Chapter 3: cross the threshold have no dread

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My feet slide out from under me and I have the barest moment to think this is it; I’m going to fall over the edge into the river and die on my first night as a Dauntless initiate. I’m still completing those thoughts when my brain realizes that I’m back on my own two feet and supported by a larger-framed figure than I am. I’m gripping their wrist pretty tightly, and when I look up, it’s Eric. He isn’t breathing heavily like I am, and he doesn’t look panicked like I feel, but he lets me take my time pulling away.

“Sorry,” I tell him as I pull away.

“Get off the walkway,” he says, pointing in the direction I came from.

I turn to go and he follows me. I don’t stop and he doesn’t say anything until we’re away from the river and back in the Pit.

“What were you doing out there?”

“Thinking,” I say.

“Thinking about what?” he asks. “Throwing yourself off?”

I stop and turn to look at him.

“Is that what people normally do when they go out there?”

“Yes,” he says honestly. “A few people throw themselves over every year.”

“Why?”

“Not my business. But you, you throw yourself over, that’s on my head.”

“I appreciate your concern,” I cay dryly. I don’t ever think I was this sarcastic in Abnegation.

“Tell me now if that’s what you were going to do, so I can assign someone to watch you; if you die, it’ll be in training, just like any of the other initiates.”

“I wasn’t going to jump,” I say. “I was just thinking, clearing my head.”

“Clear it somewhere else next time.”

“Understood.”

I walk back to the room I share with the rest of the transfers. It’s still dark, and everyone is still asleep. Everyone but me.

***

I’m still awake when Cate opens our door and flips the light on. A few of the others grumble, but no one becomes overly concerned until Cate starts yelling.

“Get up! Up! Move it! This is the one and only wakeup call you’ll get! Get out of bed!”

I slide off of the bed and into my shoes. I’m the first one out the door, and the first one to the bathroom. I brush my teeth with the supplies they’ve given us, and I rake my fingers through my waves. I look tired. I clean up my things as the small Amity girl and an Erudite walk in; I’m still in the habit of not letting others observe me observing myself. Cate is still in our room waiting on us all.

“Heard you’re suicidal,” she says in greeting.

“Eric can kiss his own ass,” I say snidely as I search for my hair tie lost in the confines of my bed sheets.

“Yeah, I thought he was blowing smoke.”

“He snuck up on me,” I say as I pull my hair into a long braid, “and I nearly slipped under the railing because of it. If I was dead it’d be his fault.”

“Oh, goodie,” she says. “Our first pigtail pulling.”

“What’s a pigtail pulling?”

“Don’t worry about it, transfer. Not until you make it through initiation.”

***

“The first thing you will learn today,” my brother tells us, “is how to shoot a gun. Then you’ll learn how to win a fight. Since you’re already here, I guess I don’t need to
teach you how to get on and off a moving train.”

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