Indivisible

This story chronicles Annie Cresta's time in the Hunger Games and her relationship with Finnick Odair


WARNING: Contains mentions of swearing, drinking, violence and sexual assault.

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1. Chosen

EDIT: For anyone who has read the first chapter of this already I have changed it slightly and split it into two chapters. I will publish the original chapter in a different movella at a later time.

 

“And suddenly, it's as if there's no one in the world but these two, crashing through space to reach each other. They collide, enfold, lose their balance, and slam against a wall, where they stay. Clinging into one being. Indivisible”

Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

 

               “Only two more Reaping Days left for you now, Annie” Finnick says through a mouthful of half-chewed apple. He lies back onto the net hammock strung between two palm trees in his garden. I grin and lean back on my hunkers, squinting up at him. I disregard the weed I was trying to dislodge from the dry earth.

               “Is that all it is?” I reply sarcastically and pull of my gardening gloves. Two more Reaping Days. Two more years until the slips of paper with my name on them will be removed from those glass bowls. I pour myself a drink of water from the ice-cold jug Finnick placed beside me and take long, rushed, gulps.

                “You’d better get changed and head over; the Reaping starts in an hour”

                “I’m not the only one who has to attend”

                “Is it not enough that I had to live it once? Do I have to re-live it every single year?” he spits bitterly and a chunk of apple falls from his mouth to the ground.

I say nothing and walk into the house. Finnick rarely talks about his games but when he does it is not an invitation to ask more. I know the only reason we’ve become friends is because I don’t ask. I glance behind me. He hasn’t moved. He kicks his legs off the end of the hammock and swings it gently. Then he just lies still, looking up at the sky as if there were words written on it that he could read.

Luckily I had the foresight to bring my clothes with me. I always stay longer than I intend to in Finnick’s house. It started off as just a simple cleaning job, like all the others I have, but now it’s more than that. I love looking at the soft plush furniture in every room and all the shades of blue and green the walls are painted in. Finnick hates it. He says that you can’t replicate the colour of the sea. The designers of the Victor’s houses certainly tried and personally I think they succeeded.

I trail my fingers over the seashells carved into the hall walls as I head to the bathroom. I slip out of my work-clothes and into an old dress of my mothers. This is the first year I’ve filled out enough to actually wear it. I always loved it when my mother wore it. The greeny-blue colouring matched her eyes perfectly and the hem of lace on the ends of the sleeves and the skirt is like a cresting wave; very befitting our family name. I shove my feet into my sandals and let my hair down. I brush out my dark curls with my fingers trying to make them lie still and tuck some of it behind my ear.

Splashing my face with hot water from the sink I can’t get over the fact that Finnick has a steady stream of hot water available to him whenever he wants it. He doesn’t even wash all that often. It’s wasted on him.

I leave the bathroom and find Finnick waiting for me by the door twisting something in his hands nervously.

                “Aren’t you going to get changed?” I ask eyeing his getup of trousers far too short for his long legs and a faded blue shirt. A layer of sand seems to cling to him whatever he does and he drags one hand through his half-dry hair.

              “No, I’m not the one on show right now. I’m only a Mentor. Besides I’m sure Mags will look fabulous enough for both of us” We both crack up at that. If there was one person who cared less about how they appeared than Finnick it would be Mags.

I’m about to leave when Finnick stops me. He hands me the thing he’s been twisting in his hands. It’s a thin, rope necklace twisted into several, tight, elegant, knots. I stare at it for a moment, a little shocked. It looks beautiful. Strands of blue and green are interwoven with the simple rope used for netting and the knots themselves look like little woven beads. A smile spreads across my face as the shock gives way to surprise and joy. I tie it around my neck immediately and go back into the bathroom to see how it looks. The colours are the same as in my dress. How did he match them so well?

               “I made it myself” Finnick grins, a little too pleased with himself. I give him a quick hug of gratitude and when I let go he squeezes my shoulders tightly, “For luck, ok? I don’t want my best housekeeper being taken away. Who’s going to finish de-weeding my garden?”

