Chapter 27: Cole
A small gust of wind carries the noise of the street parties onto the roof. The lights of the city glow like billions of fireflies below. On another occasion I would have found this scene beautiful but tonight I find it sicking because they're celebrating the end of their wait for the slaughter of the Games. Tomorrow they'll be thirsty for blood and plenty of it will come. I shudder at thought that some of it could be Jed's or Stella's. Where are they? I wonder.
Torey told me to go to the roof to explain what happened that day on the ice, I've been standing here for at least two hours and neither of them has shown up.
I'm about to turn around and try to attempt the impossible task of getting some sleep when I hear footsteps. They walk around behind me as if teasing me before coming to towards me.
I turn around to see Jed standing behind me looking at the brightly coloured flowers which populate the roof. He runs his finger along a vine, a wistful look in his eyes. The leave rustle in the light breeze, sounding like they’re whispering to each other, talking about the two strangers who stand before them.
"I didn't know they had all these plants up here, it kind of reminds me of ..."
"Home", I finish his sentence for him. The foliage here is nothing like those found in District Seven but in a city of metal and stone anything green transports you the forest.
"I wish I was there now. I wish Mum was here, she always knows what to say." He sighs gazing into the night, his voice full of longing.
"I know I miss her too, more than I ever thought I could miss anyone." I say sadly, her warm; smiling face so clear in my mind I could kiss it. I thought being away from her would get easier; instead it just got harder, especially after I had someone even more precious waiting for me. But this time he came with me and there's only a 1 in 24 chance we’ll both come back. I look at him standing beside me, his eyes so like his mother’s, framed in a face very much like mine.
"You've inherited the best of her you know. You have her kindness and easy smile, among other things."
"Really." He's about to say something else when we hear someone more rustling. Stella pushes her way through the slightly over grown vegetation as she makes her way over to us, her bare feet making hardly any sound on the cold stone.
"Oh, am I interrupting something?” Stella asks when she reaches us.
“No, we were just talking.” I answer; scared the slightest excuse not to listen to me will send her away.
“Ah well I couldn't sleep. I've been thinking, about what Torey said and she's right, you wouldn't do that without a reason. So here's your chance to explain." Even in her little white nightie she has the bluntness and authority of a full grown man. I should be irritated that she cut us off like that, but I'm just glad she's given me this chance. I want her to trust me, even though she's not my responsibility any more I feel like I owe her something. I've been given a chance to get my promise right.
"Okay." I take a deep breath digging into my mind for that memory of her dangling over the abyss. I don't have to go very deep to find it; it's been hunting my sleep for years. "She told me to let go."
“What?!” I ignore her and continue. I pull myself back to that icy ledge where my hand is the only thing stopping Nina from falling to her death. Her blue eyes stare into mine, they’re afraid. But as the ice begins to crack they harden as she accepts what must happen.
“She said: Let me go! The ice can’t hold both of us! Either one of us dies or we both die!” I quote her perfectly.
“How do we know you’re telling the truth?” Stella asks sounding sceptical.
“We did see them talking, but we didn’t hear what was said.” Jed pointed out, deep in thought.
“Exactly, and you’ll get your proof in minute, Stella.” I say quite hastily, not wanting be in that memory any longer than I have to. “I said I’d sworn I’d die trying to save her and that’s exactly what I’ll do.” I was so scared when those words came out of my mouth in a cloud of smoke that day, but I’m certain I would have followed them through. “But she wouldn’t have it, saying I had to go back to Erin and my family. I had to win. She couldn’t let me die.”
They stare at me intently, willing me to go on. “That when the ice beneath me began to give up. She let go but I grabbed hold of her wrist. I knew it was fruitless but I couldn’t give up, I couldn’t let the Capital take her without a fight. I’ll never forget the look she gave me then as she yelled I’m so sorry, Cole. Tell Ethan and Mum and Dad I love them and I really tried.”
Stella gives out a little whimper as she guesses these were her aunt’s last words. “Then her other had reached up, holding her knife. She cut my hand. I don’t know if it was the shock or pain but I let go. I still can’t remember scrambling onto the land but I’ll always remember watching the hovercraft retrieve her broken body when she finally hit the floor.” I struggle to hold back the tears as I finish telling my tale. Jed puts a reassuring arm around me.
“There was nothing you could do.” He whispers. After a few moments I manage to compose myself enough to hold out my palm to Stella, revealing the small, white scar that runs across it.
“I guess they didn’t erase it so I’d never forget that it was me who led her onto that bridge, to her death.” Not that I ever needed reminding.
“But why didn’t Dad see it, surly he’d put two and two together? Didn’t you explain what happened when you got out?” Stella asks. She’s still frowning slightly but her scepticism has gone.
“I said something they didn’t like when after she fell. They broadcast there’s a fifteen second delay between the Arena and your TV, so they had plenty of time to cut back to somewhere else. By the time they went back to me my hand was bandaged up and people quickly lose track of injuries so they didn’t question it.
The night of my victory interview President Snow told me that what I said was enough to have Erin killed…” I pause, just thinking about the way he hissed “killed” sends shivers through me, Jed gasps, the very thought filling him with terror. “But he was willing to make deal: Erin would be spared if I told the nation I’d let her go because I was blinded by fear. That’s my punishment, to be seen as a cowardly killer.” Jed looks shocked and angry.
“You don’t deserve this, you were never coward. You were a hero willing to sacrifice everything!” He yells.
“I would rather be a coward than lose someone else I cared for.” I say truthfully, Erin has always been worth it. I turn to Stella whose frown has disappeared completely.
“I’m not asking you to forgive me or even believe me. I’m just asking you to understand.”
“I do and I’m sorry for the way I acted.” She says, it’s the first time I’ve heard her sound so sincere.
“It’s Okay; I would have done the same.” I sigh. “You should both go back to your rooms, get some sleep. God knows you’re going to need it. I’ll see you in the morning.” They nod. Jed hugs me.
“I’m so sorry I never told you.” I murmur into his shoulder.
“It doesn’t matter I know now.” He answers as he pulls away. Then they go, leaving me with the stars and my question of what on Earth I’m going to do tomorrow.
Last edited by TheFoxFacedOne
on Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.