Post by steel campano | 8f | zoë on May 23, 2020 20:22:58 GMT -5
She was always an unusual child. Crying only when she grazed her knees or dropped something on her foot or splashed paint into her eyes. Never stroppy, never unreasonable, and never unkind - not to anyone. Children swarmed to her like bees to pollen: sweet, lovely Pearl with big blue eyes and a gentle touch. Pierre knew his eldest child would never be viscous, never cruel and unforgiving. Percy came along, her replacement, and yet even then she shared her birthday presents and new toys with her baby brother with a smile.
It was a miracle that one would turn out so sweet in a family such as the Vanburens, in a district such as One. If her family spoke ill of another she turned a deaf ear, focusing intently on her cuticles or stretching to improve her less-than-par flexibility. Part of her knew why they were so bitter, but like everyone she interacted with Pearl simply chose to ignore their flaws and accept them as they were. The Capitol were glorious and mighty and all of that, Pearl happily singing the anthem with a sweet, airy voice that filled up a room, but she didn't ever sing nor fight with passion or pride. Her efforts instead went into her paintings, her smile, making her room spotless and greeting everyone she passed with a delightful 'Good morning!' on the street.
She was a competent enough fighter - quick and agile and patient - and an even better sport. Her tiny frame allowed her to move and duck with ease, her round features, short height at 5'2" and sweet nature making her an unassuming target, and she was a master of stealth, light on her feet - creepily so. She could carry herself with the grace of One, walking about in ballet shoes and airy dresses, humming softly to herself, arms jingling as she danced with stirling silver bracelets. Perhaps if she stopped daydreaming or cartwheeling or painting her weapons she might be able to apply herself even further, noted her teachers, but Pearl Vanburen was quite content finding her own pathway to success.
Unusual, she was. Sometimes too unusual for her own good, falling victim to taunts or rude remarks from her classmates. Pearl never thought twice about them, instead choosing kindness over fight or flight. Some things they told her were, in fact, true - that yes, her family were very rich, that yes, some old ancestor of hers had fallen to a District Two in the first few games, that yes, she was probably the least competent with a sword in the class. But instead of crying she simply blinked back at them, looking for an insult in their words, making half of her bullies either perplexed or annoyed.
"Did I say something wrong?" she'd ask with a frown at her silver bottle of nail polish, completely content with spending her break times watching the world go by in a windowsill or with a book in her hands. Oblivious and blunt, wise and strange, Pearl miraculously blossomed in a garden full of thorns. Her father had told his daughter at a very young age to never accept kind words, terrified she would be trampled in the world of One's violently ambitious children. He had never expected her to reject them altogether.
It was not the first time Pearl had surprised her parents, nor would it be the last, but perhaps the most perplexing thing of all was the day she announced she'd taken up a job at the local crystal store in the center of the District. When asked if it was part of a school project, an internship, work experience, Pearl had shaken her blonde head and replied with three no's. When asked if she was getting paid, another no. And when Pierre and his wife, perplexed yet unsurprised, had asked their daughter exactly why she had taken the job, she simply shrugged and danced through their kitchen pantry for cookie ingredients: "Because I thought it would be fun! Where's the baking powder?"
A passing phase, until she got bored, that's what they concluded. But each day Pearl skipped off with a smile on her face and ran home ready to tell them about all of her customers, the things in the shop, how she already painted a mural on the shop wall. Her parents nodded, half-interested, wincing at the idea of their daughter earning less than an Avox would. But she loved it, so they begrudgingly let her be. Better her spend her time tucked away safely in a shop storage room than out on the street attracting bewildered looks from their neighbours.
She knew they meant well, her parents, even if their approach wasn't one she would choose for herself. Pearl had understood from an early age that she was not quite what they had in mind for a Career daughter, but she also knew that not many parents would be so loose with letting her be herself. So many miserable, angry children surrounded her in the training center all hell-bent on being what their parents wanted. If she was to be anything, she had decided age twelve, it was to not become that.
Then she picked up a dagger and smiled at her reflection in the blade.