"Welcome to the team Miss Silvester. I'm confident you'll serve the Capitol well."
His handshake is firm and his eyes are trained on me, but I do not bother thanking him. As entertaining as it sounds to be kissing someone's ass, I think I'd prefer to keep my pride and dignity intact. I've got more self-respect than to kiss an ass as wrinkly and dry as the one under this guy's pants. I'd break my back to kiss my own ass before getting anywhere near this pompous prick.
I move away from him without a word. He's technically my boss, my elder, and with 30+ years of experience, I should admire the man. He's been a stylist for longer than I've been alive and has been handed awards and praise from the highest officials. His work has been featured in magazines, Games features, and most recently, worn by the tributes of District 1. He's been styling and designing tribute outfits for as long as I can remember.
Unfortunately, he's an exceptionally terrible father. And I despise him.
I hear him call my name, but I've already disappeared into the rest of the party. I grab a glass from one of the waiters and down the contents as quickly as I can. Capitol parties—especially the formal, proper, philanthropic, money-flaunting, bullshit parties like this one—are the pinnacle of everything I hate. People with too much plastic surgery, too much cologne, and too many boring stories to tell. Fancy drinks laced with too much sugar and not enough alcohol. Damn do I need another drink. I won't survive the night without at least 3 more.
This party is supposed to be for me. Apparently getting hired to dress-up kids who are about to die is a life event that warrants a big party. Ha, playing dress-up with the kids who literally stitch our clothes together—sounds like a fucking blast. I take a seat at a table near the edge of the swell of people. I kick off my heels, cross one leg over the other, and settle back into the seat, glancing out over the crowd.
I know nearly all of them by name. Gamemakers, escorts, stylists, and various other philanthropists intermingle and swap stories about the same old boring things. My father used to make me study their faces and names. I've got a book back home filled with information on all the "powerful people" I should be acquainted with. I call it my AssKiss Scrapbook. Father always wrapped my hands with a ruler when I got something wrong. Took me an entire decade to finally get everyone in order.
I can't say I don't enjoy my work; I was born and raised into the culture. Clothing and fashion and style just comes naturally to me. But the politics of it all? Ridiculous. It's why I work as a bartender in the scummier part of the Capitol. The rules are simple. Drink until you pass out and if someone looks at you funny, punch them in the face. There is no stepping lightly or useless small talk or fake smiles. Just good beer, tough people, and shitty jukebox music. It's the most true thing I've ever been a part of.
Since the day I was born I dreamed of being a designer. I was always drawing up sketches and learning new stitch patterns. After Mom left when I was 6 years old, my father started forcing me into my passion. Long nights spent watching runway shows and old Games re-runs, stitching new things together until I was so tired I pricked my fingers and bled into the fabric. And no matter how long I spent on my projects or how proud as was of the results, it was never enough for him. He turned my passion into a chore; I'll hate him forever for it.
I tried the whole "cry for help" thing, but to no avail. It didn't matter how many piercings and tattoos I came home with, how many times I cut my hair or showed up drunk or high or a mixture of the two. My father only needed a daughter who he could be better than. Someone he could simply tear down to make himself feel better about his work. I left him the day I turned 18. I got my job at the bar, started interning for a tattoo artist, and continuously sent in my work for consideration.
Now I'm sitting here—alone, bored, and buzzed—with every intention of proving my father wrong. He thought I wasn't good enough to make it? Here I am. Thought he was better than me? Never. I may not be designing outfits and doing make-up for the Career tributes, but if the last 5 games aren't proof enough that anyone can win then I don't know what is. If you're hardworking and determined, you can get whatever you want.