Beaches are stereotypically the place where people come to reflect. I guess it's the quietness of it, the soft sound of the sea and the silkiness of the sand. I find myself here often, not for that reason though.
"Mummy! Look what I found!"
He toddles towards me, his curly strawberry blonde hair bouncing in the wind. In his hands is an oyster.
"Where did you find that?" I ask as he hands it to me.
"Oh, over there. It doesn't matter. I wanna open it!" The excitement buzzes through him.
I smile softly as I analyse the oyster. It's dead; the shell is open a fraction. It's easy to open. He gasps slightly.
"There's a pearl!" he grins.
"There is!" I take it out, discarding the shell and hand it to him. He stares at it, making typical young child amazement noises.
Watching him like this, it's hard to believe that he was once a clump of tiny cells growing inside me. My pregnancy was relatively smooth, except the odd days of morning sickness and the fear that I could lose the last thing left of him on the planet.
Sometimes, I think Katniss was lying, that he wasn't gone, that she didn't want me to have my fairytale ending. But her eyes, those grey eyes similar to my sisters, told me she wasn't. It was like she stabbed me, right in the heart. He meant the world to me, he was my world. Gone. Snatched from me.
I never thought the pain would heal, but I had support. Johanna stayed with me in District 4 when we returned after the war was over and still lives with me. She was my rock. I know I would've most certainly have given up as soon as I returned home if she wasn't here. At that point in time, I was pregnant, I had just lost my newly married husband, I was still mentally recovering from everything that had happened to me, and I didn't know if my family were dead. Doesn't that just scream suicide?
Only one casualty in the Cresta family tree: my father. He fought with the fellow rebels in District 4. My mother and Flint hid in the cellar of my house in the Victor's village. My brother is now 13, the age that Sayla was when I thought I would never see her again. He's a proud, strong man. Even at such a young age, he is helping mother rebuild the business and rebuild her mental health.
Sayla. She's alive but broken. I guess a fragile mind runs in the blood. They took her to District 2, the home of the Peacekeepers, away from District 4 and the Capitol, where I was held hostage. They never tortured her, only kept her in prison. She's only returned home once and for a short period of time. She witnessed the birth of my son and helped me name him. Sayla often writes to me, wanting an update with my life. It's quite boring: the life of a widowed mother and her best friend. Now aged twenty-four, she has her own life in District 2. She's fallen in love as well, engaged to a soldier from the rebellion, someone who I knew from District 13. His name is Gale.
"What can we do with this pearl?"
"What do you want to do with it? We can take it to your granddad and see what he can do."
"Can we turn it into a ring, like your one?"
His fragile hands stroke the ring on my hand. The pink pearl that was once my grandmother's is set in white gold, replacing the diamond which my love bought me on my eighteenth birthday. Now I have the best of both worlds: my past intertwined with the man who gave me my future.
"I'm sure we can get that done. Who do you want to give it to?"
"You, mummy. I want to marry you," he grins bright. I laugh softly.
"You'd make a lovely husband one day, but not for me," I say, brushing his hair back softly. He laughs slightly and sighs heavily, the overdramatic way most children do.
"It's fine. I get it," he says, rolling his eyes. "You're still married to daddy."
I struggle to force a smile. He knows his daddy is in the sky, watching over us both. In a way, I'm glad he never met his father. The hurt of losing him after knowing him is too much to handle for such a small boy. I should know: I've been surrounded by death since my grandmother's passing when I was his age.
"Should we go and see granddad and see what he thinks?" I ask.
"Sure!" He bounces on the sand, grinning at the thought of seeing his granddaddy.
I stand up, brushing the sand from my dress and taking his tiny hand in mine. He clutches onto the pearl in the other.
I turned up on Mr Odair's doorstep one day, eight months pregnant, ready to drop at any moment. He had a right to know that I was carrying his unborn grandchild, the only family he had left. I've never seen a grown man break down in the way he did. Alone in the world, but there was now a glimmer of hope. Hope always was such a powerful thing; so much so, he's ditched the booze and gives any excuse to see us. It turns out he's an extremely skilled workman and can make anything out of nothing. He made all of the furniture for the nursery, jewellery for me, plates and dishes and a small boat for us to go out onto the sea with.
"Mummy?" he asks on our journey off the beach.
"I love you."
A single tear rolls down my cheek. Just like how his father first said to me.
"I love you too, Jasper."
With hair like his fathers, a delicate striking face like mine, but eyes like a boy I once knew. The name was perfect: Jasper Finn Odair.