The stupid show I was planning on making money off of was taking too long to start, let alone actually pay off. I still had to help my parents with money. Ma was still sick, it was getting harder and harder for Pa to keep up in the mines. And this winter seem colder than previous ones had. Maybe it just felt like that every year. I wasn't sure. I just knew that we needed to do something.
Ma still tried to act like she was fine, but it was obvious she wasn't. With how hard this winter had been and how fast she's been going downhill, I was starting to question if I even had time to wait for that stupid show. She needed to see a doctor soon - a good one. She needed a warmer house, a fuller stomach. We needed money soon. So, I decided to do something drastic.
The richest person I can think of is probably Stella Blakesley. She's a traitor - they're all traitors, letting themselves be Capitol puppets after they win. But she has money. She's even married to one of them. How much more traitorous can you get? Yeah I'll appear on a shitty reality TV show for them. But she sold her soul to the devil. At least I might get a slice of the profits if this goes well.
My plan was simple, break in, steal shit. Cash was my main goal, but anything easy to carry and shiny was mine for the taking too. If it was something that would be too suspicious to sell in Twelve, I know that Bear knows some guys. I hate that he does that shady work as it is, but this time it would be worth it. I just had to make sure I didn't get caught before then.
It was late and the house seemed quiet. The Peacekeepers weren't in the area currently on their patrol. I hoped that maybe she wasn't even here, that she was off lazing around in the Capitol. I tried the doors first, locked. I could pick the lock, but she probably had good locks installed. Plus it might take too much time and the Peacekeepers could head back this way. Next I tried the downstairs windows, but those weren't an option either.
The way I saw it, I had one solution - the balcony.
Yes, she had a big balcony in her house. What did she think she was a princess or something? I'd love to see the look on her princess face when she sees all her shit is gone. Luckily for me, I was somewhat prepared. You don't decide to rob a Victors house on a whim. I had been looking at her house for a couple days, just casual walks with my little sister, taking mental notes. It looked high up, but at this point I just had to try. I wasn't going to waste my own time by not even trying.
I got the rope out of my backpack and tied it to resemble a noose or a lasso. Here goes nothing. It took me a few tries to get it to hook onto the railing. Once it did I yanked on it a few times to make sure I wouldn't fall halfway through. And that's when I started going up.
I used the rope and the wall to climb up, after the halfway point I got a second wind. I just had to remind myself I was almost there. That I didn't expend all of this time and energy for nothing. Ma was counting on me, even if she didn't know it. I was going to get her to a doctor before the end of the winter.
And eventually I got to the top.
And up there? Stella Blakesley was waiting for me, painting in her studio.
Strangely enough, she had become used to the carnage. Numb to the visceral ephemera of blood and guts and sand and sweat mingling with the torn and tattered bodies of Panem’s future. Like gravity and the interminable pull of the planets towards the sun, she felt her heart pulling her back to the Capitol even long after the 89th. It would always be that way. Repeat until death, they had chorused as she wore their tarnished crown and smiled with teeth and skin that were no longer her own.
Sleep had never been a friend. Neither was it an enemy. Merely a passing acquaintance in the night that came and went whenever it damn well pleased.
And on those cold winter nights when Stella’s bed was warmed by her body alone (damn Ex and the explicable pull back to her), she would walk through the moonlit halls until she found her way to her studio, turning on the row of lights she had recessed into the ceiling, and tossing upon the balcony doors for some fresh (but so fucking cold) air before sitting in front of her easel, back straight as she had been taught years before, a black silk robe dragging against the floor like a shroud and flowing in the breeze. Persephone maybe, or Hades, her sanctuary of death and flowers.
Piles of canvas litter the ground at her feet. Scenes of death and reincarnations that would no doubt fetch a pretty penny if they ever saw the light of day. One of the many Capitol psychologists would take one look at the paintings—and probably do some sort of Rorschach tests or some other bullshit—and declare her legally insane. Or perhaps just eternally damaged. Maybe she was both.
But as she raises the brush that she had just dipped in onyx (a gift from Ex after their wedding), a clang at the balcony forces Stella to glance up, dropping the brush and grabbing the dagger that lay on the table to her left.
A boy, not more than fifteen or sixteen, clambering over the railing from a poorly constructed grappling hook. She has half a mind to shove him off but rises with a sigh, her grip on the dagger white-knuckled, biting back annoyance as she steps towards him.
So what if she raises the dagger towards his throat? She's nothing but a slave to her baser impulses and she's proven that she won't blink an eye to kill.
She's killed for less before. And more.
“To what do I owe the breaking and entering? A dare, perhaps? You know if you wanted liquor, Nico’s got a better stash and I do. And Arbor has more decent weapons. He’s just two houses over. If you can beat him to the cabinet before he launches a spear at your back.”
My mind was blank, yet it was travelling at light speed. I never really considered the consequences of my actions before. But now they were staring me in the face. After all, I'd have to be blind not to notice the dagger. Am I shaking? I've shook like this before. No, no I wasn't shaking. I was trembling, like a leaf. Hermes snap out of it.
To what do I owe the breaking and entering?
Hermes make up an excuse! But there weren't any excuses left. No lies to get me out of this one. I didn't think this was my house, I wasn't looking for a lost puppy, and I didn't accidentally throw my baseball through a window. I was just here, with an empty backpack and paintings of death and decay scattered around me.
A dare perhaps?
That would be a stupid fucking dare. I've risked my life to do stupid shit, but not this much. And not for just the thrill of adrenaline. I'd do other stuff for an adrenaline rush yeah. But not this. I was starting to wonder if this was even worth it anymore. I imagined my blood splattered the canvas, finishing her painting.
You know if you wanted liquor, Nico’s got a better stash and I do.
That's not why I came, but God I wanted some liquor now. Would liquor make me numb? Would it make my death less painful? I wondered if she'd pass me a bottle for slitting my throat. That way I could go out with a bang. Have some fun before it all ends.
And Arbor has more decent weapons. He’s just two houses over. If you can beat him to the cabinet before he launches a spear at your back.
Yeah that's why I didn't break into his house. I couldn't think of anything to say about why I was there. In fact, there was only one thing I could even think to say. So as stupid as it was, I said it, "Technically this isn't breaking and entering. I'm on the balcony. So I never went inside and therefore I'm trespassing at most which isn't considered as severe a crime."
Hermes you fucking idiot. Trespassing wasn't much better and I was pretty sure that wasn't the answer she was looking for regardless. But I just couldn't think. All I could imagine was all the different ways she could kill me with just a dagger. Hell she could probably kill me ten different ways with just the paint brush. At least it would be a cool story in the newspaper.