I dream of my wedding again.
But this time, I'm not the bride. And it's not a happy dream.
It's like I'm a spectator, looking on, watching as the District Thirteen kids sing District Four's wedding song. The scene is so familiar…and yet so different. There's Finnick, looking exactly as he did on the day of the wedding, in one of Peeta's old suits, smiling with joy. But it's not me he's smiling at. He doesn't even seem to notice me. It's as if I'm invisible. I'm there, but nobody sees me.
I try to call out to him, but my voice is stuck in my throat. I can only watch, helpless, as a woman glides up the aisle. She's wearing my beautiful green silk wedding dress; the one Katniss gave to me. She has dark hair like me, but she's not me. As she comes near Finnick, I realise she has no face – just an empty white space where her eyes, nose and mouth should be. Again, I try to call to Finnick. He must know that isn't me. He must see me trying to push through the crowd. He must hear my desperate voice.
Dalton, the man from District Ten who presided over our wedding, gets the bridesmaids to drape the net around the shoulders of Finnick and his faceless bride. They're holding hands. Horrified, I hear Finnick recite his vows and touch the space where her lips should be with saltwater. I can do nothing to stop him. I am powerless. Finnick is about to marry some other girl, a nameless, faceless demon.
And now I watch her recite the vows in a strange, empty, emotionless voice that Finnick must surely realise isn't my voice. But he doesn't seem to notice. He's looking at her with so much love it hurts to watch. I cannot turn away. I am frozen on the spot. Her fingers touch his lips with the saltwater. The vows are sealed. Even if I got through to him, she's Mrs Odair now – but I'm Mrs Odair – and there's no going back.
They kiss. Watching them kiss is like someone twisting a knife in my heart. My eyes are forced to remain open. That should be me kissing him. I am Mrs Odair. I am his wife. But I watch them dance, and no matter how much I scream they will never hear me. The wedding cake is wheeled in. My wedding cake! Our wedding cake! The beautiful cake that Peeta decorated specially for us…I watch with mixed fury and despair as Finnick and the faceless impostor cut the cake, and I suddenly have an overwhelming temptation to knock the cake to the floor or throw it at the bride's non-existent visage. But I cannot so much as lift a finger.
I watch as Finnick and his wife – but I'm his wife! – are given the key to our compartment. I make a final attempt to reach out to him. The thought of Finnick sharing a bed with anyone else but me is revolting and upsetting. And then I hear Finnick speak, as though he's standing right next to me, but he's not talking to me. His words are a crushing blow. "I love you," he says to the woman who isn't me. All the air is knocked out of me.
That can't be right.
Finnick loves me. He loves me and no one else. He would never say "I love you" to anyone but me. I was the one Finnick married. I love him and he loves me. I am Mrs Odair. I am his one true love. How can he forget his love for me? How can he be so convinced that he loves this stranger?
"Finnick, it's me," I scream. "I'm here. I'm Annie."
He doesn't even blink. He and the strange nonhuman being leave the party. I watch them go. They are painfully close together. He's got his arm wrapped around her like he never wants to let her go, and her head is resting on his shoulder.
"Finnick!" I scream. Suddenly I am able to move, and I manage to run until I'm right behind him. I touch his shoulder. "Finnick, please, it's me, remember―"
My breath catches in my throat. He's turned around. And his beautiful face is gone.
I wake up with a start.
"God, you scared me!" says Johanna from a distance.
My mind refocuses on my surroundings. I'm in my bed in District Four. I'm safe. There is no faceless bride and there never was. I am Mrs Odair and Finnick always loved me. My breathing and heart rate slows to normal pace.
"Johanna?" I say groggily. "When did you get here?"
"Last night," she says, sitting down on my bed. "You were already asleep. I knocked and you didn't answer."
I blink at her. "So you just…broke into my house?"
She held up a couple of keys. "You gave me the house keys, remember?"
I glance towards the crib where my son sleeps. A thought occurs to me. I sometimes scream in my sleep. I must have screamed aloud at least once during my nightmare. "Did I wake him?"
"Yeah," Johanna says. "But I managed to get him back to sleep," she adds with a hint of pride in her voice.
"Well done," I yawn. Johanna gets up to allow me to get out of bed.
"So what were you dreaming about?" Johanna asks as I reach for a hairbrush.
"Nothing," I say. She looks like she doesn't believe me, but she doesn't keep asking about it. She's probably had her fair share of nightmares. She knows I don't want to talk about it. I'd much rather forget it, leave it behind, let it become a thing of the past, pretend it never happened.