i see it in the way you stare as if there was trouble ahead and you knew it - but i will be saving myself for the ruin and i know you care
It took everything I've ever felt to get out of bed this morning. I am usually one of two things when I wake up - flung from my bed by nightmares, or chained to it by memory. The 23 souls resting in my chest seem to have gotten heavier and heavier as the days drew closer. Dread is an understatement to what you feel as a Victor leading up to Reaping Day. I can barely remember my own reaping, the days seem so long ago and my life before another life altogether, one that does not belong to me. That girl died the minute she stepped foot upon that platform. This new one, born from an arena she shouldn't have had to rule, barely lives her own life anymore. She just sits, and stares, and buries herself in the past.
("Saffron, honey? You've got to get up now. They'll be here soon.")
My mother speaks to me from a distance these days - and I'm glad. One day I'll be able to wrap my arms around her and thank her for everything with the little words I speak. One day I'll have more than just a house and money and food to give her. One day. But not today.
My dress does not itch like the one I wore to my reaping. It's from the Capitol - they dolled me up all nice and clean, painting away the darkness under my eyes that's spilled from my pupils and seeped into my face. (I look in the mirror and see a stranger. Her eyes hurt the most - they're so sad. I wonder what happened to the bright little eyes that held secrets and stories, and then I remember that they now hold 23 broken memories and all the horrors laced within them instead.) If I tried to smile, perhaps I would be believable - but I won't give them that satisfaction. They don't deserve it.
(I don't look as they draw out the names. When I don't hear Paige's name I almost sigh with selfish relief - Not Paige, I think - an echo that will haunt me for 5 more years until I can't dare to think it at all. No, not Paige at all.)
They're older than Paige - older than me. I don't remember what I was thinking when I asked Mace if I could speak to them first. I don't remember a lot of conversations that float through my ears these days, but I suppose I knew what I was saying in that moment because I don't say a lot. Maybe I wanted to say more, do more, be more for these kids who I'll try so desperately to save. Victors are supposed to be Gods in the eyes of the Capitol, but I've yet to prove myself worthy for any title at all. I want to be a sort of greatness that these two that the Capitol could never understand. (What where their names? Aurora. Thistle. Remember those, I tell myself sternly.)
I want to be their hope. To be their stepping stones when they don't think they can take another. They can, and they will. I did it, once upon a time. And I'm not much, and probably never will be, but in this moment I have decided to bestow myself upon these two and do whatever it takes to get them home. (One of them, at least.) I will not be great, or godly - I'll just be brave.
I will be brave, I think. I have to be. For them.
(For all of them.)
The carriage looms in front of me and I hesitate at the door. Perhaps they won't take me seriously. Perhaps their faces will fall when they see my face and not Mace's. Perhaps I will just sit and stare and say nothing at all like I always do. Perhaps I'll freeze. Perhaps I'll cry.
Or perhaps, I'll be brave.
"Thistle," I nod, forcing myself to speak as I enter the compartment, sitting in front of these doomed souls. (There is no point in greetings or apologies. We're past that point already.) "Aurora." I nod again, District 10 manner seeping from my soul.
There is so much to say, and nothing at all.
"Tell me what you need, and I'll endeavor to get it done. I promise."
Post by Hael [prev. reasons] on Feb 2, 2014 15:33:42 GMT -5
A U R O R A V I L L E L A A F R A I D T O L O V E
"Aurora." The familiar voice that I have only heard through speakers calls me back to the present. I turn to see Saffron Lowe's face glancing at mine. Saffron Lowe, victor of the 65th Hunger Games, 14-year-old girl who lives in District ten. Her voice and face is more real than on TV. She looks more sad and empty than she was she was first reaped. Poor girl, those words ran through everyone's head the moment her name was read.
"Tell me what you need, and I'll endeavor to get it done. I promise." She's trying to be brave and I'm trying not to look nervous. "Food would be nice," I mutter under my breath, dry humor as stale as the bread I eat at home. My eyes flicker around, trying to avoid eye contact. I was going to die, Thistle may or may not, and there was nothing that was going to change that. Being a mentor would be harder than being in the arena, in my opinion. I wring my hands nervously, words running through my brain, trying to form a proper sentence so this won't be so uncomfortable.
"What motivated you to win, to keep going and push till the end?" The words spill out of my mouth before I can stop them, but I really want to know. I going to die, that much is obvious, but I don't feel like dying in that arena without putting up a fight. If you're strong, fast and have perfect aim but don't have any motivation, I'd consider you as good as dead. But if you aren't all of those things but at least have motivation, I'd say you have a fighting chance, as stupid as it seems. And I could really use some motivation right now.
I sit in the small carriage, my hands clasped around the necklace my mother had given me as if it was the only thing that mattered to me. Of course, that statement held some truth to it. Shaky hands unclasp and in the middle of my sweaty palms is the necklace, my token, the last remnants of my family. Anna, my mother, all of them. My thumb slides delicately over the tiny piece of metal, feeling every bumb and bruise, dent and crack and the raised bumps that made up the thistle plant that adorned the golden circle. It was me.
