I lie in bed thinking about dinner, before everyone went to bed and I crept out to see the sky. The meal was too good for words. I purposely didn’t brush my teeth just so I could still taste it. It was given to us in courses with a cool cumber soup for starters and then a tart champagne sorbet to “cleanse our palates” as Raven cooed.
We then moved on to a main course of succulent chunks of chicken wrapped in bacon floating in a creamy white garlic sauce served with small, sweet potatoes and herbs with an extra-large helping of greens.
I practically gorge myself on everything and I am almost too full when desert is wheeled into the room. A giant sugar bowl filled with a sweet creamy liquid that moulds into any shape you want. Everyone gets a helping bar Adrian. When he tries to take some Finnick waves his finger and snatches the bowl away.
“No, no, no Pudgy! Remember what we said about your diet?”
So Adrian watches me miserably as I deftly mould my desert into a replica of his head. Adrian laughs a little and Finnick nods his head in approval while Mags claps her hands.
“Well you’ve got a talent, not sure it’ll help in the games though…”
At this we moved into the living room to sit in front of the large television screen. I realize that this is the first time I’ll be actually seeing my competition since I missed the first re-cap back on the train and I wasn’t paying attention during the parade.
Districts One, and Two fly by in their chariots dressed in metallic outfits of gold and silver and looking bold and strong as if all they are made out is muscle.
My insides clench at the memory.
Then I saw us, Adrian and me, zoom by looking uncomfortable and awkward. I can almost hear my team groan. We are not the picture of winners. The only redeeming quality is when at the end of the programme the camera pans out across the audience before centring in on the elevator to take the tributes away. The camera zooms in and centres in on the wild and feral girl and her sea-green eyes with white crests like crashing waves. She looks as uncontrollable as the ocean. Adrian nudges me and smiles. That might just redeem me.
It’s too soon that I fall asleep and it's too soon that Raven is poking me awake with one of his claws. I get up and head to the bathroom. The shower has a multitude of buttons to adjust froth, intensity and heat. I begin to wish for a dip in the ocean instead.
I shower and when I exit and step on the floor ridges in the tiles open and I’m blasted with hot hair so fierce my body is instantly dried and my hair de-tangled and soft on my shoulders. I tie it back into a high pony tail and dress myself in the shiny black lycra training suit waiting for me on my bed. I pull on the supple leather boots left and lace them all the way up my calves.
When I’m done I head done to the dining room. Only Finnick sits at the table tieing a frayed rope into continuous knots. He starts when I come in but immediately goes back to his rope. I can’t tell if he’s embarrassed from his episode last night or if he really just doesn’t care.
I sit down at the other end of the table as far away from him as possible and gorge myself on all the food; orange slices and cubes of purple melon, bowls of rich raison and oat cereal and hot flaky rolls filled with an oozing brown substance so sweet it make my mouth tingle. I’m dipping this bread into every available sauce when Adrian and Mags enter deep in conversation. It seems that Adrian can actually understand what she’s saying. To me it’s just garbled speech.
As soon as I’ve finished eating Raven escorts us to the training centre. As we drop the four floors in the elevator Finnick asks us questions.
“Would you like to be trained together or seperatly?”
“I don’t mind” I say and I don’t. I don’t care at all, I have no special skill no special talent unless you count that bit of sculpting I did with desert but as Finnick said, that’s useless.
“Together” Adrian says and I look at him. I can’t tell if he’s being friendly or dangerous but I comply. What does it matter if we know each other’s secrets? We’ll both be dead soon anyway.
“Alright, now tell me your talents”
I shrug, “I have none”
“She’s lying, she’s an amazing swimmer” Adrian says and I’m taken by surprise. Finnick looks at me with approval.
“When have you ever seen me swim?” I ask Adrian. He shrugs in a non-committal way.
“You’re not the only one who likes swimming at the Strand”
“Well then I guess that makes you a good swimmer too”
“Mediocre at best”
“Alright!” Finnick growls loudly, “Enough with all the praising of your non-existent talent. When you get in there this morning I want you to try every single exercise they have. I don’t care if you don’t think you’ll be good at it. Just try everything, you might discover you have a talent” with that the elevator doors sweep open and Finnick stalks off to the room reserved for Mentors. Mags gurgles at me with a look of pity in her eyes and follows him. Raven on the other hand leads us to the doors and flicks his new cape of royal blue feathers in our faces.
“Enjoy yourselves District Four”