Here's Chapter 6, don't forget to give feedback
Chapter 6: Stella
The last hour has gone by in a blur. I'm still dazed by everything that has happened. I glance at the giant cloak on the other side of the room, willing its hands to freeze, but it continues to count down the time I have left here: 15 minutes. He should be here by now.
I've had a lot more visitors than I thought I would have: regular customers from Dad's carpentry shop where I help out, the kids from my track team and Tia and Brendon, Dad's apprentices. Their faces and words have merged together, a mix of condolences, reassurance and advice.
"You're the fastest girl I've ever seen", enthused the track teams youngest recruit, Holly, bless her, she'd always looked up to me, I can see that now. At the time I thought she was just annoying. "You could out run any tribute in the arena."
"Not that she'd be doing any running, remember that time you and her got into a fight, Kelly? She broke your nose!” Sammy grins at the memory. Kelly cringes, that was the first and last time she tripped me up in a race! But breaking someone's nose is a world away from killing them, I have no idea whether I could it, but I certainly don't want to find out if I can.
"I've seen you work in the shop, you have a gift", Brendon says when he comes in with Tia, they're twins and never seem to be apart. "You can, like, make your own weapons and stuff."
"Maybe, but I still wouldn't know how to use them."
"That's what the Training Centres for, besides you've worked with stuff like hammers before, that must count for something", Tia reassures me.
But out of all the people in my life there's only one person I really need to see: Dad. I don't understand why he wasn't the first one in, if he doesn't come now I might never see him again.
Just as I begin to wonder if he'll ever come the door opens once again, and there he is, stand on threshold silently staring into space. I understand now why he couldn't come sooner, this room holds too many memories, it's the last place he ever saw Nina in the flesh. You can see them circling around his head like flies as he sits down beside me, his face is flushed from the silent crying he must have done.
"...Stella, I'm so sorry I couldn't..."
"It's OK, Dad, I understand. Your here now that's all that matters", I hug him, breathing in his scent of sawdust and pine wood. Neither of us moves nor speaks for a few moments, not wanting to break the hold and the comfort it brings to the both of us.
"I'm almost glad your mother isn't alive to see this" he nearly whispers. My mother died when I was five; swept away by the icy winter waters when she fell out of a tree by the river that she was cutting branches off. Although the fact her safety cord snapped was a rare accident, it was enough for Dad to quit his job as a lumberjack and go back to working for my Grandfather as a carpenter. I have surprisingly few memories of her but the ones I do have portray a strong, loving woman.
"This world has already made me say goodbye to two people I love and now it's making me say goodbye to you!” He seems ready to explode with all the sadness and anger building up within him.
"No, things will be different this time, I might win." I say believing this statement for the first time .What my visitors have said is true: I am fast and I can handle tools which could prove to be deadly if used as weapons.
"You're right, your fast and Heaven help anyone who gets in your way! But that Jedrek has Cole for a Dad and who knows how much he's prepared him for this, he's probably delighted he's his mentor...", his eyes seem to glaze over as he talks about my fellow tribute and his farther, blinded to the disappear and fear on their faces. My Dad hardly ever expresses hate of anything but over the years his grudge over Cole has slowly grown inside him like an evil fungus. Sometimes consuming him completely, like now.
“Dad stop! This isn’t about them, Jedrek didn’t chose to be reaped, he’s just as scared as I am and he’s not Cole so don’t pass your anger onto him! Cole’s in an even worse position than you, he has to prepare his own son for the Games! What did he do to make you hate him so much, have you forgotten you were once friends?” I shout the last part, it’s the first time I’ve ever shouted at him. He collapses into the back of the sofa, taken aback by both are outbursts.
“No, I shouldn’t blame the boy, nothing’s his fault. But in the room he’s in now his farther promised me that he would do whatever it took to protect Nina and that he wouldn’t let her die. I believed him because I thought she was as much his sister as she was mine. I guess I was wrong because he broke that promise. And that fact just sticks in my mind when I think of him mentoring you”.
“But it was 24 years ago, you have to let it go, it won’t make watching the Games any easier and I’m so afraid of losing you to hatred.”, the very thought of this overwhelms me with dread.
“I can’t lose you either, Stella; you’re the only good thing that’s left here. We’ve always looked after for each other and now it’s like Nina all over again….” A tear slides down his cheek, he wipes it away quick but I see it. I put my arms around him again, trying to squeeze out all his pain.
“But I’m not Nina, I will come back, but in the meantime Tia and Brendon will look out for you”. Dad makes a strange noise which is somewhere in between a sob and a laugh.
“I’m supposed to be comforting you, not you comforting me”, he breaks away from me a reaches into his pocket.
“I almost forgot. This is for you. It belonged to your mother.” He pulls out a small wooden bear tied onto a long piece of string. He hands it to me and I put it round my neck, I feel strangely calmer knowing that a piece of her is with me. He looks at it fondly, remembering her.
“The bear is a strong, powerful yet caring creature, like her. Like you.” The peacekeepers open the door; it’s time for him to leave.
“I love you more than anything, Stella”, He says as we hug a third and final time.
“I love you too”.
We keeping saying it until the door slams, cutting us off. But I can’t cry, not until I’m in my room on the tribute train, speeding away from him and everything I know.