A/N Let me just start by saying that this was a very, very hard chapter for me to write. Thank you to A Hopeless Demented Kitten for the challenge. There is so much I have to try to explain about Memphis and I only hope I can get it all across. Okay, here I go.
Memphis Ellsworth (18)
Hollis Carlyle (Holly) Reese (18)
Gwendolyn (Gwen) Ellsworth (6)
Beccalyn (Becca) Ellsworth (47)
Colette (Cols) Ellsworth (3)
Memphis sat on the dirt ground, which was beginning to feel hard and packed as the sun grew warmer and summer was approaching.
Dry weather was coming. The thought made him smile. He was sick of springtime and the damp, wet earth and moisture everywhere. It was only late May, so he did have some time to wait. Hey, that was no concern. He was going to volunteer today anyway, wasn't he? He would be in the Capital for at least the next three weeks in that case. So, by the time of his return, summer would be beginning.
Ah, summer. Memphis had a little theory that everyone's personality coincided with a season (albeit subtly). He, for example, quite clearly belonged to the summer. He was filled with heat and intensity. Summer was an angry season, with dramatic thunderstorms and clashing lighting. With its wild dust storms that descended on the driest parts of District Ten and the raging brushfires that fell on others.
It seemed only fitting that he should welcome in the summer with fire. It was something he had been doing for a few years now. This was why he was sitting in the middle of the wooded area near his family's small ranch. He had to do it here, where the small white house wasn't even visible. Oh, it wasn't as if his family didn't know he was coming out here to do this. They knew all right. It was just something no one really talked about.
Besides, the vegetation was a little thinner right in this spot. He didn't want to start a massive brushfire. At least, not at the moment.
So he sat on the ground, patiently twisting little pieces of white paper. Most of the sticks were still too damp. When he was satisfied, he stepped back and brushed his dirt-covered hands on his pants. Then, he grimaced because these were the only pants he owned without holes in them and he was supposed to keep them at least somewhat nice looking for the Reaping today. Damn, he cursed silently to himself. Ah, well. That didn't really matter. What did he expect, anyway? Setting fires always made him dirty.
But mostly it made him feel clean. So he struck a match and threw it onto the pile of paper and sticks. It didn't erupt into flames, but Memphis didn't want it to. Slow burning things were just so much more soothing to watch. In all the fires he had lit over the years, he had only used gasoline as an accelerant in one of them.
And that had been a very special fire.
The flame spread slowly, eating away at the paper and slowly creeping up to the sticks. It licked them with tongues of flame and Memphis let out a satisfied sigh. For a spring fire, this one wasn't bad. It flickered with a life of its own. To Memphis, the fire was alive. Like a friend of sorts.
A friend who he shared a good many things in common with. Both were rather unpredictable. Neither one was reliable in the slightest. Both were wild and heated and dangerous.
The shout was coming from the bottom of the hill. A young woman's voice. Of course. Holly was waiting for him so they could go to the Reaping together. Memphis gritted his teeth. He grudgingly stomped out the fire with his large boots. It had just been getting good, too. Well, he supposed it was for the best. He could easily have let it get out of hand.
Holly walked up the hill and over to him, panting slightly. Ever since Colette's birth, she got tired a lot more easily. Actually, it was hard for Memphis to remember the times when they could race up the hill together. Fifteen. That's how old they would have been.
Yet, in his opinion, Holly was just as beautiful as ever.
Her blond hair fell just right around her lovely, thin face. Holly belonged to the winter. Her skin was pale and her eyes were ice blue. No, they simply couldn't be described as any old, ordinary blue. Memphis knew his Holly was far from ordinary. Certainly the woman he was going to spend his life with had to be extraordinary!
Oh, and wasn't she ever.
Her eyes were always, always moving. Like right now, they were sweeping through the little clearing Memphis always escaped to. She was taking in the ashes and the acrid smell of the air. And the embers that remained. Surely she knew what was going on, but she wouldn't say anything. Because Holly was good. She always seemed to know just what Memphis wanted her to do. He loved that about her. No one knew him like he did. No one. Holly did not mind his fires. If she did, she had never said a word about them.
Though Memphis had reason to believe that she quite liked them.
