Hello all! Just warning you – the beginning isn't nearly as good as the rest; it gets a lot better, just bear with it. Please? This chapter is my least favourite, so please read up to the end of the next one at least, the more you read the more you get into it, I promise.
Every morning I look at myself in the mirror, seeing myself grow up. I used to be just a tiny toddler, blonde hair tussled into bunches, but gradually I grew. My freckles that used to be spread like an infection across my face have died down to a few beauty spots. My hair which used to be thick like straw thinned out so it shines in the light like gold leaf. My face, how it used it be chubby and babyish, but no longer. I grew taller and thinner, less childish, more like an adult. Until I look like I am today. Serious. Unreadable. Powerful.
I always have noted my appearance. My friends, well; I wouldn't call them friends, always said I was vain, and had right to be. I disagree. I'm patient. I like to see how things change, grow around me into a climax while I just stay there, listening, waiting, like a hunter for its prey.
That's what I've done all my life. Wait. And that's what I do now. Wait patiently by my father's room like I do every morning, tray in hand with the usual assortments of pastries and a hot mug filled with a peculiar herbal drink. Some people would work for days just for my father's breakfast. Some of them are at school with me. I shake my head of such thoughts and knock again, in case he hasn't heard me. But I soon learn he has by the sliding of a bolt and the hurried gabble out of my father's mouth.
"Come in, come in," My father looks at me with frantic eyes after quickly glancing down the corridor. "You took your time."
"Yes, well I had to get by the extra precautions you set up. I mean, who's going to steal a knife from our own kitchen to use to stab you?" I shake my head as I set down they tray on the sturdy oak table, "They'd just bring one from their house, and anyway, how's a padlock going to stop them? The last lot had inside help. Remember?"
The last lot, the words hang in my throat as I process what I have just said; and the scorn in which I had addressed my father. I look at him pleadingly for forgiveness but he only seems upset, not angry. It seems his capability of being angry has drained in the past year. Though I am patient I do tend to speak before I have fully processed what I am saying. I look back up at father and though he smiles warmly back at me I know he's trying hard not to break down. The last lot, they came on that dreadful night; the night my mother was killed.
My father seems to be thinking along the same lines so he looks at me and sighs. "Only a year ago and yet it feels like a lifetime. It was my fault, Kara, they were after me. I can never stop blaming myself." He adjusts his glasses over his faded face and strokes his greying hair. I have no answer for that, I just stand there, gazing at the wreck my father has become in this one short year. His hair was jet black like a stallion at night but now has worn down with the rest of him. Father was a tall, charismatic man with a strong character and an even stronger taste for expensive art. But since mother died he has been slowly fading away, hiding himself inside his massive body; it would take a miracle or a masterpiece to draw him out of his shell even for just one day. So we just stare at each other in silence. Neither of us mentions the reaping or the pain that it holds in our hearts.
I make my mouth twitch into a pathetic attempt at a smile and slowly back out of the room to give both myself and my father some space. As soon as the silver handle has clicked shut I exhale loudly only to find myself staring right at Vivian. I give her my most scornful look possible to ward off the hatred that is pouring out of her towards me and I raise my voice to its most regal.
"Don't you have something to do?" I ask condescendingly "You got out of the job of bringing Lord Jaymond his breakfast since he didn't trust you any more so I expect you have filled it up with a more suitable task such as mucking out the horses."
With that I turn my heel at her and strut off in the other direction even though the kitchen is the other way and I wanted to have some breakfast before the reaping. Lord Jaymond. I chuckle to myself. What a name, I only ever use that in the presence of the girls who call themselves my friends because I know it will scare them more, make them feel more uncomfortable so they'll hopefully go and leave me alone so I can practice with my knife or sit patiently and think. Of course that never happens. The incentive of money is too great and to them I practically stink of the stuff. It's not my fault. I didn't choose to be born into a rich family. But I get so fed up of all those people who hang around me in hope of a handout. The only person my age who isn't like that is Vivian and she isn't my friend. I'm surprised that my father kept onto her after what she did. But he had a talk to me and said we were going to give her another chance and not hand her into the authorities. I almost laughed. He is the authorities. Well, it was either laughing or crying. Vivian was the one who had let the men in; the men who had come to kill my father, the men who had ended up killing my mother.
