Hi! I hope you will enjoy reading my first HG fiction, so far I'm quite proud of it :) I will try my best to upload new chapters as regularly as possible :D
As I stare out over what used to be a vast meadow covered in hundreds of different types of flowers, but that now is only a mere burnt field I feel my boyfriend folding his arms around me. I guess he knows I'm feeling rather bad about seeing this. It's nice though to feel his warm body holding me, making me feel safe. He's the only thing that I have won these last years. Most other things in my life seem to have been lost instead. It's all thanks to the Capitol.
Five years ago, when I was a sheer twelve-year-old, my so far simple and happy life as a merchandise daughter ended as the beginning of the rebellion came. I had heard for years my father shouting out that the rebellion would come, but I never really believed it would. So when it finally happened I was in utter shock for several weeks before it sank in. By then we had left our home with the rest of our village in 1 to hide in the forests surrounding our district in case that they would start to bomb the district or something.
When I realized what was happening around me I cried for days. My father and my older brother had left me to join the army. My much younger sister Carly, only five years old at the time, my mother and I were left behind. I didn't know what we were going to do. I didn't know how we were going to survive or anything, and after only a few weeks from home the food we had brought was almost all gone.
When people told me that the forest contained so much for us to eat I took my sister with me to gather plants each day with some of the other residences of our small camp. We ate everything and anything we could find that wasn't poisonous. Sometimes I followed some of the boys in our camp hunting for meat. I hated watching the innocent animals die but I knew we needed the meat. I used to set up traps because I didn't know how to use a bow or any other weapon.
One day they let me try one of their bows. It was quite large, I remember having huge problems trying to hold it and pulling back the string at the same time. The first time I tried it the arrow landed by my feet and the boys started to laugh. They weren't being mean though, they told me later that they had all looked stupid at their first attempt. And clearly the bow was too big for me.
I followed them the next day hunting too, in order to check my traps for game. I had good hunting luck that day. I got three squirrels and a thick beaver. They would give a lot of food to our group. Then the boys surprised me with a gift. It was a bow. They showed me how to use it, but when I tried it I couldn't get the arrow to go further than a mere five feet. I didn't thought this was something I was ever going to be good at. But none of the boys gave up on me and once I had started to train regularly with it I got a good deal better with it.
I started to follow the boys more often. I still used my traps, they almost always caught something, and there weren't all days we came across game. The boys thought me to walk more carefully, not stepping on any twigs. Soon enough I was just as good as them at hunting. But no matter how good I became there were still days that just didn't worked out. There were still days when we had to go to sleep hungry. This feeling of hunger was new for me; I had never experienced it before. I was used to always being fed properly. This entire life was new and strange to me. I began to wonder why we had to fight this war. So far it had only led to bad things. It had only led to starvation and families being torn apart. Well, at least from my point of view.
It was during these days that I met Mrs Shant. She was the apothecary's wife, and a very nice lady at that. She must have been in her fifties back then, but to me she looked so young and beautiful she could have been thirty. She had flowing curly blonde locks that framed her face and a smile that always were there encouraging all of us children. She had three kids of her own, but they all followed her husband when he went to take care of all the injured people from the battles. She couldn't though. Her health wouldn't let her make that long a journey. Instead she took care of everybody in our camp. Especially us children.
Mrs Shant was the one who made me see the rebellion as a good thing. As a possibility to make our lives better, to actually become free. Free from not only the bars that surrounded our districts or from the Capitol, but being free from the boundaries, being able to do everything and anything we wanted. I loved that idea. I dreamed about travelling, seeing places far off. Seeing what else there was in the world besides the vast forests, the diamond mines, and the confinement.
For five months Mrs Shant made us kids dream. To see the silver lining. But then she became much worse and couldn't walk out any more. So she slept for long periods at a time. Only waking up when one of us kids came and visited her. When she finally died all of us mourned her for weeks, not accepting her death. Our huge joy had suddenly vanished, leaving us yet again to take care of everything alone. It was then I figured out that I wished to help with the rebellion. So I followed the next group that left to join them. At only thirteen I was all alone, heading towards a war, no idea what I was actually doing. I was travelling with a few older men that had been left behind due to broken bones and illnesses, but also some other kids that too were around my age, not able to stay behind anymore, believing they could be of help somewhere else.
