Letting Go: Eclipse Glade after her games.
I stare out at the hills of District 0. This is my last chance to see my homeland before my vicory tour. My friends have left me alone here. I wrap the coat around myself and pick up a stick, drawing some letters in the snow... an E, an X. It reminds me of how life used to be, before I ever had to endure the Games. I straighten, tossing the stick away and run down the hill. I am still 12. Still younger than they want me to be, but I am a victor. The first District 0 has had in a while. Yes, oof course the odds were against me the whole time. Then I realize what time it is. It's almost 9:00 p.m. I need to get back home so I'm ready for my victory tour tomorrow. Seems like some sort of big thing, right? It's really not all that great. You just look at the families of the tributes you've killed, and give a little speech and move on. "At least I won't be alone," I think as I strip off my coat in front of the fire. I go to sleep thinking about everyone I've lost. Pearson, and Cotto, especially Cotto. What a waste. Silent tears come down on my cheeks. I lay awake for a long time, humming "When you're gone". I'm so sad, it feels like my heart is breaking. i haven't felt the full impact of loss until now.
Chapter 2:"Eclipse! Come on or you'll be late!" I roll over and stare at the glow in the dark clock. 6:00. I sit bolt upright, hastily shoving on a loose, sleeveless purple dress that comes to my knees. "Coming!" I yell, grabbing a brush and swiping my hair with it. I come down, seeing the orance slices on a plate on the table. "I'll be eating in the capitol you know," I tell Briar, my older sister. "I know," she says, flipping her blonde hair. Briar was lucky enough to get my mother's blonde hair that floats around her in corkscrew curls. I don't know where I got my hair from. "I just want to give you some energy." She turns and sashays off. I guess she has to look, um, "hot" too, because she's my sister. I grab an orange and suck out the juices. "Eclipse, really. That's not what a REAL victor would do," Briar scoffs. "I guess I'm not a real victor then," i say, starting on the next. A half hour later, my stylists come to my door. "Come in," my mother chirps. "She's in the living room." i sit in front of the fireplace, wearing only a camosole and underwear. I insisted on this, because I don't want to appear butt nakid in front of my prep team. Nobody else, either. They do my hair, sliding it into a ponytail the color of my dress. They draw out my lips and eyes in dazzling colors, while dusting my face with silver powder that gets in my eyes and makes them water. "Done yet?" I murmur quietly, so only I can hear myself. "Yes, you're ready." They force me into the bathroom and I take off the camisole and slide on my dress. I look unrecognizable to myself. My prep team have done a good job. I give them my thanks and we walk out of the house together. I see my escort and mentor waiting for us. They congratulate me. Then I am on a train. I am headed to the Capitol.
The Capitol streets are wet. That is the first thing I take in about my new surroundings. The air is warm and moist. I get off the the train, stepping into a building to meet the others and exchange quick words before I am on my tour. The room smells like a fire. It's painted a light peach. I reach up ant touch my hair quickly before turning my attention back to the others. I approach th girl from 5. "Hey," I say. "Twinkle, right?" She nods. Her hair is just like Briar's but more toned. "So, what's your talent?" she asks. Oh. My talent. Right. "Um, I don't know." She grins. "Me either. Come on, let's go over there." Twinkle introduces me to 2 more people the girl from 3 and the boy from 6. I strike up a conversation with them. They talk to me about what's happened in their districts. Nothing big, just events, parties they've gone to, the slow, gradual movement of going back to their daily lives. It's interesting to hear, most of it anyway. I look over, seeing Twinkle has departed. I say my goodbyes to the others. I'm vaguely aware of one girl, that Callie girl, watching me from the corner. But then we are all ushered outside to the streets of the Capitol. On our way to Disrict 12.
We are in District 12. I look around warily at the others around me. Only Harpy looks undaunted by the fact that we are in the vicinity of the dead tributs' families. She begins with a slow speech about the games. After a while it starts to grow boring and I bend my knees to keep from fainting. Twinkle dives in with some talk about this and that and the other thing. Finally, it's my turn to go up to the microphone. I do not have a speech prepared. Instead I say the words that first come into my head: "These tributes were honorable, all of District 12 should be proud." I rub my palms on my dress to wipe some of the sweat off. I sigh with releif, and retreat to the back of the chariot. And then District 12 is over. The rest of the Districts are a blur. 11, 10, and 9 go by quickly. Harpy drags out some more speeches at District 4. None of us are very excited when we arrive at one, and I avoid looking at Colbie's family when I give my part of the speech. 7 is the best district we've been to. None of them seem too mad. Just a little depressed. I sigh. Now onto the winners' Districts. I do not make any speeches in 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8. But when 0 rolls around last, I get up. They clap when I stand. They cheer. I like it. "I have won the 113th hunger games," I start. "And I have met some very honorable people on my... my path to... to victory." I squeeze my eyes shut. "Cotto was a good friend to me. He was... so brave. And i could never underestimate the others. They were all - everyone - was amazing. Everyone had a chance." I sit down, relieved to have gotten that over with.