Being of the winter, she needed some fire every now and then. Something to keep her from freezing over entirely. Memphis, in as many ways as possible, was that flame. He knew she needed him. She would freeze to death otherwise, with that cold gaze of hers and the way her emotions just drained right out of her sometimes.
"Memphis, you should finish putting this out. We need to go back to the house. We're going to walk into town with Cols and Gwen. Your mother will want to come with us too, I expect." Holly gave a slight sigh at this. She and Memphis felt the same way about his mother. They tolerated her, but only barely.
Memphis would not admit it to anyone, but he needed her too. She cooled him down.
Yes, this was a whole other part of his theory. Some might think that someone belonging to winter could never be compatible with one belonging to the summer. Quite the opposite! It was a known fact that opposites attract, after all. Memphis loved Holly's beautiful pale skin and her laugh like little bits of ice falling and hitting the ground.
It went without saying that he could not, however, get along with a spring or autumn person. Those were the pacifists, bright spring and calm, dependable fall. Nothing extreme about them. So yes, Memphis found them very dull.
Holly stood still for a moment, looking down at the view of the valley below them. District Ten was known for its beautiful views and sweeping skies. Memphis believed that he and Holly were among the few that truly appreciated its beauty. Only a few people could really recognize beauty and Memphis counted himself as fortunate to be among them. That is, he could find beauty where most couldn't. In the flames of a roaring blaze or the bright embers left behind. Or in a cold and seemingly unfeeling girl like Holly.
Her sundress, a cornflower blue one, billowed around her legs in the warm breeze. She crossed her arms, obviously thinking intently about something. Man, she was so beautiful when she was thinking. The way she curled her bright red lips like that made Memphis have to stop to take a breath.
Holly cleared her throat, interrupting his little reverie. "You're still going to volunteer today, aren't you?"
Memphis squared his shoulders. How was she even asking that? From the time they were little kids, playing together in the woods, he had told Holly that his plan was to volunteer someday. Memphis couldn't even remember a time when the idea of winning the Hunger Games hadn't enthralled him. He knew he was the odd one out, but he figured fate had just sort of screwed up and he'd landed in this dumpy little district. But volunteering? That was his ticket out of here.
"Yeah, Holly. You know I am."
She stared down at the ground, her eyes shifting. Holly rarely ever showed this much emotion about anything. Usually she just listened to Memphis and did whatever he asked. It never even looked like she thought about it. But now it was looking like she was having some serious thoughts about something.
"It's just…I'm worried about our Cols. And Gwen, too. I know you've thought this through Memphis, but I just feel like I have to remind you that all of us have to come with you, too. Your mother included! Her, in the Games? I don't know if that's the best idea." She lifted her eyes to look at Memphis, obviously scared of what he would say to this doubt. "We could everyone down easily, you and me. Don't get me wrong. It's just that, they might weigh us down, you know? That's all."
"Ah." Memphis thought for a moment before replying. "There's no need to be so frightened for my reaction, Holly."
"Sorry. It's just that sometimes you can be….unpredictable."
Memphis chuckled. "And that's why I'm never boring." He put his hand around his wife's waist and led her back down the hill. "What, you don't think I haven't thought this over more? Honestly Hollis, I must say that I am disappointed with you. Naturally I've considered the matter of our whole family having to go this year. And my plan is this. Yes, you and I are quite strong and we most certainly will take down the rest. My mother is no weakling. She's a strong woman and she can take care of herself."
Holly rolled her eyes. "You got that right. It's just spending over a week in the arena with her that worries me."
"She can take care of food preparation, as she's adept with plant identification, you know." Memphis went on. "And she will be useful for another reason. We'll need her to take care of Gwen and our Cols. Colette is still small enough for you to carry on your back and I can take care of that some of the time. But she's old enough that she doesn't cry incessantly and thank heavens for that." He sighed for a moment, remembering their daughter's infant days.
That had been a turbulent time indeed. Memphis and Holly had been very much on their own, because of Memphis's father's death. He had died in a fire four months before Colette's birth. The people who lived nearby had surely talked up a blue streak about all that. And why shouldn't they have done just that? After all, Memphis was known at the school for his pyromaniac tendencies. And things weren't exactly stable at home either.
