Not until now did President Snow ever personally scare me. By seeing my best friend- her blood the smell of the white flowers. By seeing my best friend die before my eyes. By seeing a girl named Angle shoot my mother. The sweet smell of pomegranate perfume melted into my nine year old brother Chris's clothing. Everyone could tell my mother left a part of her with us. And that wasn't something we were proud of.
I will retell my story for the sake of my dead friend and mother.
The morning light arose. Naturally, my family and I were poor. We only had a milk shop, which provided dairies, cream, cheese from the heart center.
My nine year old brother Chris was peeling a raw potato I offered to help sweeten. He said he'd peel it first, since he can't wait for his birthday. It's two days close, and he hardly can keep his glasses on. They slip off his nose every time someone mentions it. I stared at the thin cracks in the clay pot I had dropped 2 hours ago. It still lay on the floor, untouched. Chris slipped the knife, and his glasses slipped next. His grip was firm on the potato, and I wondered how he could keep this up any longer. He picked up the spoon, and then his glasses. He slipped them on, and held the knife so tight, his knuckles turned white. Then, he turned to me and said, "Can you work on the raised part? It won't cut."
I took the knife, and nodded. I held the potato, and smiled at Chris reasuringly. "Yes." I said, and peeled over all the round.
"That's not fair," Chris said. I gave him the knife and potato, and just cringed.
"Careful with that," I joked. Chris smirked, and kept peeeling it. An eighth time, it slipped out of his hands. I had to roll my eyes, then pick it up. Because if I didn't, his glasses would be next.
The clay pot rolled back and forth, back and forth, then out the room. I didn't pay attention- until there was a scream. I turned to see who it was, it was my 17 year old sister Vienne.
Vienne was sprawled on the floor, and she happened to slip on the pot. I winced, then picked up the pot. She rubbed her back, then glowered at me.
"I've got news for you," she said. She grabbed my hand and brought me to mom. Mom was rolling dough, which I rarely have seen her do. Mom does this on sad occasions, and her face was shaken with fear and misery.
"What is it mom?" I asked, letting her drop the pin and embrace me. She let me cry- I couldn't help thinking about what was so terrible that my mother would roll dough.
"Vienne," she said. "Tell her."
Vienne gave me a sad downright look. I knew I was gone then- that look meant something bad was coming.
“You’ve been chosen to be a tribute for the Hunger Games,” she began softly. “And no one has taken your place.”
Once the news bit my head, I poured. Actually, I did pour some milk into a jug and set it on the counter.
“Okay,” I whispered softly. “I understand.”
“You- you do? Are you sure you’ll be fine?” My mother said, not even bothering to wipe her tears. Her brown eyes were once those they were before- a young girl watching her sister die in the Games. Vienne entering the Games seven years ago. Now Vienne’s a mentor, and she’s had enough experience. Being twenty-seven, Vienne’s known what I’ll be up against. She’s been victor. It’s been running through our veins. The Games.
“Will you be my mentor?” I asked steadily, ready for the “yes” in that tone. But there was no tone, or even a yes.
“No.” Vienne said, her tone serious, never like before. “I won’t. This is no joke. And this is why I’ve been here- it would at least help me if someone had taken your place. But no one has, and so here I am, waiting. I’ve been a mentor to a tribute before- and she hasn’t won. It wasn’t like that, sis. It won’t until it- the Games- stop.”
“Vienne is right.” My mother threw her arms around me and sobbed. “I can’t lose you. Vienne knows that. She’ll mentor you, I’m sure, but she won’t officially. The capitol is always twined with her- she’ll never.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you won’t- leave.” Vienne said, and led me away from my mother. Chris was in the room I’d been happy a few minutes ago, not aware of the news. He noticed Vienne and I so dead silent. He placed his potato on the chair, and set his knife. His glasses tipped, and he caught them just in time. Then, he eyed us carefully, and asked, “What’s wrong, Vi? Lise?”
We didn’t reply. Chris watched us walk out the room, to the front door.
“Down be so downhearted,” Vienne said glumly. “You’ll see, soon. You’ll see what I mean.”
From the roof, the capitol looks beautiful. It shines and lights up most of the other districts- you can see the roofs light up. It’s been my fourth day here, and up until now, everything’s okay. My mentor- Shine Brenkrett is just about what you call average. He’s spent most of his life a mentor- after being a victor at age 15. He’s lost all he had, and has never managed to get his tributes to win. And Vienne’s right beside me, her slim body poised in a slanting shape, her perfume difting to my nose, reminding me of her room, which always smelled of Cotton Strawberries, and Petal Foam. The smell relaxed me. Vienne watched the sky in silence. Maybe for some sort of a sign. I didn’t have the slight idea why. Vienne watched me, then sighed.
