He focuses his gaze directly onto the camera. I feel a hand –my own, I assume – cover my mouth. As I stare, transfixed, at the pixelated screen, I feel as though he is truly standing before me. His eyes appear to meet mine, so familiar, yet so distant. Once upon a time, every muscle in my face would relax upon the sight of him. Now, every muscle in my body stands rigid. As I fight to keep my composture, I barely register what Bourne says next.
“New leaders, however, mean new regulations. Having revisited footage from previous government ideals, we have decided that, in the interest of ourselves and our citizens, there shall be one more year of The Hunger Games.”
My first instinct is to run to the woods. Instead, I keep my feet firmly rooted to the ground. Somewhere within my peripheral vision, I see Prim burst into tears, and Finn collapse onto the couch. I know, somehow, that this is my doing. I played a part in these games. Worst of all, I pulled out the berries. I sparked the rebellion. I ignited the games.
I do not notice how short and rapid my breaths are, until Peeta pulls his arms around me. The same arms which held me in the arena, and warded off nightmares for so many years. My mouth fills with the sweet taste of blood, combining with the salted taste of tears. It occurs to me where the word ‘bittersweet’ originates from. Peeta is there, still holding me, still rubbing his hand in circular motions along my back, still fighting. Which is why, when Bourne speaks next, I recollect myself to whatever extent I can.
She clears her throat. “As mentioned, these games will be temporary. Only one year, to serve as a gentle reminder. The reapings will take place instantly. In order to avoid confusion, households will be required to make their way to the town square as soon as this broadcast is over. Any attempts to flee will result in death. Peacekeepers carry guns, don’t forget.” A malicious grin makes its way across her face, just as the screen switches back to a vast space of nothing.