"We belong to where we're going Where we're going"
She was born with the world at her fingertips, a book in her hands and validation whispered in her ear.
("You're a star, Eva.")
She always would be. Born to burn in the night, studied from a distance but too ferocious to be approached. It was an existence she was made for, born to a professor for a father and a writer for a mother. He looked at her through round glasses and ruffled her hair with a smile. "The world is yours, but only if you reach out and grab it."
She promised him she would.
At school, she learned the nature of hierarchy. She was an only child and her parents paid a fortune for her education - nothing but the best for their daughter. The richest kids, whose parents wore the best suits and had the biggest houses, walked as if the world rotated around their hips. They wore the slickest smiles and spoke the most, even though their words were nothing but hot air. Yet they still got the praise. Student of the year went to Tony, the son of a prominent politician. Prefect went to Sydney, the daughter of a businessman despite the fact she'd been caught smoking weed twice in the bathroom.
Age fourteen, she went to her mother. Dejected and on the verge of tears, she asked why she was invisible to everyone around her. "Because you let them think they're better than you."
That's how hierarchy worked. Climb to the top of the pyramid or be crushed beneath the weight of failure. In her bitterness, she climbed. By the time she got to her final year, her creative writing stories were winning awards in the school and she was the editor of her student paper. She lied, she made friends, she pecked boys, and spoke out in class. There was no need to be kind if everyone was just trying to get ahead. Get the best jobs, get the best scholarships and make it into the best companies. Kindness was an arbitrary tool, easy to pick up and drop at the earliest convenience in the climb to the top of the hierarchy.
She blossomed as she grew into herself. She threw away the glasses and wore contacts, just so people would stop mistaking intelligence for meekness. She ditched the bun and let her hair down because it gave her confidence. By the time she left school, she was five-eight, walking with a straight and a smug smile on her face. Showmanship was just as important as competence; the best book in the world would never be read if its front cover was in tatters.
She studied Literature and Philosophy at university, but her passion was always in journalism. Untangling people's lives so she could spin tall tales from the many threads that made a person. She'd been the editor for her school's paper, and at university, she wrote articles for her university's paper. As she worked in school, she pursued journalism in her spare time.
It became routine. Wake up in the morning, get ready, powder her nose with expensive crystalline lattice and get her work done. Once her work was done, run the university paper and get as much content as possible printed out. It was clockwork, and while everyone else seemed to run on fumes, she found herself accelerating. She was a machine, fueled by cocaine, validation, and praise. Nothing showed behind her polite mask, affluent voice, and fashionable clothes. It was only when control began to slip through her fingers that the mask began to crack and malevolence began to shine through. Raised voices, steely glares, glass shattered against walls -- don't upset me.
Don't be an idiot, simple.
Once she graduated from university, she managed to get a job at a media outlet called Panem Daily. A simple journalist who wrote on the lives of celebrities and the top 1% of the top 1%. The wealthy and the powerful. She would write her stories and they would be approved by prettier faces with empty minds; she was trash but she was happy with it. Just another hierarchy she had to climb.
She was 25 when she met her husband. Ian Glaze was a bright man, he was a banker who made millions from moving capital for the very people she covered. He was 35, ambitious and kind. The kind of man she wanted to marry - he understood the hierarchy and knew how to climb, they would climb together.
They married when she was 27 and they did climb together. She even wrote a book and had it published. A short story, something to tick off her bucket list.
But at thirty, he slowly became the man she did not agree to marry.
("Eva, we should start a family, have children of our own.")
He got mean.
("I don't want to.")
She felt his judgment when she brushed him off and did her daily lines.
He insulted her.
("You're being a right bitch.")
He was getting in the way.
Her mask slipped right before his eyes and the malevolence brimmed behind her cold gaze. She poured him a glass of their favorite whiskey - it would be his last.
"I'm so sorry for your loss, Eva."
She shook the solicitor's hand with crocodile tears staining her cheeks. It took all she had not to smile - as his wife she was the sole benefactor of his estate. His money was all hers; even as she signed her signature the gears and cogs in her head turned.
She resigned from her job at Panem Daily the moment she received what was hers. Using the spoils of her cunning, she bought her own studio space, began to hire a team and a camera crew. She spent weeks sifting through logos and names, sleepless nights, and a lot of lines. She made calls, everyone in her dead husband's contacts and her own.
"Panem Exposed? An internet news channel? Why?"
She'd rehearsed the line a thousand times.
"Well, Mr. Banks, traditional news is dying. People don't want to read newspapers anymore, and television will only last so long. As people start to spend more and more time on the internet, that's where they'll get their news from too," her head tilted to the side and her made-up face smiled. "And what does everyone want to hear about? They want to hear about their idols. Actors, musicians, politicians, victors. They want to hear all the gossip. They also want to hear conspiracy theories, people will believe anything if it comes from someone who sounds authentic. Anyone browsing the internet who comes across this channel just won't be able to resist."
It was all true, people loved to hear shit that could be true. And the Capitol was obsessed with that sordid lot of degenerates they knew as victors. She found it strange, how taking District trash and dressing them in golden robes suddenly made them acceptable to people that mattered.
Mr Banks began stroking his heard, his face crumpled in thought. "And you'll host the show? You've never been a host on television," he sighed. "How do I know you won't fuck it up?"
She'd anticipated that one too.
"I've been on television before, I've done interviews and I know how to look good on camera. You'd be in good hands if you took a chance with this."
He was slowly buying it; perfect.
"And what would a soda company get from sponsoring or even investing in this?"
She leaned forwards.
"Well, let's just say that some of your more shady business practices won't be covered by me. And you can expect the stories I cover to... nudge people to buy your drink."
There was a hint of understanding in his eyes. She knew what it meant. He'll be the first of many.
"Pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Banks."
When she shook his hand, her empire begin to rise.