it's an art form // zoë Oct 17, 2013 5:56:11 GMT -5
Post by Onyx on Oct 17, 2013 5:56:11 GMT -5
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WHAT'S WORSE THAN ALL the things that are different here are all the things that are the same. My bed might be three times the size, the mattress filled with real bird feathers and not horse hair, but I still wake up occupying the smallest space possible. Yesterday, I instinctively pulled my duvet off with me and carried it through to the dining area, bracing myself for the cold morning wind that always attacked us at home. In that moment, before the motion sensor noticed me and the lights and thermostat kicked in, it was almost like nothing had changed from the Autumn mornings every year before. I half expected Harmon to come tiptoeing in, having heard me walking past, and for us to have an early-morning breakfast together. It did hurt, when it was the escort who bade me good morning, and not anyone I loved better.
Our days follow a structure that is unbreakable and unavoidable. Breakfast either in our rooms or in the communal dining room, then morning notices – mandatory exercises of the day, mentoring intervals, notifications of any rule breaches from the night before – and then training begins. Seeing all these kids my age skirmishing angrily is something else that's familiar, reminding me of brawls over my few years at school. There’s name calling and face-making, the only things they can think of to intimidate their stuffed or painted enemies, and it’s so overly passionate that, in a playground situation, it would be ridiculous. But when one of them slides a sword into the stomach of a dummy with a yell of triumph, my fantasy evaporates.
From my analysis during rest breaks (when I'm not training hard to be impressive for the cameras), there are definitely two clear types of tribute here, a binary of fighters: those who know what they’re doing and those who don’t. The strong, angry ones, the ones who’d rather win than simply survive, are too alien for me to want to know better, but the docile few who understand the importance of good allies as well as good fighting skills seem familiar already. They remind me of my sister, never wanting to do anything to hurt another, but also cautious to protect her own skin. Talking to these children requires tactics, so they don’t see you as either a threat or as someone they could take out.
As if to prove my point to myself, I’m now walking over to the nearest survivor-type, patting her dummy-enemy with spirit, but little enthusiasm. “Hi,” I say, and she looks up. The District Ten girl, I remember her from the Parade – all dressed up and thundering along behind us on her embellished chariot. Doe-eyes wide and curious, she's almost offputtingly unassuming. However, determined not to back out now I've got this far, (the same mentality I have for this whole experience, truly) I finish the question, and hope that my technique is enough to start a conversation; “can I practice here?”