I roll my eyes and laugh as we leave the house but soon our bubble of brief happiness dissipates and we walk silently to the square. When I see the long lines of Peacekeepers keeping a watchful eye over the crowd from a high vantage point I am forced to remember how sombre the occasion is. The Capital seems to have increased security this year if that is even possible.

I see my Nan waving at me and my Da standing right next to her. My sister and her fiancé can’t be far away too. Finnick leaves me to it but before he goes mouths “Good luck”. All I can manage in return is a weak smile and a quick nod. He walks confidently by the whispering crowd, waving at people and grinning brightly before joining what’s left of our District’s Victors on the stage. He blows a kiss to his audience and I hear cheers. I don’t know how he does it. I clutch at my stomach, grasping a fistful of fabric. If only there was some way to rip these anxious knots from the pits of my belly.

My Nan walks over to me, my Da shuffling behind her. “I was going to give you a little good luck necklace but I see I’ve been beaten to it” My hands jump to the necklace Finnick gave me and I rub one of the knots nervously. She touches my arm lightly.

              “You look just like your mother in that dress” she says and I blush. I go to compliment her but she waves her hands in the air as if to brush the words away from her.

               “Pah, just an old gal tryin’ to do her best!” she laughs, “Good luck dew. I’m sure you’ll be fine” she says. I smile at the use of my old pet name. She called me that when she first came to live with us because she said I was so small and when we would jump from the docks I would climb back up and perch at the edge the way a little wet dew-drop hangs at the edge of a leaf.

The crowd of young people heading to the Reaping corral is growing bigger so I say my goodbyes and head in. After being signed in, I join the girls from school. Some of them giggle and point at Finnick who is now deep in conversation with another Victor, Marlin Rivers, fifty-two years old, who has just taken off one of his prosthetic legs to wave it at the cameras.

I roll my eyes at the girls. Any one of them could be Reaped today and they’re wondering if Finnick plans to marry soon. As soon as I think this I chastise myself. Maybe they’re just looking for a distraction too. I look at around me trying to see anyone I know enough to talk to. I am surrounded by strangers. Our District is too large and some are too excited by today’s events, jostling around and making it hard for me to see clearly though the crowd. Everyone is talking to someone so I just stand still and breathe evenly and slowly. My family is somewhere near the back with all the other people who are either too old or too young to be placed in the games. At this moment in time I would give anything to listen to Nan croon one of Four’s old sea ballads while my sister braids my hair like she used to when we were kids.

Suddenly the crack of a microphone deadens the low murmur of the crowd to silence. All of District Four watch as Raven Peridot, our District’s escort, stalks across the stage an extravagant cloak of ebony feathers trailing behind him. He really does look like a raven today with his beady black eyes, slicked back blue-black hair like smooth feathers, and shoes that end in five metal, claw-like spikes. Raven has been our escort for five years now and he hasn’t aged a bit. Every year his skin is pulled tighter and tighter across his facial features. Now his nose extends from his face as if it were a beak. He started working with us the year Finnick was picked as Tribute and appears to still count it as his finest moment.

Ravens voice crackles to life from all the surrounding speakers and the Peacekeepers stands even straighter. “Welcome District Four, my old friends, to the 70th annual Hunger Games!” he crows into the microphone and all I can feel is a cruel twist in my stomach at the mention of friends. Friends don’t send friends to their death.

My fingers rub the knots around my neck and I take a quick glance around me while Raven gathers himself beside the bowl for the female tributes. There are a lot of pieces of paper with my name on them in that bowl but there are also a lot of girls in District Four. I wonder which of the girls around me will be called and if I’ll know them. The knot in my stomach tightens as Raven caws the familiar saying “May the luck of the ocean guide you through”. I don’t know why he always says that. If he ever had a family member drown in that same ocean he wouldn’t be calling it so lucky. A calming sensation spreads over me as his bird-like hands drops into the female Tributes bowl. If I can just get through today then I’ll be fine.

              “Ladies first!” Raven trills as he claws for a scrap of paper. His hand rustles around in the glass globe and eventually he pulls a name out. On the big screens around the stage I see him lick his lips and smile fiendishly.

               “This year’s female Tribute is…” he draws it out building up suspense knowing the Capital public will just lap it up, “Andrea Cresta!”

Me.

 

 

 

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