Memphis did not stay in school long enough to confirm or deny these accusations. He quietly dropped out and no one said a word. Maybe it was because his fourteen year old girlfriend was pregnant. Or maybe it was just because people were scared.
Well, rumors are, most of the time, rooted in reality. Memphis's father, Ninian Ellsworth, had never approved of his son being with a girl at such a young age and was infuriated to find that Hollis was pregnant when the two were only fourteen. Ninian wanted him to get rid of both Hollis and the baby. But Memphis wouldn't have it. When his father's threats escalated, Memphis knew what he had to do.
The fire was his best work by far. It was hardly an act of impulsive rage. No, he had planned it for weeks. First, he had picked a bit of the woody part from a wisteria and laced his then three year old sister Gwen's nightly cup of milk with it. Memphis actually had felt a little bad about that because little Gwen was one of the only people he actually liked most of the time and he didn't want to hurt her. Luckily, wisteria was fact acting and nausea only lasted twenty four hours. Gwen had seemed quite sick that night, though. Sick enough that his mother had gone to spend the night in her bedroom where she could watch her.
Now, his father was alone and Memphis could carry out the fire. He only had to use a bit of accelerant. The bed was on fire within moments and his father's screams woke up the rest of the house. He was silent shortly.
Memphis had never done anything because someone had told him to and he wasn't about to start. That was why he was going to volunteer. No one thought it was a good idea. Memphis sure as hell did. If anything, he was actually doing good. At least this way, some scrawny kid with an even scrawnier family wouldn't have to die. Needless deaths didn't sit well with Memphis.
Holly was now wringing her hands and staring ahead with that blank expression of hers as the two walked down the hill to the white clapboard house. Memphis, his mother, Gwen and Holly along with Colette were now living in the house that used to belong to Memphis's grandparents, who had both passed by this point.
"Holly, if you are having concerns, now would be the time to voice them," Memphis told her in a calm voice when he couldn't stand to watch her anymore. To be honest, he cared not for her more than likely petty concerns. Volunteering was his duty. His calling.
"I'm just worried about Gwen. I can carry Colette and manage her just fine, but I don't think your mother can manage Gwen. She's not as docile as our Colette, Memphis. And she's older, besides."
"Ah, but that's just it!" Memphis shouted as they walked up the dirt walkway to the front door. The short grass in the front was bright green, but soon the relentless sun that shone on District Ten would cause ti to brown and shrivel. Memphis placed his hand on his wife's shoulder. "Gwen is by no means docile. She's a fighter, Holly! Don't think I've forgotten about her. No, from the time that girl could walk I've been teaching her how to use a pocketknife. Gwen is strong enough."
"Memphis, she's not seven yet," was Holly's flat answer.
He waved his hand at her. "That's a minor thing. Holly, stop worrying so much. You've never worried like this before and if you ask me, now is not the time to start all of that." He pulled her in closer to her and they stopped walking, not a few feet from the torn up screen door of the house. Memphis put his arms around her waist and met her blue eyes with his.
"Listen, Holly." He said in what he hoped came out like a level sounding voice. "It is imperative that we enter the Games extremely calm. I am not about to downplay their seriousness. If we go in the Games in a total panic, we will almost certainly all be killed within minutes. But, if we merely keep our heads about us, strategize, and think things through, I think we've got a great chance. What, do you think I've been planning to volunteer this family if I felt like we didn't have a chance?"
Holly nodded, with just the faintest trace of a smile playing on her red lips. "You're right. You're always right. We have easily the best chance of winning out of any family in this rundown, tumbleweed ridden district and it's only natural to volunteer ourselves for the Games. It would be just cruel to let some weak, scrawny family go and die and watch them do it. No, Memphis, we are not bystanders."
Memphis grinned. She was finally getting it! Oh, he knew he knew on the day they married two months ago that he was doing for a reason. Never again would he find a girl as exquisite as Hollis Carlyle. And, she was really starting to smile. "We could really win this, Holly," he told her. "Imagine that."
Her eyes lit up in such a way he rarely ever saw. "Driving around in fancy cars, dining on delicacies, wearing gorgeous clothes designed by the top stylists in the Capital. Oh, Memphis! Everyone in Panem will know our names. There'll be parades and flowers thrown at our feet!"
