I sat in the Justice Building, thinking. Just thinking. Thinking about the life I'd have to leave behind. The places. The people. Atticus.
My life had been pretty good, considering the circumstances. I had a home, food to eat, loving friends. Well, they weren't excatly my friends. They were family friends. Only one friend was really mine. Dill. He was a short boy. A little shorter than me, thought he was a year older. His hair was always scruffy, unless he was going to church, and his eyes were as blue as the ocean in District 4.
Dill didn't live in District 7 with me. He lived in District 8 with his mother. Despite the lengthy and dangerous journey, he would travel between the two Districts every summer to see Jem and I. Dill was the only thing we'd ever look torward to. Endless days with him, outside on the quiet streets. He'd think up the most imaginative things and sit telling the other kids stories from over the borders. They were all lies of course, but we longed to be entertained.
What now? If - When I died, what would happen to Dill? He came to escape his unloving family more than anything. He'd be stuck with them forever.
* * * * * * * * *
The door was swung open by a Peacekeeper and there he was. Atticus stood in the doorway for a moment before he stepped in. I stood up from the velvet seat. Our eyes met for the first time since he told me every'd be alright. His breathing was low and his shoulders were tense.
I hurdled towards him. He caught me in his arms. My face nuzzled to his chest and I lisened to his heartbeat. I felt tear welling up. I wanted to cry. More than I'd ever wanted to before. But I didn't. The Games were as much about appearance as it was skill. But I wasn't thinking about my appearance. I was thinking about my father. I had to be strong for him.
After a long while I let go. We looked at each other. I could see a great sorrow growing in his eyes. Despite this, he smiled. I smiled back.
I had to say something. Anything. "I'll be okay." I tried to sound believable. "I mean, I'm fast. Clever." Then I realised something of a little truth. "I can shoot."
Atticus was the best shot in the District, but I came close second. He taught me of course. He was deadly with a bow. But that wasn't where his skills ended. It was his aim that was deadly, not the weapon. If you were the target of Atticus Finch you'd have have an arrowhead, blade or even a gun if he could find one. Of course he'd never use his amazing talent, but he taught me to shoot pretty well.
Not all hope was lost.
Before long it was time for Atticus to leave. He'd said nothing. Not a single word. I didn't blame him.
Just as the Peacekeeper showed him out I shouted after him. "This isn't goodbye, Atticus! This ain't goodbye! I promise."
The door slammed behind him.