I didn't bring much with me as I left. Just my bow and a small photograph of my family. I didn't need anything else. But the further we traveled from our camp, the more I started to miss everyone I knew. Mother. Carly, sweet little innocent Carly. My friends. I wondered what they were all doing. I still don't know how many nights I cried myself to sleep during our journey because I missed them all. And every night I wondered if they missed me too.
When we after weeks of walking finally reached the army, we also found the armies from district three and eight nearby. I and the other kids were directed to a minor clearing in the woods nearby, where a small hospital tent had been set up. The hospital was probably set up there so that it would be a hard target for the Capitol, considering that we really needed the doctors.
And I guess it was due to our young age that we weren't allowed to actually go into battle, but this suited me just fine. I probably wouldn't have been able to kill anybody anyway, even though I was good enough with my bow and arrow. I gravely disliked killing animals, and the thought of killing other people was sheer torture. It still is.
When we came into the small tent, a tall black-haired woman showed us around. She told us what we could help with. It was mostly stuff like feeding the ones that couldn't eat by themselves or cleaning up wherever we could. Helping the nurses. So we did.
That first day was horrible. There was so much blood to clean up that I started to feel sick. I could see on the other ones faces that they too felt awful over it. And I really wish I could say that the blood was the worst thing I had to clean up that day, but of course it wasn't. Considering that this was a fairly small tent for being a hospital, there lay injured people everywhere with different diseases. I saw people coming in with their flesh falling off bit by bit from extreme burns, waiting for me or another kid to clean it up. I saw bones sticking out of peoples bodies, I saw people with so bad cuts that you could almost see through them. I don't know how many peoples vomit I was forced to clean up after.
I wish I could say that the sight of all this was the worst we were exposed to, but I fear that it was the smell of the place that haunted me the worst. The entire place reeked of burned flesh and vomit. It was a huge reveal being allowed to leave when the night came.
I was shown a tent where I would live with some of the other girls from the hospital. The tent wasn't that big to begin with, and we were a dozen girls sleeping in there at the same time. It was fair to say that it was a shortage of room, but we all managed to find space to sleep in. I was allowed to keep my things on my bed, there wasn't any place else to put them. Being in the war proved to be a lot more different than I had thought it would be. The last thing I did before falling to sleep was watching my picture of my family while wondering if I had done the right choice by leaving.
As the years passed on I saw too many children working in the hospital, waiting to become old enough to join the army at fourteen. I however stayed along with a few others, the place and the work grew on me, and I liked it. After some time we were allowed to do more and more things. When I was fifteen I could do everything the nurses could. I felt great joy each time I saw someone leave our tents healed from their injuries, whether this was a simple flu or even a nasty shot from a bullet. I realized this was where I belonged, with the sick, the weak, and I would never have fitted being a soldier, doing the exact opposite. Killing.
I stopped seeing how much like a battlefield this hospital actually looked like after a while. I had been here for so long it became something natural. I was used to seeing fresh blood around me at all time, to always have an odor of sweat and burned flesh reeking in my nose. It all became part of my life.
The only horrible thing about working in the hospital was really the fact that you had to see way too many soldiers die from their wounds and diseases. More than half of the people that came in through our doors never left again. All due to shortage of proper medicine. It all made us resent the Capitol even more.
A few times I met someone I knew in the hospital tent. A friend from back home, an old neighbor, one of my father's old colleagues. I always sat down next to them and talked to them about what had happened since the last time I'd seen them. Sometimes one of them carried news of my family, and it was always such a relief knowing that they were still alive. But they could also give me bad news. I got to hear about people I had known who had fallen victim to the war, who had died in the battlefield. Who hadn't been lucky enough to make it. Whether or not the content of our talks were good or bad I always found myself a bit more cheerful afterwards.
I still went out hunting sometimes, but I worked so much that it doesn't happened that often. The few times I got out into the forest I usually didn't hunt at all. I just hung my bow over my shoulder and walked around, feeling the peace surrounding me. It happened that I stumbled across animals on my walks, but it wasn't often I tried to kill them. It really only happened a few times, on special occasions. Like the time I came face to face with a huge deer. Since the war had begun I had only eaten deer once, and I knew it was the same with most people that I knew. When I saw the deer's body fall down on the ground I felt a small bit of contentment, but also some sorrow. It had been a long time since I killed an animal and it still hurt.