I lay down in my bed. I'm in the Capitol again, sleeping for the all-night feast tonight. Once again, my sleep is clogged with nightmares. I twist and turn, the sheets in my bed falling all over. When I wake up, I see my hair all touseled and messy. I hastily comb my fingers through it. I'm not ready to get up, though. Not for real. I stroll down the hall and take the elevator to the downstairs. I'm in the lobby when Twinkle bumps into me. "Hey," I say. "Oh, hey," she answers. "Aren't you supposed to be sleeping?" I shrug. "I couldn't. I was having nightmares." "About the Games?" she asks. "Yea." Twinkle's eyes glaze over for a second. "Me too," she finally admits. I leave her there, wondering what to do next. I sigh and sit down on one of the gold couches. We only have about 4 hours until the feast. I don't even want to go, really... "What now?" I ask myself. I'm bored and I really would like to go back home. After this last feast, I'll be able to leave the Capitol
The feast is enjoyable, and very nice. We are in a clear crystal dome-shaped building. There is a dining area and a seating area. I look over at the dining area, where everyone seems to be. I join them. I start talking to Twinkle and my other friends when I see this boy walking along a table. I run up and try to act casual. "Hey," he says. "Oh... hey," I say, trrying to be as cool as I can. I turn back to my friends when he says, "Eclipse Glade, right? I'm Charcol Chrome." "Are you... from the Capitol?" He laughs and ladles some of the green soup near him into the round bowl he's gripping. "From here? No, of course not. I'm from District 0." "Oh, yea. Right," I say. "You'd better be getting on, you have another speech to make." "I hate making speeches," I say. He laughs again. He has a nice laugh, light and happy and carefree. I like it. "Well, I'll see you around," he says. "Bye Charcol," I call, but he has disappeared into the crowd of people. I sigh and turn around. My prep team gathers around me. "Why aren't you eating?" they gasp. "I don't know, I've just been meeting some people. "Try this," says one of the girls and places a loaf of bread into my hand. "Next try this!" shouts another member of the team, and then food is cascading down on me. I decide to go with the loaf that I had first recieved. Its good and soft, with salt and butter. "May I have your attention please," the president announces. "The victors will make their final speeches, and then the feast is dismissed." I'm up first. I get up and walk over, hesitating for a second then gripping the microphone.
"I am honored to be a victor of the 311... no, 113th Hunger Games. I have met many people along the way that I admired and appreciated and I guess the odds were in my favor... in the end... so tonight, I thank everyone here for helping me with my victory and attending this feast for me... but..." Yes, it's a lot to ask for, and I might get shot, injured, or killed for it. But it will be worth it. "I ask you all to raise your... your glasses for the deceased tributes."
Everyone does what I say. I shoot a quick look at the President, but he only smiles and nods.
"All the tributes in these Games deserved respect... not as much respect as the Capitol -" I hope they can't sense I'm lying - "But respect for what they have done... so thank you all, and have a nice night." They break out into a storm of cheers. Surprisingly, no one is looking at me with shock, horror, or anger. I sigh with releif, now at peace with myself.
After that, my time in the Capitol has been spent and I get to go home (yay!). We arrive in District 0 first and I get off and wave to my old friends. Then once the train is out of my sight, I start back towards my house. I start to remember District 0 better after a while. The pond frozen over with ice, the trees dripping frost, the snow cloaking the cypress pines in the hills. I remember everything about it and more.
Chapter 8:"Wha...? Why is everyone up?" I ask, rubbing my eyes. "We thought you wouldn't have forgotten," says Briar, holding out a large strawberry cake. "What? Oh yea... my birthday, right?" They crack up. "Been too busy having fun in the Capitol you forget about your own birthday, huh?" I roll my eyes and blush. "Yea, I guess so." I sit down and we have cake for breakfast, like we always do on my birthday. Briar was laughing so hard. I didn't know it was possible for chewed-up bits of cake to shoot out your nose (YUCK!) but apparenty it is. "What day is it?" I ask, full from my 2 pieces. "November the 12th," my mom replies. They start laughing again. "Thanks," I say and pick up my new boots - leather on the outside, furry on the inside. "Hey, where are you going, Old Lady Glade?" Briar calls. "Hey!" I say. "I'm only 13. Not as old as 17, Briar." That shuts her up. Grabbing my new coat, I walk outside. "Hey Leven!" I call to my best friend. "Hey Eclipse," Leven smiles. "Happy birthday!" "Thanks," I say. "Yea. They're calling me 'Old Lady Glade' now." Grinning, I gesture at the house. Leven laughs brightly. "So, I guess the odds WERE in your favor after all!" Leven chirps. "I guess so," I say. Then we just stand there, letting the happiness wash over us. The happiness of being free, no responsibilities. It's like we're 8 again, chasing after all the boys, getting dirty, flicking snow all over each other. But now we just stand there, our hair blowing to one side. Mine brown, hers gold.
