Chapter Twenty-Seven
I dream.

Sometimes the dreams are very clear. I am on Erastus's planet again, watching its mirror world closing in. The pull of the body's gravity makes me euphoric. I am in the crowd at the reaping, and I call my own name - Euphemia Trinket. I try to say that I'm Effie, but no one listens. I am in the forest with Johanna, plague sores all over me, trying to explain to River that I'm dying, but he doesn't understand me. Johanna asks if I want her to speed it up, and promises that I can be buried in her fringed dress. And of course, there's Haymitch, always, in each dream. He holds me down against the gravitational pull of the planet above. He watches me from the reaping stage. He sends me gifts in the arena. And of course, there are the other sorts of dreams, which don't mean much.

Mostly, though, I have drifting dreams. I am on a boat, then in the sky, then caught on a river. I see colors. I feel Haymitch's hands on me. I smell a field of fresh grass. I am lost in the smoke outside the mines. These dreams have no plot, no reason to them. I just feel.

After a while, I wake up.

I'm in a clean room with soft lighting and cheerful paintings on the wall. Sunlight catches little prisms that hang on the ceiling. There's a sitting area with a table set up. The television is on. It's playing a musical. I don't recognize it right away, but at the moment, a woman in a silver wig is dancing manically in City Center.

"Hello, Euphemia."

I turn my head.

There's a young man sitting beside my bed. He looks vaguely familiar. He has large hazel eyes, and curly, reddish brown hair, which he wears naturally, just like Mimi Meadowbrook used to. I blink. That's who he reminds me of. In fact, there's a picture of her on the nightstand on that side of the bed and looking between him and it, I can see a very pronounced resemblance. I think I talked to him once after her death, when I was trying to hold onto the house.

He smiles. "My name is Pertinax," he says. "Pertinax Meadowbrook."

I search my memories, and find Mimi's nickname for him. "Naxie?"

"Yeah. That's what my sister called me. But here, I'm Doctor Meadowbrook. It's not a big deal to me, but you know bosses… they like things a certain way."

"Dr. Meadowbrook," I try. "All right. Am I sick? I fell asleep in my bed and…" I am suddenly awake. "Where's my cat? There was something… poison…"

"Your cat's fine. She's right there, see?" He points to a bit of white fluff at the end of the bed. Sweetie looks up sleepily. "What were you using, Euphemia?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, there was obviously something airborne - an incense, maybe? - and both of you had passed out. It looks like it was some kind of mild sedative."

"I wasn't using anything. It came through my vents."

"Now, Euphemia, there was no one else there, and no one else in your building was sick. Were you having trouble sleeping?"

"Who found me? Was it Haymitch?"

"It was Caesar Flickerman. You missed an escorts' meeting, and he was concerned. He wanted to take you home, but when we examined your recent behavior - in addition to this business - we thought you might need more help than he's able to give you."


Dr. Meadowbrook leans forward. "We think you may be ill, Euphemia. I watched my sister go through the same thing. We call it entafaistic syndrome - it's from an old language called Greek. The word means 'interment' or 'burial'… it's a tendency to bury oneself in the needs of others. I can give you statistics and definitions if you want me to. It's more common among women, particularly those who've separated themselves from healthy adult relationships. They tend to attach themselves in inappropriate ways - "

"You're talking about Haymitch, aren't you?"

"In a theoretical way," he says gently. "I know he's a fine man, in his way. He's certainly been concerned about you."

"Has he been to see me?"

"No." Dr. Meadowbrook sighs. "He's called every day, but we feel that, if you're going to get well, it's best if you don't see him until you're less vulnerable. You've even been excused from mandatory viewing for the closing events."

"Annie," I say. "Is Annie any better? Is she ready to do the events?"

"As I understand it, she's doing quite well, and will be viewing the final cut tomorrow afternoon. But that's not anything you need to worry about, Euphemia."

"It's Effie," I say.

"Because that's what Haymitch Abernathy calls you?"

"He calls me that because he knows my name."

"And yet, when you started your job, you had chosen another." I don't answer. He shakes his head. "Never mind. We'll let it go. Effie, if you like that better. The point is, you went to a former stylist three days ago and frantically asked her to create a look for you, then joined several district malcontents for what appeared to be a casual day of sightseeing. Why were you frantic?"

"Philippa talked to you?"

"The day after we brought you in, I retraced your steps. She seemed to think you might have been taking some sort of controlled substance. Given your friendship with a known addict -"

"I wasn't taking anything. I just realized that I was late, and I couldn't remember where we were meeting."

