Deep in the Meadow

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Chapter 4

The next morning I have a bath in the pool. I turn some of the taps and I stare, shocked, each tap has a different type of bubblebath mixed with water. One has foamy pink football sized bubbles in it, and another, a rainbow colored stream of water that bounces over the top of the water in large bouncing movements. I watch mesmerized as I slip off my reaping outfit, slightly crumpled from me sleeping in it and walk down the steps. It is incredible, foamy, warm water surrounding me as I sink to my hair in the water. I am in the bath for at least half an hour before my mum knocks on the door.

โ€œWe are arriving soon,โ€ she says and then exits the room.

Great. I have to get out of this wonderful bath just to meet all the people who will be betting on how long I will live. I sigh and reluctantly walk back up the steps. I look in the closet and see a rainbow of colors in front of me, there is velvet, silk, anything I could possibly want to wear is right in front of me. I sift through them, pausing at several until I decide on a light purple top and skinny black pants. I put my hair up in the braided style that my mother taught me and put Dianneโ€™s necklace around my neck.

As I walk into the main carriage I realise that we are already in the mountains, the mountains that are the only way to get in. That was why the Capitol reinforcements took so long to arrive, they had to scale the mountains. I look at the table, Mum, Dad, Grandpa and Dean are already there, talking in low voices. They stop when I sit down.

โ€œSo,โ€ I say โ€œWhatโ€™s the plan?โ€

โ€œOk,โ€ my father replys, โ€œ You are going to hate what your prep team does to you but go along with it.โ€

โ€œBut-โ€ I start to say.

โ€œNo buts, do you want to survive or not?โ€ He interrupts.

I canโ€™t think of an argument to this so I stay quiet.

โ€œYour stylists have quite the surprise coming to you,โ€ quips Effie โ€œItโ€™s-โ€

She stops as Grandpa gives her an annoyed look,

โ€œWhoops, I wasnโ€™t supposed to say anything,โ€ she looks ashamed for a few seconds but then brightens. โ€œWell, I can see the Capitol!โ€

Yes she can, we are coming to the end of the cave. We enter the light and then are temporarily blinded by the blast of light that comes from the end of the tunnel. Then I am gaping out the window as the -Capitol comes into view. They certainly havenโ€™t underestimated itโ€™s beauty. Multi colored windows and spiral shaped buildings flash by. But the people, oh the people, I see cat whiskers, jewels implanted into skin, tattooed skin, some so weird that they donโ€™t even look human.

I stare fascinated, then notice their excitement, their joy at seeing a tribute train. I am staring, disgusted when dad pulls me back.

โ€œYou donโ€™t want them to see you looking like you sucked on a lemon. They might be rich and then if you look like you hate them they are never going to sponsor you! I want you to have the best shot at surviving.โ€

โ€œDad! Stop! I am going to DIE! I have NO chance!โ€ I shout, and storm out to my room.

About an hour later I hear a knock on my door.

โ€œThe prep teams and the stylists will be here soon,โ€ says Grandpa in a soft voice. I grunt and roll over. I stay laying there as he walks away. My eyelids start to drop as I fall asleep.

I wake up to three people, two females and one male staring down at me.

โ€œAAAAAHHHHHH!โ€ I scream, wondering who the heck these Capitol people are and why they are on my train.

โ€œDonโ€™t be so loud deary,โ€ one of the ladies with purple ear length hair and silvery red tattoos says in the typical Capitol accent. โ€œWe are only your prep team.โ€

โ€œYes,โ€ The other woman says, this one has pointed ears and pale blue skin, โ€œI am Victoria, she is Luciana and he is Crakos,โ€she says first pointing to herself, then the other lady, then the man with a cat tail and pink spiky hair.

โ€œYes, ve are your prep teamโ€ Says Crakos with a deep purr. โ€œNow, letโ€™s get to vork!โ€

Riiip, my prep team is ripping every last inch of hair off of my body and Iโ€™m not sure I like it. I feel ridiculous as I stand up and let the team examine every inch of my body, from my feet to the top of my head.

โ€œOHH waitโ€ crys Victoria โ€œI see one more!โ€ Riiip. โ€œNow itโ€™s gone! NOW we can let Rachel in!โ€ Great. Now I meet my stylist, who will make me look like coal. Probably an old bat who will dress me in a rock shaped piece of metal and stuff me in a chariot and leave me there. But like all of my predictions so far, I am completely wrong. Rachel is about twenty, has honey colored skin, beautiful blue eyes and amazing hair that explodes around her head. The only makeup she has on is a light pink lipstick and black eyeliner.

โ€œHi!โ€ she says brightly. โ€œIโ€™m your stylist, Rachel!โ€

โ€œWait, donโ€™t I know you?โ€ I say. Itโ€™s as if Iโ€™ve seen her before, but how could I? Iโ€™ve lived in District Twelve all my lifeโ€ฆ District Twelve! The book of all the deaths that my parents have!The book I hate reading because it reminds me that all of those lives were lost for nothing... Realisation creeps up my body, of course, the honey coloured skin, the little makeup. โ€œCinnaโ€ฆโ€ I whisper in disbelief. Cinna, my motherโ€™s stylist who made my Mum the girl on fire.

โ€œHe was my father,โ€ she says โ€œIt certainly is a small world.โ€ Then she grins โ€œNow about your costume on the chariot.โ€

โ€œItโ€™s fire right?โ€ I say with raised eyebrows โ€œAm I going to be the girl on fire?โ€

โ€œNo,โ€ she says, and a rush of warm relief sweeps across my body, I hate being like anybody else. I am myself and nobody else.

โ€œNoโ€ Rachel repeats โ€œno, you arenโ€™t going to be on fire but it is like coal in a wayโ€ฆโ€ A rock I think. A rock made of metal. โ€œItโ€™s coal,โ€ she says โ€œand what can coal turn intoโ€ฆ..?โ€

Then it hits me, and boy are we going to look good.

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