Home > Insurgent (Divergent #2)(4)

Insurgent (Divergent #2)(4)
Veronica Roth

I see a sewing kit on the dresser. In it are two colors of thread, red and yellow, and a pair of scissors.

I feel calm as I undo the braid in my hair and comb it again. I part my hair down the middle and make sure that it is straight and flat. I close the scissors over the hair by my chin.

How can I look the same, when she’s gone and everything is different? I can’t.

I cut in as straight a line as I can, using my jaw as a guide. The tricky part is the back, which I can’t see very well, so I do the best I can by touch instead of sight. Locks of blond hair surround me on the floor in a semicircle.

I leave the room without looking at my reflection again.

When Tobias and Caleb come to get me later, they stare at me like I am not the person they knew yesterday.

“You cut your hair,” says Caleb, his eyebrows high. Grabbing hold of facts in the midst of shock is very Erudite of him. His hair sticks up on one side from where he slept on it, and his eyes are bloodshot.

“Yeah,” I say. “It’s . . . too hot for long hair.”

“Fair enough.”

We walk down the hallway together. The floorboards creak beneath our feet. I miss the way my footsteps echoed in the Dauntless compound; I miss the cool underground air. But mostly I miss the fears of the past few weeks, rendered small by my fears now.

We exit the building. The outside air presses around me like a pillow meant to suffocate me. It smells green, the way a leaf does when you tear it in half.

“Does everyone know you’re Marcus’s son?” Caleb says. “The Abnegation, I mean?”

“Not to my knowledge,” says Tobias, glancing at Caleb. “And I would appreciate it if you didn’t mention it.”

“I don’t need to mention it. Anyone with eyes can see it for themselves.” Caleb frowns at him. “How old are you, anyway?”

“Eighteen.”

“And you don’t think you’re too old to be with my little sister?”

Tobias lets out a short laugh. “She isn’t your little anything.”

“Stop it. Both of you,” I say. A crowd of people in yellow walks ahead of us, toward a wide, squat building made entirely of glass. The sunlight reflecting off the panes feels like a pinch to my eyes. I shield my face with my hand and keep walking.

The doors to the building are wide open. Around the edge of the circular greenhouse, plants and trees grow in troughs of water or small pools. Dozens of fans positioned around the room serve only to blow the hot air around, so I am already sweating. But that fades from my mind when the crowd before me thins and I see the rest of the room.

In its center grows a huge tree. Its branches are spread over most of the greenhouse, and its roots bubble up from the ground, forming a dense web of bark. In the spaces between the roots, I see not dirt but water, and metal rods holding the roots in place. I should not be surprised—the Amity spend their lives accomplishing feats of agriculture like this one, with the help of Erudite technology.

Standing on a cluster of roots is Johanna Reyes, her hair falling over the scarred half of her face. I learned in Faction History that the Amity recognize no official leader—they vote on everything, and the result is usually close to unanimous. They are like many parts of a single mind, and Johanna is their mouthpiece.

The Amity sit on the floor, most with their legs crossed, in knots and clusters that vaguely resemble the tree roots to me. The Abnegation sit in tight rows a few yards to my left. My eyes search the crowd for a few seconds before I realize what I’m looking for: my parents.

I swallow hard, and try to forget. Tobias touches the small of my back, guiding me to the edge of the meeting space, behind the Abnegation. Before we sit down, he puts his mouth next to my ear and says, “I like your hair that way.”

I find a small smile to give him, and lean into him when I sit down, my arm against his.

Johanna lifts her hands and bows her head. All conversation in the room ceases before I can draw my next breath. All around me the Amity sit in silence, some with their eyes closed, some with their lips mouthing words I can’t hear, some staring at a point far away.

Every second chafes. By the time Johanna lifts her head I am worn to the bone.

“We have before us today an urgent question,” she says, “which is: How will we conduct ourselves in this time of conflict as people who pursue peace?”

Every Amity in the room turns to the person next to him or her and starts talking.

“How do they get anything done?” I say, as the minutes of chatter wear on.

“They don’t care about efficiency,” Tobias says. “They care about agreement. Watch.”

Two women in yellow dresses a few feet away rise and join a trio of men. A young man shifts so that his small circle becomes a large one with the group next to him. All around the room, the smaller crowds grow and expand, and fewer and fewer voices fill the room, until there are only three or four. I can only hear pieces of what they say: “Peace—Dauntless—Erudite—safe house—involvement—”

“This is bizarre,” I say.

“I think it’s beautiful,” he says.

I give him a look.

“What?” He laughs a little. “They each have an equal role in government; they each feel equally responsible. And it makes them care; it makes them kind. I think that’s beautiful.”

“I think it’s unsustainable,” I say. “Sure, it works for the Amity. But what happens when not everyone wants to strum banjos and grow crops? What happens when someone does something terrible and talking about it can’t solve the problem?”

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