burning | sidonie, 86th Apr 7, 2021 19:16:26 GMT -5
Post by d9f fleur adroxis [fireflyz] on Apr 7, 2021 19:16:26 GMT -5
Her cheeks ached as they stretched outward for what felt like the thousandth time that afternoon, teeth bared in a way that she hoped didn’t betray her irritation. ”Thank you, ma’am,” she said, sliding the wrapped goods across the counter. ”Come again soon!”
”Of course, my dear. You take care.” The customer was a little old woman whose eyes crinkled in a way that Sidonie wasn’t sure she could replicate. To compensate, she stretched her smile further and added a tiny wave as the woman stumbled into the faint lavender twilight. The moment the door swung back into place, bell tinkling against the wood frame, Sid allowed herself to relax, teeth retreating behind lips that certainly hadn’t been moisturized in a while, beyond the occasional swipe of her tongue as she rummaged through shelves of stock.
When Sid had first started working in the shop, she kept a little tube of gloss in her jacket pocket and applied it at midday. It was a soft rosy color and had cost a hefty penny in comparison to the honeycomb mix they made at home. It was almost obsessive the way she relied on it, but it made her feel professional, made her feel pretty. The tube was already half empty even before Jules left, and by the end of the 85th all the gloss was gone. She didn’t want to ask mom to replace it. She kept the empty plastic shell in her pocket and used the honeycomb instead, or licked her lips so they would shine even though she knew the sheen would eventually fade away to reveal the cracked skin underneath.
It was getting harder to hide the cracks, Sid realized. All the things she used to love about work were becoming bothersome, and she found herself rolling her eyes when someone turned their back, dreading the walk that she used to skip down. Her dream for ten years and her escape for three had become another thorn in her side, and she couldn’t be bothered to dig it out.
There was little use in fighting anything. Once, a customer asked how old she was, because you look a little young to be working here, and where she would’ve once responded in a chipper tone or even a defensive one was only malaise. ”I’m 13.” She was 13, and what little optimism she had was slowly wilting, replaced by the quiet sense of defeat that seemed to permeate every corner of Twelve. Despite that, she continued to put on her best customer service smile (if no one else in the family was going to be honest, at least she could claw at some semblance of it) and show up. Showing up was all she could do.
Another Ratmas without her sister came and went, and by the time the snow had begun to melt Sid knew another games was on the way. The thought made something familiar like fear stir beneath her ribs, but she smothered it as soon as it arose. Anxiety was so present in Sidonie’s life that it felt almost pointless to immerse herself in more of it.
Mom was working with Mayor Laws now, her own run not coming to fruition in the way they’d all expected. She had rooted for her mother’s victory, but when the election went to Jaime Laws, Sid quietly celebrated. It would be almost ironic if the Monaghans ran the district - a bunch of lawbreakers being the law of the land? People already hated them even without knowing what Sid knew. She didn’t know how she’d be able to stomach walking to the district square every day, could barely stomach it now.
April crept up on her, and by the fourth day of the month she was 14. She smiled - a genuine one - as they gathered in the kitchen for her birthday. How she loved them, but they troubled her.
She blew out the candles.
The weather got warmer and Sid swatted mosquitoes as she walked to the shop, canvas shorts clinging to her legs. The butterfly knife Jamie had slipped to her the night after their confrontation the year prior weighed heavy in her pocket, probably a sign that it shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Still she carried it everywhere, right next to her empty lipgloss. Part of her hoped she’d never need to use it, and a quieter part of her shrouded in cobwebs was waiting on the day she could.
She’d ditched the little girl dresses by her second reaping, opting for a soft blue ensemble instead. By the third, she’d adopted a muted gray, hands folded across her chest as she watched the stage. The female tribute was a wraith in Sid’s memory, someone she’d probably seen before but couldn’t remember where. Only when she saw Jamie’s changed aura did she have a wager at who Mona Wyatt was, but she didn’t dare voice it aloud.
After the 84th, Sid returned to her blissful bubble of not watching the games. She only knew the 85th victor was from Five when it ended. Even when she caught glimpses of it in the merchant square or when she breezed past the living room, she pushed the thoughts away as quickly as they came. She planned to do the same for the 86th, and then she heard that name.
It was during the interviews, or maybe some other program, she didn’t remember now, but she had lingered at the doorway when she heard it. Luke Hailsham. She eyed the golden curls, the rounded features that were so unlike the ones that had haunted her nightmares or the ones that paraded through Twelve on the victory tour. She looked at Luke Hailsham, and from the recesses of her mind uncoiled the thought I hope he fucking dies. The sharpness of it made her flinch, and even though no one had heard her, Sidonie slunk out of the room in shame.
She was not a bad person, she reassured her reflection later that night. I don’t want people to suffer like Jules did.
The knife she carried in her pocket sung, I do, I do.