Finley’s standing on the rooftop of the tallest building she’s ever known, the lights are shimmering for miles, and she misses home.
It doesn’t hit her immediately; not after the Reaping, not on the train, not when they prodded and plucked and trimmed and scrubbed off the remnants of saltwater. It hits her when she stands there on the rooftop, staring out at the beautiful lights, and she realizes that she prefers dull mornings when the fog rolls over the water and she can’t see anything at all.
This skyline stretches on for miles. That shore smelled like fish and painful memories.
She decides that home is always going to be more beautiful. The lights in her life are Aisling and Ríona and her mother and Grape (her dog).
There’s something to be said for not thinking about it, for ignoring the painful realization that she might never see her family again. Except it’s not possible. They glimmer in her every thought. Overlooking the city, all she wants to do is hug them one last time. To say things she forgot to say, true things, not just stories.
She told them so many stories. She thinks maybe she should have spent more time telling them the truth: that she loves them all, that she knows why Dad left, that she loves Aisling’s laugh and Ríona’s stubbornness and Mom’s perseverance. (And Grape’s gross slobbery kisses. Even those.)
She spits into the forcefield below.
This fucking city is why she’s away from them. Beautiful or not, it’s cursed.
I’m bad at training. It’s not my fault, I wasn’t built for this. Nobody in Eight is built to survive something like this. I have no idea how Shelby Leviane made it out of the arena alive. Maybe I should have paid more attention to the screen, but once Gentian and Eva died, I couldn’t bear to.
I spent the day trying to learn, passing up the chance to hold weapons that are far too heavy for me and focusing on things like plants and fire making. When I saw a thin line of smoke rising from my little mountain of sticks, I swear I felt something almost like happiness. I worked on the fire until it sparked, orange flames licking my fingertips, and only blew it out when my skin started to burn. If nothing else, at least I’ll be able to stay warm in the arena.
When night comes, I can’t sleep. Nothing out of the ordinary for me. I don’t feel like lying around in my bed, for once, so I get up and leave. I take the elevator up to the top floor and climb a little staircase from there to the roof. This building is massive, larger than any building in Eight. When I stare over the edge, I see a glimmer of a forcefield and can’t help but laugh. Of course. They must have known I was coming, checked off “tendency to consider throwing herself off tall buildings” in my file and stretched the forcefield around the building so there’d be something to catch me.
From across the roof, I hear a noise. I was so caught up in my own amusement that I didn’t notice somebody else was here. I wander closer, see a girl with orange hair standing near the edge. I think it’s the tribute from Four. I tried to learn who all of the kids here were, but I haven’t been able to speak to any of them yet.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “I didn’t know anyone else was here. Are you alright?”