TW for drug and alcohol use in the last POV (Ries').
Seraphina Audra, District 1 Female, 18:
1 week before the Reaping-
The button of the music system
And she glides.
Grabs her by the waist
And lifts her into the air.
Her hair flies,
And she lifts her arms,
As high as they can go.
The way she had taught Milani
Work magic of their own,
Trace the lines on the floor
Her toes have worn out.
She doesn't need to think;
She is in the dance.
The dance is in her.
She is authentically alive,
One with the rhythm,
Content in her solidarity for now.
Soon, she will feel the need for validation
Be reminded that she is not utterly useless,
But for now, she is happy.
Suddenly, the music stops before it is supposed to. Seraphina knows, even before she turns around, that it is not Milani sneaking into the Academy before the professional training hours start. If it was her, Milani would have joined Sera. The routine is one they practiced together in the woods on a summer evening. It was one of the best days they had spent together, lying on the mossy ground of the woods together with their hands intertwined. They had danced to their favorite songs, Sera in her element as she fabricated move after move and put them together with years of experience. The sky painted and re-painted itself as the two love-lorn teenagers flew.
Sera's dance trainer's cough rings through the empty, wooden-floored room. Sera looks up at the ceiling and curses herself for her carelessness. She should have known.
'May I ask what you are doing, Miss Audra?'
'And what routine are you following?'
Sera obviously can't say that she was in the woods choreographing this with her girlfriend. She's already on thin ice, escaping punishment for every rule she breaks because of her excellence in dance. If her trainer happens to find out that Milani and Sera were still together...Sera refuses to imagine the circumstances.
'It's freestyle. I do it sometimes to make my movements flow better.'
Her trainer sighs, shaking her head. 'Seraphina, you'll never get anywhere if you continue following routines that will not help you in the future. I am assuming you still want to appear for the Panem-wide dance examination?'
'I appreciate you coming in early before training sessions to practice; but if you are occupying the dance rooms, you might as well do something worth your time.'
Sera's insides hurt; Anything against Milani makes her heart shrink. But she simply nods, and goes to the music system to change tracks.
Soon, the other dancers file into the room and the sessions resume. As always, Sera nails every step, every movement, every pirouette and plié. Her trainers nod, trying not to show their amazement yet again at this teenager who has turned herself into someone who can dance as well as professional dancers in their late twenties. Sera engrosses herself in the beat of the music, ignoring every snide comment thrown her way, choosing instead to thrive off the attention.
The day progresses in a race against time, and Sera races from the Yannicelli-Saxon Dance Academy to the Career Training Academy. She arrives a couple minutes late, and without wasting any time, runs to the weapon-training part of the room. Milani isn't here today; probably one of the four days she doesn't train. Why should she, anyway? Milani isn't the one who enrolled out of spite towards her parents. Milani isn't the one who works hard every second of the day to make herself feel valuable. Milani isn't the one hiding her intense Career Training from her girlfriend. Milani isn't manifesting, with every inch of herself, that she'll be selected as the Volunteer for this year's Games. Milani isn't doing any of that.
It's all Sera.
She doesn't notice when evening falls. Sweat beads her forehead and she is mildly gasping for breath. Yet another day that takes everything from her. Quite a few of the Careers have left already, and Sera spots her main competitors among the ones remaining. Just as she bends down to tie her shoe laces, Clay Heatherson comes up behind her.
Tapping her on the shoulder, he says 'Seraphina, a minute?'
Seraphina nods, and promptly sprints to the other side of the room. She sees the four Head Trainers sitting next to each other with writing pads in their hands. Beside her, she sees Roland Silbern; one of the most hardworking male Careers in the Academy.
But she knows that unlike her, Roland was not born with skill. He honed himself, practiced harder than probably anyone. She doesn't know his incentive, or why he spends so much time training. But she knows there is more to him than he shows people.
And then it dawns on her.
She and Roland are the only ones in the room now, except for the Trainers.
It couldn't be.
'I am assuming the two of you know why you are here with us now.' Clay starts. 'I am not someone to beat around the bush. Roland and Seraphina, the two of you have been selected to represent our District in the 170th Annual Hunger Games. I expect you to make us proud. Do what you have to do to get the title home.' Then, with a stern nod of his head, he adds, 'You may leave now. The Reapings are in a week, prepare as much as you can.'
Into an unending abyss
Of sharp marble
That scratches her skin.
Her heart bleeding,
Her mind, an echo
In a hollow cavern.
All of it hits her-
The betrayal she will cause
The pain she will be the source of
The glacier of hope
That is melting inside her
This very moment.
Milani doesn't know.
Milani doesn't know.
Milani doesn't know.
Milani will not know
Until she sees Sera
Raise her hand
In front of the entire District
The small voice inside Sera's mind
That yearns for vindication
'You deserve this.
You worked for this.
This victory is yours.'
But the haunting whisper
That reminds her,
Again and again,
Of her malice
Emris Bacallao, District 8 Male, 17.
