XLVI. FADE TO BLACK


Thence we came forth to rebehold the stars.


Sapphira Starlett. 43.
Victor of The 25th Hunger Games.
District One Victors' Village. 00:00.
TW: Alcoholism.

She's pretty sure that the rest of the family is asleep. Cressida's been doing that a lot since about a month ago when the Games that kept her up all night ended, sleeping… Must be nice, she thinks, but dammit, Sapphira Starlett can't sleep, not after what she did. It's weird that nobody's suspected me too… She saw it in the paper a few weeks ago, "Capitol Darling Opal Opulence Found Dead In Theatre," and she hates to admit it but Sapphira laughed a bit when she saw it. Not because she's proud of herself for killing Opal, oh heavens no, not because of that, but because it was sort of ironic the girl she was terribly jealous of —the girl she used to be, nonetheless— had been reduced to nothing beyond three paragraphs of text. People suspected it was her understudy who did the deed, and well Sapphira wasn't going to correct them.

Besides, she has herself to correct first, not that she's particularly fond of Crista's idea to take her to therapy… since it went well, as poorly as one would imagine it to have gone. It turns out, talking about your mental health is pretty difficult when the fact you can't address the fact you killed somebody in cold blood.

It would be funny if it wasn't so absurd, the way the therapist, Dr. Alysanndra Argenti has asked Sapphira "Has anything notable happened recently?"

And she'd sat and nodded with a slight twinge in her eye, "No, not really." The whole being an actress thing proved to be quite valuable here, as Sapphira had discovered.

Part of her does pity the doctor for having to solve the puzzle of Sapphira's mental health when so many pieces were left out of the box, but at the same time, she didn't dare include those juicy yet haunting details about that night. Besides, she had to leave some details to herself even if the public didn't give a damn that she's so purposefully enigmatic anymore, not that… Dr. Argenti's the public, but Sapphira'd rather some things stay between her and maybe Crista.

But she doesn't need to worry her poor wife more than she already has. Her poor wife who's so obviously trying to glue together shattered glass, too stubborn to admit that she's stuck with a hopeless case, a disaster, a burden who'd be worth more if she was swept under the rug to be forgotten save for the rare occasion where she cuts back.

And maybe it's the slightest bit concerning that Sapphira isn't too worried herself. It's not like the olden' day's where her head was up too high in the clouds that she didn't even need to think of her heart since everything would work out in the end, no. It's different now, and Sapphira's not sure if she'll get better or if anything will get better, and it's not that she doesn't care, but she's also not particularly biased towards any outcome of the remainder of the upcoming months.

Because, it's not like she has anything to do anymore, no Victory Tour to escort a Tribute on, no daughter who's too young to send off to school, and certainly no movie sets or recording studios who demand she be there. She can't even come up with a good reason for why they'd need her anyways, she's just a white dwarf at this point, a faded star that nobody bothers to look at or talk about, forgotten. If she's got any reputation now it's just her being the heavens-awful mentor who can't bring a Tribute past second place unless there's some odd miracle she doesn't deserve. Seriously, it's been what twelve runner-ups in the past decade and a half and just two Victors. Even if Sapphira always considered the stars to be in her favor, the odds certainly were not.

Though, it's not like she sees the stars all that often nowadays. Too afraid, too neurotic to be outdoors late enough for the sun to have set in fear that somehow somebody will have realized what she did and get back at her for it. Being slaughtered in her own back yard is just about Sapphira's least ideal way to go out. She's always been the sort to do everything on her own terms anyways.

But that night, Sapphira swallows her nerves for just a while so she can sit outdoors and bask in the light of her namesakes. It's what she deserves to say the very least, especially after everything that's happened and everything that could be yet to come.

Horticulture has never been her strong suit, yet the pride she feels for her backyard remains consistent despite the scenery just being a measly dozen bushes of red roses and a peach tree Cressida likes to feast on in the spring. The chair on which she sits atop, white-painted metal with a blue velour cushion provides plenty of room for her to relax, there's no need to dirty one of the poolside chairs. And there's a table with the same finishes as the chair which Sapphira leans up against with her elbow on the surface and hardly a thought in her mind besides, How did this become my life?