“It’s hard.” She finally breathed. In the cold air, her breath collected, and I watched it hover, and then disappear. “Seeing my sister- my little sister enter the Games. Well, it’ll be your interview with the other tributes- we’ll see as it goes.”
Not much went too well. I’ve not met my prep team, who Vienne says they will clean me up for dressing. Well, I will tonight. It’s been exhausting so far. Vienne’s led me through almost all my floor. Introducing me to some. And my room has nothing odd- as I might think there would be. But all is well. Vienne descended the steps then, and I followed her. Into my room, there was a brown haired girl with a sad face, who was cleaning my bed, dusting my rugs. Arranging the order of items on my desks and shelves.
Well, they weren’t really mine. I watched the brown haired girl look down and exit my room without a word. I wondered who she was. Most of all, I wondered why she was so sad, and why she wasn’t speaking. I lay on my clean bed, and rested until there was a slight knock on my door. It was Shine. He was saying something- but I knew. I followed him out the door, and into the elevator.
“So, Elise. Vienne’s told me you’re good at throwing knives. There are some- well not to exaggerate, quite a lot. You’ll be interviewed tonight, first- your stylist, did you meet her-?” I shook my head no. “-She’ll have your- ah, here we are. Be good.” He gave a wink, and slipped out the elevator. I followed, and he led me to a door- most likely a bath. He opened the door, and let me in. I closed it behind me. When I stepped in, the water was warm- but there was one thing I didn’t understand. Why was I taking a bath?
I continued to pour some oil and scents inside, until it slightly smelled of my mother’s. Exactly my mother’s. I was just ready to slip out approximately half an hour later. I didn’t have time to exit, because I was drawn to a room in the corner. There were three people- with colored skin. It was odd, but I could live with it. The one with blue tinted skin had her ears pierced 4 on her ears. Gold, shiny and absolutely odd. She smiled at me. Her hair patted down- her blue hair. The second with the slightly aqua had aqua hair, and the one with tinted orange had red hair.
“She needs work,” the red haired one said, examining me. I traced Vienne’s words- and figured this was my prep team.
“Yes, on the neckline?” the others murmured in agreement.
Before I knew it, I was lying flat on the what’s-you-call-it. I knew Vienne meant this. Clean me up. Oh, sure. It didn’t hurt at all. Soon, my skin was stinging. Every hair on my body was plucked- until all the hair that was, was on my head. Then, I needed to step in something that tickled, and when I came out, I was soaked with something else, and dried. Now I was shining. Even my blond hair had been transformed into a glossy fixture.
I was ready for my dress.
My skin itched for clothes. I guess the substance made my still feel ticklish. But I needed something- and my stylist, Clasp, had chosen it.
A dress of shine.
I gasped at the dress. It was copper colored, entirely silk, wrapped in another soft fabric that shimmered- and netted black sleeves. It was the dress of my dreams.
Clasp, tried it on me- and it fit my size. I worked my way into the dress, and then Clasp pushed my hair back. The blond glowed off- and Clasp smiled, as she checked my eyes- the lashes finely done. The powder untouchable.
My prep team- Seach, Vase, and Fienre, had done a nice job. Clasp clasped her hands together, and circled her index finger. I turned, so my back was to her. Clasp traced her finger over the seam, the stiches, that were so perfect, they were almost invicible. Clasp smiled, and said, “You’re ready, Elise. You’ll shine.” I hope I would. In my room, the same girl with clipped brown hair and red scratches on her was fixing my sheets. They were scrubbed clean. The girl wore the same sad expression.
"Hello," I said catiously, wondering why she was here again. She noticed the tone of my voice, and looked up sadly. I immediatly gave up the "who-are-you?" question that was just about to come out of my mouth. "What's your name?" I asked instead. But she just shook her head sadly, and fixed the last pillow. I had to remember to ask Vienne about her some other time.
I was just in time. Vienne's arms were outstretched, and I flew into them. She smelled of the delicious perfume she always wore- and not until now did I realize my sister had a life outside home. I always thought of her annoying- but all this she had to do? And her last tribute was unlucky- I imagined how sorry she felt afterward, watching her die.
"Good luck, Elise Adle." she closed her eyes and kissed me on the cheek. "Go. Panem is waiting. The whole world is."
And I stepped the last step down, until every camera was screwed towards me. Catching every part of me. I was there- I was someone who never was.
I was asked my first, could I talk about my life in the Games already.