Day of the Reaping
The three silhouette figures
Hunch over a single wooden table
Inside the water-soaked room.
The sun hasn't shown its face yet
And all of District seems to be in
A period of mourning.
The sound of light breathing
And grinding of herbs
Reverberates through the hollow spaces.
In another room-
The only other room-
The rhythmic click of a sewing machine
Hold hands with the silence.
The day in the Bacallao household starts
And runs like clockwork,
Every minute accounted for.
Days and nights
Melt into each other,
Playing tag like three-year-old children.
'Emris, pass me the Shiso please.' Emris nods and hands it to his brother, who passes it along to their mother. Slowly pouring water into the mortar, Pauline demonstrates what she has been teaching her sons for the past week. 'If you don't grind the herbs the right way or miss the sweet point of the texture, the concoction isn't going to be as effective as it should be.' Reece, Emris' older brother, watches her, uninterested, as Emris leans closer to his mother and scribbles notes in a writing pad
Emris finds peace in doing this, learning about herbs from the person he looks up to and trying to heal everyone he can. Healing makes him feel like the life he is living is worth living, like he has a reason to struggle. The dream he has buried in the deepest corner of his heart resurfaces for a brief second; he imagines himself having enough money to run a shelter for the homeless and the orphaned, being able to feed and clothe everyone who suffers on the streets .
Not as if that dream could ever come true though.
Reece finishes bottling up the balms and rolls his eyes at Emris as he leaves the room. Making sure that their mother doesn't hear, he sneers, 'This is what you want to do in life, really? Get scratches on your fingers by picking out leaves from a filth patch you call a garden? Waking up knowing every day is going to be the same as the previous? Having no purpose?'
Emris sighs, turning his head away. He is already used to his brother's negativity and constant nihilism. Just to balance out Reece's cribbing, Emris tries extra hard to be positive and find beauty in everyday things. His mother notices Reece's attitude, he is sure, but she lets the boys be.
Besides, he has a purpose- making the world happier.
A few minutes later, their father knocks on the open door and smiles at the duo working with unwavering concentration. 'The Reapings are today. Get ready soon. We should leave early. You could drop the medicines at the Weavers' on the way, their house is pretty close to the Reaping Square.'
Emris' eyes light up. The Weavers' house is one of his favorite places in all of his District, mostly because it is his best friend's residence. Ellis and Emris had been friends ever since they were kids, as had their parents. Ellis' family was one of the better-off families of District 8, managing to afford a basket of fresh produce and sweet tea once in a while. Emris loves spending time with Ellis and his family, loves the environment their house has. He takes to dropping by their place whenever Reece's snide remarks have gotten to be too much, or when he needs a break. He knows he's always welcome there.
Emris puts on the jacket he got for his last birthday and meets the rest of his family in front of their door. Reece, as usual, takes off fast, wanting to escape any possible conversation. Emris kisses his parents on their cheeks and starts in a light jog towards Ellis' house. He sees his best friend waving at him in the distance and laughs at his enthusiasm. Ellis often forgets the morbidity of days like the Reaping Days, and that makes Emris forget them too. The fear and anxiety that the Reapings arouse still nag at him, but for the most part, he doesn't worry much.
He hadn't taken up the Tesserae that year because his father's tailoring business had fared better than expected, and they had been able to make ends meet with a little money to spare. Chances were slim.
As Emris reaches Ellis, he pulls Ellis into a huge bear hug. Ellis laughs and rubs Emris' back. There has never been anything romantic between them, but recently their hugs have been a little fiercer, their hellos a little happier, their goodbyes a little more reluctant. Emris doubts that there's a chance of anything to develop between them, but a small part of him wishes for it regardless.
Chatting casually, they walk towards the Reaping square and shuffle into line. The Escort comes onto the stage in cliché Capitol Fashion, overly-excited about sending children on road-trips to their deaths. She talks into the mic in a voice that gets almost everyone to cover their ears- 'District 8! What a lovely, lovely day!'
Someone behind Emris grumbles, 'The sun isn't even visible and the clouds are the darkest shade of gray, you bitch.' Emris almost laughs out loud.
'It's time for our Annual Reapings for the Hunger Games! First up, the handsome men! Who will it be this time, I wonder? Who will bring glory to this attention-starved District?' She dips her hand into the bowl and messes around a bit for show before picking out a chit and announcing the name.
It no longer races,
No longer rages like a furious ocean.
It is a trickle now,
Down Emris' cheek,
Tracing a path across parched land.
He doesn't know what's happening,
Tries to see through the clouds that
Seem to have suddenly
taken over his eyes.
Someone nudges him gently,
A hand pats his back,
Another reaches out for his fingers
And grips them tightly.
The world seems to stop.
But really, it doesn't.
It all goes on,
The birds fly and people breathe,
The sun still exists,
Somewhere else, someone is living their best life.
It's just Emris' world that halts.
He takes a step forward,
And then another.
Another, then another,
His eyes rooted to the ground.