"Jewels and all the money we could ever ask for!" Holly shouted breathlessly.
The two joined hands and practically ran up the rickety, molded steps to the door. Memphis had never felt this alive. Every cell in him seemed to be tense with excitement and anxiety for their little adventure to begin. In just a few hours, he would be out of this district with its unrelenting sun, endless fields, and nothing but cows and goats to be seen.
His mother opened the door, her lips drawn into a tight frown. This seemed to be her permanent expression and it did not do anything to damper the fire of Memphis's excitement. He only barely tolerated the woman, but they would need her in the Games for practical things like cooking and plant identification. Sure, Memphis would protect her and keep her alive just like he would with Holly. His mother did bot do much against him, save for sending him the occasional disapproving glance. She knew her son was beyond her control.
Besides, here was the woman who had raised him. Memphis figured he was in debt to her and he hated being indebted to anyone. So it was his duty to pay her back by protecting her in the arena.
A shock of blond hair came into Memphis's vision behind his mother's plain, beige skirt. Gwen raced into Memphis, throwing her arms around his waist. He looked down to see the little girl, with her hair pulled back into a braid, staring up at him with laughing baby blue eyes, just like Holly's.
"Hey, Mems!" She giggled. The girl was always coming up with new nicknames for him, many of which did not even make sense. That was what six year old girls did, he reckoned. And as far as little girls went, Gwen was pretty adorable with her puppy fat and dimples and long, sunny hair.
Gwen was growing up, though. She would be seven next week. (Would they celebrate her birthday in the arena?) Gwen had been growing up under her mother's strict hand, with a father who had died under horrific circumstances and a brother who was already married with a child of his own. In many ways, Gwen was a pretty lonely child most of the time. Memphis wondered what would become of the girl when he and Holly moved out. Ah, but if they won the Games they would all move into the Victors Village together.
That was good. The truth was, his little sister had really been growing on Memphis. She was a clever little thing, who delighted in his little nighttime lessons with her, when he taught her how to use a pocketknife to scare off her enemies. Once, she had tried that in school. He'd had to have given her a scolding for that one.
"Hey, kid." He patted Gwen on the head and she grinned. Always trying to win his affections, she was. Right now, she was wearing a white dress with spring green piping around the color. Looking as much like a little girl as she could.
Holly walked through the cluttered eating and kitchen area, with its slightly lopsided wooden table and simple chairs, to the back room where piles of homemade quilts lay on the floor in heaps. This was where Gwen and Colette slept, on mattresses close to the ground with no real bed frames. Colette was sitting on a quilt, clothed in a baby pink dress with a collar that must've cost Holly four days wages from the meat processing factory. That was fine.
Memphis wanted them all to look as presentable as possible today. They would walk to the stage looking like a surprisingly put together, proud family for such a dirty little district.
Colette reached out her little arms to be carried. She was only three, and so still light. She nestled into Holly's shoulder and the family made its way back outside and back into the bright sun. The sky did not have a single cloud in it and Colette and Gwen seemed to be enjoying the lovely weather.
Gwen skipped aimlessly ahead, pausing to look at dandelions growing along the dirt road or to watch herds of cattle being shepherded in the distance. Memphis mother walked purposefully, looking straight ahead. Memphis wondered if she had any idea of his plan. Likely not. He rarely told his mother anything. Ever.
As they walked on, the tress became thinner and more and more houses and villages came into view. The ones lining the dirt road were hardly more than shacks with tin roofs. Some had ways basins in front or clotheslines heavy with dancing clothing. Most were empty, or emptying out citizens on their way to District Ten's center. Many of the children weren't wearing shoes, or dressing that had clearly been made from feed sacks. Memphis shook his head. His family might be poor, but they were proud.
Everything, including Memphis's own clothes, was covered with dust within minutes of stepping outside in District Ten. Memphis frowned in annoyance and made a mental note to make sure his family looked clean before he would go to the eighteen year olds' section.
It all had to be just right.
Memphis offered to carry Colette for Holly, whose brow was beginning to wet with sweat. She consented gratefully and passed the little curly-haired girl into his arms. Colette squirmed at the passing, though. Memphis was well aware the the girl preferred her mother to himself. He didn't care. That's how most little girls were.