"And you ran out without even a wig? Emiliana told me once that she was actually concerned about your refusal to go without a wig. She thought something might have happened to you." He smiles fondly. "Of course, my sister never could resist getting caught up in other people's lives. We steered her to Capitol Dreams, so she could use that to help out without becoming too invested in any one person. She still seems to have been fond of you. I suppose that's why she left you this house." I must look surprised, because he smiles more broadly. "Yes, when you sold it, I wanted to buy it myself, of course, but I couldn't afford it any more than you could. I'm afraid neither of us has the resources of a well-regarded actress. But Capitol Dreams bought it. We've made it into a shelter for people who need help, like you do. I think my sister would like that." He looks out the window toward the garden where she died.

"You were close?"

He blinks, then looks back at me and smiles ruefully. "Yes. We were twins. Of course, the doctors told my mother that she should discontinue one of the fetuses - it's not healthy to have children so close together that they have to compete for parental resources - but she had a soft spot, just like Emiliana did. I suppose this sort of thing runs in the family. Emiliana almost… well, she found things difficult." He breaks his nostalgic mood and smiles. "But that's in the past. We're here to get you facing forward again! You've been feeling alone here in the Capitol, haven't you?"


"But you're not. Effie, there are people here who love you… and wouldn't put you at risk for anything."

"Haymitch didn't - "

"Oh, not deliberately, of course! He can't help it. Their lives are difficult in the districts, and I suppose he thinks it's normal to be miserable. I wish we could help all of them, too. I really do. If I could set up a clinic in every district to help people find peace, I would. But I'm only one man. So I'm going to settle for helping you now. Why don't you get dressed, then come downstairs with me? You'll find a lot of your friends, who've been very eager to see you again."

"I want to talk to Haymitch."

"Later, Effie. When you're stronger."

"He's my friend. He doesn't make me weak."

Dr. Meadowbrook smiles in an understanding way. "I think we both know that he's not just your friend, and that he very much makes you weak. Not deliberately, of course! But he's a thunderstorm of a person, Effie. I remember when Emiliana and I were little, our mother used to tell us to come in out of the rain before we caught our deaths of cold. Let's at least get you an umbrella before you go out in the storm again."

I don't cooperate with him the first day. I keep asking for Haymitch. I'm finally allowed to call him on the telephone, though not with a video feed. He sounds worried about me. They told him I passed out from exhaustion and stress. He asks where I am and says they haven't told him. Dr. Meadowbrook says, "We've been over this, Haymitch," and doesn't give me a chance to answer. He hangs up.

The next day, the victors have to leave the Capitol, and there's no point to asking for Haymitch anymore. I still stay in my room. I ask for a book. They give me a new biography of Arcadia Givens, a model who did a tell-all interview about the men she's slept with. I ask for Erastus's book, but Dr. Meadowbrook says that I don't need to read something so dismaying. He asks me why I want it, and we talk about it for a while. I don't know why I want it. He's right - it's a very strange kind of escapist fantasy, that doesn't even really give an escape. He suggests that I turn my eye back to the real world.

I can't at first. I still dream too vividly. They're concerned about it, and put me back on Pherolen. I start to feel better. Since I took Sweetie in from outside, Dr. Meadowbrook suggests that I might like to work in a Capitol Dreams animal shelter to get used to the world again. It's fulfilling work, and it's good to go in every day and take care of the poor, helpless little things. They're often starving and sick, and I help make them well, and get them cleaned up to find new homes if they can. I ask once what happens if no one takes them, but no one seems to know. It doesn't matter. I find homes for all of them that I can. Quite a few of our sponsors like the idea of having a companion.

There's a group session every day at the shelter. I am quiet at first as I listen to the troubles people have gotten themselves into. Pulcheria Downs was caught stealing from a grocer because she got tied up with a group of ne'er do wells who live near the railroad tracks. Lupicina Bickel nearly starved herself trying to hold onto her children, even though there were services happy to take care of them for her at no cost. Eudokia Laird made herself miserable trying to get her husband to renew a marriage contract that he had no interest in, and ended up screaming and weeping on the street outside his new house. There's one man in the group, Gratian Quick, who was a teacher in the practical school. One of his students had wanted to go to the university, and he got so involved in her fight that he ended up losing his job amid accusations of an inappropriate relationship with her. All of them have lost more than I did - Dr. Meadowbrook even assures me that they're keeping up my apartment, and once I'm well, I'll be able to go back to work, provided Haymitch doesn't ask for a new escort.