He climbs up the stage
And stands next to the Escort.
He doesn't have the courage
To look up,
To see Ellis crumpled on the floor,
To see the Weavers rushing to his parents,
To see his brother biting his bottom lip.
He doesn't have enough in him
To see everything falling apart
In front of his eyes.
So he doesn't look up.
Riesling Zinfandel, District 11 Male, 14.
12 days before the Reaping.
When Ries was five,
He came third in his class test.
He ran home to show
His report card to his parents-
And finds them hugging his sister.
She came first.
When Ries was seven,
He raised his hand in class
To ask a question in science,
And had it raised for seven minutes
Before the teacher told him
'Ries, you can go to the restroom.'
When Ries was nine,
He spent the entire night
Gathering courage to speak
To a girl he liked.
Her reply to his 'Hi'
Was 'I'm not interested.'
He wakes up to the sound of his sisters' footsteps. It never fails to amaze him how four individual human beings can work in so much sync. He's always felt out of place, felt better about himself than anyone else. His sisters, on the other hand, spend their days trying to lift each other up, help each other improve in the areas they struggle. Ries personally never understands why - why people waste so much time on others when they could hone themselves.
He wakes up and stretches his arms, accidentally knocking over the glass of water near his bed. Cursing and groggy, he heads towards the living room to get a cloth and clean up the puddle. He sees his parents outside in the vineyard beside their house, barely catching glimpses from the flora around them. His sisters keep moving in and out of the house, hauling baskets of grapes from one place to another, occasionally stacking full baskets in a corner for the weekly truck to pick them up. It will then drop off the grapes in District 9, where they'll be fermented for wine and be sent to the Capitol and richer parts of the Career Districts.
He throws the cloth on the ground and kicks it a little to get it to soak up the water. His eyes have barely opened, he's still half asleep. He steals a quick look in the mirror, runs his hands through his hair in a novice attempt to look brooding and sexy. He fails, miserably fails, but winks at himself.
Perfect, he says.
He never fit in.
Not with his parents,
Not with his sisters,
Not with his classmates,
Not with the brawn and hardworking people
Of his District.
He has been always been a
Dandelion in a field of Sunflowers,
An unpolished coal
In a basket of diamonds.
Nothing he has done has ever been good enough.
And it probably never will be.
So he does what he wants.
Nothing will matter anyways.
Syrah rolls her eyes at his narcissistic display from the side of the doorframe, almost laughing at how ridiculous everything about him is. 'You should be in the vineyards now, Riesling. Mother and Father need help.'
Ries groans and says, 'Fuck off, Syrah. I just woke up. Give me a break for once in my life, will you?'
Syrah scoffs- 'What have you done in your life except for taking breaks and experiencing fake highs?'
Ries says, 'Fuck you,' and walks away from his sister's continuing chastising.
Who does she even think she is?
He heads to the small patch of green behind their house and squats on the grass, picking out the weeds that look the best. He spends time making sure the weeds he selects don't have holes, and after he picks out a thick bunch, he heads to their kitchen. Ries spoons sugar into a wide bowl and pours water before dipping the weeds into the solution. He lets them float around for a bit, then takes them out and drops them into a plastic bag.
His stash of 'weed' with him, he heads to the famously infamous alleys of District 11. Quince, Sawyer, and Austin wait for him near the stack of cardboard boxes and cracked alcohol bottles. Ries joins them and, without a word, hands them the bag of 'drugs'. They grunt in acknowledgement and thump Ries on the back, taking the bag and distributing the literal weed among themselves.
Ries takes a couple steps back and watches them as their eyes roll into their heads a little, and they shake their heads as if drunk on Vodka. One of them screams, 'I'm high!' and Ries physically has to stop himself from scoffing. His impression of them just deteriorates every day, and he genuinely questions as to how much more stupid they could be. They're experiencing sugar highs, for fuck's sake.
But who's he to judge them? If selling fake drugs makes him popular and respected, so be it.
When Ries was eleven,
He stopped talking
To his parents.
When Ries was twelve,
He stood up in the middle of a class
And walked out
As his teacher called out in an angry voice.
When Ries was thirteen,
He started selling fake drugs
In the back alleys of his
When Ries was fourteen,
He stopped giving a fuck.
A/N: I am exhausted so please bear with me as I ramble in this A/N
So first intros! Thank you to Rune and Tia for Sera, Axe for Emris, and Dawn and Linds for Ries! This chapter was a little tough to write because I'm legit new to this whole thing but we made it through! Let me know what you think and maybe leave a review if you like it? The blog for SOS is up on my profile as well, so check that out if you'd like.
Uh what else, oh yes I know the prose is more than the poetry, but I expected that since these are the intros! Bear with me as I figure out my shit okay. Each POV is looking to clock at 1k at this point!
As usual, thank you to Laney and Times for beta-ing and everyone who has shown support so far! Love you guys, see you next time with Calypso, Raya, and Ithamar!
Until next time,