I end up in my room. I don't know how. I just was walking and suddenly I find myself here. This is my sanction, where I can escape from the world and be myself. I throw my knife in here, and sing. I love singing, no matter if I'm not so good at it. I feel myself humming to a tune as I try to pick out a dress from the many I have packed against each other in my sturdy wardrobe. Finally I settle on a simple white dress with gold lining around the hem and a neck made out of lace, rather plain compared to some of my more intricate clothes. I never, ever wear necks on dresses because they don't suit me but I find this one somehow does. The simplicity in the design overpowers me but that isn't the reason I choose this dress. I choose this dress because it was what my mother wore on her fourth reaping. When she was fifteen just like I am, when she met my father.
Her best friend had just been picked to enter the hunger games, the same hunger games in which she would be brutally stabbed by a fellow District eight. But no-one so much as talked to her. No-one even looked at her. They just went on with their business, averting their eyes and keeping quiet in their conversations. But my father noticed and he went up to her. They'd never really met before. He'd only seen her at school with the other girl but that was about it. They apparently knew of each other's existence, but not much more than that. He was rich, so was she but the similarities ended there. He went right up to my mother and hugged her. She was so startled she almost fell over but he steadied her and the few words he said to her were 'I'm sorry, so sorry', then he went along with his daily business like nothing had happened. But it had, and she never forgot him after that, not ever.
I sit down, without myself noticing I seem to have been standing up for the past half hour, thinking. I don't know why. I haven't been myself recently. I haven't been myself since my mother died. I quietly slip on a pair of flat golden shoes, bend down to the floor and unhook a floorboard. It's where I keep my special things. There's not very many of those, but I know what I'm looking for. I grasp it with my finger and hook it out. The ring mother gave to me the day before she died. It is a simple thing, a gold loop with a sapphire welded into it but I know it would have cost a lot more than a year's wages for the average working man so I carefully slide it onto my finger and raise it to the light. The sapphire from District one sparkles in the light just like my mother's eyes used to and just like mine do when I'm happy. No, more than happy. My eyes have stopped sparkling since mother died and I don't think they ever will again. I feel tears welling up in my eyes as I think about my mother but all I do is sigh and suppress my emotions. I find myself singing suddenly, it's what I do when I'm nervous or upset. This song is something I made up just after my mother died. It calmed my nerves then, about her death and should calm mine now, about the reaping even though really I shouldn't be worried, it's not like I'm going to be picked.
One day I'll realize all your troubles,
One day I'll understand,
Sometime I'll do just as you do,
It will be my last stand,
Why do you never listen?
Why do you act then think?
Sometime I'll join in too,
When I'll be on the brink,
How did you end up like this?
How did you forget me?
Sometime I'll add to your numbers,
Then like you I'll just leave,
I was poor and abandoned,
I was shivering alone,
Sometime I'll understand and do so,
I'll join you in your zone,
I still need a mother,
I still want you back,
Sometime I'll die too, I think,
Enter the everlasting black.
I stop singing and feel my heart beat slowly steadying back to a pace. I open the door a crack and look out. No-one's around. Good. I don't want any of my so-called friends turning up and going on and on about how the ring matches my eyes, the lace improves my neck line and so on. I'm just about to exit the room when I slip back in with a sudden thought, slide my fingers back under the floorboard and pull out my knife. It isn't like most of my things, fancy and elaborate. No, it's a plain knife with a wooden handle modelled to fit my hand. Not a speck of rust can be seen or ever will be on the hilt; it's my most treasured possession after my mother's ring. I twirl it in my fingers, as if pondering something, then let it fly at my target on the wall; bulls-eye. Of course, what else would I get with my knife? I run my fingers along the smooth wood once more and feel the need to keep it with me, as if its sharp point could save me from the reaping, so I tuck it up my sleeve so it can be drawn out easily. I don't know why, I just have this feeling that I'll need it. In a final decision before I exit the room I raise my hand and yank my almost golden hair out of its long-lasting ponytail and feel it caressing my skin like silk. There, now I'm ready for the reaping. I drop the band on the floor; someone will pick it up for me, and head off to the town square.