"I'm sorry to say it," Dr. Meadowbrook tells me, "but he almost certainly will. It's your very sickness that made him consider you a valuable employee."

"No. Haymitch needs me."

"I hope you're right. Well, in some ways, I hope you're right. I don't want to see you hurt or disappointed in your friend. In other ways, though, I think the best thing he could do for you is show you to the door and never call you again. Until he did that for Emiliana, I think she continued to entertain the notion that she could wrap herself up in his life again. I imagine it's a comfortable place to be, always needed to take care of some crisis. But she never would have found herself, being so pulled into district pathologies."

Gratian organizes a birthday party for me, for what everyone calls the first of many twenty-ninth birthdays. There are balloons and cakes and, quite honestly, enough drinks to keep even Haymitch happy, though he really only goes for sweet cocktails if they're the only thing being served. There's a good amount of playful sex going on as well - I'd forgotten how much of it there was at Capitol Dreams, after years of working only in one of the more prudish districts. I don't participate in it. I don't think I'm ready for that. At our session two days later, Dr. Meadowbrook tells me that he thinks I should have, and encourages me to start looking for adult companionship. "It's part of the problem," he says. "You've been spending time with someone who has a very unrealistic notion of sex, and you've forgotten what it's really about - having fun! Go find someone to have fun with you."

I go out to the clubs with Eudokia a week later, and we let ourselves be picked up by a couple of men. I feel myself panicking, and I take an extra dose of Pherolen before we go back to their place. It levels me out, and we end up having some fun, though, as usual, the next day, I'm told that I need to loosen up more and try more adventurous things. I'm used to this. Dr. Meadowbrook shrugs it off and tells me that, given my condition, I was pretty adventurous to do it at all, and I shouldn't worry about morning-after reviews. I don't tell him about the extra pill, and a week later, I tell him that I dropped a few down the sink. He gives me an extra prescription without asking any more questions. I don't overdose on them. I just take them when I need a little extra courage.

I call Caesar Flickerman in December. He tells me that he hasn't heard anything from Haymitch since the end of the games, but will arrange for him to get passage to the Capitol in April, before the reaping, so we can all discuss it. Dr. Meadowbrook promises to get me strong enough to handle it by then. He also says he'd like to be there, but Caesar forbids it.

I'm not allowed to go to Annie Cresta's Victory Tour party. Dr. Meadowbrook still doesn't think I should be that close to the victors, even though I tell him that Finnick and I are old friends. I'm allowed to watch on television. Annie seems nervous, and clings to Finnick's arm. Finnick leans over and speaks to her softly. I wonder if they're in love, but I suppose I'm wrong - he's out the next night with Jovian Manders, a good-looking man who sits on the president's council. I guess if Finnick is still playing around, there's nothing serious going on.

Not long after Annie leaves, people are allowed to come ask me questions. Some of the Games authorities ask me why I went running to Haymitch and the others. I try to answer, but it all starts to seem silly when I describe it. I suppose if they had been doing anything troublesome, they wouldn't have let me take them sightseeing, after all. I'm asked a lot of questions about what I might have overheard before I got there, though I'm not sure what that has to do with my entafaism. I've read a lot about it now, in Dr. Meadowbrook's books, one of which is dedicated to Mimi, who inspired him to learn everything he could about the disorder. He insists that the entafaistic's particular fixation - a friend, a lover, a child, even a pet - isn't important. I tell him that the authorities have been asking. He rolls his eyes and says that they don't understand the root of the problem, or they wouldn't assume I had any political knowledge. He talks to them, and they stop asking.

Finally, they ask me if I'm loyal to the Capitol or to Haymitch. After all, he's suspected to be a traitor, and treason is infectious. I assure them that I'm a Capitol woman. I remember Haymitch telling me that he'd get me out of the Capitol. I remember thinking about it, and imagining it. But I can't really connect to the state of mind I must have been in then. I decide not to mention it. I also tell them that Haymitch is a loyal citizen. He fought off the raiders who invaded the tribute train, and promised that he'd never let anyone hurt me.

Dr. Meadowbrook says that this was right to tell strangers, but reminds me that I need to keep in mind that Haymitch did threaten to send the children out, and that, as a district man, he'll never care as much about me as he does about politics. It's like a disease there. He's not really capable of putting a human being first. He tells me to remember Mimi.

