Premature death runs in my family. Poppy has tried to shield me from the reality of our family, but there's little he can do to prevent my natural curiosity. Death is not something we should fear in this world, I like to think, rather it's an opportunity to live our lives without regret. A hilariously misspelled phrase,"Live like your dieing", is etched into the dog tag that hangs loosely from my neck, my reminder that life can be cut short at any moment. Carpe diem, I guess.
The Grim Reaper began to make her appearance in my family long before I was born. It began with my grandmother miscarrying after having my mum and my uncle. Then, 26 years ago, she made a reappearance at the District 11 61st Hunger Games reaping, in the form of a slip with the name Fallstreak Hayes scrawled on it. Fallstreak was my uncle. I had never met him, nor did I know much about him. The only remnants I have is his dog tag, which was retrieved from his body after being murdered by a tribute named Walker Liggens.
Death came in the form of a noose tied tightly around my grandmother's neck shortly after that, her frame dangling loosely from the ceiling. I wasn't alive yet, but I guess Mama was pretty traumatized after that. Went crazy or something like that. I dunno.
I was the product of gin and whiskey running deep within my parent's veins after a wild night out in the streets of District Eleven. Ruphalia Hayes discovered she was pregnant with me shortly before her 20th birthday, which I guess wrecked her plans of... making nothing of herself, I guess. My dad scattered like salt in the fields of a barren farm. Don't know who he is. Mama named me after the fields of cleome I was conceived on. On par with her that she'd name her kid after the place where she fucked her deadbeat baby daddy.
But alas, death didn't ever stop in our family. The gin and whiskey I was born of also ended up being the tragic end to my mother as she consumed enough to drown the problems she couldn't swim in. That was the summer I turned sixteen. I guess losing your mother from such a young age should have some deep psychological effect on you but... it honestly relieved me. Not having the guilty conscious of being the reason your mother couldn't survive in a world that tried to kill her freed me in some aspect.
Poppy was the only family member I was close with. He showed love in a way my mother never could. I suppose suffering from so much loss really makes you hold on tightly to those you can't lose. But, he was old. And his life hung loosely on a string, just waiting for death to snap it with a pair of old pliers.
We were broke. Flat broke. Poppy worked as a bookkeeper for some farm, but the days he spent as a youth working as a farmer caught up to him quickly and he can't work those long days anymore. It probably won't be long before he needs my help moving around. But alas, I'd do it for him. He's the only guy I got.
But unfortunately, my life hung loosely above my head as well in the form of a doctor's visit diagnosing the lump in my chest as a cancerous tumour. In any other district I could get it removed with minimal side effects, but I was cursed as a poor girl in District Eleven who couldn't afford the luxury of cancer treatments.
Thus I spend my numbered days crossing off the things on my bucket list. At least if my days are numbered I can spend the limited time I have doing things the wealthy have the privilege of doing with their time. Last thing I crossed off? Shoplifting. Next up on the list: skinny dipping, sex, getting drunk for the first time, and riding a horse.
After all, we don't get to choose who death claims. But as individuals, we can decide who truly lives. And I've decided to reclaim my own destiny.