It's been one week. And I've managed so far. Until today. Sanity. Relief. My mind. All are no where in sight. I've searched high and low. Under my bed, my pillow. In my closet. In each and every drawer in my room. And yet I can't find a trace of it.
I run down the stairs to find my last option. She's reading a book on the sofa.
"Mom, have you seen my sketches?"
She looks at me surprised that I would ask such a question of the one who champions me the most. "Of course, dear. Do you want me to see them again?"
"No, but I can't find the ones..." One. "From Four. I was going to put them together in a portfolio." After I stare, studyand let certain emotions come rushing back.
My mother closes the book and smiles warmly at me. "Those were some of your best work, Violet. Especially that one of Finnick." Yes! That's the one.
"So you have them?"
"I was going to tell you, I sent it to Annie. You always say landscapes are your theme. And it was the only one you've ever done of a person. It made tears come to my eyes. I had no idea you had such talent... It was like you were at their wedding to be honest. Best day of his life. YOu don't mind do you? I know Annie will treasure it. You truly have a gift, Violet. You captured exactly how he looked at Annie from the moment I saw them together."
The only words that really register are I sent it. One of the last pieces of my... mistake with Finn is gone. I should be happy. That picture held me hostage in that moment where it was like he saw me for the first time in a way I never thought possible. My mind comes to a screeching halt as I process the rest of her words. She sent it to Annie because she thought it was Finnick. Not Finn. Because of how he looked at her. His true love. A love my mother used to tell me she was jealous of because of how certain they were.
Now I'm jealous. That Annie has my picture. Of the eyes I was certain shouldn't be in love with me. But it's becoming clearer to me that I want him to be. No matter how undeserving I am. No I tell myself. I've fought this feeling before. I'll just have to do it again.
I lost the battle before my head even hits the pillow that night. Instead of accepting the end of what should have never been I've spent every day of the last week trying to recreate the sketch. And wasted about a thousand papers. Before anyone else can see my pathetic replications I toss each unfinished paper into the fireplace.
I'm on my fifth trip to the living area today and it's not even noon.
My mother catches me at the bottom of the stairs before I can suffer through another attempt. "Violet, I'm amazed at your focus on your work this past week but, honey, you need to take a break. Eat. Get some fresh air. Do something outside of your room." The worried crease in her forehead is quite evident. "Call Therron. Better yet go find him. He misses you."
"Did he tell you that?" I ask her harsher than I mean to. But it's too late to soften my voice now.
She takes it how it sounded. "No. But it doesn't take a genius to tell you haven't been yourself lately. Flying up and down the stairs, destroying sketch after sketch, barely uttering a word to me or your father. You and Therron have barely been apart a day since you were young. When's the last time you even spoke to him?"
I wait for her to go on but the pause is so long I realize I'm supposed to answer. "Um... a couple of days ago?"
"Oh really? Did you sneak out of your room to see him? Because we both know he hasn't been here and you haven't seen the sunshine once this week." Details, details. What's a couple of days between friends? If he was really wanting to talk he would come over. If I was really wanting to hear a second opinion on how twisted and mangled my mind has become I'll be sure to track him down. "Maybe I should forbid you from drawing anymore today. I couldn't stop you from running around outside in your bare feet as a child. Do I really have to ground my adult daughter from her room?"
I groan and moan but give in to my mother's well-meaning demand. Her only condition is that I stay out for at least an hour. Once she sees the direction I'm headed she adds that I can't hole myself up in Haymitch's house either. I kick my feet up and turn towards the meadow instead.
Some children are playing tag in the long grass so I take a place near a bush out of sight. I watch how carefree and happy they are. How I wish I could will myself back to that age. Until I start imagining who would be chasing me in the meadow. Finn hasn't called me either. Not a message via my parents. Not even a letter to let me know what project he'll be posing for next or how his nose has healed. Out of sight, out of mind. That's the approach I should be taking as well. Not searching for ways to keep that first night in the forefront of my memory. Someone else will come along. They won't be Finn Odair. Nobody is. Which is a good thing. His whole persona that Panem expects from him is too much for me to handle. His work requires him to travel back and forth to the Capitol so much it would make more sense for him to live there permanently. But he would never leave Four. His whole world is there. By whole world I mean his mother. I don't know who depends on other more sometimes. It would take a selfless person to truly deserve Finn's love. And that is not me.
