Long overdue, but more to come very soon. Thanks for being patient there's been...a lot going on.
We never know the worth of water till the well is dry. ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732
My head throbs painfully as something buzzes around me. I swat at it annoyed and try to shield my ears from the pain of it, but it keeps on and on. I swing my hand out and the bones on the side of my hand throb when it hits something. It isn't until I hear Finnick's voice distantly that I realize it's the phone.
I reach down for the phone and fall out of the bed trying to answer it. It takes me another minute to get it to my face, "What?" I croak out. My voice is hoarse, dry. My head aches even more.
His voice sounds tired, very tired and pained, "Jo, we need you."
"I'm coming," my voice is barely a whisper as I get the phone back on the hook. Raven is snoring loudly in the bed. I use my foot to kick him, but it jars my head and I cry out.
"What?" His voice is thick.
"I've got to go," I speak low. "Finnick needs me."
I hear Raven groan. As much as I try to hurry, I just can't seem to make it to my feet. Finally, I do though I know a lot of time has passed. I contemplate showering, but the idea is too daunting. Instead, I pull clothes on even though I know I reek of sex and alcohol. I find a pair of sunglasses and stumble to the door as I hear Raven begin snoring again.
I half stumble down the stairs. Someone gives me a glass of water, and I down it quickly as I wait for a car.
Somehow, I'm in the car and I don't recall how exactly. I find a bottle of alcohol and take several long chugs. The roaring in my head dims as I get out of the car and make my way to Control.
I don't bother pulling off my shades yet as I make my way to Finnick and Haymitch. They both look terrible, as terrible as I feel. Acanthus is asleep on the cot behind them.
"Coffee," I growl as I sit down on Finnick trying to make my eyes focus. "What's going on?"
Instead of answering, he points at the screen. It takes me a few minutes to be able to focus. The coffee dulls the ache as I watch. Katniss stumbles through the woods—all grace gone. She's clumsy and she looks frail. Her lips are chapped and there's a pale look to her skin beneath the flush of the sun.
Dehydrated, "She hasn't found water?" She's dying.
No one speaks and my coffee grows cold while I watch her. She is fighting for her life here, against nature and the gamemakers instead of the careers. Her grey eyes look upwards, her voice is harsh from thirst and lack of talking. "Water?" She stares into the camera as though she knows it's there, begging for water—even now it leaves a bad taste in her mouth. She doesn't ask again, though she stares for long minutes at the sky.
I watch the money trickle in. She buries her face in her hands, shielding herself from all of her eyes. But her shoulders do not shake, and when she lifts her head there are no tears. Haymitch is leaning forward, watching her with red-rimmed eyes.
"Come on sweetheart," his voice is just a whisper. "It's close. Work it out," his fists are clenched beside him.
She grits her teeth and gets up using a stick to help her walk. Her face remains impassive, but as the hours slip by—we know she's not got much left in her to make it. She can't go much further, I keep telling myself—but she does.
Her legs are trembling and every now and then she stops, looking confused. Her mind is wandering and I know we've lost her. I want to scream at Haymitch to give her water, but it'll do no good.
"If she can't find water for herself, then it's better off she dies," his voice is hard, but his resolve is breaking. Money comes in more and more, and I know hundreds maybe thousands are asking why he doesn't send her something. But he keeps it all and just watches her.
The other tributes are searching for water, some find it while others struggle with the decision of going back to the lake or searching onwards. The career pack with Peeta reaches the end of their water and returns to the lake for more supplies. Anyone going back there is as good as dead.
She's struggling harder, barely even taking in her surroundings though she's close—so close to water that we're all on our feet watching her. She's not far at all, when she falls. Her eyes close and her breathing is ragged.
Haymitch is screaming at her, yelling for her to get up and get moving. This is how it's going to end, our great hope dying inches from water her fingers in the mud. Everything we hoped for, just gone… There won't be anyone that will come along like her again, not soon enough. I want to scream at Haymitch, tell him to give her the damn water but I don't. I'm Johanna Mason, I'm not supposed to care.
"Looks like District 12 is going to lose again," I roll my eyes.
The tips of her fingers move through the mud, making patterns and Haymitch is pulling at his hair. "Come on sweetheart!"
Her eyes fly open as if she's heard him. She sniffs the air, inhales deeply and I know that she's smelt the water—the cool earth. She digs in, pulling her body through mud until she almost goes face down in the water. I half expect her to gulp it down but she surprises me.
Shaking and weak, she puts the water in her bottle and purifies it. She waits for twenty minutes, her whole body shuddering with anticipation. When she finally puts the bottle to her lips she drinks one swallow slowly, then another. She takes it slowly instead of gorging herself on it. She finishes one bottle, then drinks another before settling into a tree.
We watch everyone around the arena. The girl from five darts from bush to bush like a little mouse. She finds a few leaves and makes a feast of them. Peeta fills his water bottle as Cato sharpens a knife blade. All of his movements remind me so much of his brother but colder, harsher but just as easy to handle. Too much anger, too much brawn and too little brain in what's left. They needed to get rid of him and that Clove girl soon or there'll be hell to pay.
The sky lights up as the Capitol anthem plays, the seal glowing across the sky and then nothing. No deaths today. Bad, very bad…People in the Capitol would be getting bored and for a Gamemaker a boring games meant a short reign maybe even a short life. Something would happen soon, very soon to get everyone in the arena moving.
Katniss falls asleep, as do most of the others, but the hunters are at it again moving through the woods like shadows. "How long do you think?" Acanthus asks.
We don't have to ask what he means, we know. "Maybe a few hours at most. Sometime before dawn, just as they're getting in from their Capitol parties. That would make the most sense," Finnick sighs and consults the clocks. "Speaking of parties, I've got to get ready. Acanthus?"
Both of them leave ready to go off and please the Capitol. Haymitch's eyes are bloodshot, but he hesitates. "You should go too," I tell him. "I can watch them."
He gives a grunt of thanks and leaves. I take a seat at the controls and watch the Games. The arena is quiet, the calm before a storm. The demons of my nightmares come as they always do during these games. I think of Liam, of what it would have been like if we had won our Games like Cashmere and Gloss. Would we be sitting here together now? Would we still be as close? Would…would…if…
I close my eyes a moment, realizing that it does no good to think of him now. But he won't be banished so easy, he won't let me push him away or shut him out as though he has some power still over the living. Liam.
Peeta moves through the trees, not as silently as Liam did but the resemblance is striking. As the night goes on and gets closer and closer to dawn, I have to tell myself over and over again—Liam is dead.
Liam is dead.
Liam is dead.