i remember my cushy childhood. it was easy living in the capitol. i had everything taken care of for me. my whole future panned out before me promisingly. i would grow up, get an education, and get a cushy job.
everything changed that night.
i was shaken awake.
we have to go. his gruff voice was quiet, conspiratorial in a manner that struck fear into my heart. i could see my younger sister, wiping her bleary eyes in the doorway.
i didn't have a chance to pack. i didn't have a chance to say goodbye to my friends. i didn't have a chance to make peace with the life i once knew.
through the glass door leading to my backyard.
in a new car, leaving the capitol.
through the capitol's side streets
we were in the woods. hours had passed by us as we hid under a blanket in the car. my dad clad in his peacekeepers uniform. a white suit, black visor, leaned over every so often to pull off a corner of the blanket to make sure we were okay. i couldn't see his eyes, but i could tell there was fear in them. i could see it in every movement, every sigh of relief each time he checked up on us, every nervous whisper to the mysterious figure driving us.
hours pass. we take small breaks for water, for food, to use the forrest as a bathroom. i ask my dad in a hushed voice, wondering why we couldn't stop anywhere and where were we going. each time he responded by shaking his head, holding one gloved hand up to his mouth.
the blanket was pulled from over my head. i blink, squinting while my auburn eyes readjust to the newfound light. i stand up, my small feet shaking beneath my pajama covered legs. my dad pulls me into a hug, his uniform smelled bad. it smelled like blood. he let me go and grabbed my sister too. he pulled off his helmet, revealing his russet hair so similar to mine.
i had only seen it in pictures before. the farthest outside of the capitol i had been before was to a beach along district four's coast.
we entered, my dad nodding at someone towards the entrance of the dreary district and showing him a piece of paper. we continue. a cough resounds nearby as we pass ashen faces. the tension was palpable, the fear clinging to every hushed word and nervous glance.
we reach a different building. probably the mayor's office or something like that. it was the largest in the whole district. my dad greeted another two peacekeepers with a hug. whispered words were exchanged. all i caught was i'm glad your still alive. all three were buzzing with a solemn excitement, the solace you find only in the worst of situations.
alive? my heart thumped for a split moment. i noticed something was off. something was missing.
my sister and i followed my father and the two other peacekeepers into the building. we were told to sit outside a room as they entered. my eyes wandered for a moment, peeking into the room before the door shut. all i could see was a large table, seats stationed surrounding it. the faces would soon grow familiar to me.
the leaders of the rebellion.
their meeting lasts hours.
carya and i wait outside. my sister roamed, looking through the open rooms in the building. i stayed put in silence. i realized what was wrong.
the door opens and my dad walks out to me after the procession of other adults.
the next years i learned what was happening. we were fighting against who i had thought to be gracious leaders. they were caring. at least, they were to me. i saw, though, what they had done to district thirteen and the others around it. the slack bodies leaving the hospital in an almost steady stream were enough to make the words caring and capitol acerbic on my tongue when uttered in the same sentence.
they found out about dad.
they killed mom.
carya and i went from the daughters of a successful sergeant peacekeeper who protected the capitol to the daughters of a rebel leader who helped so many other peacekeepers see the truth about the capitol's tyranny.
i was supposed to stay away from the fighting. my dad wanted me to be safe. he wanted me to sit in district thirteen and watch from the sidelines as we fought against my home the oppressive capitol.
trackerjacker venom filled my veins
i refused to sit in district thirteen.
they killed thousands of people.
they killed mom.
i trained. i wanted to fight. i wanted to be more than what my father wanted me to be.
it wasn't hard. i learned the weapons easily enough. my anger quelled the fear that other's felt every time they saw the injured trodding into the hospital. all i had to do was believe we were winning.
i became a scout. i didn't find out dad pulled a few strings to try and keep me out of major warzones until later. he thought i would be safe.
i was a pretty good scout, considering that i was put in an area where there was almost no capitol activity.
until there was.
the butt of the gun landed
against the back
of my head.
and when i
my hands and feet were tied. i was horizontal on a cold floor. i could hear the hum of an engine and the bump of the road beneath me. my face was covered by a cloth.
i couldn't breath.
i fall back asleep.
when i awake, i'm being blinded by a white light. my pupils dilate as they readjust. my hands and feet are bound to a chair.
my mouth is blocked by another cloth. i can't struggle. i can't move.
the syringe enters my veins.
the terror enters me.
they show me images. they show me my father killing mom, killing carya, destroying everything in his path. i want to believe them. it felt so real. it felt as if i was there with my father, the fear within me.
they ask me questions.
how many weapons do the rebels have?
how many peacekeepers did he corrupt?
who is he working with?
where will they attack next?
where is he?
i want to answer them. to have them stop the horrible man that is my father. then i remember the lies they fed me since birth. how i believed i would always be protected by them, how i would always be comforted and supported by them, how i would always live with them and carya and my father and mom.
their interrogation failed.
then, a camera is placed in front of me. i have to read a script. it seemed like something out of a third book in a trilogy when an author began to struggle with ideas and threw in a kidnapping.
we have your daughter the words left my mouth in gasps. they were not mine. they forced me to say it. i didn't want to.
turn yourself in. she lives.
i wanted to scream. to tell him don't do it. i couldn't. i was too weak.
he did it.
he turned himself in.
i was transferred to nicer quarters.
they bombed district thirteen.
they killed carya.
then they killed my father in front of crowds of roaring capitolites. in front of me.
an oak being banished to district seven? ironic. they think they're funny.
it's a cruel joke
carya's alive. i didn't know how, but the capitol must have taken her too.
i hugged her in the small shack they had placed us under surveillance in on the edge of district seven. we were all that was left of the oak family. we were reunited by a miracle after they destroyed what had become our new home only to pass us off onto another.
we lived a new life in district seven. the one they forced us to. every week we would check in with a probation officer to make sure we hadn't escaped. they would consistently conduct random raids on the small hovel. i was forced into the back breaking lumber industry while carya began monotonous work creating paper.