Song: Apocalypse by Cigarettes after Sex
Capitol, District Seven's Penthouse
"Johanna… after dinner, there is something I must tell you."
"Okay," Johanna said, her mouth full of roast potato. She had been gorging herself the last couple of days – she had an extreme appreciation for the endless supply of hot food. It was a welcome change after ten days of protein bars and random plants. And in the hospital, the food had been quite bland, as the doctors didn't want her stomach to be upset by rich food after she'd starved her ass off (literally).
"Slow down, you'll choke," Blight said, shaking his head in exasperation.
Johanna scowled at him. "S' fine," she said, swallowing. "I just spent a fortnight starving and freezing, I'll each as much as I want."
"Just don't make yourself sick," he warned.
"Whatever," Johanna said, rolling her eyes. Magnolia wasn't eating so much as moving her food around her plate – Johanna wondered what was the matter with her mentor. She'd been acting gloomy ever since Johanna had won. "What's up with you, Magnolia?"
Magnolia took a large gulp of wine, and said nothing. She looked at Jamie somewhat helplessly, and Jamie reached across the table and patted Johanna's hand. Johanna yanked her hand away from him – she didn't want to be patted, like she was someone's pet – she wanted answers. "Well?" she asked.
"Excuse me," Magnolia said, patting her lips with a napkin before standing up and exiting the room, a faraway look on her face.
Johanna shook her head in bewilderment. "Seriously, what's up with her?"
There was no reply. Blight and Oscar exchanged worried glances – Jamie stood up and followed Magnolia out of the room. "Have you all been made into Avoxes, or something? What the hell is going on?"
Blight sighed. "Finish your dinner, Johanna. Magnolia has some things she has to discuss with you – I don't think she'd appreciate us telling you instead of her."
"Okay," Johanna said. Something told her not to push any further. There was a little seedling of doubt growing in her stomach – what could have happened, to make the mentors act so strangely? Especially Magnolia. Johanna had never seen her mentor act so weirdly before. Was there trouble at home, perhaps? Johanna hoped to god there wasn't, that whatever was worrying Magnolia had to do with something else.
She pushed her plate away, her appetite gone.
"Johanna… sit down." Magnolia gestured to the couch.
Johanna frowned at her, and took a seat, tucking her knees under her butt and leaning back. "What's this about, Magnolia? Why so serious?"
"There is something you should know." Magnolia's lip trembled, and she clasped her shaking hands in her lap.
Johanna frowned at her again. "Magnolia, you're scaring me."
"It… I…" Magnolia stuttered, her eyes dancing around the room, looking anywhere but Johanna.
Johanna felt a cool sense of dread start seeping into her bones, into her very soul. Something was wrong, something was bad – she knew it, she just knew it. She could feel it, and she desperately didn't want to. "Spit it out, Magnolia, for fuck's sake." She wanted it, whatever it was, to be out and over with.
Finally, Magnolia's eyes locked with hers. "Eurydice is dead," she said, her voice unnaturally soft.
Johanna blinked. It couldn't be true – Eurydice couldn't be dead. The very idea of it was ridiculous. "No she's not."
A tear that had been gathering in Magnolia's eyelashes fell down her face. "Yes she is."
"What the hell?" she said, her voice rising an octave. The pit in her stomach was so wide and gaping that Johanna was surprised it hadn't yet swallowed the room and everything in it. "She's not dead, she can't be dead."
"Johanna, I am sorry, but she is," Magnolia said, in a voice that was barely more than a whisper. "I wanted to wait until you were a bit healthier before I told you…and until after the interview… Johanna, I am so sorry."
"That's not funny, Magnolia," Johanna said, feeling her throat begin to close up, as it did when she felt any strong emotion. She shook her head, and laughed – it couldn't be true. Eurydice was dead? The absurdity of the thought made Johanna want to… she didn't know. So she laughed. "It's not fucking funny."
Magnolia didn't say anything. Tears dripped down her cheeks, and Johanna found that she couldn't breathe. She had pins and needles in her hands and feet. "Eurydice isn't dead, Magnolia, she's not fucking dead!"
"Johanna, I am… I'm so sorry," Magnolia whispered.
"No, fuck you, Magnolia!" Johanna shrieked. She refused to believe it was true – it just couldn't be true. If Eurydice was truly… if what Magnolia had said was true, what was the point of Johanna's life? It just couldn't be true. Magnolia had to be lying, she had to be. "I told you that it isn't funny! She's not dead, she's not, she can't be dead!" Johanna jumped to her feet.
"Johanna, sit down, sweetheart," Magnolia said, and Johanna felt a strangely cold flash of anger. How dare she spit there, spew horrible lies, and then call Johanna 'sweetheart'? How dare she? "Let me make you some tea."
"Fuck you, Magnolia! I don't want a mug of fucking tea, get the hell out of here!" She didn't want to yell – but Magnolia was being ridiculous. It was pissing her off. Eurydice couldn't be dead, she just couldn't be. Eurydice was the most alive person Johanna knew – she was always laughing, or dancing, or running, or singing. She was so full of life that the idea of her being dead was incomprehensible. It just couldn't be possible.
Storming from the room, Johanna slammed the door closed behind her as hard as she could, hoping it would shatter into tiny shards. Blight was standing in the hallway, and stepped out of the way as she passed, an unreadable expression on his face. "Blight, would you go in there and tell Magnolia to stop being such a stupid fucking bitch?" Johanna let out another laugh. "She's lost her fucking mind, Blight, did you hear what she said? She said – well, did you hear?"
