Today is Victor's Birthday…
A girl, maybe 16, walks up the grand staircase, her long blond hair swishing with each step. No one would notice, but the staircase that was once the centerpiece of the gorgeous home is chipped in several places. The elegant, curving wooden banister is covered in dust. The girl moves her hand off it in disgust, wondering why they don't take better care of the place. She looks like the type of girl to whom such small things would matter. Her hair is immaculate, falling in a single sheet and her teeth are perfectly straight and white. Even though she is in Training clothes, not a wrinkle or stain is in sight. She hates this place. It's dark and gloomy. The blinds are always drawn shut and the lights are never on. All the doors are always closed. Like the staircase, every room is covered in dust. She wonders the upstairs hall aimlessly, wondering vaguely what it once held. She knew it was once filled with laughter. Two little girls once ran down this hallway, wearing frilly dresses and chasing each other. Maybe that door right there was pulled open and a parent stood with their arms crossed in annoyance. Though the girl doesn't know it, she smiles a little bit. It just seems so nice. So warm and happy. Something this place hasn't been in too long of a time.
One of those little girls went on to obtain fame and fortune. She became a killer, one of the worst the Games had ever seen. Once, in a fit of blind rage she attacked her little sister with a kitchen knife, thinking she was being ambushed by a tribute. No, no one would ever be able to picture her as the girl who once giggled and wore satin ribbons in her hair. The other little girl was never the same after her sister was taken to an institute. The man, both girls' father turned to alcohol. Their mother spends all day in her room with the shades drawn. Hearing the hushed voices downstairs, the girl becomes annoyed. Everything is hushed in this place. She wants to retreat even further up, away from the whispers. Away from the shame she feels. Those girls were her cousins. The girl's name is Glimmer.
Glimmer finds a wooden staircase at the end of the hallway. It must lead to the attic. Good. The further up, the better. She scales the steps so quickly she ends up breathless. Even though she wouldn't admit it, she is excited to see what the attic holds. Once at the top, she runs her fingers along all the chests and boxes. Each one has a thick layer of dust over it. Light from the skylight on the roof plays in the corners, bouncing off cobwebs. The wooden floorboards creak. Glimmer knows that the place is obviously falling apart, but some part of her can't help but find it intriguing. She kneels down next to a cardboard box and lifts the lid. She holds in a gasp. There, folded so neatly, is a shimmering dress, maybe for a 12 or 13 year old. Who wore that dress? Could it have been Amandine, or maybe Amethyst? Could it even have been Crystal? She folds the dress back, but stops herself. Because there, underneath the dress, is a pile of pictures. Glimmer's curiosity overwhelms her, and she gingerly takes one from the top.
In it, two young children are smiling up at the camera. A little girl in a pink dress with hair tied in two curly pigtails holds the hand of another small child. The boy is too old to be a baby, but likely too young to do much other than toddle around, maybe he's 2 or 3. They both look like they're giggling madly. Glimmer turns it around, surprised to find writing. Ruby, age 7 with Victor, age 2. Ruby. Glimmer knows that she has some sort of relative named Ruby. Not a cousin exactly, but they're related somehow. Anyway, Ruby is much older than Glimmer, in her mid-twenties at least and as they weren't exactly family, they didn't see each other much. Still, she can remember Ruby coming over, but spending most of the time talking to her parents. But Glimmer has no idea who Victor is. Oh, she knows! She had to have heard that name somewhere. When she was smaller, she heard her parents whispering that. Were they talking about her future in the Games? Or could they have been talking about an actual person, someone who once giggled with a girl named Ruby? For some reason, Glimmer keeps flipping through the photos. She is frustrated because she knows the name. She just can't place how. But the pictures are no help. There is just one after another of the same girl with platinum blond curly hair, who must be Amethyst. Glimmer knows she was spoiled. When Amethyst was very young, there are some pictures of her with a brown haired, brown eyed skinny, mousy looking little girl. That's Amandine. In one picture at the bottom though, Amandine seems to have changed. In her younger pictures, she looks unhappy. But in this one, she is laughing. And she is with a boy who looks like a teenager. He is handsome, with a muscular build and brilliant blue eyes. The boy has a smile on his lips, but it's faint. One arm is around Amandine. On the back it reads Amandine, 10 and Victor, 15.
There is that name again. From the picture, he and Amandine must have been very close. But how did they know each other? And then Glimmer sees it. It's pressed in some sort of plastic sheet, like someone wanted to clean it. But that just makes it look cold and strange. It's a piece of paper. A letter.
Glimmer reads the whole thing. It's a love letter. This Victor said something he shouldn't have and someone wanted him to apologize. But this girl told him that she loved him no matter what. Glimmer can't help but think that it's sweet. It's singed by "Pearl." Who is she? And why has her strange Aunt kept this? Who put this note in the plastic? Glimmer stares at her hands. She doesn't know their story. Maybe no one really does. She tells herself to ask, but as the months go by, she forgets. And yes, two years later, their story will die with her. Today is Victor's Birthday.
He has already been