Chapter 11: Cole
When I look out of the window of my room; I'm back in District 7's station. Nina is making her way onto the train, followed by a boy with dark brown hair that I barely recognise, despite knowing him so well:16 year old me.
Ethan stands at the front of the crowd, physically torn between his best friend and little sister. He sheds their tears for them as the train pulls away and the scene evaporates like smoke. I can feel it moving, going faster than it ever has before as it bolts along the track of this boy's journey.
The images blur past: the Capital towers glowing in the light of a thousand cameras, a fearsome looking boy throwing a spear into a helpless dummy and endless clouds floating beneath a hover craft. I pull the curtains shut; not wanting to see what comes next. But nothing can block out the sound of a cannon, screaming, feet pounding the dry frosty, earth and a distant roar. Although I can no longer see what's happening I know each and every scene. Suddenly the train grids to a halt and I hear a voice behind me.
"This is where you broke your promise. This is where I get off". I turn around and there she is, looking no older than the day it all ended for her. Nina looks at me, her dark blue eyes like whirlpools.
"Are going to do the same to Stella?"
My eyes snap open, I search around the room but she's nowhere to found, it was only a dream. I reach my hand out seeking the soft touch of Erin's hair, longing for the warmth of her smile and emerald eyes. But when I turn over I see nothing but an empty space. Half of my heart aches for the half that is with her, the remaining fragment of the person I was.
I make my way to the end of the train, my watch tells me it's dawn and the only good thing about this journey is watching the sunrise in the glass carriage. But when I get there there is nothing but darkness, I'm too late, we've already entered the Capital tunnel. Fortunately there is one sight I want to see there.
"Dad!", Jed nearly knocks me over as he throws his arms around me, something he seems to have been waiting to do for hours.He's nearly as tall as me now; nearly a man. But right now he's a child again, a scared child looking to his farther for comfort.
"I know, Jed. I know how horrible this all is. But I'm here now". I whisper, trying my best to sound like Erin. She was always so reassuring.
"But you won't be for much longer."
"You're right. I can't protect you from them. But I'll be watching over you and I'll help you in anyway I can, I swear." There's so much more I want to say to him but just then Torey walks in.
The fact I must look like a guilty schoolboy in the principle's office reminds the three of us of the events of last night. However she greets us as if nothing has happened.
"Good morning. Did you get up early to watch the sun rise?"she casually asks.
"Yes. It was beautiful; like you were flying just above the ground."Jed answers,sounding a touch wistful. She nods.
"It's the best thing about this train. It lets you know that the world is still going on around you despite what your going through." She sounds so wise for someone so young, and so peaceful. Maybe that's why I lashed out at her: I can't believe someone who went through the process I did could come out of it like with those traits . Or perhaps I'm jealous of how strong she is.
"Anyway, Cassia wants me to tell you that breakfast is served, she'd tell you herself but she's had change her dress."
"Why?", Jed asks.
"Stella knocked over some golden syrup and it went all over Cassia's dress.". Jed and I laugh as we imagine are District's Escort's reaction. I think I can even see Torey try to suppress a smirk.
"Well umm...you go on ahead, Jed I'll catch up in minute. I just need to talk to Torey about something."
After he leaves the room I go back to being a shamed schoolboy.
"Torey, I'm so sorry about last night. I was just so upset and angry about everything, I was trying to keep in but couldn't any longer. I should never have attacked you like that, especially since I understand how we do things we wouldn't normally ever do outside..."
"No it's OK. You have every right to feel like that. I'm just glad it was here and not in the Capital." She sounds genuinely sincere, it's the first time I've seen her openly express an emotion.
"Thank you". I murmur feebly, not expecting that response. I doubt Cassia will be this forgiving.
Apart from eyeing me warily over breakfast,she's shown no sign of remembering what happened. She either wants to forget about it or is afraid that I will yell at again if she brought it up. I hope it's not the latter because I know that in her irritating, Capital way she wants to help us and get to know us. She didn't mean to set me off.
The five of us are in the glass carriage so that everyone can get a 360 view of the Capital and the Capital can get a 360 view of us (naturally this was Cassia's idea). At the end of the tunnel we are met by the blinding morning light.
"Don't forget, big smiles." Cassia reminds us for the 4th time. as our eyes adjust the city comes into focus. Tower blocks stretch up to the sky like giant fingers made out of metal and glass which reflect the Sun's rays onto the spotless streets. Stella and Jed don't need to fake their smiles as they gasp in wonder at this amazing landscape for the first time.
The buildings are almost as abstract and dramatic as the people, who start to mill around the train as it begins to slow, even after several visits to this place I still find their died skin,outrageous outfits and tattoos shocking, so I can only imagine what the kids are thinking as their smiles turn into grimaces. I put my arm around Jed's shoulder and wave back to the excited eccentrics. Torey just pouts, does that women ever smile? But the crowd seems to love it, some even try to mimic her. I can't understand why people who are so over the top could love someone so minimal.
"Welcome to the Capital everyone! Isn't this exciting?!" Cassia declares gleefully, loving being back on home turf.
"If you so, Cassia..." I mutter.