Still, he bounced her on his hip and smiled at her. He was not an uncaring father. Hardly. He liked his pretty little girl and was though he and Holly had down well for being so young. Colette was a source of pride. Besides, he needed to keep the girl happy because the hot sun could make her irritable. And he wanted them all looking firm and ready when they took the stage, not with a crying baby.
The walk into town was not a long one. Memphis and Holly made it every morning, when District Ten's infinite number of stars were still out and the dawn only tinged the endless horizon pink. Still, it was cooler then than it was now and everyone in the town seemed to be sweaty and miserable. Miserable because today was such a somber day.
At least, it was supposed to be.
He walked with Holly to the check-in lines, which were just starting to get busy. Twelve year olds clutched the hands of their siblings. Everywhere he looked, Memphis saw women crying. That made him a little uneasy. Oh, how he hated crying. But it was this year's Quell, cruel even by Capital standard. No surprise there, after the little "mishap" that was last year's Games.
When the pair from Twelve had won, it had made Memphis a little uncomfortable. He liked routine and that was by no means routine. In the long run though, it mattered not. If nothing else, those little lovers had given him some reassurance. If a scrawny pair from Twelve could win, why couldn't a strong family from Ten?
In a way, Katniss and Peeta had sealed the deal for him.
After getting his arm pricked and the woman had verified that he was indeed Memphis Ellsworth, Memphis took his family to a quieter, shaded area beneath the awning of a closed bake shop. He and Holly dusted of Colette and made her giggle by giving her a little tickle. Colette's laugh was the sweetest thing. Then, after hugging her little girl fiercely, Holly placed her in Memphis's mother's arms.
Gwen looked at Memphis seriously. "Mommy says I need to wait for you and Holly for a little bit. I don't see why I have to wear this silly dress."
Memphis couldn't help but chuckle. He bent down to whisper into her ear. "Gwen, in a little while you might see me get called up to the stage. When that happens, walk up to the stage slowly and with your head held up."
"Like this?" Gwen stuck her chin into the air a little.
"Exactly. Just be patient, Gwennie. I assure you that things will get interesting very quickly." He turned around before she could ask him any more questions. Leave her curious. He turned around to look at her. She was bouncing on her toes a little, excited at the news Memphis had chosen to share with just her.
Then, Memphis gave Holly's hand a squeeze. He needn't do anything more. She was already drawn into this plan. He left her with the eighteen year old girls and found his section. The boys parted for him like they always did. Ah, there was nothing better than people being scared of him, Memphis felt. Soon, they would only be in awe.
So as the speeches (pointless little things) progressed, Memphis felt a surge of energy coursing through his body. This was it. He was really going to do this. And soon, everyone would know his name as the strong young man who led his family to victory in the third Quarter Quell.
The scott, dressed in a deep purple, stepped to the front of the stage. Memphis grinned. Another boy in front of him saw him smiling and all but shuddered. This, of course, only made Memphis smile wider. He would show the boy. He would show them all. Anyone who had ever doubted.
Anyone who had even dared to try to step on his flame.
The escort did not even have time to read the full name on the slip of paper she'd drawn.
Gwen Ellsworth's POV
Gwen was going to be seven soon.
Seven was gonna be a tough age to be, she already knew. Seven meant whole parts of her would fall out. Her teeth! Why did they have to come out like that anyways? Seven meant she had to learn to tie her shoes and read. Probably the two hardest things to learn ever. And seven meant she wasn't gonna be a baby anymore either. Gwen figured it was a good enough trade off. Losing her teeth and sitting through boring reading exercises in exchange for her adulthood.
Well, she'd done her part of the deal. So why was everyone still treating her like a baby?
Nobody was telling her a thing. Here she was, sitting in a really uncomfortable, fancy chair in a fancy room in District Ten's Justice Building. And she had no idea what she was doing here. (Or, why she was wearing this silly dress, for another matter).
Her mother was sitting in a chair in the corner of the room, crying. Only, not really hard like how Gwen cried. Just sort of sitting there and letting the tears go down her face. Holly was sitting on the couch with Memphis, twisting the braclet on her wrist like she was real scared of something, but also trying real hard not to show it. Like that time the lady came to Gwen's school to give them all shots and Gwen had tried really super hard not to look scared, but needles were pretty scary.
