns slightly and I can see Al's face. His eyes are blank, his lips are blue, and the rest of his skin is white. I stay frozen in my spot as he is pulled up the rest of the way and dropped onto the floor of the Pit. I watch blankly as they pull him over to the body bag.
A hand lands on my shoulder and turns me around. Arms wrap around me and it takes me a second to realize that it's Will and he's telling me something that I can't quite hear. I blink, trying to rid myself of the disconnected feeling that I'm experiencing, but when my eyes close I see Al's dead body.
I shudder and tear myself away from Will before turning back to where Al is lying. Someone has closed his eyes, to make it appear as if he's sleeping and they're struggling to get him in the body bag. Will grabs my arm and leads me away from the scene. I don't struggle, just follow numbly.
It's been a couple hours since Al's body was dragged up from the chasm. Will and I sit in an empty hallway, we're mostly silent as we drink tea.
"We weren't even really friends. I don't know why I'm upset," I say after a while. "I mean, we kind of were, but we weren't friends how you and I are friends. It that makes sense."
Will nods. "You're still allowed to be upset."
"I'm acting selfish."
"That's your Abnegation speaking. It's not selfish to miss someone."
"Isn't it? I was fine with him being cut from Dauntless, I think I even wanted it. I can't say that his death was too big of a shock either, we saw how he was acting. He's been depressed ever since he came here, especially during stage two . . . I just feel like I should have done something to stop it."
"It wasn't just you, Liss. We all saw it and ignored it. You're not a bad person."
I shrug and take a sip of my drink.
We don't talk much after that. A while later we leave the hallway and head to the pit where a funeral of sorts for Al is taking place. The pit reeks of alcohol and the majority of the people are already tipsy. We walk over to Uriah and Christina, where the other initiates are standing. Uriah immediately offers me a silver flask and I take it hesitantly. I then take a quick swig, the warm liquid tastes disgusting and burns as it goes down my throat. I scrunch up my nose and hand it back to him as Tris joins us. Uriah offers her the flask, but she shakes her head.
"Surprise, surprise," Molly says. "Once a Stiff, always a Stiff."
I roll my eyes and Tris ignores her. Molly moves closer to Tris and talks into her ear,
"I read an interesting article today. Something about your dad, and the real reason you left your old faction."
Before Molly can go on, Tris twists around and punches her in the jaw. Molly lunges at Tris but Will grabs her collar and pulls her back before she can hurt Tris.
"Quit it. Both of you," he orders.
I turn my head and watch Eric climb onto a box next to the railing of the chasm.
"Quiet down, everyone!" he shouts.
The chatter in the room quiets down, but doesn't completely stop.
"Thank you," he continues. "As you know, we're here because Albert, an initiate, jumped into the chasm last night."
The room falls silent.
"We do not know why," says Eric, "and it would be easy to mourn the loss of him tonight. But we did not choose a life of ease when we became Dauntless. And the truth of it is . . ." Eric gives a fake smile. "The truth is, Albert is now exploring an unknown, uncertain place. He leaped into vicious waters to get there. Who among us is brave enough to venture into that darkness without knowing what lies beyond it? Albert was not yet one of our members, but we can be assured that he was of our bravest!"
A cry burst through the middle of the room. Then the rest of the Dauntless are cheering, whooping and shouting. Christina takes the flask from Uriah and drinks. Will wraps his arm around her and pulls her to him. Eric's speech makes me feel sick, Al wasn't brave. We shouldn't be celebrating his suicide and acting as if it's the most honorable thing he could have done.
"We will celebrate him now, and remember him always!" Eric yells, and someone hands him a dark bottle. "To Albert the Courageous!"
"To Albert!" shouts the crowd. Arms shoot up around me, as the Dauntless shout his name. "Albert! Al-bert! Al-bert!"
Eric's eyes collide with mine, and I shake my head slightly. I can't stand another second of this, so I turn around and walk out of the room. I don't know where I'm going, I just keep walking. Eventually, I end up at the training room with the punching bags. It feels like ages since I've been here, but it looks the same.
I walk over to my usual bag and hit it. It feels nice, and I punch it again. A few minutes later I fall into a steady rhythm: punch, kick, kick, punch. My broken arm stays in a defensive position, as I hit the bag. A couple more minutes pass by before the door opens, and Eric walks in. I punch the bag one last time before turning around and facing him.
"Why'd you leave?" Eric asks.
"Glorifying suicide isn't exactly my kind of thing." I pause before hesitantly asking, "Did you mean what you said back there?"
"No, but I wasn't going to reprimand him. He's dead."
I nod before saying, "This may be selfish of me, but I really don't want to think about Al. He made his choices and I can't change them, so I just want to forget about it."
"Well, I can think of a way to distract you," he tells me.
He pulls me towards him before leaning down and kissing me. My lips tingle and my mind is hazy when he pulls away. It's easy to forget about Al, when I'm with Eric like this; so I immediately stand on my tip toes and press my lips back to Eric's.
I stand at the railing of the chasm with Will, Tris, and Christina. It's late and my back stings slightly due to my new tattoo. After dinner we all had agreed to get tattoos, I went with the Dauntless symbol. I stare down at the water roaring below and my mind trails back to the first time I saw it; I remember wondering how it would feel to fall in.
