Disclaimer: These amazing characters belong to Suzanne Collins. Everything else is unfortunately fictional and is merely a figment of my own imagination.
The morning has always been my favorite time of day.
There's something about the way the waves wash onto the shore when you're the only person on the beach. I can't really explain it, but I'm sure once you've done it you'll feel the same way.
It's a quarter to seven and I am already by myself anchored out in the ocean. Most kids my age can barely steer a boat under their Father's direction, but not me. I am forced to be independent.
My name is Finnick Odair. I live in District Four. Today is my twelfth birthday.
Twelve is usually the only birthday anyone pays attention to in Panem. It's the year you're eligible for the Reaping. It's the year you become a man. But me, I've been a man for much longer than that. My Father died in a boating accident when I was just seven years old. Luckily he taught me how to fish with a trident before that, or my family would have starved.
I jump over the side of my boat and open my eyes underwater. The salt still stings, but it's a small price to pay for the way everything looks underwater. If only I could stay out here forever, I think.
I pull the anchor up and make my way back to the docks where my mother and little sister are waiting to meet me. I smile and wave, which makes the boat swerve. They laugh at me as I tie the boat to its post. Mara runs forward and latches onto my leg.
"Happy Birthday, Finn!" she shrieks.
"Thanks Mar," I reply as I hitch her up on my hip "Well don't you look pretty today?" She giggles when I touch my lips to the tip of her nose.
Mara is just five years old, but she truly is beautiful. Her hair is dark brown and it flows in loose curls just below her shoulder blades. Her eyes aren't green like mine or my Mother's, but instead they are blue much like the oceans water itself. My Mom always says she is a spitting image of my Father, whatever that means.
"Happy Birthday Finnick," my Mother breathes as she catches up.
I pull her into my arms and just catch her whisper "Your Father would be so proud."
The three of us walk hand in hand back to our home which is too far from the beach. "Your sister's up, she's been cooking all morning," my Mother smiles, "Why don't you go give her a hand?"
I tread into the house half expecting to find the girl who hasn't left her room since her Fiance was reaped and killed in this years Hunger Games. He had one week until his nineteenth birthday. Seven more days and he would have been ineligible for the Reaping. His name was Jarrett. I really liked him.
The girl that has occupied our home since his death isn't really my sister, though. She looks just like her, golden blonde hair and light green eyes much like my own, but she doesn't act like the sister I've grown up with. Not one bit.
I turn the corner into the kitchen and find my younger brother Kellan pressing his pointer finger to his lips and motioning for me to be quiet. I furrow my brow at him until I realize it's not just the fact that Elissa's singing, but instead what she's singing. It must be a tune that my Father taught us when we were younger, because I remember every word.
"Come away with me my love,
Let's float out to sea.
We can make it if we're together, love,
Forever in love we'll be.
Storms may come, the wind may blow,
The days may drag like war,
But I promise you, I shall find my way back,
As the ocean does the shore . . ."
This was the first time I've actually listened to the words of the song and frankly I don't understand them at all. How could someone love another that much through things like storms and war and still have time for themselves? I try imagine it as I sit down at the table, but my chair bumps the table on its way out. Kellan hits me in the side and Elissa turns around with a smile.
"Well hello!" she exclaims,
"Good morning Lissa," I grin.
"Happy Birthday, Finnick." she smiles back and pulls me in for a hug. It's nice to see her acting more like herself. I guess hard to understand unless you've been through it yourself, but it's difficult to watch someone you love go mad. Take my word for it.
"Thank you," I breathe as she settles down at the table beside Kellan.
"It's your birthday?" he sneers, probably just mad that Elissa stopped singing.
"Yes, brainless. Get with the program," Elissa hits Kellan over the head with her free hand as she scoops oatmeal into each of our bowls.
"Thank you," I smile again. "You shouldn't have done all this for me."
"Only the best for my mature little brother." she laughs at herself and turns on her heel in the direction of her room. Nobody sees her for the rest of the day.
"So, what are you doing today Finn?" Kellan asks.
"Well, I was going to go down to the docks and talk to some mature ladies," I lie as I swing my backpack over my shoulder.
"So no, you cannot come." I ruffle his sandy golden locks in my hand before heading out the door.
The docks are quiet at this time of day. Most of the fisherman have left even earlier than I find myself here in the mornings. I hope I never have to be a fisherman. I don't think I could wake up early enough.
I walk down the shore until I find myself in the very heart of District four where the beach connects the poorer part of town with mine. I sit myself under a palm tree and let my bag land next to me in the sand. I guess you could say this is my secret hideout, the best part being that it's so far away from both sides of town . . . Nobody would ever find it unless they had been looking.
I grab my notebook and begin to write the melody I'm afraid I'll soon forget,
"Come away with me my love,
Let's float out to sea,
We can make it if we-"
I look up from my paper when something catches my eye.
There's a girl running full speed away from the side of town I've never been to, her hands clasped firmly over her ears.
I try to stand up quickly but as I reach down to grab my backpack, the girl hits me full speed in the chest. I fall straight to the ground and she lands with me. I feel her hot tears soaking the front of my shirt.
She tries to push herself off of me but instead collapses back into the sand. Instinctively I grab her into my arms and whisper the same things I hear my Mother coo to Elissa when she wakes up screaming from nightmares. I twist her brown curls around in my fingers until she finally settles down and turns around to face me so I can finally get a good look at her. Her bloodshot eyes are set far apart from her nose, her face is wide and stained with tears, her cheeks suggest she isn't much older than ten.
"I-I'm sorry I was just," she stammers
She hesitantly nods her head.
"Annie." I say with a smile "Well, that's a pretty name"
"T-Thank you," she chokes out.
We sit together until I realize I'm the one who should be doing all the talking.
"Annie, have you ever been over there?"
I point in the direction of my house and she modestly shakes her head no, wiping away the last of her tears.
"Well, would you like to go then?"
She glances back in the direction she came before smiling at me and replying, "Sure."
I walk down the beach with Annie for what seems like forever. Every once in a while she bends down to pick up a shell and holds it up for me to see before giggling and putting it in the back pocket of her shorts.
"I've always meant to make a bracelet out of shells like this from the beach," she says
"And I can never seem to find ones that are the right size . ." she bends down to pick up another, "But these.." She smiles "These are perfect."
We walk past the docks, past my house, past the market and the bakery until we find ourselves standing in front of the District's fence.
"I didn't notice we'd gone so far," her face turns red as she self-consciously crosses her arms,
"Well, it's no problem." I settle myself down in the sand and motion for her to join me, but instead she stands her ground.
"I'm sorry Finnick I have to be home," she sighs as she seemingly notes the sunset peaking over the water in the distance, "Thank you for today, though. Nobody's ever been so nice to me."
"Don't worry about it, Annie" I grin, "It was nice meeting you."
"And you!" she cheers while bending down and pressing a quick kiss on my cheek. She springs up and turns back in the direction we came.
"Crazy girl," I mutter as I close my eyes and let the sea water wash up to my ankles. I fall back into the sand and dread the moment I have to return to reality.
Authors Note: HI okay so this chapter sucks alright I'm sorry judge me but tomorrow night I'm going to have a kickass chapter because Finnick is going to get reaped and ugH MY ODESTA FEELS ARE SO PREVALENT.
It took me a while to write this because I couldn't really decide how I wanted them to meet. I decided this way was best because it's cute enough to be significant but not enough for them to be best friends after it. I have like 20322099 ideas for this so I hope everything comes out right! TWO CLAPS FOR ODESTA ~xo.