I traded myself a small tent with that deer. It was big enough for two people to sleep in, but it was so low I couldn't sit up straight without touching the top. But I loved it. For years I had slept in that crowded tent with a dozen others, and it was such a relief to live alone. To have space so I wouldn't have to sleep on my bow that had caused me back pain numerous times.
One day when I came to work I was set to assist Mr. Shant as he was taking out grenade shatter from a young soldier's body. It was a long surgery. We were out of antistatic, but luckily the boy was unconscious during the procedure. There were so much shatters all over his upper body that it became hard to get it all out. I helped the best I could. I cleaned up the wounds where the shatters had been. I helped with holding some of Mr. Shants instruments when he couldn't himself. I helped in any way that I could to make sure that the surgery would go well.
Once Mr. Shant finally felt content with his work I still however had a lot of work left to do. About half of the golden haired boy's wounds were still gaping, and they all had to be cleaned and bandaged. I called over one of the younger children to assist me with this. It turned out to be Ruby, a young girl from seven that came to help me. I liked her; she was sort of like me. She was about twelve at the time, and the red hair that she was named after was tied up in a ponytail, wiggling each time she moved ever so slightly. She dipped the napkins I used to clean the wounds with water before giving them to me.
Sometimes I looked up at the boy's face. I remember how serene he looked in his sleep. Not all soldiers do, most of them have been in the war for so long their worried expressions never change. I found he was sort of cute and I couldn't really stop looking at him. I often peeked up at his face, getting a small glimpse of his face before looking down on my work again.
When the last bandage was placed I looked up at him one last time before leaving. He had a small lock of hair that lay across his face so I reached over and stroke it away. As my fingers reached his temple and fastened the hair behind his ear I felt something. The boy moved underneath my touch. Not a big move though, only a plain shiver, but it gave me hopes that he might get better. That he might stay alive.
Throughout the entire day I checked up on him every time I was nearby. He didn't wake up though, and when I went back home to my tent I wondered how long it would take before he'd wake up. If he'd wake up. The next morning however he was still unconscious. I sat down next to him and carefully took his hand in mine. Then I just sat there. For an hour I just looked at him, wondering if he wouldn't wake up soon. I don't know why I felt so obsessed with this particular boy. Usually my patients never stayed in my mind for this long. I guess I just knew that he would matter in my life.
When I placed his hand back on his bed I felt a small squeeze from him around my fingers. I looked up at him and saw his eyes opening. He was awake. Tired, weak, but awake. He looked to be in pain so I sat down next to him again and looked over his wounds. They all seemed to be fine so I grasped a bottle of water and let him drink from it. He seemed a bit perched. Understandable – he had been unconscious for at least twenty-four hours. I told him where he was, and what had happened to him. He looked pretty confused about all of this. I guess he hadn't had time to understand what had happened to him before he passed out. I stayed with him for hours, talking soothingly to him in the beginning, making sure that he didn't exhaust himself and his injured body. I let him drink some more, but I thought it was too soon to let him eat some food. He fell asleep for a while, but I felt better knowing it was a normal sleep from being exhausted. When he woke up I asked him to tell me about himself.
With a dark, but very sweet voice he told me that his name was Chord and that he was sixteen years old. He told me about his life in District 5 before the war began. Apparently his parents died when he was just a baby so he grew up in the nursery home. I know that the nursery home in 1 is quite… awful to grow up in. There is hardly any food for the children to eat, so most kids doesn't make it to adulthood. And the ones that do… Well, they are not usually so happy about their place in life. People who grew up in nursery homes in 1 tend to become rather cynical, but according to Chord it is much worse in 5. He only became so nice since he had a friend outside of the home that looked after him.
Apparently Chords parents' closest friend - Claude - used to check in on him a few times a week. He made sure that Chord had enough to eat and had everything else necessary to at least live a bearable life. But even though Chord got to have a somewhat good time at the nursery he was forced to see all too many children starve. That was why he joined the army when the rebellion came. He wanted to make sure that no children would starve again.
I looked into his brown eyes as he told me about this, and I could see every emotion he felt show through them. I could tell when he was sad about the children. I could tell when he was angry, probably at the Capitol.
I wanted to ask him more about himself but Mr. Shant called on me before I got to it. I excused myself to Chord and hurried over to Mr. Shant. He wanted to know how Chord was doing, so I told him that he was rather okay considering his injury.
When I finally was allowed to go back to Chord he had fallen asleep again. I wasn't all that surprised, he seemed very exhausted. But I felt a bit disappointed. I wanted to talk more with him. He seemed to be a really nice guy.