Memphis, though, was sitting straight and tall. And he was smiling.
Now Gwen was really confused. She shuffled a bit in her seat. Think, Gwen, think. What could make her mother cry, Holly look a little scared, but also make her big brother Memphis look so happy? Well, the Hunger Games. That was why they were here. Gwen knew that cause that was all anyone had been talking about for days.
So what were the Hunger Games?
That was another really hard question. Gwen knew lots of stuff most kids in her class didn't, like how to skin a squirrel or use a pocketknife or which sticks were best for lighting fires. Except she just didn't know what the Hunger Games were yet. Well, something to do with hunger for sure. And a game had to have a winner. Would they be doing some kind of starving contest?! No way. That would not be making Memphis, or anyone, smile.
She knew what the Justice Building was. That was a start. One time, maybe two months ago, her first grade class had taken a little trip to the Justice Building. They learned that the Justice Building was where the mayor worked and where the people from the Capital went to when they came to District Ten to visit.
Gwen figured that for whatever reason they were here, it must be important.
Memphis was patting Holly's hand. Like Holly needed to be comforted. Well, Gwen would show what a big girl she was. She sat up straight and tall and stuck her chin up, just like Memphis had taught her how to do. Then, she caught her brother smiling at her.
Oh, she had the best big brother in the world. He never, ever treated her like a baby. Yes, that was it! Memphis could explain all this to her. Memphis would clear things right up. Gwen always came to her brother whenever she needed to know something, like how to get back at Henry Jenkins who pulled on her pigtail every day in school or how to bury the bird she sort of killed by throwing a rock at it that one time. Her mommy never answered those sorts of questions.
"Memphis, what is the Hunger Games?" Gwen asked.
At that, her mother shot up like she'd been shocked or something. She looked right at Memphis with that warning look in her eyes she gave to Gwen all the time. Gwen hated that stupid look.
"Memphis…" She said in her "I'm warning you" voice.
But Memphis didn't even notice it. He just held up his hand to quiet her. Boy, Gwen wished she could to that to Mommy. Wouldn't that be nice? Mommy looked real mad for a second, but then sort of sighed. Maybe she just gave up. Holly looked sort of worried, until Memphis merely shook his head at her.
He leaned in real low and real close to Gwen. She could smell smoke from him. Yeah, Gwen could tell what smoke smelled like and she also knew what the smell meant. Memphis cleared his throat. "The Hunger Games, Gwen, happens every year. This is the Seventy-Fifth year, so it's a little more special and a little different. Usually, one boy and one girl from each district has to go to the Capital."
"Only this year, a whole family goes!" Gwen exclaimed. "That's us!"
Memphis smiled. "You catch on quickly. Yes, we're the lucky family. We get to go to the Capital and fight in the Hunger Games. Basically, that's when all the people from the districts fight together in a big arena. It might be a forest or a mountain or a desert, we don't know. We get some weapons and maybe some food, but that's it. And whichever family survives the longest, wins. We get to fight for our district's honor and glory." Memphis phased. "Do you know what glory is, Gwen?"
Gwen thought really hard for a moment. She wanted to impress her brother. "It's really good stuff."
This made Memphis laugh. "Yeah, really good stuff".
Now, Holly leaned down. She looked right at Gwen with her big blue eyes. Holly was like Gwen's "other mother." Only, she was pretty much a better mommy, anyways. She never got mad at Gwen for "playing too rough." And Holly was just like Memphis cause she had a way of explaining things to Gwen that just made sense. Holly looked at her with wide eyes. "Gwen, Memphis might not be telling you this now, but it might get kinda scary in the arena. There's gonna be some big, tough people in there and some scary weapons and things."
To this, Gwen only shrugged.
Holly sighed and shifted Colette in her arms. "Let me put it this way, Gwen. You are probably going to see some things in the arena that are really going to frighten you. Some things that might keep you awake at night, you know? It's not just a big game. It's for real."
Gwen crossed her arms. "I know it's for real, Holly. That's why we're gonna win for real. I'm not scared. Nope, I'm not scared one bit."
