|A Broken Promise
Author: skittlesgirl99 PM
Written for the Starvation Monthly prompt. Review, please!Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Drama - Other tributes - Words: 1,665 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 1 - Published: 01-08-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7724126
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I watch Belle run past the trees, scraping her face on twigs, but not bothering to push them away. Through the audio I can hear a group of tributes coming from behind her. My breathing pace quickens with hers. She's pushing herself to run faster, to escape, because she knows she has to get out.
Win, Belle, win.
The group is closing in on her. She jumps out of the way as a spear comes up from behind her and lodges in the tree trunk in front of her. She looks back, a mixture of fear and adrenaline appearing on her face. The girl from District Four grabs the spear from the tree and aims, preparing to murder my best friend in cold blood.
Usually during moments before death, one watches their whole life over in the blink of an eye, but watching Belle about to die sends me watching our friendship form again.
"Hey, you, come back here with that or I'll call the Peace-keepers!" screams Gertrude, the hot tempered shop keeper. But I don't stop. I keep running with my bare toes curling at the cold pavement. The woman has a phone out, and I clutch the bag of fruit I've stolen tight to my chest, hoping I can shove the contents in my mouth so I'm not executed on an empty stomach.
She's dialing the number when a girl with dark hair and dark skin to match pops out from behind a bush in front of the shop. She's calming Gertrude, but I can't hear what she's saying. I'm too far away. The woman nods and goes back into her house. I approach the girl who has seemed to have saved my life.
"What did you say?" I ask when she's in earshot. She laughs at my question, remembering something funny.
"I told her you were my cousin, and that you weren't quite right in the head, and to just let you go this one time because you don't know any better."
"Why did you say that? We don't know each other," I point out. She shrugs.
"You're obviously just hungry. Why else would you have stolen from the most prude woman in all of District Eleven for just a wimpy bag of fruits and with no weapons or a mask?" she nods to my 'wimpy bag of fruits'.
"Thanks," I tell her, and I run off to my small house where I can have enough to eat for the next few days.
Belle turns in her beautiful silk gown. It's sky blue, and it makes her amber eyes sparkle when she spins and it makes soft ripples going through the dress. It seems like she's wearing a bit of the ocean. "You look great," I tell her. She smiles at me, her teeth being the lightest part of her dark face.
"Thanks, but you don't have to tell me that. You look better than I do." I laugh, glancing down at my silly, short, bright yellow dress. It's too optimistic for my taste. I look better in more calm, mellow colors, like a deep red or sunset orange. I look ridiculous. "I'm serious!" Belle protests my laughter.
"So am I! Trust me, all those boys who you think are looking at me are actually looking at you," I tell her, and it's true. Belle is what her name advertises—beautiful. I'm pretty sure she has her own fan club of drooling guys at school. I overhear their meetings every Tuesday.
Mayor Wood begins this year's Reaping by saying in her usual indifferent monotone about how we owe the Capitol, and the history of Panem and the Games. She talks about how exciting they are and what a privilege it is to be mayor during these times, which contradicts itself because she says in a way that makes you think she's lying, which she is. The Games aren't exactly a big hit here. We only go to the Reaping because it's mandatory. All this District needs is a little push, and we'd be at full scale uprising.
Mayor Wood introduces this year's escort, Pilden Wen. His skin is died green and he has tattoos of scales all over his face and hands. He speaks with a lisp about what an honor it is to be in District Eleven, but you can see in his eyes that he's new and wants to be anywhere but here, except maybe District Twelve. It confuses me as to why he pronounces the letter's' with the 'f' sound, but then I see his tongue. It's been cut so it's thin and forked like a snake's.
"Ladies first!" he announces, after a huge speech that I hardly caught a word of. He quite literally gallops over to the female Reaping ball. He reaches in and grabs a paper slip, unfolding it and reading into the microphone the name printed upon it. "Belle Qasi!" he says with emphasis on the 'f' sound he made when the letter is actually an 's'.
Blood is pounding in my ears and I can't hear a thing, but I can stand frozen and watch Belle shakily walk to the stage. I would volunteer for her, but I can't hear what the escort's saying, and it's too late now. He's already reading off the boy's name. It's Lee Boyn, a boy from my class. He's decent, and one of the only boys who doesn't fawn over Belle. It'd be sad to see him go, but I'd gladly trade him for her.
My head is spinning while The Treaty of Treason is being read, and the only thing I can focus on is Belle, who is going to the Hunger Games. Belle, who is going to fight to the death on live television.
After crying for a long while, the Peace-keeper comes to drag me out. "You have to win!" I scream to Belle on the way out.
"I promise," I hear faintly as the huge oak door slams in my face, cutting me off from her.
She promised. She can't die. She promised.
She remembers her promise, for she manages to grab the spear in midair and throw it right back at the girl from District Four, where it makes a dent in her chest. She bleeds out before her cannon sounds through the speakers.
I don't know where she picked up that skill, but it certainly scares the two other remaining Careers. They run back the way they came, probably heading for camp so they can assess the situation. Belle grabs the spear out of the District Four girl's body. Her amber eyes glint like they did the day of the Reaping.
She is now armed and very dangerous.
From then on she is a bloodthirsty killer, and there is no real competition in the arena. She has a large amount of sponsors who keep her well fed and warm. All she has to do is kill at least one tribute a day. I don't want to watch my best friend do that, but my eyes always end up glued to the screen until one day it's over.
"Ladies and gentleman, I give you Belle Qasi, victor of the Seventy-third Annual Hunger Games!" announces Claudius Templesmith, and I jump for joy in my tiny home right in front of my tiny television. My best friend is coming home.
After her time in the Capitol being polished up and interviewed, a train brings her home. Her father and brother hug her, and she smiles down at them until she spots me. We run up to each other and hold each other in a tight embrace in front of cameras who are taping this for all of Panem. This seems like a dream.
We stay hugging for a while, caught up in the fact that she'll never have to leave again, and neither will I because I'll be nineteen by next year. Her hug seems stiff and not warm and welcoming like it did before, but I hardly notice. My best friend is back.
We spend every hour together from now on. I come over to her house or she comes over to my house on the weekends, and we walk to school together and eat lunch together on weekdays, and we pick fruit together in the orchard when we have to work.
It all seems well until about a year after when she starts mentoring again. She begins to have mental breakdowns. She'll fall to the ground at any given moment and shriek and yell out tributes' names, telling them she's sorry for killing them and to leave her alone. One day, we're alone in the orchard when this happens, and I just can't stand to let her suffer like this anymore.
"It's alright," I tell her, "everything's alright." She looks up at me with the cold emotionless eyes I saw on the screen.
"Shut up, Copper," she seethes at me. "You don't know what it's like. You'll never know what it's like. Just leave me alone!"
I tense, clenching my jaw and fists. "Fine," I say, hoping to sound indifferent. I turn around towards the village part of the District and stalk off to my house. I slam the door behind me and jump onto my cot, pulling the sheets over my head as tears begin to stream down my face. Reality has finally kicked. Belle never came home. Belle is dead. She died in the arena. The girl that came home is just a shell. Belle is dead.
And as far as I'm concerned, so am I.