My name was pulled from the reaping ball. My death sentence.
I was frozen in place, every atom in my body ablaze with fear. I could almost smell the venom of the Capitol from where I stood. I could almost hear their squeals of hysterical laughter as my legs trembled underneath me. I composed myself, lifting my chin, smoothing my hair and giving a slight smile as my eyes met the productive clown of a host welcoming my death with open arms. I always knew deep down that this moment would come, but no amount of preparation could get you ready to face the burning hell that I was walking into. Behind my smug face, I was suffocating.
My lungs heaved, buried with fear; intoxicated by the blood of the daughters and sons I would kill. I shot a smile at the cameras which could have been interpreted as either dazzling or terrifying, and the firm handshake I offered to the demon who pulled my name from the reaping ball made my skin crawl. I squirmed and locked eyes with the people of my district, loathing them for watching me, dragged into the deepest pits of hell. They were pathetic, we all were.
My daze was snapped back to reality, the shrill voices shaking my skull, the world materialising at two words. Two simple words and a hole in my chest where my heart should have been was filled with a piercing pain like the venom of a hundred tracker jackers. His name.
Caesar leaned forward, slapping his hands on his knees, his face riddled with tears of laughter. The crowd bellowed, doubling over in amusement. Their laughter
shook my skull. "Charm," my mentor told me. "Charm will win them over." I recall that voice in my head and pull myself out of my daze, shooting the audience
and Caesar a broad, warm smile. The most dazzling smile I could manage, which I hoped and prayed would surely earn me a couple of sponsors.
What I had said wasn't even half as funny as how they were reacting, but this is the Capitol. Everything is emphasised here, where all they have to worry about
is how sparkly their teeth are. Caesar momentarily returns my smile, straightens himself, smooths his neon blue hair and blots a velvet tissue to his tears.
I return my full attention to him.
"So, tell us," he starts, leaning towards me "How did such a little sweetheart like you bag an outstanding training score of 11?" the
stadium fell silent, every single one of the hundreds flooding the venue barely breathed. I giggled slightly, twiddling a blonde corkscrew curl between my fingers, I leaned
forward to Caesar like I was about to tell him my darkest secret and at the excited gasp of the crowd, I withdrew. They exhaled and I laughed innocently,
the Capitol were my toys. For now.
"Well, Caesar," I started, "Let's just say I don't just use these for picking flowers," I said, raising my hands and wiggling my fingers which were painted to
perfection. Despite the innocent front, my own gesture drew flash backs of my knife plunging into the dummy in the training arena, my body lurched on its back
seconds later as I tore off its head with these same bare hands. When reality snapped back around me, the crowd was cooing and Caesar productively waved his
arms around in admiration, I couldn't decide whether his over enthusiastic attitude was a good thing or something which just made me loathe the Capitol as much as
I loathed having to act like I loved every second of this nightmare. This whole thing was a lie. The crowd which melted at my every word were just as scorchingly
excited to watch me die.
"Well, we would all still love you whether you were picking flowers or picking axes," I'm sure the other tributes would love me if I spent my time in the Games
picking flowers too, "Wouldn't we, ladies and gentlemen?!" Caesar and the crowd's excitement bounced off the walls in bellowing cheers. My smile beamed
at the cameras, the crowd, and back to Caesar as I straightened the skirt on my pink lace dress, encrusted with the rainbow of diamonds that my stylist was still
"Speaking of love," he started, the beginning of the sentence made me want to punch him in his surgically perfected face, "We hear there's a certain
person you're fighting for," I resisted the urge to rip his teeth out of his mouth.
"You heard that?" I snarled, concealing it with a smile and an embarrassed laugh which couldn't have been further from false. Caesar glanced at my token
from home, the string tied around my wrist, woven with emerald green grass which almost radiated the eyes of the boy who made it. I hid it from Caesar's
gaze and he abruptly changed the subject, sensing my reluctance to continue. They could have my life, but they couldn't have him.
"So, we're all dying to know, how are you going to fight in the arena?" Caesar's eyes sparkled and I feel a lump in my throat. They won't be the ones who
are dying to know.
"Can you keep a secret?" I murmur to the crowd, pressing a finger to my lips as they all shout desperately in response. Caesar was almost sitting on my lap.
I decided to be more genuine for a few moments at least, "I dread the moment that I need to kill a tribute," I start, feeling the lump rise and catch fire
"I'm not blood thirsty, but I'm determined to get back to...." I trail off, the tears threatening to spill as I instantly grab hold of my token from home.
The crowd wail sympathetically and encouragingly, cutting off the silence. I compose myself and shoot them my smile which excites them even more
"I'm fast and I have fighting skills that you couldn't even imagine," I continue, as my face renders serious.
"I'll fight until I'm home, I'm not giving up until I get back to the ones I love." I swallow hard and look Caesar straight in the eyes, hoping he'd feel my heartbreak.
Hoping they all would. "That's how I'm going to win."