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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2. Finnick has a Secret

My heart stops. That’s my name. My real name. No one calls me Andrea. Only my mother used to use that name. It sounds dirty coming from Raven’s mouth. Like a bad word. My good luck necklace didn’t work. It was supposed to work. Finnick said it would work.

He lied.

I’m pushed through the crowd, hands grabbing at me and throwing me toward the stage. Raised voices wash over me. Shouting. Chanting.

My eyes wander hopelessly over the crowd but no one volunteers. Why would they? If I’m up hear it means down there a girlfriend, a friend, a sister, is safe. Where are the Careers when you want them? My mind is spinning so fast I barely register the name of the male tribute being called.

It’s Kier Fen, only one year older than me. I recognise him from the docks. He spends all day during fishing season carry the days catch to and from the different warehouses and onto the train to be sent to the Capitol. He’s tall and strong with a head of tawny brown hair and dark, olive-coloured, skin. He seems proud when his name is called, like he wanted this, like he was a Career. But we all watch as a crying middle-aged woman that looks just like him, runs at him desperately before being dragged away by Peacekeepers. We all see him turn the other way, unable to find the courage to look at her. He marches to the stage shaking the hands stretching out to him, chanting following him. He has the steely look in his eyes of someone who will do whatever it takes to not let his mother cry again. With that look he’s promised that he won’t be the one to die. He’s guaranteed that if anyone from here is coming home, it certainly won’t be the weak girl standing next to him on the stage.

Suddenly a microphone is pushed in my face and Raven’s asking me if I have anything inspiring to say to my district. I can’t say anything. My throat has closed up. I gape silently for what feels like forever until Raven gets the picture and asks Kier the same question. Kier replies grimly “I just want to make my District proud”. The crowd cheers loudly and Raven nods sagely before proclaiming Kier to be a “very insightful young man”. He doesn’t mention me at all.

Kier and I are ushered off the stage and into the Justice Building where I sit on my own in a large room for almost two hours before my family walk in. My father looks more dishevelled than usual. He is unshaven and the tails of his shirt are only half tucked into his trousers. He rushes over to me and holds me so tight I almost can’t breathe. It’s as if he’s trying to take some of me with him. I want to cry but I don’t, it would only set him off and I need him to remember me now and remember that this is real. That I’m leaving and not ever coming back. I squeeze him back just as tightly breathing in his salty sea smell that is as ingrained in his pores as it is in mine. I pull back and straighten his shirt.

             “Don’t forget to eat Da, okay?” I say searching his milky blue eyes for any reaction to what I’m saying. He nods in a distracted sort of way and I repeat myself to make sure he’s heard me properly.

             “I hear ya Marilla, I hear ya” he kisses me on the cheek and smiles when I take in a sharp breath. That’s my mother’s name. Where does he think he is right now? Four years ago and kissing my mother in the morning before she leaves for work?

             “Don’t worry love, we’ll make sure he eats” my Nan says and slaps my older sister Alba on the back.

It is Alba’s turn to say goodbye next. She twists her engagement ring on her finger around and around. A nervous twitch she’s picked up since getting engaged. Suddenly she has her arms around me and she’s whispering but my hair is in the way. Even so, I make out her words.

            “Stay safe and stay near water”

She pulls away and I manage a weak smile. “Have a good wedding okay?” I say. She grips my hand so hard the edge of her ring digs into my palm.

          “Oh, this wedding isn’t happening until everyone who’s invited can go. Me and Jorah can wait until you win” she squeezes my hand tightly, “and you will win. You have to”

She doesn’t say it out loud but I instinctively know what she means. My father will not be able to lose another person from his life. The death of our mother already took so much life out of him, anymore and he’ll be just a husk.

Nan just strokes my hair and tells me over and over again that it is okay, maybe I can win. I let her say these things even though I know they’re not true. I can’t win. I may be from a District known for its Career tributes but I’m no Career. Like most of the girls in our District, I dive for clams and seaweed and sell the leftovers to the restaurants in town. I do housework for anyone who’ll hire me and I mix arthritic-remedy salves to sell in the market with my Nan’s homemade jewellery. Anything to make money. But Nan can’t make knots anymore. Even now I can feel her swollen joints struggle as she strokes my cheek.   

            “When you come home I will have every single one of your favourite meals waiting for you. So you have to come home Annie. You’re coming home dew” I can see she’s trying very hard not to cry and she almost succeeds. I tell her I love her and she touches her heart with three fingers spread out in a trident shape and she points them back to me. A District Four salute saved for loved relatives at their births and funerals as a mark of respect. I don’t know what she’s trying to tell me but I’m not sure I want to know. She hugs me tightly and I prick back tears.

