A boy walks through the veins of a zoo, staring at all the exotic every creature of the world who could be filed under the word exotic somehow condensed into a few acres. He reaches up to grasp his mother's hand, and she holds it limply. The guide says through his megaphone, "To your left we see Tigress. She was very popular among the Tributes, but now she's made this zoo her home. Her teeth are especially sharp!" The boy looks at Tigress (who seems to be motionless) with widened eyes, and his mother grasps his hand more tightly.
"That's her," she says. Spittle flies from her lips onto her son's face. "She gave your father a lip injury. They healed it."
They walk on, and the boy shivers. "Ahead you can see Lioness, Tigress's sister! Her nose is that way to help her look extra fierce!" Lioness is crying. His mother laughs. The boy shivers again.
"To your right, you can see Monkey! He is small and hairy, like a cat, but don't pet him. He will bite!" Monkey is screaming obscenities. Monkeys can talk.
The day goes on like this, until the boy begins to cry. "Momma, I want to go home!"
She sits down on a bench and puts him into her lap. She grips his arms tightly, but he, even in his short life, knows not to protest. "I know you're tired. I'm tired. But we must see the rest of them. You must see these beasts."
The bench wiggles under her. She slaps it once, and it is still. The crack rings in the boy's ears.
"I voted for this, you know. My life is ruined because of them, you know. I want you to remember that."
She stands up and sets her son on the ground.
"Now, walk if you want ice cream."
A/N: in case you didn't catch it, this is an AU in which Annie voted for a Capitol Hunger Games. She takes her son to the zoo (in which the displays are Capitol citizens being shown off for the major alterations they made to their bodies), because she's by now driven a little crazy by her hatred and bitterness. The bench is a person.
For Iris (during the Caesar's Palace Snowball Fight 2014).
Update May 30, 2015: This story has been nominated for Favorite One-shot Fanfic category, hosted by The Fanatic Fanfics Multifandom Award. There are two rounds of voting. You can vote for up to ten favorite oneshots in the category, so if you liked this story at all, I'd really appreciate a vote!
The First Round of Voting is from May 31 to June 14. The Second Round of Voting goes from June 15 to June 22.
I'll have a link on my profile that you can follow to the voting page :)
Okay, love you all lots. I'm really excited to be nominated! Thank you to whomever did that.