I start spending time with other Games workers. Therinus is already working on costumes for next year. The escorts are planning a pre-reaping party, which Barnabas tells me they have every year, but they never thought I'd be interested before. I go with the other female escorts to this year's fashion show. Shiny is in this year, as is pink. We get our nails done together, and complain about our stylists (they've gotten quite pushy lately, and want to override escorts on costume choices). We speculate about the arena and what kinds of mutts there will be. It's like being in lower school. I feel like I'm a child again, getting ready for something exciting.

I try not to think about Dr. Meadowbrook's warning that Haymitch might not want me back, though I frequently dream that he fires me, and I lose my apartment and all of my things. Haymitch personally takes the cat in most of these dreams and tells me I'm not fit to take care of things when I'm like this. I beg him to tell me what he means, and he takes me to a mirror, where I see that I've become a circus clown.

I go back to my apartment in February, though I have to come to group four times a week to make sure I'm not sliding back into old habits. Friends from the shelter and the animal rescue and Capitol Dreams make a habit of dropping in on me. I fall into an affair with a veterinarian named Tiberius Hurd. Dr. Meadowbrook is glad to see me relating to another adult in a healthy way, and says he thinks I'm ready to see Haymitch again.

I am feeling immeasurably better by the time April comes. Haymitch arrives on a train, but I don't go to meet him. I have an appointment to get my nails done, and I have very strict instructions not to change my routine for him. My room back at the shelter is ready in case I have a relapse, but I'd prefer to stay in my apartment.

I go to Caesar's office.

I get there early, but apparently Caesar picked Haymitch up at the station, because I can hear them as I enter the outer office. I pause.

"…still the same woman who's been your good right hand in the Capitol for the last eleven years," Caesar is saying.

"Is she?" A chair is shoved - I hear it scrape across the floor - and I imagine Haymitch standing up, his fingers laced behind his neck. "Caesar, how bad is it? How badly have they broken her?"

"I don't think she's broken, Haymitch."

"Then how much did they empty out of her? What's left of Effie, Caesar? Is she like Mimi?"

There's a pause, then Caesar says, "When I've spoken to her, she's been alert and aware, and still devoted to helping District Twelve. Still kind."

"Kind," Haymitch echoes. He sounds like he's lost in the dark somewhere. I wish I could just get him some serious time with someone who could help.

"And I know she doesn't want to leave. Her job means a lot to her."

"Do the tributes still mean a lot to her? Or are they just game pieces now?" Haymitch laughs wildly then says, nonsensically, "Does she love Big Brother?"

"Who is Big Brother?" I ask, coming into the room. Haymitch looks up in surprise, then clear dismay. "Are you Big Brother?"

He laughs again. It's neither friendly nor cruel. It doesn't seem directed at me at all. It's a kind of raving, lunatic laugh. "Am I? I don't know. You tell me, Effie. Who am I to you right now?"

"You're my boss," I say. "At least you were before."

"Your boss," he says, and goes to the window. He presses his forehead and hands against the glass and looks out over the Capitol. "I'm your boss."

I bite my lip. "I'd like it to stay that way. I want to help make District Twelve into the champions I know they are."

On the window, his hands bend into claws, and he leans further forward, rocking his shoulders in and out, not looking at me. I don't know what someone's been telling him - he looks like he's lost his last friend. "Champions. Oh, Effie."

"I know they have it in them. I want to be part of it. I'm still your friend. I can help you!"

He takes in several harsh, sharp breaths, but doesn't say anything. I don't understand why he's acting like this.

I look at Caesar. "All I did was get well. I was sick before! I haven't changed." I turn back to the window. "Haymitch, look at me! It's just Effie. Only well now. I wish I could help you be well, too."

He slams his fists against the window.

I go to him and touch his arm. He seems much further away than he does in my dreams. "Don't you understand? You could be happy."

He finally turns around. His face is contorted in grief, like I'm horribly dead instead of standing right in front of him. His eyes search mine, then close. He kisses my forehead, then holds me very tight.

I return his embrace. "You see, Haymitch? You could be happy. I could make you happy."

He pulls away and tries to look at me, but his eyes don't meet mine again. He moves me gently to one side and heads for the door.

"Haymitch," Caesar says.

He stops but doesn't turn around. "What?"

"You're doing what the Gamemakers want you to. You're letting them run you like a puppet."

"We all end up doing that."