I'm a little more relaxed when I walk home. I didn't run into Therron and I've decided to sketch the meadow tomorrow. Not that I couldn't draw that image with my eyes closed. This time will be different. I will find an out of sight spot again and sketch the next group of children and their carefree games.
I call for my mother to thank her for being my parent as soon as I enter the door. She answers me from the kitchen so I trample down the hall stopping just at the doorway when I see that familiar maroon shirt.
The sight of her blazing a smile at Finn paralyzes me as soon as our eyes meet. "Just in time. Finn's stopped by again. And so soon this time. You have something important you wanted to tell us, Finn? Should I get Peeta and Ash?" Why not gather the entire District? Broadcast it live on television I think reverting back into myself.
He looks... even better looking than before his nose was broken. If that's even possible. Maybe not seeing him in person or on paper made me forget how green his eyes were. How wavy his hair was. How warm his smile was. Or maybe I fell along the way home and hit my head causing me to hallucinate this whole scene.
"If you like. I was hoping to discuss it alone with Violet first. It kind of concerns her," he says not even bothering to look in my mother's direction.
My mother is not always the most observant person when it comes to human connections. But I can't seem to break away from Finn's gaze. Or make the blood retreat from my cheeks as his stare becomes more determined. Even she is realizing now that something has changed between us. While I'm certain she's having second thoughts about leaving me alone with Finn she agrees to call my father home from the bakery and collect Ash from his friend's house.
"How are you doing?" Nice ice breaker, Odair. I'm not falling for it.
"You brought flowers," I say gesturing towards the bouquet on the table.
He smiles wryly. "Do you recognize them? They're honeysuckle."
"So you met someone?" I ask without much hope.
"As a matter of fact... yes." That's odd. The feeling that one word just caused inside me. It's what I wanted to hear. But that sharp pain came out of nowhere. "I suppose you can guess that's why I'm here." That wasn't my first thought but it should have been. We said once he met someone or when I changed my mind. Well, the clarity I had a few minutes ago has been blown out of the water so there's been no change in my mind.
"I'm happy for you." The words come out a bit mangled but I try to mean them. "Is she-"
Finn finishes my sentence for me. "Here?" I nod. And so does he. It's a good thing I remind myself. So why do I feel like crying? Oh, right. It's only been two weeks since he declared his love for me. But only twenty minutes since I reinforced that I don't deserve him and never will. Thoughts still fresh enough to leave wounds.
"You look suspicisous, Mellark. It's not like I've paid someone off to pretend to be in love with me. Though that is a strong possibility considering how repulsive I am."
"In every way imaginable," I laugh suppressing my true feelings. That I wish he was pretending again and there was no one else. No probelm. I'll just numb these feelings later with my new best friend, Haymitch.
Finn looks so calm, sure, unaffected by how his new girlfriend will affect me. He's just doing what you told him to do I scold myself. "So where is she?" I ask. I'd rather get this over with now so I can spend the rest of the day... or week in a drunken oblivion.
He starts to answer just as my mother arrives back with my brother and informs us my father is on his way as well. "Finn met someone," I say before he has a chance to break the news himself. Somehow I thought saying it aloud would make it truer for me.
"Oh," she says. That's it? Ash is giving Finn a high five and all she has to say is oh. Not how happy she is for him. How badly she wants to meet this person. My response seems to be more enthusiastic than hers.
I'm not going to let her get away with making this feel worse than it should be. "And she's here. I for one know I can't wait to meet her. Maybe warn her of the mistake she's making..." Poor choice of words, Mellark! I scream loudly at myself. "Just kidding... Let's, uh, meet this lucky lady, shall we?"
All eyes are on Finn as he smiles, just at the thought of her. "Before we do that I wanted to get your opinion on something first." He turns to me. There's more he needs to talk about? There's nothing left I need to know. His conscious should be clear if that's what he's worried about.
"I'm sure she's amazing, Finn. I might have to check her eyesight to make sure she's knows exactly who she has to wake up to every morning-"
"We both know that's not a pretty sight, don't we Violet?" He says sharply. Instantly I feel myself redden from the tips of my toes to my nose. Here I am trying my best to put on a strong face, okay, maybe slightly taunting him, but nothing we don't usually do and he's referring back to the... mistake... in front of my mother who's absorbing each word like a sponge in water.
"Ash, go see how close your father is. Then tell him the good news when you see him. We don't want to carry secrets on too long." My mother sends my brother off to deliver the message. Then sighs deeply into the tense air that has collecting between all of us.
"Finn. Violet. When did you sleep together?"