Chapter 9:Now I am scared. I fall asleep scared. Now I am safe from the horror of being thrown back into the arena, (Unless this is one of those Wacky Quell Games where they throw the victors all togeher) but my friends aren't. Briar is only 17. She can still go. Leven is 13 like me. She could go. Her twin could go. My other friends could go. But I can't. For some reason it makes me feel so helpless I scream. My family is at my side in an instant, telling me I'll be fine, just relax. "No," I say, throwing back the white fleece covers. "No, it's not fine." And then I throw on my boots and run out of the house. I know, totally dramatic. But it was the only thing I could think to do. No one looks for me. They don't need to worry about me getting sick. I have a strong immune system and cold weather doesn't bother me. Especially rain. I love rain, and snow. All precipitation. Also if I do get sick, they will take me to the village doctor right away and she will give me special treatment because I am a victor. Not my friends, though. Somehow, it doesn't seem fair. I curl up under a tree stump. "Hey," a voice says. I look up. "What? Charcol?" Charcol grins at my obliviation to his appearance. "Heard it was your birthday. Got something for you." He hand me a little box. I open it to find a siler maple leaf pin. "I know it's not much," he says, "but I wanted you to have it." I grin at him. "Thanks," I say, smiling. For a minute we just stare at each other. Me entangled in the pine, him out in the newfallen snow. "Come on," he says. "Let's get you home." I stiffen. "I don't want to go home," I say. He laughs. "Then at least come share my coat." I do. It's warm inside and smells like smoke, a good, autumn-like smell. "Thanks," I say, no other words forming in my head that I could say. Then we sit there. For a long time, around 15 minutes. Then I straighten, taking my head off his shoulder. "I have to go," I say. "Thanks so much." When he smiles, I feel all bubbly and happy. Suddenly, I can't wait to get home.
"And the girl is... MARIA AZEALIA!" I'm on the platform, and I hold back the scream. "Maria," I whisper when she reaches the stage, "Please try really hard." Maria nods. Leven's face below is stricken, and she's sobbing. Maria, I notice, is trying to be confident, but she has tears running out her green eyes. Silent ones. The boy's name is drawn, and it's Storm Skye. They shake hands and then the peacekeepers drag them off the stage.
Leven is going nuts. Then finally she twitches and collapses. "Leven!" I scream. "She's in shock!" someone yells. I whirl around. "Shock, in shock, her heart could stop any minute now..." I twist and turn, then a branch hits my face. "Thyme," I remember someone telling me as they showed me the plant. "It's good for shock." That was Briar, one time when we were in the woods. I was doing a project on leaf classification and she helped me. "Thanks, Briar!" I whisper, tearing off a clump of leaves, opening Leven's mouth and shoving them down her throat. She coughs, then the leaves go down. "Eyugh," she finally groans. "Those... taste horrible." "Leven!" I cry, glad she's back. "Eclipse," she sighs. Then she sits up. "What's going on?" "The reaping..." I trail off as the color drains from Leven's face. "No! No! Maria! Is she still... is she..." "Don't worry, Leven," I tell her. "Your sister will be safe. I'll train her as best I can." Leven hugs me, wraps her arms around me like a boa constrictor. "Crushing... me..." I grunt, which finally makes her let go. "Just try. That's all I want you to do." I nod. "Go on ahead, remember, you still have another little sister to look after." She grins. "See you around." "See you," I say. Then I am being whisked off to the Capitol. But first, I see Charcol running up to me, holding something in his hands. "Eclipse!" he yells. He tries to throw it to me, but it only floats in the other direction, as if he's throwing a sheet of paper. I reach out to catch it, but it floats out of my grasp. But I see it clearly as it touches the snow. The pink almost leached out of it in some places, the dew on it sparkling like diamonds.
Its a rose.
I look out at the streets of the Capitol. Ridiculous. Every one of them seems to be altered just for this event. I try to avoid eye contact with anyone. After Maria finishes training I will be going home to Ditrict 0 to watch her. There are other, more experienced victors of District 0 that can look after her better.
I wonder what will happen now.
Maria's chariot rides are excellent. She is in a midnight blue dress. Lights flicker around it, making te dress seem alive with shooting stars. My prep team, they work like magic. She manages to pull an 6 in training. OK, not the best training score I've seen but good enough.
She seems very bright and skilled and she is ery determined.
So why do I feel so worried?