"Haymitch, think." I open my mouth to speak, but Caesar holds his hand up and gives me a sharp look. He gets to his feet and speaks to Haymitch in quiet, even tones, so unlike his stage personality that it's hard to believe they're the same man. "What do you tell your tributes every year, Haymitch? What do you tell them about the temptations the Gamemakers put up?"

Haymitch is standing in the door. I can see his muscles twitching like he wants to leave, but he puts one hand on either side of the frame, holding himself physically in the room. "Don't try the Cornucopia," he says weakly.

"Exactly. And you're running at it full tilt right now. They're not trying to kill you, but they're damned well trying to destroy you. Trying to make you hurt yourself this time."

His hands grip the sides of the door, like something outside is pulling on him brutally.

Then he relaxes. It's a deliberate thing, almost going one muscle at a time. He takes deep, slow breaths. Finally, he lets go of the door. He stands without saying anything for what seems a long time, then turns toward me. His eyes flicker up briefly, but he doesn't really look at me.

"I heard - " he starts, but his voice breaks. He forces himself under control. "I heard the stylists are making a power grab. Keep Therinus under wraps, okay, Effie? And I heard a rumor that Cinna Barrett is next in line if anyone retires. See if you can… if you can make friends with him. So he'll pick Twelve."

"I can stay then? I want to stay."

He closes his eyes and whispers, "I want you to stay." He turns and leaves, walking like someone has punched him in the gut. His hands even go to the spot where he had an axe wound so long ago. I try to follow, but Caesar holds me back.

He doesn't stop at the apartment or anywhere else I can find him. After a while, I realize that I'm verging on a relapse with all the searching. I take a pill and go to a club instead of looking any further. The next day at our group session, I get a round of applause for taking on the urge to bury myself and beating it in a fair fight.

Dr. Meadowbrook clears me to go back to work, just in time to really get started for the reaping. I'm determined to be the best escort in the field, so Haymitch knows he made the right choice. I gather up a lot of new sponsors, now that I'm better connected, and I tell Therinus that he simply must make a better impression at the parade. I visit Cinna and his new apprentice, the scholarship winner named Portia, who's doing strange experiments with fabrics. We have several very nice lunches together. He even finds some dresses in his repertoire that I don't feel uncomfortable wearing.

When I get to District Twelve for the Seventy-First reaping, Haymitch is drunk. He tries to throw his arms around me and kiss me, but he smells like he hasn't bathed in weeks and I push him away. He mutters something about remembering that I'm well now. He makes the word "well" sound like a deadly disease.

I call Hank MacCailin and Fancy Tantridge that year. Haymitch and I work together as well as ever getting them prepped, though he seems unable to stand the sight of me. None of it matters. They both fall at the Cornucopia, against his standing orders. It's actually merciful. The whole arena is an ice field, and most of the tributes slowly freeze to death. The inner district alliance huddles together until everyone else is dead, then they kill each other in a teeth-chattering melee, won by Otho Magro of District Two. No one is impressed with the Games, and during the year, the Head Gamemaker is replaced. A young man named Seneca Crane is appointed to the post.

I turn thirty. My friends throw me a party at the lake shore that lasts three days. I wake up in bed with three other people at the end of it, and I'm not altogether sure how I got there, or if anything happened.

Being back with Capitol Dreams, I'm invited to the Victory Tour party. Otho is quite charming. I mention this to a woman named Vibia Lee, who sits on the security council. She tells me that if I talk to President Snow, I might be able to arrange to know him much better. She plans to. I gather that she doesn't intend to have an extended conversation with him. I decide that I'm not interested.

The next spring, I call Forrest Collet and Plonia Fisher for the Seventy-Second Games. They're both hostile to me from the moment I get on the train. Haymitch leaves me on my own for this, as he's drunk again. He's decided not to sober up until they actually get to the Capitol. He shuts the door of his sleeping car, and, though I know he talks to the tributes later because they mention it the next day (Plonia gripes that Haymitch is going to make them master my manners lessons), he doesn't talk to me. Despite Haymitch's instructions, neither one of them will listen to me, and they're caught on camera shoveling food into their mouths with their bare, dirty hands. We barely get them our usual sponsors, let alone anyone new. Forrest dies at the Cornucopia anyway.

Plonia makes it for a week, wending her way alone through the arena, which this year is earthquake prone. She's finally caught by the District Six tribute, Titus, and killed with a quick blow to the throat. Anything she did to disgust sponsors is quickly forgotten when Titus eats her fingers from her hand. He'd go further, but the hover craft blasts him away from the body. They finally have to bury him in a landslide to stop him from becoming a victor, and stop the entire viewing audience from losing its appetite. The boy from One, Ravish, wins after a fight with the boy from Nine.

