Disclaimer-Suzanne Collins isn't likely to hand over the rights to the Hunger Games to me anytime soon. xP.
This was written for the Starvation Forum's monthly oneshot challenge. December's prompt: Home.
Dedicated to Pen, not just because you're judging, but because you're my TwinNinja, and I love you very much!
I didn't really expect it to be like this. I thought that things would feel different; I would feel safer. But all I feel is nauseous. It's probably Baby. Baby is starting to kick every once in a while now. I can feel Baby moving inside of me when I see the water, or when I'm in a hovercraft. I know it's not Baby's fault that I want to dive out of this hovercraft, spread eagle, straight into the foamy, green waves of the ocean on the shores of District 4. I know that. I have to stop blaming Baby for every suicidal thought I get, or else I'll start to become hateful.
But it's so hard. It's so hard to carry around this reminder of him, to constantly be reminded-just by looking down at my inflated tummy-that I'll never have the love of my life around to comfort me. I'll never know what's real again.
The hovercraft begins to slow, and I know that I won't be able to dive into the ocean anymore. Not like I used to. As we begin to land, I glance out at the water and try to feel any sense of familiarity, any tiny wisp of home, but it isn't there. I guess nothing really tied me to District 4 except for Finnick. The only real tie I have now is squirming around in my stomach, making me want to empty my tiny breakfast onto the carpeting of this fancy new District 13 hovercraft. But somehow, I don't really think the pilot would appreciate that.
People tell me their names, but I don't remember. I remember Finnick, and Katniss and Peeta. I remember Donnelley, from my Games, even though I try to forget him. Try to forget the look on his face when it was no longer connected to the rest of his body. My hands fly against the sides of my head, pressing against my ears. Involuntarily, my eyes squeeze shut. I hear him, hear him screaming. Just for me; he's screaming just for me. Beads of sweat start to form on my forehead, and red dots swarm in my vision.
Then I feel his hand on my shoulder, soft and cool. "Annie, can you hear me? It's all going to be okay, Annie. Annie, what you're seeing isn't real." That word tips me off that what I'm feeling isn't real. The hand pressing against my neck isn't Finnick's. Finnick knows-knew-that it wasn't what I saw, but what I heard that disturbed me the most. But somehow, this stranger's voice jolted me back to reality, and the screaming stopped.
I open my eyes tentatively, and slowly slide my hands down from my ears and rest them on my swollen belly. Baby hears the voices too, and sometimes Baby cries because of it. I trace slow circles along my stomach with my palms, picturing Baby down there feeling my caresses. "It's okay, Baby, Mommy's here," I whisper. It takes a few seconds, but the crying slowly patters out.
"Mrs. Odair?" I can tell that the man standing next to me is uneasy. He is bent over slightly, a worried look in his eyes. I pull the corners of my lips up slightly, to reassure him everything is okay. That the voices have stopped. He looks at me as if I was insane. I hate it when people look at me like that. "We've landed. You're home."
My smile fades the second he says the word. I glance at my luggage, sitting in the corner of the hovercraft. There isn't much, but I brought everything I had. I stand up, but don't make a move toward the bags. "What time is the hovercraft going back to District 13?"
"We have to refuel, but we'll be leaving in three hours," the man says. "Would you like me to help you with your bags?" His eyes fall down to my stomach, and I'm momentarily offended for him thinking of me as frail and weak, along with insane. It's too much.
"If you're not leaving for three hours than I have time to look around before I collect my things," I tell him. He nods at me, and allows me to step out of the hovercraft, and onto the soil of my district.
"This is where we are supposed to be, Baby. This is our home. This is my home, and Daddy's home, and this is your home, too." The words are supposed to be filled with confidence, instilling my baby with a sense of belonging. Baby needs a home, and what better place than District 4? But the words seem hollow and questioning even to my own ears. It doesn't feel like home anymore. I feel like each is should be a was.
I stare out at the ocean, feeling the sand in between my toes. I've been here for two hours, and I should really be getting my luggage off the hovercraft. "Baby?" I ask, and my stomach coos at me. I'm not sure if "sane" people can hear their babies before they're born or not. I've never really known any pregnant women before, at least not close enough to discuss something like that. I can hear my baby though. I've been able to since the morning I found out I was carrying my own child. Finnick's child.
I can still see him sometimes, when I close my eyes. Especially now, when I'm so close to the ocean. The waves seem to be calling to me, whispering sweet nothings in my ear like Finnick used to. As long as I'm here, I'll always be able to hold on to Finnick. Or am I just holding onto a ghost?
"Mrs. Odair?" the man sounds shocked to see me. "Did you..." he's hesitant to ask, afraid I'll snap at him. Don't mind me, I'm just the crazy pregnant lady. But I'm not really shocked that he'd be shocked when he saw me sitting back in my seat, aboard the hovercraft. "Would you like help with your luggage after all?"
I'm not angry this time. I close my eyes, and clasp my hands across my belly, soothing Baby with my motherly touch. "It's fine where it is," I say dreamily. "I'm going back to District 13."
The man doesn't say anything, but after a short pause, I hear his footsteps receding, slowly, slowly, leaving me and Baby alone.
There's a small whimper in my stomach, and I pat it comfortingly to ease the sound. "It's okay, Baby, don't be frightened," I whisper to my child, the only tie that is holding me anywhere, now. Now that I've let go of my ghost. "We're finally going home."