For the following weeks I spent as much time that I could spare next to Chords bed. We could sit there, talking, for hours. Sometimes we were just silent, not even looking at each other. I believed he felt it to be a great comfort knowing that he had a friend in this place. And I, well, I liked knowing that too.
As we sat there talking his wounds slowly healed. The once gaping flesh wounds grew together, leaving scars all over his chest. We had tried letting him get out of bed a few times, walking around, building up his muscles again. It didn't go that well though; he soon was all out of energy and had to be led back to bed again. Even though he no longer was injured there was no way for him to be let back into the army in his condition, so when they needed his bed in the hospital I took him with me to my tent so he could sleep there. Of course it felt weird to have a boy sleeping next to me, but he was only my friend I told myself over and over trying to fall asleep.
But however strange it was falling asleep, even stranger it was waking up. During our sleep we had crawled together so that I slept with my head on his chest. My hand resting on his muscular stomach. When I opened my eyes I froze for a long time not thinking of anything before leaving without having said a word to him. I didn't even know if he had been awake too. I didn't know if he knew what had happened during the night. That entire day I worked as in a haze, I just thought about Chord and didn't focus on anything else. What had happened? Why did I react the way I did? What would happen next? Could I look him in the eyes when I got back to the tent? Would things be the same? Would things change, and if yes in what way? Would he know what had happened at all? Questions that remained unanswered the entire day. Questions that only made me ever so more confused.
When I came back to my tent I took a deep breath before stepping in, certain not to let the mornings events change anything between us. He surely didn't know anything about the mornings surprise at all. It was just my silly mind that was worked up for no reason I thought. But as soon as I got in I felt his arms around my waist pulling me down towards him and before I knew it his lips touched mine. And before I knew it, I kissed him back.
I look up at the sunset that is coloring the sky orange. It's very beautiful. It even manages to make the burned meadow look somewhat fine again. I snuggle in even further in Chord's embrace and just savor this moment. Knowing that despite all that has happened these years he is by my side and will always cheer me up again.
I feel him leaning down his head and soon he kisses my neck. His touch sends shivers throughout my body; every kiss he gives me makes my body tingle with enjoyment.
"What are you thinking about?" he mumbles in-between gentle kisses. I turn my head ever so slightly towards him before answering. "You. About when we first met." He kisses me under my ear which makes it hard to continue speaking. "About that night… in the tent." I turn my head even further and he greets me with a kiss on my cheek. On my nose. Forhead. Other cheek. Lips…
I lift my hand and put it gently on the back of his head, pulling him a bit closer, making his lips press even harder to mine. I whimper a bit, out of enjoyment, and he smiles at my sound but doesn't pull back even the slightest. I start to tug his hair a bit, showing just how much I love this.
I bend his lips apart, greeting his tongue with mine. We let them play for a bit. We know each other well, but it still hasn't become a ritual behind our movements. It is still new actions every time. There are always new things to explore, new things to discover about each other. Well, not only about the other but also about ourselves.
All too soon it ends though and we lie down on the ground next to each other. I lay my head on his arm, as close to his body as I can possibly get. There I snuggle down, allowing my hand to rest on his chest. I can't believe it has already been almost two years since that first kiss. So much has happened since then.
I remember how I spent every moment awake with him since he kissed me that night in our tent. How I helped him build up his muscles. How I helped him train with his weapons again. Learning his limbs to move the way they once used to. Always dreading the day when he would rejoin the army, leaving me again. Fearing for when that moment would come.
I feel Chords warm body under my touch when I think about how he never made it back in the army before the rebellion came to an end the year after his accident, with him still recovering from it. Our leaders had forfeited and signed an agreement with the Capitol. I don't really know what this document said exactly, but I know that it meant that we could go back home again. Since Chord didn't really have a home waiting for him I asked him to follow me to District 1 during one of our last nights in our camp. He only looked over at me, kissed my forehead and simply said:
"Of course". I had fallen asleep easy that night, believing everything would turn out right. I didn't expect what lay waiting for me at my return home. I can still see the picture of our burned down house in my mind. I remember falling on my knees in its remnants, tears streaming down my cheeks and down on the remaining ashes. Chord had taken me in his arms, allowing me to grieve with the safety of his arms surrounding me. He helped me to my feet when the tears stopped coming, and then led me away from my former home.
