a/n [Written for Caesar's Palace's prompt 'Slim'.]
I've seen people take so many things for granted.
Life, for one, is something you can't truly appreciate until you almost lose yours. Or, perhaps, you were put in a fight to the death, and twenty-three others fell to the ground while you stood and witnessed. Where someone's own life was placed into your hands and then it was gone with a simple flick of the wrist.
Time, for another, can be just as deadly. One second too late, and they can no longer be saved. One second too early, and watch the ground erupt beneath you. One minute wasted is another you can never get back. It's gone forever, and you'll die wishing you never waited, wishing you never stopped.
Now it's gone.
I search. I search so hard I have to be stopped.
Hope. I think that is what I'm searching for. It's here, right?
It has to be here somewhere. I know it.
I squeeze my toes. The grainy sand is wet beneath my bare feet. The cold water rushes over them in a quick surge, and then darts back to the ocean. I look out to the horizon. The sun is just rising, streaking the sky with oranges and pinks and reds. I reach out, hoping to touch the artwork of color. But I can't quite reach. And it's silly that I thought I could.
So I watch the waves, rising and falling. Twisting and tumbling. Do waves take things for granted? No, of course they don't, they don't have brains. I numbly touch my head. Yes, that's it, isn't it? Without my brain, I could be a wave. No, that isn't how it works, Annie. Stop imagining things.
Or, maybe, a flower.
You'll never be a flower.
Shut up. What do you know?
The nagging voice goes silent.
My legs fold under me, and I sit. The water rushes around me. When the tide comes in, I'll be submerged. Maybe I could stay under the water and join the fish. I used to wish I could when I was small. I'd wish that if I swam long enough then I'd grow gills. I could live under the sea and escape. Escaping sounds nice right now.
The water level is higher now. I was never very good at paying attention to things. My clothes are wet. I'm cold. This wasn't a good idea. But maybe this is a test, if I stay in then I'll start to transform to a mermaid. The Capitol couldn't keep me trapped if I was a mermaid. I'd be long gone by then. I hear my name being called in the distance. That's Finnick's voice, isn't it? It is. I get up.
He looks at me, concerned.
"It's only water," I tell him.
Don't ask why I was in the water.
Do you even know yourself?
I'm sitting in front of a fire. The flames trail oranges and pinks and reds, just like the sun. It makes sense, because both are fire, but the sun doesn't seem deadly. It's a symbol of life; fire is a symbol of rage. Suddenly, I don't feel comfortable so close to the fire. I watch it for just a moment more, and then move to sit on the couch nearby. This is better. This is safer.
That's where I am when Finnick brings me breakfast. It's still morning? I prod at the toast. The crust is burnt. Because of heat. Fire emits heat. I decide I don't want the toast either. "Could I have a strawberry?" I ask, somewhere inside me hoping the toast will transform into my fruit.
"Just one strawberry?" Finnick teases.
He takes the plate from me slowly.
I should try to be more normal.
The strawberry is perfectly ripe. Not too sweet, but not bitter and sour either. I eat it steadily, nibble by nibble. I'm almost upset by the time it's gone. (I don't think I'll ever take strawberries for granted.)
"Better?" Finnick asks.
I nod. I nestle into his side.
This is also something I don't take for granted.
And slowly, by slim chance, I start to find my hope.