From District Four came the two, a boy and girl like me and you. Through the Arena they battled until one day, daydreamer Maeve, dreamed her life away. My very short entry for the Catching Fire competition. 669 words. One of three winners for the Catching Fire competition.


1. Melusine

Mother always said I was suited to District Four, with all the water. I can believe her easily, as when I was a little girl, nothing made me happier than slipping into a stream, with water so fast that it was like slipping into liquid glass. The coolness tickling every bit of me, as I saw the edges of my auburn hair churn and writhe at my shoulders, being carried by the water without leaving my side.

It's almost as good here, with all that dappled sunlight around me. It's almost like the ripples I'd see on the underside of the docks back home, when the light hits the lapping waters, and bounces up around me, covering every available surface, as I sat hunched up on a beam of the dock, half-clustered with rough barnacles and slimy moss, attempting to catch the minnows that avoided the lines in a small net I'd been given for my eleventh birthday.

When moments were like that, I'd swear that I knew what being a mermaid felt like. Surrounded by wateriness, yet able to breathe, resting on the twisted mast of a long-sunken ship. That's probably how a mermaid felt.

It's different here though. Here, the stream is deeper, so I could slip down to the bottom twice over, and still not break the surface. I have to clutch the rocks either side to prevent myself from slipping away.

I know I'm safe though, for now. The last few survivors, both from Twelve, one from Nine, the boy from One and the two from Three, are far away, at the clearing. I'm the only one in the forest, halfway beneath the water.

I miss the feeling of the water on my face. But if I blink to allow myself to dip under, to feel the cool softness, I may never rise again.

Do I want to?

The question comes to me out of the air, as if carried by a living jabberjay. What would happen if I never came up?

I know the day I saw my name called, the day I was taken, my mother killed herself. She refused to watch her only child be murdered brutally, for the Capitol's next rap across the head. She didn't wish to see me die, so chose to wait for me in what is beyond.

What would occur if I let myself go, flowing with the waters? I know I would spare myself far less pain, having seen the trident, the bow and arrows, the knives, the sword, and the chain wielded by the survivors. All of those mean bloodshed, and bloodshed is what the Capitol wants. Like how the Capitol wants me.

I know it was no accident that I became a tribute. Only two slips of paper bore the name Maeve Brang, out of several slips that fell into that bowl. They wanted me gone, and they wanted it brutal.

There is no reason of staying. No reason for the rock to scrape at my palms. Many reasons to let my fingers grow limp, and the water take me as its own, to indoctrinate me into its kind.

The softness of cool flows over my face, not alien in how I feel it slip through my lips. The reeds at the bottom are just in reach, and the light dapples look better through the blur of aqua. Like the goods of my District, in their soft armour of silver, I slip and dive, free and living, though the water replaces my breath. Soon, the reeds encompass me into their care, as I almost hear the words of the Capitol in my head.

"District Four has lost its last Tribute! Maeve Brang appears to have made herself lose, drowning in the waters of the Arena."

If only they knew I have not made myself lose. If only they knew, that as the blur recedes to black, and the reeds encompass me as their own, I haven't lost.

In my own way, I have won.

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