I close my eyes and listen to the roaring water, I wonder how long Al waited before jumping in, or if he just did it without a second thought. The shuffling of papers to my left makes me reopen my eyes. Christina is handing Tris a stack of articles written by the Erudite, each one criticizes Abnegation.
"Have you ever met her?" Tris questions Will; holding up a paper with a picture of Jeanine Matthews, the Erudite leader, printed on it.
Christina takes the paper from Tris and crumples it into a ball before tossing it into the roaring water.
"Jeanine? Once," he answers, taking the next paper and shredding it. "Because she was a leader, she worked with my sister. They were trying to develop a longer-lasting serum for the simulations. Jeanine's so smart you can see it even before she says anything. Like . . . a walking, talking computer."
I take the next paper and scrunch it up before flinging it over the railing.
"What . . ." Tris trails off. "What do you think of what she has to say?"
I tense up. Tris refuses to believe that there could be something wrong with the Abnegation running the government. I might feel the same, if Marcus wasn't the leader. I know Will partially agrees with Jeanine and the other Erudite, he used to be one of them after all.
"I don't know. Maybe it's a good idea to have more than one faction in control of the government. And maybe it would be nice if we had more cars and . . . fresh fruits and . . ." Will trails off.
Tris flushes red, "You do realize there's no secret warehouse where all that stuff is kept, right?"
"Yes, I do," Will responds. "I just think comfort and prosperity are not a priority for Abnegation, and maybe they would be if the other factions were involved in our decision making."
"Because giving an Erudite boy a car is more important than giving food to the factionless," Tris snaps.
"Chill out, Tris," I say. "Nothing's going to happen, the Erudite have been picking at the Abnegation for years and nothing has changed. But if it did, why would it have to be bad? I'm not saying the Erudite are right about Abnegation being a cruel faction, but shouldn't the people be in charge of the government?"
Will nods and Tris glares at me.
"Hey now," Christina cuts in, running her fingers over Will's shoulders. "This is supposed to be a lighthearted session of symbolic document destruction, not a political debate."
"All that stuff about your dad, though," Will says to Tris, "makes me kind of hate her. I can't imagine what good can come of saying such terrible things."
I avert my eyes. They have not only attacked Tris' father in the articles but also Marcus. The other initiates don't tease me about it as much as they tease Tris because I don't react when they do. I keep my eyes locked on the roaring water of the chasm and watch as the remaining papers float downwards.
"It's bedtime," Christina announces. "Ready to go back? I think I want to put Peter's hand in a bowl of warm water to make him pee tonight."
"That sounds great," Tris replies, "but I have to talk to Four about something."
I pull my eyebrows together and look over at her, only to see that she's pointing up. I look up and can barely make out a shadow that looks vaguely like Tobias'.
"Are you sure you should be running around here alone at night?" Christina questions.
"I won't be alone, I'll be with Four," Tris says.
"Alright, are you coming, Liss?" Christina asks distractedly.
I look over at to where she stands with Will, her hands rest on his shoulder and I get the feeling that they want to be alone.
"Nah, I think I'm going to stay a bit longer."
She nods before saying, "Well, I'll see you guys later, then."
They all leave and after a decent amount of time has passed, I begin to make my way towards the I can reach them, however, I'm pushed up against one of the walls and a knife is pressed up against my throat, while another hand presses my shoulder firmly against the wall. It's not a butter knife like I would expect, but closely resembles the knives we used during stage one. I squirm, as I catch sight of my attacker, Peter. I laugh slightly, feeling as if I should have expected this. I force my body to loosen up before I say,
"Can I help you?"
He scowls at me and his grip on my arm tightens. The coldness in his eyes and his movements remind me of Marcus.
"I heard you asked Eric to lower my rank," he claims, his eyes sparkle with rage.
"So, you thought coming at me with a knife would help you out? I mean, I knew you weren't bright, but this is a whole new level of stupidity."
He presses the knife harder up against my throat, but his grip on my arm loosens slightly.
"You're going to tell him that you've changed your mind about me, or else I'm going to tell the other leader's that you've been cheating in initiation with Eric's help."
I hold back a laugh, he's dimmer than I thought if he thinks he can accuse Eric of something like that. Instead, I bring my knee up in between his legs, he groans and bends down slightly. His grip on my arm has loosened enough, so I'm able to wiggle out and push him away from me. He drops the knife, and as it clatters to the floor I hastily pick it up. I turn it over as he straightens up.
I lift the dagger and kick him in the stomach so that he stumbles back into the wall. I use my arm with my cast to hold him against the wall, then bring the knife up to his shoulder. I push it in slightly, just enough to break the skin and let him know I'm being serious.
"You're a coward, the exact opposite of everything the Dauntless stand for." I bring the knife up and trail it around his eye, thinking of how he stabbed Edward. "If you ever try to attack me, or any of my friends again," I dig the knife into his skin and a small amount of blood surfaces, "I won't hesitate in killing you."
I complete the circle around his eye, he wears a poker face but he trembles slightly. He gives the smallest of nods and I step back, keeping the knife in a defensive position in front of my body. I lean up against the wall and watch him walk away quickly but calmly. After a moment I tuck the dagger into my boot, thinking it would be best not to be seen with it. Then I make my way back to the dorm.