            “Don’t let go of me” I beg squeezing her harder than I did my father. She’s shorter than me but enveloped in her arms I feel like I’m that eight year old girl being comforted by her grandmother after coming home with skinned knees and bruised arms after swimming too close to the rocks.

            “I won’t” she promises me but far too soon I’m peeled from her arms as she and the rest of my family are escorted out of the building. When they leave I gasp and run my hands over my face. I’ve been crying without even realising it.

A few more people come and go. Girl’s I dive with mostly, full of sad words and little sweets so I have something to suck on on the train. When they leave Verity Aminon walks in, much to my surprise. Tall and stocky Verity; my neighbour since we were both toddlers. The last time I spoke to her was at my mother’s funeral, back when she and I were still friends.

It’s clear she doesn’t know what to say to me. Her mouth opens and closes like a little fish. She touches my arm briefly, trying to comfort me. I want to shrug her arm off but that would be rude. Frankly, at this moment I’m grateful for any company. Eventually she clears her throat and says faintly; “I’m sorry Annie. I wish it wasn’t you” But I can see in her eyes that she’s glad it’s not her or her younger brothers.

When she leaves I’m left alone for what feels like hours. I sit at the edge a velvet sofa, poised as if to jump from my seat and run straight out the door. I’ve never seen anyone try to run from being a Tribute but I suppose it does happen. To violent ends. I keep an eye on the door hoping that Finnick will walk through them any minute. The doors creak open and I jump up just as a Peacekeeper stamps in to bring me to the train. I’m pretty sure Mentors are not allowed to visit the Tributes unless directly related but I can’t help be disappointed he didn’t come to see me. I suppose Finnick wouldn’t want to show favouritism anyway. He wouldn’t want Kier to doubt his ability to mentor him successfully. I get up and take one last look out at the Justice Buildings window to the square. I’ll never see it again.

The train is just how Finnick described. It was the only part of his Hunger Games he described in any detail. The luxurious train is coated in plush velvet from the carpet to the walls to the sofas. A long, solid wood table stands in the centre of the carriage and is laden with steaming bowls of the most mouth-watering food I’ve ever seen or smelt in my life.

Kier is already shovelling food into his mouth. I join him, gorging on all the delicious things. But after living on nothing but fish, bread and rice for sixteen years my stomach can’t handle the richness and I promptly throw up on the floor. Raven recoils in disgust while Kier solidly continues eating as if nothing’s happened. I stand up shakily just as Finnick and Isla Moore walk in. Finnick enters first looking as ill as I feel and Isla follows, scowling at us from under a thick, black, fringe. I was hoping to see Mags but I completely forgot that Isla, as our latest female Victor, would be mentoring. Isla steps right over my sick, sits beside me and starts to eat an apple.

Finnick, upon seeing that I’ve been sick, immediately calls for a waiter to clean up. He helps me to my room where he sits beside me on the bed and rubs my back comfortingly. I can’t help it, the gesture reminds me so much of my Nan that I need something to say something or I will burst into tears. The quiet weighs heavily on me and I need there to be words said out loud. Just something to break the silence. I worry that Finnick feels awkward or uncomfortable so I try my hand at a joke.

       “I guess the odds just weren’t in my favour this year, huh” It is a poor attempt and just makes me feel nauseous. Finnick groans in response and jumps up running his hands forcefully through his hair.

          “This has nothing to do with the odds” his says, his voice is rough and low, almost like a growl. He walks to the window and clenches his hands around the edge of the sill. I can see the whites of his knuckles straining against his skin.

            “Can’t you see that it’s my fault?” he says, softer this time. His hands relax but he keeps them firmly in place.

          “What do you mean?” I ask. He’s not making any sense. It’s a lottery. Names are chosen at random. My name must be in there near on twenty or twenty-five times. I’ve lost track. Finnick doesn’t speak for a while and when he finally does, he speaks to the window as if he cannot bear to even look at me.

            “They know we’re friends Annie. They know you’re the only one left I…” he breaks off.

            “Who do? What are you talking about?”

I don’t like this quiet around Finnick. Even in his worst moments he was loud. I can’t count the number of times I’ve woken him up because he’d fallen asleep outside in the mid-day sun and was having screaming nightmares. He is always loud. He has to be. I need him to be.

            “Finn? What happened? What’s going on?”

His hands are now on his arms, fingernails digging in so hard I fear he may hurt himself. He shakes his head. “It doesn’t matter. Forget I said anything” His voice hitches slightly and he turns quickly to leave. I think he’s about to cry. I have only ever seen Finnick cry once before.

            “Finnick!” I say loudly, half in desperation, half in exasperation. He slips out of the door and of course I follow him but he is too quick. He goes into his own room and slams the door behind him. There is nothing I can do but go back to my own room and wait for the train to stop.

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