I don't bother watching her leave and choose to gaze out upon the over-lit city instead. To this point, I have been able to lock away the dread that began on reaping day. The expectation has held my breath from being at ease for years. But now, it's here. I may have one night to live.
The tremors I'd barely contained when Katniss was on the roof are allowed to run freely throughout my body. Anticipating the pain of my death, what it may feel like, is not adequate preparation. But I pretend that it is.
Tomorrow, they move me into position. I become a spectacle for a long-dead generation's sins. It's funny how warm, how bright my house back in miserable District 12 seems now, with my angry mother and jaded brothers. They are callous from the Capitol's negligence. I suppose that I would be like them in a few years' time. Our existence is a price based on history I did not make.
We've all become jaded. But I do not want to become evil. I don't want to give in to the savage fear that makes the districts cower and submit when they see it in a tribute's eyes at signs of danger. The arena may take my life, but I want to remain attached to my soul.
Katniss. She can't afford to think that way, she says. I think of the reaping, before my name was drawn. Her little sister and the terror in her eyes. Primrose is such a small thing—she'd stand no chance against the other tributes. Katniss walked into this death trap willingly, promising Prim to walk out of it alive.
Of course she can't think the way I do. To get out alive, you have to play their game.
How can I win? I have strengths, I have honed a few skills, and I have a mild chance with my 8 in training. Would I want to win, though? Would I want to throw my restraint and care away in exchange for more uneasy breaths—this time because of guilt—and a little food?
I don't want to play their game. But Katniss does. She has something worth coming home to everyday. Someone she has to take care of.
The Hunger Games bring out the worst in us. Before all of Panem is a debacle of fear, rage, and survival of the cruelest. If you don't put your life above anything else and anyone else, you will die. Body still trembling, I heave a resolute sigh. I refuse to play the Capitol's game.
Katniss will go home.
I have no illusions of being a knight, nor any of defying the Capitol. I am still a pawn, but I can become a pawn for someone other than the Capitol. The game is to save my soul and Katniss's life. It is my move. I cannot attack the King, but I can stand between he and Katniss. I'm a different type of piece who plays a different game.