Never Say Goodbye

"Well, I guess this is goodbye," she told me and I could see the tears pricking her eyes.
"Never say goodbye, because goodbye means leaving and leaving means forgetting. And I never want to forget you. Ever," I announce and she nods, a tear streaking her dirt stained face.
"I guess since 'friendly' isn't working for me I'll stick to straight facts," she chokes out, her tears causing her to stumble over her words. My own tears stream down my face and I clench the night lock tighter.
"This is the end," she states and I nod trying to hide my tears from her.
"Three," she begins. I open my hand to reveal the black berries staining the palm of my hand. I grab her hand and she doesn't protest. She is the best friend I've ever had and I want her to know that.
"Two," I answer her call, my voice rings out in the emptiness of the arena. Her hand tightens on mine and she raises our arms in the air. A signal, not of surrender or defeat but one of salvation and ending.
"One."

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4. Chapter 4

That night as Marie slept I studied the object I'd picked up earlier. Fog still littered the ground like rubble from a burnt building so we decided to sleep in a tree. I watch as the faces light up the sky. They went in order and I counted who all was alive. Both from District 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11 were dead. Which left Marie, and the boy from 3, both from four, the boy from 10, Matt and I. I shook my head in distaste, this is only the first day for crying out loud. I run my fingers along the rough edges of the object and a small flame appears. Instantly I recognize the object. A lighter. I shove it into the backpack I picked up and sort through its contents. There are several packs of dried food and knives. I also notice pieces of wood in the back pack. I get an idea and a wicked smile grows on my face. Tomorrow will be a day to remember. Tomorrow will be the end of the Hunger Games, this I know for sure. One day more.
                 Voices wake me up and instinct kicks in making me more alert than I normally would be after just waking up. I peer down the trunk of the tree and find Marie harassing a boy with wispy light brown hair that hangs in his face. My heart stops. I half leap half fall out of the tree and throw myself at him. Marie steps out of the way, shocked as I put my arms around him. Tears pour down my cheeks in streams and I relax as his arms wrap around my middle. 
"I thought you were dead, you, you ran into the fog," I sob into his shoulder and he pulls me closer to him. I hear his heartbeat in his chest and I'm comforted.
"Not the shoulder, Asha," he groans and I back up noticing the gash in his shoulder for the first time. My hand flies to my mouth and Matt smiles the same half smirk he always does when he sees me. I smile back and my heart feels full for the first time in a while. 
"I see how it is, stick with me until Prince Charming shows up then leave. I get it," Marie retorts, leaving Matt and I behind. A frown crosses my lips and Matt nods his head in her direction.
"Go after her. We'll need her," he announces and I nod following Marie. I find her sitting against a tree with her arms crossed against her chest. I sit beside her and wait for her to talk, knowing she will.
"I was foolish. Why did I pick you?" She goes on sadly. I frown.
"Why did you pick me?" I ask curiously and she sighs. 
"I picked you because you seemed innocent. I've trained my whole life for this and I didn't want it. I wanted you because I hoped maybe you would be able to remind me of a time before all this crap," she explains and I keep my head lowered to the ground.
"I, I would be proud to call you my friend but I thought you'd bite my head off if I did and I wanted you as a friend because I don't have anyone to go home to. The only person I have in this world is Matt and now I have you but...only if you'd be okay. With that," I blurt out as fast as I can than close my eyes and wait for her reaction. After a few seconds I open my eyes to see her sitting there reflectively.
"You really have no one?" She questioned and I let my shoulders sag. I begin to tell her everything. Literally everything about me. She listens intently only interrupting when she has a question until I finish. By the time I'm done Matt has joined us and he sits beside me his fingers intertwined with mine.  She nods and begins her own story, talking about her mom and how she'd died in an accident. Her dad, with no clue on how to raise her and her brother, sent them both to a training facility so they could prepare for the Hunger Games. Her brother found friends and soon ditched Marie leaving her alone with no one who cared about her. When she was chosen for the Hunger Games her brother laughed at her and denied his relation to her. So she came to the arena filled with hate and anger not expecting any support only to find out that her brother had volunteered for the unlucky kid who'd got chosen. Then she'd met me and everything just clicked for her. She felt relaxed around me but that was making her edgy because she knew her brother was going to come after her in the end. I listen in silence and so does Matt. At the end of her story I sit for a few seconds before finally I reach over and hug her. She seems so confused at first and I felt bad, she probably hasn't been hugged in a long while, but then I feel her hug me back. It's a gesture of friendship and compromise, a promise of strength and soundness. When we let go I look her in the eye and smile. She smiles back and instantly we both know the plan.

 

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