By: Ally Condie

“Do you ever teach anyone?” he asks.

“Only once,” I say.



It’s early spring now, and the ice at the edge of the lake in Central has begun to melt. Sometimes, while I walk to work, I look out over the railing at the air-train stop to see the gray water in the distance and the red branches of bushes along the shore. I like stopping here. Seeing the wind wave the water and brush the branches reminds me that, before I returned to the Society, I crossed over rivers and canyons.

But the view isn’t the only reason I pause. The Archivist I deal with sends someone to watch me and to see how long I wait. It’s how she knows whether or not I’ve agreed to the terms for our next trade. If I stop here until the next train comes in—a few more seconds now—it means that I accept. Over the past few months, the Archivists have come to know me as someone who doesn’t trade often, but who does have items of value.

I turn from the lake and see the city, its white buildings and masses of dark-clothed people moving through. It reminds me of going into the Carving, and again I remember that time long ago in the Borough when I saw the diagram of my body, those rivers of blood and those strong white bones.

Just before the next train slides in, I start down the steps.

The price is too low. I don’t accept. Yet.

I didn’t know I had this inside of me.

I didn’t know all that was inside of him, either. I thought I did, but people run deep and complicated like rivers, hold their shape and are carved upon like stone.

He sent me a message. Such a thing is difficult to do, but he is in the Rising, and he has managed the impossible before. The message tells me where I can meet him. After I’ve finished work, I will go to see him.

Tonight. I will see him tonight.

A pattern of frost blooms along the cement wall at the bottom of the stairs. It looks, I imagine, as if someone painted stars or flowers at exactly the right time; a momentary capture of beauty that will too soon vanish.


This book would not exist without the kindness and support of:

Scott, my husband, and our three wonderful boys (Cal, E, and True);

my parents, Robert and Arlene Braithwaite; my brother, Nic; my sisters, Elaine and Hope; and my grandmother Alice Todd Braithwaite;

my cousins Caitlin Jolley, Lizzie Jolley, Andrea Hatch, and my aunt Elaine Jolley;

writer and reader friends Ann Dee Ellis, Josie Lee, Lisa Mangum, Rob Wells, Becca Wilhite, Brook Andreoli, Emily Dunford, Jana Hay, Lindsay and Justin Hepworth, Brooke Hoopes, Kayla Nelson, Abby Parcell, Libby Parr, and Heather Smith;

Jodi Reamer and the wonderful team at Writers House—Alec Shane, Cecilia de la Campa, and Chelsey Heller;

Julie Strauss-Gabel and the fantastic group at Dutton/ Penguin—Theresa Evangelista, Anna Jarzab, Liza Kaplan, Rosanne Lauer, Casey McIntyre, Shanta Newlin, Irene Vandervoort, and Don Weisberg;

and all the readers, always.

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