I wake up to grey light streaking through the windows over my head. In the hall Raven is shouting for Adrian and me to get up. The Capital waits. I slept in my dress last night so it is too creased to wear. But on the dresser lies my mother’s dress, washed, ironed and perfectly folded. I almost start crying again.
I pull on the dress, splash my face with water and leave my room. I almost bump into Adrian. He excuses himself and walks ahead of me in tan trousers and a green shirt. He’s plump but maybe he’s strong. Maybe he can protect himself.
We sit opposite from each other in the dining carriage and plates piled high with eggs, sausages, bacon, pudding, beans, fish-sticks and fruit are placed in front of us by waiters from the Capital. None of them will look us in the eye. I feel like a lamb being fattened up for slaughter.
I eat all of it anyway feeling hungry again from emptying my stomach last night. Half-way through breakfast Mags and Finnick join us. Mags settles down to eat a thin bowl of watery fish broth while all Finnick eats is an apple. He ignores me and I start to wonder if we talked at all last night. I’m still stuffing my face when Adrian begins to speak.
“You are supposed to give us some advice” he puts down his knife and fork and looks calmly from Finnick to Mags. I immediately feel sorry for them. They have to relive their games again and again every year and help send children to their deaths. Mags says nothing but lets some of her food drool down her chin. It’s Finnick who decides to speak first.
“Here’s some advice: Stop eating so much Pudgy” he takes a bite from his apple and leans back to chew. There’s a horrifying silence and I stare at Adrian waiting for his reaction. I am so embarrassed for him but his reaction shocks me more than what Finnick says.
Adrian laughs. And not just a polite chuckle. Adrian knocks his head back and guffaws. His laughs begin loud and booming echoing across the dinning carriage but eventually they tune higher and higher till he’s sitting there squeaking with tears rolling down his face. He’s hysterical. He slams a hand down on the table causing a jug of milk to spill and several plates to fall to the ground. Finnick throws his apple at Adrian and it bounces off his head breaking into a million pieces. Finnick’s attention turns to me.
“Still got nothing of value to say?” I flush angrily. Who is he to tell me that my voice doesn’t matter? I stand up but I can’t say anything. No words come to mind.
“That’s what I thought. Now, both of you stand over there” He points to the wall and we both dumbly do what he tells us. Mags watches from the table as Finnick pokes and prods us, checking our muscles and our faces.
“Well we’ll need to put Pudgy here on a diet but otherwise you both look like strong swimmers. And I’m sure your stylists can do something about your faces” he stalks away and I’m reminded that beautiful things can be poisonous. Just look at the Capital for a prime example.
After that and we’re left alone with Mags. She slowly stands up and hobbles over to us, cane in hand. She shakes both of our hands and says something neither of us can make out. I nod my head and say “okay”. It seems to be the answer she wants but we don’t find out any more. Our train has pulled into the Capital’s station.