Holly gave a small smile with little Colette still in her arms. Colette was all fidgety. She was probably real confused, cause she probably couldn't understand any of this. Gwen would explain it to her, then. Maybe she could teach Cols how to use a pocketknife! She was only three, but you were never too young to start. That's what Memphis had told her. And one day, Gwen would be big enough to play with fire like Memphis did.
Gwen squeezed her eyes shut and pictured that.
She imagined herself out in the woods, just like Memphis did. He had let her watch once. Getting those little sticks and twigs that you had to make sure were just the right kind for the sort of fire you wanted to set. Then, he might use matches. Or just some things called steel and flint. A little spark would come up. That was the best part! Seeing that tiny little spark made Gwen's breath catch with excitement. She was a summer's child all right, like Memphis said. All heat and fire.
And oh, how amazing it was to be able to have seen the way Memphis controlled that scary fire. Yeah, fire was scary. But that was the fun part. The satisfying part was controlling something that you well knew was so awfully dangerous.
Fire wasn't a game, either. Fire was real, too.
A man dressed in a white uniform who looked just a little scary opened the door for them. He had a real serious face on. But Gwen knew better than to hide behind her mommy. Lots of kids at school were scared of Peackeepers. They were just babies.
So when the family walked past the man, Gwen stuck her tongue out at him. Just a little. So there, she thought. The man looked surprised for a second, but did nothing. Hah! Now she was even above the Peackeepers. To be true, Gwen was liking this royal treatment.
First, the whole district had stared at her and she got to walk down that long center aisle in the middle of gazillions of people. Then, she got to stand on the stage next to that lady dressed in the crazy outfit covered in feathers. In front of the whole district!
Memphis had told her not to be scared of all of this. He had told her to try to keep her chin up. But how on earth could Gwen be scared when this was all just so exciting? Here she was in her prettiest dress, being paraded in front of the whole district and with Peackeepers walking on both sides of her. And now they were getting ready to go on a train to the Capital! The Capital. She had only heard stories about what it was like. Where only the most important and rich people , she must be very important person, then.
Yes, she was important. She wasn't a little baby now. A nobody no more!
And while the Peacekeepers led the Ellsworth family through the winding halls of the Justice Building and back down the elevator, an idea was beginning to form in little Gwen's mind. When the family walked out into the bright sunlight and began heading towards the station, that idea had become a spark.
Once a spark caught in Gwen's mind, it instantly became a flame. Gwen could hardly contain herself as the family walked towards the long, silver train stationed right outside the Justice Building that was going to take them to the place called the Capital. Gwen had a plan.
This was her chance. Her one and only shot to prove herself to Memphis and to everybody. Gwen was going to show them all that this really was more than just a game. She was gonna make her big brother real, real proud of her.
As the sliding door to the train opened, Memphis leaned down next to her. His eyes were cold and serious, but Gwen knew that he was preparing himself to win. Gwen liked to win, too. Memphis patted her arm. "Are you ready for this, Gwen?"
Gwen nodded fiercely. "Yeah, Memphis. I am ready."
Memphis first guided his mother, then Holly into the train. Holly, who was carrying Colette in her arms, looked around at the shiny wood paneling and bright carpets. There were pastries of all colors sitting in glass jars, rows and rows of liquid filling one wall, and a big table in the middle. Windows lined the sides and the carpet was covered in a flower design.
Gwen took a big breath. Yes, she must be very important indeed.
It was time to leave now. After all, they had a game to win.
Memphis leaned out of the door on the train. His eyes met Gwen's. Their eyes were both full of fire. They were going to this. And they were going to do this together. Memphis slowly extended his arm, so that Gwen could hop on the train. He opened his hand for her to take.
And she took it.
A/N Yes, writing from the POVs of a psychopath and a six year old was not easy, let me tell you.
It was however, a lot of fun. It was quite a challenge and so I thank you, Kitty. (Kitty's username is forever changing, but do look up her stories. They're excellent. You'll find her somehow). I apologize for any errors with these characters. My writing for this chapter could be described as…experimental at best.
So what do you all think of the Ellsworth family? I must ask a question that was actually on my mind as I wrote Gwen's POV. Do you think Memphis genuinely cares and loves for his little sister and is trying to make her feel better? Or do you think he's actually manipulating her?
Not that anyone actually answers these questions. Ah, well. It would make me very happy if you did. :)