She knows how: hard work, dedication, and determination, though that doesn't do shit to explain the other bullshit, the way she feels so fucking inadequate in everything she does. Hell, even when she killed Opal, Sapphira could have done a better job. Could've extended her arms further, been quicker with it, neater with the blood, it's not an excuse that she's out of practice, that she hasn't killed anybody in years. Sapphira Starlett is just supposed to be perfection, it's what she's known for… yet everything's shattering because—

I never was perfect, never was and I don't know why I tried. I wasn't supposed to be a star, wasn't supposed to dance on the moon. I'm too wretched for that, too much of a natural disaster— I was always meant to be a supernova. Not a full star, just an essence of decay, again and again, over and over, until I go out with one last hurrah that's getting closer even if I try to avoid it…

Sapphira's feet planted in the ground, she sighs, I was supposed to go out with Opal, wasn't I? That was supposed to be my end… yet she's still here.

She doesn't know what to make of it either.

And her fingers find their way to the lid of the bottle with ease. She doesn't bother finding something to pour whatever it contains in. Sapphira's flask is Haymitch's now… he's who people care about even if he'll fade just the same with time. Somehow she thinks, he probably won't mind simmering into the night.

It's not very ladylike to drink liquor straight from the bottle, but then again, how ladylike is Sapphira Starlett really?

She wasn't very ladylike when she bit her nails in anticipation for cast lists and award shows, when she based her whole worth off accolades and decisions beyond her own. She wasn't very ladylike when she took the Nine girl in her arms and kissed her senseless before stabbing a knife in her back. She wasn't very ladylike when she let herself be consumed with the fanciest of foods until she burped and got gloated. She wasn't very ladylike when she kept begging for more and more, more attention, more fame. She wasn't very ladylike when she killed Opal in cold blood in the comfort of her own work environment. She wasn't very ladylike when she denied the truth of her own personal disaster in favor of pretending she ever had a shot. She wasn't ladylike when she killed all those people… all five of them in the arena with a smile on her face, like she genuinely enjoyed it because for fucks sake, a part of her did. She wasn't very ladylike when she put on the image of being fine, being a perfect little star to everyone around her only to avoid her own demons.

…And she'll never be very ladylike again.

She thinks back to the notes she's written for Cressida some day, her musings from the 51st Games, parchment drenched in ink, "Everybody sins, that's just a fact…"

Her actions depict everything that her daughter needs to avoid, every perfect crime she committed. Because Sapphira Starlett is limbo, and she's lust and gluttony and greed and anger and hersey and violence and fraud…

She's treachery too.

And that's not very ladylike.

With two clicks of her heels, she takes a swig of the bottle once more and she stands on the end of the pool.

Another click of her heels, the taste of liquor still on her tongue when she feels herself falling.

No not falling… flying.

Even if her vision's beginning to blur and she can feel herself being submerged in the water, in her mind, she's still flying.

Just one last look at the stars, perhaps that will be enough.

Sapphira tries to look up at the constellations, each light in the sky a reminder of a kid who died (instead of her). But she can't flip herself all the way over so she settles for seeing the reflection of the twilight amongst the waves.

It'll just have to be enough. If only she ever thought the same about herself.

The water isn't even that cold when it touches it her face and for the first time in a long time, it's like she's at peace.

And for a brief moment, the world is too.

The director of life is finally able to sleep, so the actors leave the set.

As they go on to bigger and better things, they hear "That's a wrap."

And Sapphira Starlett fades to black.


… So yeah, that happened.

I'd say surprise but that sort of kills the mood, but to keep this brief, Sapphira is dead yes indeed. No, she will not be alive in A Common Defense of any other stories after that, because she has passed away. Whether it was an accident or on purpose is up to you to decide, but her story was always meant to end like this. Will (her lovely submitter) already knows this happened, and has since July 2020 or whenever I planned it. It goes without saying that Sapphira meant a lot to me as did it to her, and trust me this literally killed me to write. This of course, isn't my actual goodbye to her though since A Study In Starlett Exists (mainly for my sanity), but this is definitely a new era. Still, a hole in my heart exists without my star girl in the Preamble.

Furthermore, this chapter marks the end of Domestic Tranquility. As you all know, this story was honestly a huge struggle for me, both writing wise and due to the fact I was mentally having a shit time throughout all of it. Still, this ending is the one I always had from the moment Sapphira won We The People, and the prospect of publishing this is what pushed me to the finish line. I know it hurts, but I hope you enjoyed it.

I can't say that I'm too sad about this story ending, but I do in fact look forwards to A Common Defense, and everything else my writing journey may bring. To everyone else who submitted to or read this story, thank you for giving me your child sacrifices and I'm sorry that it spiraled and the Games ended the way they did. It was never my intention to somewhat summarize, so I hope you don't think less of me.

And now we toast to the end of this clusterfuck and the start of something new…

See you in paradise,
Linds