My feet graze the ground as I lean back in my seat on the subway.
It is always crowded on Working Days. That's when my sister and I
go to school, and when our parents go to the Career Building. The
underground train shoots forward, and my body leans with it. We
are taking the tight turn needed to reach the school. Students
are always let off first. I turn to look at Estelle. "Essie," I
whisper. Her head whips up. Her look is plain and bored. "What,"
She whispers back. "What are you gonna pic-" "Shut up, meathead."
She interrupts. "You know we're not supposed to discuss this.
Ever." She snaps at me. "Whatever," I roll my eyes. "Sorry for
being interested in your life." I mutter under my breath. A sharp
pain juts into my shin. I look up with annoyance plastered on my
face. She's motioning to mom and dad, who seemed to have noticed
we were talking. Crap.
So here's how it goes. My mom is basically a brain-dead lemming
who follows my dad's every order and word, no matter if it puts
anybody in harm's way or not. My dad is strict, and put forth a
rule in our house, that if you spoke without being spoken to
beforehand, you would get… beat. Me and my sister have both
experienced it first-hand. But I doubt he would beat us on the
subway, when the whole of the community is aboard and silent,
waiting for any small catastrophe to lighten up their dim, boring
days. He wouldn't satisfy them with that. He hates everybody.
Even his own family. He just gives us a look that says "When we
get home." Me and Estelle exchange a nervous glance, but
thankfully, the bus screeches to a stop. I look out the subway
window just as we come aboveground to see my school in its boring
white form as always. Estelle stands up after I snatch my bag
from the seat and dash forwards to beat the crowd. I don't stop
to turn around and search for Estelle. I need to figure out my
maths homework before the Proclivity Tests begin.
The Proclivity Tests are hallucinations set up for everyone who
is choosing their Division at the Ceremony of Flames. Proclivity
Tests are taken individually in the Proclivity Room in the
school, but you walk with two other children from your Division.
The tests are all taken in separate rooms, the trios are just
meant for company in the long corridor before the test. It tells
you which Division you are most fit to be divided into. You don't
have to choose your result of the Proclivity Test, so as long as
you pass Commencement. Commencement is where you overcome a
series of obstacles, training, challenges, and rounds in order to
be a full member of the Division you choose at the Ceremony of
Flames, at least, that's what my dad told us when Estelle and I
were little. My mom just sat there, nodding her head and
muttering "yep"s and "yup"s the whole time, as usual. I throw my
legs forward in an attempt to sprint into school, and luckily, I
beat everyone else inside except for a few Cerebral boys who are
early every day for school. I run to my maths class, and set up
early, waiting for the day to pass.
My heart pounds and my whole body twitches with fear. The
Proclivity Tests are about to begin and I'm not sure if I'm ready
to be classified as Cerebral, Valorous, Veracity, Ascetic or even
just my current and origin division, Altruism. We are the
peaceful. That is our division's mask, anyways. The Cerebral are
the intelligent, Valorous being the brave, Veracity the honest,
and Ascetic the selfless. These were decided 79 years ago by a
group of trivial counsellors who were questioning the community's
peace with one another. Quite often, people would fight and blame
each other's traits for the reason of the world's anger and
hatred. The Ascetic were formed by the ones who blamed the trait
of selfishness. The Veracity were born with the blaming of
dishonesty, Cerebral by idiocy, Valorous by cowardice, and
Altruism by malevolence.
I clutch the edge of my seat and strain my legs out as far as
they can go. I stare at my painted toenails resting on the sole
of my flip-flops. Pastel green like the colour of my division.
They have been this way for as long as I can remember, and now I
think of them as boring. I would rather look down and see and
nice medium blue on my toes, like the Cerebral, or better yet a
fiery red or coal black like the Valorous. I blink and I realize
I have been staring into space as my gaze has shifted from my
toenails to a tall black-haired individual with red pants and a
black T-shirt. A Valorous girl, by the looks of her dark makeup,
three lip rings and septum piercing. She is slouching forward in
her chair with her chin resting on her palm, her elbow on her
knee. She glares at me and I flinch back in my seat. She is
picking at her stubby nails, which look as if she chews on them
in the midst of her boredom. They are covered in a messy slab of
black nail polish, which looks as if a monkey painted on while
blindfolded and back turned, and used its foot. I move a piece of
hair out of my face and see Estelle, sitting unconventionally
close to the Valorous girl I inspected seconds earlier. As she
turns and fixes her curly blonde hair, she catches my gaze. Her
striking green eyes stare directly into mine. She mouths
something I cannot decipher. I screw up my face and she motions
to come to her. I look around and see no trouble with doing so,
so it shove myself out of the seat and kneel in front of her.
"What?" I ask. "You idiot! Can't you read lips? I said Altruism
is next." She tells me. "What! No, I'm not ready!" I shriek. All
the absent chatter stops and everyone stares at me, kneeling in
front of a girl in the Reception Room. My face goes pink with
embarrassment, and I look up to see the school principal standing
at my right. I stand up and dust off my jeans. "Well, Mrs.
DeRio," He says, bending over uncomfortably close to my face.
"You look quite prepared to me. How about you take the place of
an Ascetic student who just threw up? He will start his
Proclivity Test once he is quite comfortable and not nauseous." I
gulp and my ears start to ring. "Well, go on then. Through the
doors with you. Good luck with your test." He smirks and shoves
me forwards towards a tall, bony blonde woman with glasses
resting on her nose. "This way," She says in a nasally voice,
scribbling something on her clipboard before gesturing to two
large glass doors. I nod nervously and pace to the doors. I turn
before I opening, catching the glance of Estelle, who's eyes are
glazed with sympathy. I open the door, and almost get trampled by
a duo of Ascetic boys who are next to take their Proclivity
Tests. I guess I'm the lucky third.