Chapter 1: Jed
I breathe in the fresh, pine scented air. I close my eyes, wanting to hang on to this calm moment for as long as possible, because this'll probably be the only one I'll get today. But holding on to time is as impossible as holding onto water; it'll eventually slip through my fingers and will flow into The Square.
"Hey, Jed” I open my eyes to find my farther sitting next to me on the tree stump at the bottom of our garden. He has an unnerving habit of appearing next you without making a sound. He smiles but it does nothing to hide the distant look in his eyes, he always seems to be half way between here and the past, especially today when the memories of how his life changed are strongest.
"You've got to stop doing that, Dad." I say, returning his smile.
"Sneaking up on people."
"I wasn’t sneaking up, I was quietly approaching”. He says, mimicking the voice Mum does when she's correcting us on something (which is a lot). We laugh, for a second his worry lines fade and I get a snapshot of how he must have looked when he was my age. People say I look a lot like him and I can see why. We have the same dark brown hair, we're roughly the same height and Mum swears we have the same smile (not that I see it that much this time of year).But I've inherited her green eyes.
"Anyway I just want to say goodbye, before the reaping and before I head off to the Capital". He spits the word Capital out like it's a poisonous cherry stone, I can see the anger blazing in his eyes. But the arrival of my mother immediately extinguishes the flames.
“Cole, aren’t you supposed to be putting your bags on the train?”
24 years ago my farther, Cole Livingstone, won the Hunger Games. This will be the 3rd time he’s been called up to the Capital to mentor District 7’s tributes; he is yet to mentor a winner.
“What am I going to do without you?” He sighs; giving her a smile that I only ever see him gives her. It’s good question. Dad says Mum is like his own personnel brand of morphling, because she’s the only thing that can calm him down when he’s having one of his nightmares. Being away from her when they have their strongest grip on him will be torture.
“I just wanted to say goodbye to Jed”, he says, constricting me in a bear hug. “Bye son, I’ll see you at the reaping.”
I manage to squeeze out the words: “bye, Dad” before he lets go. Of course being a victor’s son doesn’t prevent my name going into the drawing, but the riches my family has means that, at 16 I have only the compulsory 5 entries. I’m as safe as you can be at my age. But I still find the reaping as terrifying as everyone else. To make matters worse I get a lot more attention than all the other kids, since being the offspring of a victor makes you automatically more interesting to the cameras.
Dad goes over to Mum and kisses her on the cheek.
“Bye, Cole.” She almost whispers, trying to hide the concern in her voice for his wellbeing without her there to help him fight his many demons.
But when she turns to me her concern is replaced with alarm.
“Jedrek! We’ve got be in the square in 20 minutes and your still in your pyjamas?! Get dressed NOW!”