"Well," I said slowly, dead silence following. "My sister, Vienne Adle, has been a past tribute. This- 84th Hunger Games to take place- I-" I swallowed, that was it. What else could I say. The world was waiting for me to finish. Every eye in the room trained on me. I could see Vienne pleading me to go on. "Oh yes- I-" I began again, thinking fast. "I know what the obstacles are- I've seen it on TV. Looks a bit too hard- maybe dramatic-" there was a large collective gasp "-and when I was younger, I thought it was all a stunt until they told me the truth, when my sister was called for the reaping." There was a pang of suspense over there, if only I could hold it longer... "-she was pretty old-" I swear Vienne was blushing "-I mean, she was in fact, seventeen. Well, anyways, my mother's sister was a tribute. I have it in my veins, the Games. I, of course, hard to say, always feared the Games, but now I feel- different. Thanks to-" I directed my gaze "-all of whom I met here, and supportive- my sister, who hasn't done much but mentor-" I giggled "-which she's supposed to do. That is all my outside life with the Games." The truth was, there were much more. I shared the shock of the audience after my speech.
"Well, that was quite stunning," Caesar Flickerman said. "Wasn't that long? Tell about how you feel with your... er...supporters here."
"I feel great." I said truthfully. I needed to choose my words carefully, because this was going on TV, all across Panem, that is. My secrets shouldn't be exposed. "Especially when I came here, I guess."
"And your social? Anything special that we'd like to know?"
"My family- that is. My family has a milk shop. We make dairy products there- most of the time my brother Chris likes to sweeten potatoes." I said ernestly. "Well that's all I'd like to say about my family."
"And your friends? Any one else?" Caesar was waiting with an edge.
"I don't talk about it, because there's no one there listening now."
Caesar turned slightly red, then turned back and babbled a bunch of other stuff. My talk over Panem was over. I went back up the small staircase, and fled into my seat, cutting close, watching every other tribute. I didn't want to give myself away like Vienne did.
"Don't tell me you have it too." Vienne pursed her lips. It's been seven days here, and now I'm holding a knife, trying to crave the insides of sharp wood as I would to a tribute. The thing is, I wasn't ready for it.
"You can do better!" Vienne threw up her hands. "I'm doing this because I'm afraid you'll-"
"Die?" I said sourly. My insides were boiling up, tears building in my eyes as I angrily made a stab at the wood. The knife got stuck in, and wouldn't come out. "I know people think me weak. FRANKLY, I DON'T CARE, MAYBE BECAUSE I HAVE TWO SIBLINGS!" I pulled the knife out, and the end hit my stomach. I let out a blood-curling scream that even Vienne covered her ears. I landed on the floor, hand over my stomach, the knife still clanched tightly in my hand. I was tightened up, not loose, afraid another slam would come.
And I would knock out.
"I understand how you feel," Vienne said softly, helping me up. "I felt that way, too. You'll see- you'll understand. Enough for today."
As I heaved my bruised self up, I threw the knife into the box that feel off, and everything inside spilled. Vienne and I went inside the elevator, and Vienne let me off at my room. I went in, and there was the brown-haired girl.
Damn! I had forgotten to ask Vienne. Too late, the elevator had went down. The girl immediatly worked my clothes, scruffing, handed out cleaner, satin clothing, something I would prefer higher-classed people should wear. Not me, a poor girl with a family who owned a milk shop.
After my bath, I came out in the clothing. I lay in my bed, feelingmuch better, cleaner. My cuts had become almost invisible scars. I covered them with the long sleeves. The brown ahired girl handed me a pin to tie my hair. I shook my head, and said, "You can."
She adjusted the pin to the back of my hair, until I looked elegant.
"Thank you," I said. "Who are you? I'll do anything to repay you."
The girl shook her head sadly and opened her mouth, then drew an X with her index finger over her mouth, and a slit over her neck. I gasped, for there was no tongue. I cried out, then the girl looked down again sadly.
"I'm sorry- I was just- you can be my friend." I said, offering a pin on the dresser. She shook her head, and drew a slit over her neck. I understood. If she accepted, they would kill her. They were just so cruel.
"Sit, it's okay. Just for a few- you must be tired." I offered her again. And some of my saved mushroom soup. She took the bowl gingerly and slurped slowly. I smiled at her admiringly, and began to knob my fingers. There was sudden knocking at the door. The girl almost dropped the bowl in terror, and got to her feet rather quickly. I held up my hands in a "wait up!" way, and took the bowl. I drank some, to make it look as though I had eaten. I gave the girl a napkin to wipe her mouth. Then, I opened the door. Shine and Vienne were waiting, looking at the girl.
"What?" Vienne began.
"Who is that?" I blurted rather rudely.
"An Avox. She's done a crime, so her tongue's cut out, and she can't speak." Shine said quickly. The Avox girl darted a look at Vienne.
"Um, Vienne? As my sister-" I said the word 'sister' loudly so the Avox girl could hear. Her eyes widened. "-do I get to..er..well..."
"At dinner," Vienne promised, leading me to the elevator with Shine. I was going to see Shallow, the boy from District 8, my district. Clasp was there, and Truth, Shallow's stylist.
"-Too much ginger," Truth was scoffing. Vienne shrugged and sat next to me, so I was across from Shallow, who immediatly looked down.
Truth saw me, and said, "Ah, Elise Adle. Your story was the best this year."