Every rock the carriage goes over sends a tiny jolt throughout the vehicle, and a tiny wave of fear and the unknown through me. How was it doing that? How had I been reduced to such worry and angst in such a short time? I remember my first time stealing something. I'd had the same feelings i'm having right now, as if my life was about to end if caught. I remember fleeing the scene, all too noticeable as I dashed around the corner, the wind picking up the book's pages and turning them as I ran.
Maybe this was me being caught. Not by peacekeepers, not by my mother or father, but by fate.
The carriage door slides open and I immediately close my hands again, clinging to the small but heavy necklace like it's my life. What was I thinking was going to be greeting me? Peacekeepers? President Snow? A hungry career wanting to rip me to shreds? No, instead i'm met with a girl, young yet brave, small yet an oddly intimidating presence. Saffron Lowe, victor of the 65th games.
"Thistle" She says my name with a small nod, quickly turning to Aurora and doing the same. She sits and for a brief moment silence falls over us. My eyes glance towards Aurora and then back to Saffron. What were they thinking?
"Tell me what you need, and I'll endeavor to get it done. I promise."
Her words ring in my ears and i'm left to comprehend them for a moment. And yet, a single question pops into my mind, stepping over and pushing back all my other thoughts until it is the only thing left. How much does she care about us? About our lives? Did she need to care about them? She was alive, her family was alive. She looked like she had everything but she didn't. What about all the nightmares? The memories?
"Saffron, how much do you want to see us- one of us live?" I blurt out the question just after Aurora asks hers, and only then do I realize how stupid and utterly disrespectful it was. Here was a girl, a girl who had just been put through hell, and I was making it seem like she didn't care about us at all. Of course she cared. She wouldn't be helping us if she didn't.
"I..i'm sorry. I didn't mean to be rude, it's just.." I trail off, leaving words unsaid and hanging in the air and a sad hope that they know what I mean.
My past, it seems, is to haunt me every year until the day I die. Of course, I knew that. But for 11 months I have grown distant from that time in the in-between. From the time that I had friends, hand both of my hands, had an imaginary crown upon my head that didn't weigh me to the ground. But to do this, year after year, to relive everything and muster up words I don't know how to speak to hopeful souls - this is exhausting. Trains are supposed to take you away from such horrors, not bring you to them. Time is supposed to move forward, not rewind.
"What motivated you to win, to keep going and push till the end?"
I don't know. I can't remember - I don't want to remember. I vaguely recall step after step after step of people and things and places I loved. Stepping stones all the way back home that began the moment I heard my name. They drummed in my head as I walked up onto the stage, screeched in my ears as the bloodbath began, carried me through the whole arena until the crown was placed upon my head and I could finally halt. But I cannot explain that with such few words. I cannot grasp at an answer so simply (whenever I try to hold onto things they always slip away) - not before my Games, not before District 8, not even now. But I've got to - I have to. Not for my own selfish needs, to hide away in denial to numb myself. No, I have to be brave for the two souls sitting in front of me, and the 23 hidden behind my eyes, and Mace who watches over his two children right this very moment and bestowed it my responsibility to look after District 10's two newest and most sacred children yet.
So I open my mouth and tell them the truth.
"Everything," I admit. "My home. My family. My sister. Mace, even." Even now the thoughts of them crease my face into a smile as I watch the world go by - a world I thought I'd only ever get to see in glimpses and blinks before I died. Now, I've got years to watch it change, to gather up enough fragments of vision to restore a masterpiece of memory. "In there, you'll meet people who you might grow to care for. But you've got to remember who you are, where you come from, what you love."
My words are soft, gentle. For a second, I feel like my old self again. "Don't lose yourself, and you'll find your way home again."
"Saffron, how much do you want to see us- one of us live?" I turn to Thistle and my smile to Aurora drops. I never had to ask this question to Mace. Mace is kind, and caring, and made sure that we were delivered secure and intact. Mace cares and it shows - the way he lifts up his kids high into the air like they're his whole world. The way he takes Julian's hand in his, or smiles at Ara and the others. They way he led me onto my train one year ago today, the way he scooped me up when I came back and never let go. And I? I can barely talk to my own family. Paige is all but a stranger, grown far beyond her years in such a small space of time. I understand why they think I wouldn't care. Do I show it? I'm trying to.
Will I tell them?
"No, it's okay. I understand." A long time ago I doubted that anyone would care if I died. Never will I let myself be a stranger to them. They can be furious at me, but never I to them. It is not their fault that they are here. It is not my fault that I am here either. "When you have a life in your hands..." (My voice is a stranger to my ears. In another universe I am still running home with a smile on my lips and laughing with childish delight at stories and games and silly faces. I gush at the smallest things, laugh at immature jokes, walk through my world blind to suffering.) "...you'll do anything for them." (I don't know what it feels like to have them taken away, but being a Victor is draining enough in itself.) "And to see one of you live will make this hell that much more bearable."
I haven't said this much all year. I'd forgotten what it was like to speak your mind and pour out your insides to strangers. (I pray that n the future we are not strangers but I daren't push my luck.)
"Sharing this with someone is far easier. I hope for your sakes that we can share it with one of you. I'll - we'll - do everything in our power to make that happen. You have my word."
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“and men said that the blood of the stars flowed in her veins.”