I go to see Haymitch at the train. For some reason, he's bandaged up Plonia's hand, even though it's far too late for it to make any difference. He's been drunk since he finished the call to her parents, and is short-tempered with me. I ask Caesar about a transfer, but again, no one is leaving. He reminds me that I asked to stay. I don't remember why.

I make the cover of Capitol Couture twice, and am voted "Most Intriguing Hunger Games Personality." This gets me a lot of interviews. The most influential is in Game Sponsor Quarterly, since it goes out to the really heavy hitters. Unfortunately, they want to know why Twelve's tributes are always so uncouth, and I can't provide any answer, though I promise I'll try harder to teach the next pair.

Unfortunately, the next pair, for the Seventy-Third Games, is Teasel Hughes and Marigold Smore, and they can't even conceive of needing to learn to use silverware or a napkin. They wipe their hands on the tablecloth on the train and - worse - in the Training Center. I try to tell Haymitch that they need to learn. He's surly with me, and gripes that they're hungry and they don't care.

"The whole point is for them to win, so they'll actually have something to eat, like you do. Maybe not be hungry anymore! Is using a fork really too much to ask?" I roll my eyes. "Really, Haymitch, there's no reason not to have manners. Manners are free!"

He turns away from me, goes into his room, and slams the door. He must tell them later to listen, because Goldie gives me a canned apology and Teasel makes a good faith effort with a fish knife, but it's too late to do any good with the sponsors.

Before the interviews, Goldie uses the corner of a silk blouse to wipe her nose after sneezing. She goes out on stage with the mess perfectly visible, though Caesar stands carefully in front of her so it can't be seen during her spot. Teasel won't be talked out of his atrocious grammar, and actually swears on camera, causing his interview time to be cut short by nearly ten seconds.

The sponsors don't matter in the end, because they don't listen to Haymitch any more than they listened to me. They rush the Cornucopia, and die there. District Two gets another victory, with Livius Frango.

Haymitch leaves without saying goodbye to me.

I go on.

Cinna Barrett teaches a class on fashion history and I take it. He's a kind man, and he seems to love his work. I meet him at his studio a few times to talk about interesting topics he's brought up.

In December, Tigress is asked to leave the stylist pool. She has gone under the knife so often that she's become grotesque in her attempts to live up to her name. She's actually had them split her upper lip. No one wants to see her on camera anymore.

The stylist spot opens. I call Merle in Twelve, and he has Haymitch come into town to call me back. I'm to get Cinna, no matter what. I ask if he'll talk to me again if I do.

"It's not that," he says.

"What, then?"

"You haven't figured that out?" he slurs. I thought at first that he was sober, but it's becoming increasingly clear that he's not. "I'm an idiot," he tells me. "Come on, Effie. You know that."

I hang up, annoyed at him for reasons I can't even pin down. I go to Cinna and tell him that District Twelve is just brimming with untapped potential, and a brilliant stylist could finally catch people's eyes, since it's been so long since we've had a victor. He agrees. When he's named the new stylist, he shocks everyone by choosing us. I barely listen to the bidding afterward. Therinus, I think, ends up in District Six.

Haymitch is actually a little bit pleased with me when I call. He says, "That's my girl," anyway. Then he hangs up and doesn't call again.

I ask Caesar again about a transfer, since Haymitch doesn't seem to want me anymore, but there's still nowhere to go.

"Besides," he tells me, "if Haymitch ever really didn't want you, he'd ask me to remove you. He hasn't done that, I promise."

"But he shuts me out. He slams doors on me."

Caesar stares at a pen in his hands, then says, "Effie, Haymitch knows who you are. The fact that he makes sure he never loses his temper at you, that he's keeping you with him - that means a lot more than you're giving it credit for. Probably more than he gives it credit for. He's giving you the best he can. Please try to do the same."

I nod. I will, of course. It's my job. I expect that I'll keep giving Haymitch the best I can for as long as he'll let me, no matter how many doors he slams. I don't anticipate anything changing. He has his world, and I have mine.

As far as I know, those worlds will go on forever, circling each other like the binary planets in Erastus's book, locked in a tidal stare, with nothing short of a catastrophic asteroid hit to move them.

The next spring, I reap Primrose Everdeen.

The End

NOTE: Obviously, there's more story coming. Haymitch will pick up next with the last re-telling from canon, "The Last Tribute."