in a world where the only way for the poor to eat is to fight to the death a girl is oftered a deal of a lifetime, but whats the catch?
I stared down at her frightened eyes, the dirt on both our faces mixed with blood. I refused to notice the way she wordlessly pleaded for me to let her go, I refused to notice the knife I held above her heart. I looked up at Elliot who with wide eyes watched me in disappointment. All around the people were chanting “Kill her, Kill her!” Maybe it was the guilt I felt from Elliot’s gaze, maybe it was because she had given up helplessly but I couldn’t. There are some people that I kill without another thought and there are people like this one that breaks my heart. I loosened my grip and as soon as she could she scrambled and ran as far away as she could. I stood up and put the knife in my belt. The crowd booed and separated leaving me standing there in the dirt. My head hung low in shame, my ragged clothes torn and my long hair falling like a curtain over my shoulders.
“Don’t kill, don’t eat,” a man said shoving a slice of bread in my hands and he walked away discussed in me like everyone else.
I made my way to the edge of town wondering why things had come to this, when did the rich become so entertained by these fights and when did the poor agree to do them? A few people walked around shop to shop trading their many possessions but the majority sat like me homeless and poor waiting for someone to offer them food for the price of a fight. I should just give up. Then I heard the familiar footsteps of my little girl. She came bouncing towards me with a grin on her little face, “Are we going to eat dinner tonight?” her voice rang with curiosity. The question broke my heart, as her older sister I wish I could give her a meal every night.
I picked her up and sat her on my lap, “Not tonight,” I replied, her smile fading. “Hey, we might not have to fullest tummies but I can assure you there are people worse than us, everything will be okay. God took away our parents for a reason, you’ll see.” I hate when I have to lie but it makes her feel better every time. I handed her the slice of bread kissing her on the cheek, “Here eat it slowly, we might not get any dinner tomorrow either.”
I watched her run off, then a deep voice interrupted my far away thoughts, “Tessa, I want you to do something,” Jake said, handing me an expensive knife, “I’ll supply you and your sister with a years’ worth of dinners, all you have to do is kill Elliot.” The knife in my hands became heavy and my palms suddenly sweaty. I tried to ask why but nothing came out. But he saw my question and took my shaking hand kissing it softly. His smile telling me more than words could. Then he walked away not another word said.
Later that day I ran into Elliot, he stopped in this tracks and put his arms around me in a tight hug, “I’m sorry,” he said pulling away looking at me, “You just seemed unset.” Sighing as if upset himself he continued. “I wish we’d be more than friends.”
I looked down, could this day get any worse? “Well you know that I’ve always loved you.”
I watched a thin smile spread across his face and he was about to say something when I was pulled away. “Heard you were quite the fighter, a bowl of soup for an interesting fight?” An old men offered with a gleam of evil in his eye. Before I could answer he gestured to a scruffy boy. He looked around 20, strong and smart but above all he looked hungry.
I saw Elliot among the gathering crowd the panic in his expression unmistakable. I grabbed the golden knife from my belt and nodded at the old man. That’s when everything went in slow motion; I turned ready to fight when he was right there, his fist hitting me to the dirt ground. My vision became blurry but there was no doubt of what I saw. Elliot came running forward toward scruffy and pulled him down to the ground. As scruffy lay unconscious Elliot took the chance to run to my side. He lifted me gently like I was a sleeping baby, my thin unhealthy body floppy and weak. I was mad, he took away the chance for dinner, he pulled me from a fight I could win. “Stop!” I yelled grapping his shirt and demanding for him to put me down. But he ignored me and continued to walk away from the angry crowd.
After we made it to the edge of the forest where the trees began to grow close I gave up, accepting that he had potentially saved my life. “Thanks.” I sighed as he placed me down on the long grass. “Elliot, will we ever be together?”
“You know we can never be more than friends,” he answered understanding my question, “My parents will disown me and I’ll have to fight and you know I could never kill someone. They’d kill me and if I die I won’t be able to be with you at all.”
That’s when I noticed the knife still clenched in my hands. A years’ worth of dinners a year of safety, it’s more than I could hope for. Could I, will he ever forgive me, would he understand? No matter what we will never be together but am I that messed up that I would kill a lifelong friend? I stood up and wrapped my arms around him in a hug, a tear rolled down my cheek. Just as well he couldn’t look me in the eyes, his killer the person he least expected. The knife behind his back, I whispered in his ears, “I’m sorry.”