That Which Still Remains – A Story within the World of Divergent

I walk through the broken building, the sound of old and shattered glass crunching under my feet. It was hard to get in, the windows and doors had been boarded up, but I had managed to find a hole in one large enough for me to climb through. Safe was another matter. My clothes are sliced, and blood has begun to crust on them, even through the thick clothing I am wearing to protect me from the paint balls we were going to play with. That would be fun to clean out, even more fun to explain. If I bother to go back. I know I am unwanted. I also know this place is dangerous, but I had to see. Had to see this place, a place I imagined from childhood, when he told me about it. He made it out to be magical, a palace fit for a princess. It has been so long since anyone had been in here. It feels so old, so empty, so hollow. It feels like the dead.
Through the empty hall I walk, grand once, but now a depressing reminder of what once was. Old cloth signs have collapsed in heaps on the floor, a moldy, rotten smell drifting from them. The more durable signs are also in various states of decay. The sign for the pier its self has lost several letters, giving the broken building a broken name. I step carefully around the objects littered on the ground. My echoing footsteps are the only sound, aside from the creaks and groans of an arthritic old building, bounce off the wall in the deafening silence. Old stores and restaurants look so sad, their decorations in tatters, any signs unreadable. This was once such a grandiose place, so many people, so many cultures. I can tell from looking, as I see the signs with words I don’t understand. I imagine walking through here, listening to people speak in foreign tongues, incomprehensible to my own ears. I would watch their mouths move, but I could only hear the sounds, something beautiful, yet so incredibly alien. No one speaks anything but our own language here. It’s such a ridiculous idea, people speaking other languages. Everyone tells me it’s stupid, but I still wonder if there ever were, or if everyone has always spoken the same thing.
As I walk up the stairs, I walk over fallen signs, advertising museums for children, a park on the roof where my faction mates are probably making a mess, and something unreadable. I look up to the main sign, and even though it has lost nearly all of its letters, I can still read it. I smile at the name. It is a fitting name, the diamond shapes of the windows over the garden, with crystal glass now covered in dust. As I walk up the rounded stairs, the signs of a hurried exodus litter the ground. Trash, money, broken souvenirs, even single shoes. I wonder what had happened, and how it could happen so suddenly that the entire building, the entire city, be evacuated in such a hurry. No one ever tells me these things. I’m not sure if anyone even knows, if they even wonder what it was like before the factions. I’m sure at some point people didn’t have to be exactly one thing. Maybe some of them were like me. Maybe they didn’t know. There are rumors about this place. That it’s haunted. That it’s full of poison. That you’ll be cursed if you enter. That the inside has been swallowed by the marsh that was once a lake.Eric said not to go inside the building that we were only allowed to go on top and around the pier. That it was stupid to go inside.
But I was brave, I tell myself. One last act of bravery. I dared to climb the walls, enter through the broken windows, walk through the dark empty halls. I wanted to see. And now I am here. At the top of the grand stairs, the garden I imagined from long ago, somewhere enchanted in the mind of a child, a magical palace, made of crystal with every flower imaginable. That is what I imagined. The truth looks haunted and daunting. I open the crystal doors to disarray. A room of browns and greens and muddy silver light. The plants themselves are behemoths, tall and thin, with a segmented trunk and a tuft of serrated leaves at the top. Under them are other, smaller but similar plants with many parts to their leaves. I look up, to the dome glass ceiling that has broken in places, giving only some plants water, letting them overgrow into the different parts of the garden. In other areas water was nonexistent. The plants there had withered and died, leaving their decaying remains behind.
Sometimes I wonder if I chose the right faction. Is it really for me? Or did I chose it because it’s where I knew him, where he lived, breathed, and eventually, died? Am I choosing it because I was afraid I would lose him, or the last of what I have of him, if I left? I don’t belong, and I know it. I don’t belong anywhere and I don’t think I ever will. I accept that. But If I try hard enough, maybe I can stay, in the one place where he was, the one person who made me feel whole. Will I always feel this hollow?
Through the windows, though they are grimy and unclear, I can make out the top of a carousel, and other play things, along with more plants, most of these alive. Taking up most of the window is a large wheel. Through the grimy crystal windows, I can vaguely tell it is rusted and coated in life as well. I assume vines and plants have over taken it, becoming an art piece of urban decay. I’m not sure but I think I see someone climbing it. I assume it’s a trick of the light. Though, knowing my Faction, maybe not. Other things are out there as well, but I will see them later, if I decide to go. Maybe I will never leave. Just stay here for the rest of time. Moon light is filtered in through the clouds and the dust, a thin filmy light, adding to the eerie feel of the old building.
I wonder if anyone would notice if I left, that I have left. If I just disappeared tonight, who would call my name? While they play with their guns and flags, things I never understood the appeal of, what if I just… Left? These people who ignore me. Who hate me. I’m not even sure why they chose me for their team, but perhaps it was because I was one of the last ones. I don’t care anymore. Would they care? If I went to see him, if I left this place, would they ever notice? If I let myself sleep, would anyone weep over my body? Would they even come looking? I wonder if that’s part of why I came here tonight, to look, to be in this place tonight. If it was to be that last thing I see, At least it will be somewhere he stood.
Thicker glass litters the floor where the green house ceiling had collapsed, from being hit with something or simply from old age, I don’t know because other parts of it were still strong and standing. A large fan with many prongs had fallen, and like a plastic chandelier, had shattered. Pieces of it have slid across the room, leaving trails of small dust behind it. Not that it was easy to tell. Next to a deteriorating café, Shrouded tables are tipped over, with shattered glasses and plated under them. Overturned trash cans and broken railings also litter the ground acting as dust catchers. The floor is coated in dirt and dust, along with the bodies and bones of things that have gotten in through the broken dome and died. Just like me.
I lift the knife that I hid in my shirt. I look at it, wondering if it will hurt. What will it be like? A flash of light? A kiss of death? Nothing? Was he afraid? Or was he brave? Did he cry? Did he think of me? What was the last thing he said, though no one ever heard them? What was the last thing he thought? What was it? What? Is it worth it? Is it worth it, giving up this, even if I hate it, is it worth giving up, just to find out? I don’t know. I don’t know if I ever will.
Benches and tables where over turned and some covered in vines. Cups and other human things lay on the ground, a sad reminder of the past, yet I am… content. After he had left, I thought little of his magic garden and though the fountains he claimed to have existed are dead, the plants still thrive. I had never really believed him when I got older, I didn’t believe that these plants could be alive. I had expected it to entirely wither, to shrivel and die in the years it had been abandoned by humanity.
But it had not. Proof to the world, though they could not see it, and to me, who finally could that even in such dire times, things can still grow.
As I think about him, I know that he would not want me to do this, that someone, somewhere still cares about me, or so I tell myself. I am not brave enough to find out if it is the truth. I am a coward. But I already knew that. I sigh, and as I begin to walk out, I stop. There is a little flower growing in one of the plants boxes, it’s all alone. For some reason, everything around it is dead. Everything left it, everything is gone. I wonder if the flower feels as lonely, as hollow as I do. I know it’s silly, flowers can’t feel, but I feel like I need to reassure it, or maybe I’m just trying to get rid of temptation. I set my knife down in front of the flower. I leave it there, as a reminder to both of us that we are not alone.

Brianna C.
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