My family still hadn't come but somehow I didn't feel worried at all about them. I knew they were on their way home, on their way to me. I was more worried about what they would think about our home, and about Chord. I hadn't seen my mother for four years, and I hadn't seen my father since the rebellions beginning. Who knew what they would think about my current life, about my choices. They might love them, they might recent them. I really hoped they would like Chord though, I would hold on to him for the rest of my life.
I can feel how a tear falls down my cheek when I remember that hateful day when everything bad in life seemed to happen to me. The day had actually begun so great, waking up next to Chord in our tent, sharing some sweet kisses before getting up. We had begun building a new home for us and my family when they would come, so we went to continue constructing it. We didn't build it were our old house used to be; I couldn't stand the thought about living there. The memories from the rebellion already haunted me and I couldn't imagine what would happen if I would live in a new house on the exact location of my old one. I would always be remembered about those happy days before the war, I wouldn't be able to let go of it.
We had just taken lunch from our building activities when we saw a massive group of people coming towards our district. It had been like this every day since we arrived last week. More people coming back home from their hideouts or camps during the war, ready to come back to their old life, their old district. Every day I had been looking out for my family, but they still hadn't come. This time though I saw a young girl that kind of resembled my sister, only older, walking with the group.
I ran towards the group with some other people also expecting their loved ones to come back. I didn't know if Chord followed me, but I supposed he stayed behind, allowing me to meet them myself if they happened to be there. As I came closer to the group I saw the girl clearer and I knew I was right. It was my little sister Carly walking there with rosy cheeks and long blonde hair flowing in the wind. She was so beautiful; she had grown up so fast. I still remember her as a little five-year-old, afraid of the dark and always so shy. Now she was ten years old, time had gone so quickly. I still felt guilty about leaving her alone with my mother, not being able to protect her as I used to. I looked around the group of people searching for my mother's face, but it was nowhere to be found.
"CARLY!" I cried as I began to run faster, watching as she looked in my direction. I couldn't see the expression on her face, but she stopped for a second and lifted her hand to cover her eyes from the sun as she looked once more towards me. Considering the sun was behind me it was probably quite hard for her to see me clearly.
"Carly!" I yelled once more and then I saw her beginning to run in my direction as she screamed:
"Cleo!" Oh, how wonderful it felt to hear her voice saying my name again! It meant she hadn't forgotten me, that she still knew who I was.
When she reached me I hugged her tightly to me, stroking her hair several time and kissing the top of her head. Her hand clung to my back and I heard how she started to cry, I assume from joy, and I also began to cry a bit.
I cleared my throat after a few moments, having looked around our surroundings searching for our mother to no avail, trying to ask about her but I could only utter a two simple words:
"Where's… mother?" A short moment passed before she lifted her head from my shoulder so I could look at her face. I realized she hadn't been crying from joy, rather from pain. Her eyes showed nothing but pain, nothing but deep sorrow. It caused my heart to clench, to wrap around in knots. She was gone. Mother was dead. The words spun around my mind, circling through every corner of my brain. She was dead.
Before I had cried out of happiness for finding Carly, now I began to cry out of loss. I hugged my sister tight to me as we both cried our hearts out. Together we showed our utter loss. But just as the feeling of losing my mother finally began to sink in Carly uttered the absolute worst words I could hear at that moment:
"Cleo… Dad and brother… They're gone too…" No!
That is how I ended up here, next to Chord about six months after our return to the district, laying in the remnants of my former life. I can't tell how much I owe this boy. He was the one who picked me up and made me shine again. He was the one who made me live again after they died. He was the one who made me see all the beauty that was left in the world, despite how awful it seemed back then.
Thanks to him I realized that even though the nature would burn down, it would rise again, giving more life than it did before. And so would I. When the memory of my family finally faded I would be happier than before.
He made me see that even if I were unhappy, there were so many others that had it even worse than I. He made me see all the ones that had lost their wife or husband, all those who had lost their children to the war, and all the children who had lost their parents. He made me realize that I at least still had something to hold on to – they didn't. He made me want to help in any way that I could, so together we 'adopted' some of the children that were left with no home. We never signed anything or so – we just let them into our home, wanting nothing but take care of them.
I turn over again so I face Chord once more, and I kiss his cheek before standing up and reaching out my hand to him. I help him up and we walk together to our home, were Carly and our 'children' are waiting for us.
So... If you liked it please tell me, and if you didn't tell me what was wrong with it :)