Cold. That was all I felt, Heather. I wanted to mourn your death like the others. In fact, you have no idea just how badly I wanted to cry. But I couldn't. What you became, Heather was beyond tears. I had to watch your every kill. And for what? You never came home anyway. That District 2 girl made sure of it. She saw you crying. Because you're human. What made you cry? Was it the fact that you realized all those kills you made, only to get back to me, were for nothing? Did you feel bad about ripping off my bracelet I gave to you? Or were you just scared? Now that the Games are over, I'm making my way over to your house. Your father said that there might be some things in your room that I could keep. Things to remember you by. But now, as I'm walking past the meadow where we played when we were little, I'm not so sure I want to do this. I've been shutting it all out for these past few days. If I get myself to not think about you, it's less painful. But now I have to face it head on. And I'm not ready for that. So it's only natural that I pause at the door. I raise my hand slowly and give the wooden door a half-hearted knock. To my surprise, Berkley, your cousin opens it right away. "Hi Thresh." He whispers. I whisper my hello back. Your other cousins and your sister are standing in the doorway to the kitchen. Amira, your sister who used to have the sweetest laugh I've ever heard, has tear streaks running down her smudged and dirty face. I guess because you aren't there to remind her to wash it. I take a deep breath and head up the ladder.
I wasn't really sure what to expect, but this wasn't really it. Yes, it's a typical District 11 bedroom, with a bunk bed crowded in one corner, looking like it might come falling down at any second. The walls are wooden and unpainted and another bed sits in the other corner. None of the beds are made and a thick layer of dust is settled over everything. Clothes lay strewn about the floor. Somehow, I know the Heather I knew wouldn't have settled for this. So for some reason, maybe just to distract myself, I find myself cleaning. I scrub with a rag I found lying on the floor until the surfaces gleam. All the clothes get put back in the set of drawers in the back. I'm just putting the last sock in, when something slips out. It's a piece of paper. I sit down and look at it. There, in bright crayon, is a picture of you and me. Given the fact that it was obviously drawn when we were both very small, it's a wonder I can even recognize us. But on the back, in hastily written script with a purple crayon it reads: Me and Thresh. If I try hard enough, I can remember when you drew that. It was on a gray, wintery day, when all the school children had to stay indoors, you had spent the entire break drawing the two of us, under an apple tree. I stare at the picture. We are holding hands.
The bed is cold. It's not something I wouldn't have noticed before, but you don't notice what you're missing until it's gone. When I was little, whenever I had a nightmare, I would go into your room and curl up under your covers. And it was always warm there. Are you warm where you are, Benny? I hope you're not cold like me. Are you sad that you lost? Of course, I am. But I thought about it for a while. And you know what? That boy who won has a family who must be so overjoyed to have him back. If you had won, they would be as sad as I am, maybe sadder. I watched their interview at the final eight. They had lost another son to the Games. If they had lost that boy, Mickey, they would have no one. At least mom and dad have me. I wouldn't want to have that family's happiness taken away from them. At first though, I was mad at them. I was mad at their son. I thought that somehow, someway, he could have come in and saved you, Benny, so you could have a chance at winning. I was so upset; I guess I couldn't even think straight. But now that it's been a few weeks, I know that was a pointless thing to think. What's done is done. Besides, I do think that Mickey was a good person. He didn't kill or even hurt anybody until that last tribute, who was already wounded. No one on decent ever seemed to win in the past, so I was grateful for that.
In a little while, he'll come by on his victory tour and give a speech to you. I wonder what he can say. He doesn't know how you used to take care of me. He'll never know that you could cook the best beef stew, or how you were so adept at comforting me after a nightmare. Only I know things like that. I finger the locket around my neck; a gift you gave me on my 10th birthday. It has a golden color, but it's obviously not gold, just plastic painted like that. But it has more value to me than anyone but you could know. I open it. We never had a camera, only the very rich had those, but you gave me the idea to put a small lock of my hair and a small lock of yours together, tied with a piece of string. I promised myself I wouldn't cry too much. I don't want our mother and father to see me. If you're gone, someone's got to be strong for them. But now that I'm all alone in your room, no one can see me. I don't think anyone will mind. So I cry. It's just a few tears at first, but it gradually gets worse until my whole body is shaking. I can't stop, but I don't want to. I just can't stop thinking of all the things that you'll never get to do. But I force myself to stop. I know you wouldn't want to see me like this. And you wouldn't cry like this either. If you aren't here, someone has to carry on your strength.
Pitter Patter. That's the sound the rain is making on the window. I watch each raindrop slowly make its way down the windowpane. I've been staring out this window for so long, I've stopped counting. I think it's been a few weeks, but I'm not sure. I lean back and think about those other big kids who got to go on that stage and then were taken away. Were most of them back by now? When I think about, maybe some of them didn't come home. I was scared when you left and I cried. I didn't want to be alone for a long time. But I'm not going to be lonely for much longer. You're coming back soon, I know it. You wouldn't leave me all alone, like mommy did. Any second now, you'll come walking down that street, wet and tired, but smiling. Because you'll have won that contest you were in. I know you were at a Game, and knowing my sister, you won. You really like winning. I do too. You win a lot more than me, because you're big and I'm small. But I'm trying hard, and with your help, I'm winning lots more. And when you walk down that street you will see me watching at this window and you will wave and throw your arms open, like you're going to give me a hug. You don't hug me all that much, only when I really need it. But you've been gone for a long time; at least that's how it seems to me. So I know you're gonna have to hug me when you get back. I can't wait. You're arms feel all warm and safe.
I saw you on the screen a little while ago. You were wearing a really pretty dress. You always look pretty, but you looked especially pretty then. I was really proud that you were my big sister. All the other little kids looked all jealous because they didn't have a sister who got to be on television. I didn't get to see the Games you were taking about, but I wanted to. I wanted to see you win. But the adults said I wasn't old enough. Next year, that's when you'll be old enough, but wait till then. I was really mad. My sister was in those Games and it was just one year! But when you get back I'm sure you'll tell me all about it. I just have to wait until then. I hum a little song to myself. It's the one you sing all the time.
Don't you fret my dear,
It'll all be over soon
I'll be waiting here
I'm waiting for you, Jetta. It won't be long now. You'll come back, I know it. It won't be long.