When Blight's expression remained the same, the doubt inside Johanna began to grow, and grow, and grow. "Blight?" she said, softer this time. Her hands were shaking, so she made them into fists, digging her nails into her palms as hard as she could.
"I'm very sorry for your loss, Johanna."
His words hit her like a punch in the throat. When Magnolia had said it, it had been unbelievable. But Blight – why would he be pretending as well? "Oh no, oh no, oh no…" Johanna whispered, swaying where she stood. Eurydice was dead? Was she actually dead? Was it true?
She felt her knees crumble beneath her, and could hear, distantly, worried voices – she could feel Blight's hands on her shoulders, keeping her upright, but she didn't care. She felt far away from everyone – she wanted, so badly, to die. "Get off me!" she hissed, and clawed the hands away. Johanna stumbled down the corridor, trying to remember what her room looked like. Everything was distorted, misshapen – or maybe that was just the tears in her eyes, blurring the world beyond recognition.
She wasn't entirely sure how she managed to make it to her room, but the second the door closed behind her, Johanna's vision cleared. She could see everything in crisp detail… the colours were so bright that they burned her eyes. She couldn't breathe, she couldn't think… and those goddamn colours were like fire, burning holes through her eyeballs and right through the back of her skull like lasers.
She remembered the times Eurydice had visited her in the arena… there was that time, in the dream, after the bears. And then when she had been tranquilised, lifted from the arena after her blinding attack of rage on several innocent trees. Johanna wondered how long that Eurydice had been dead. She knew, now, that it really had been Eurydice – she hadn't just been part of Johanna's imagination, which was what she had thought at the time.
She felt as though the world was dissolving around her – her hands felt strangely numb, and when she looked at them, it felt as though they weren't hers. Those hands, which had held Eurydice, stroked her hair, touched her perfect porcelain face… did they really belong to Johanna? She wasn't sure. She stuffed one of her – her? – fists partially in her mouth and bit down, screaming into her own skin and flesh, her mouth stretching so wide she was surprised her cheek didn't re-open. When she pulled her hand away, there were bright red tooth marks – but she didn't feel a thing.
Without Eurydice, there was nothing. Johanna didn't want to think of a world without Eurydice – it seemed like it would be a horribly grey, horribly loveless, horribly boring world. She didn't want to live like that – did she really want to live at all, without Eurydice? Johanna wasn't sure. She felt as though she was spiralling, down, down, down, into the grey and into the nothing that she supposed was to be her new life.
Why am I not feeling pain, she wondered, pinching her hand once, twice, three times, digging in her fingernails until there were little specks of blood marring her skin – she couldn't feel it at all. Is there anything sharp in here? Johanna looked around the room – nothing. The bathroom was a similar scenario – the razor blades had been removed from under the sink. Johanna wondered if they always took the razors away from new Victors – they had been there before the Games.
She couldn't find anything sharp. She wanted to feel pan, to prove to herself, even for a second, that she was real – pain, after all, was something she could trust. She knew pain. She had become well-acquainted with pain in the arena, and she wanted to feel it again, like an old friend hugging her tight. There was nothing except the mirror, hanging soulless on the wall – Johanna hated it. How dare it hang there, mocking her – the girl pictured in its glass seemed to be laughing. Johanna punched her, and the mirror shattered – she watched the skin on her knuckles split open, saw the bright spurt of red on the wall, and still she felt nothing.
"Is she dead?" Johanna whispered, watching the many reflections in the shards of glass. They all nodded at her – yes, Johanna, yes, she's dead – and Johanna screamed. Screamed for them to stop. She wanted them to stop – she wanted the grey to go away.
There was a crash in the distance, but Johanna didn't care – several Avoxes, Magnolia, Blight and Jamie came rushing into the bathroom, their voices overlapping and fusing together into one big, horrible noise that just wouldn't go away. "Shut up!" she screamed. "Shut up, shut up, shut up, you're TOO LOUD!"
Magnolia reached for her. "Johanna, dear, you've hurt yourself… why did you break the mirror, that is seven years of bad luck –" Johanna wanted to laugh at that. Her bad luck hadn't started because she broke a mirror – her bad luck had started the moment she was born, the moment she was born into a fucked up nation and told to follow its fucked up rules. She doubted that breaking a mirror would bring any further bad luck – how could it, when her life was just one parade of bad luck?
"Go fuck yourself, Magnolia!" Johanna flung herself at her mentor, and began hitting every part of the woman she could – how dare she? How fucking dare she?
Magnolia caught Johanna's arms before they could bruise her again, and pulled her into a hug. Johanna sobbed into Magnolia's chest, feeling all the fight go out of her – she just wanted to go home. She wanted her mom. She wanted her da. But above anyone else in the world, she wanted Eurydice – Eurydice, who was dead, Eurydice, whose touch Johanna would never feel again. Whose beautiful voice would never again reach Johanna's ears.
There was a small prick on the side of her neck, and a sigh escaped her lips – she felt herself lift slowly off the bathroom floor and into the darkness. She still didn't love the idea of being tranquilized – but god, was it a welcome friend right now.
It's raining. I think that's appropriate for this chapter.