I awaken in a field beneath an gloriously splendid golden sun. The sun is much closer to the ground than it should be, but I am oddly enough not horrified or even curious of this. Nor am I bothered by the apparent fact that I can stare into it without feeling the pain that normally comes from looking into the sun.
Likewise, this sun provides the perfect amount of warmth. It is as though I am an infant in the warmth of a hug from my mother. A light and gentle breeze dances across a wide and open blue sky. This eased blowing of the breeze brushed the grass and flowers of the field as though they were the hair of a child, and it gently pulled the puffs of white along the air as though they were balloons.
After filling my eyes with the beautiful sky (but not forgetting it or taking it for granted), I became aware of the field I was in. Though primarily composed of a golden wheat, the field had a magnificent variety of growth. Vibrant flowers of every color, both primary and secondary, were growing in such a multitude that the colors were almost overwhelming. It was as though the flowers were paints upon a palette of wheat.
After seeing as much as I could take in from the harmonious spectacles of life, I looked down at what I was wearing. Whatever took me to this beautiful field also changed me out of the muddied and bloodied garments I wore on the battlefield, because now I am wearing an immaculate dress uniform with all the medals and awards I was granted during my career. Everything I wear is polished to the point of being a mirror.
But all of these things pale in comparison to the sight I see before me when I look up in front of me.
It all pales in comparison when I look up and see Cato.
For the first time in over a year, I see my cousin as he was. He has no scars or injuries, and there is not a single wolf mutt in sight for him to be ripped apart by. He wears the blood red tribute uniform he wore during the 74th Hunger Games, but it looks completely unworn. Before I notice anything else about him, I know it is him by his bright blue eyes.
Breaking into a sprint, I run towards the person who was always like a brother to me. The person who I have not see in over a year and whom I thought lost. Oddly enough, I feel neither weariness nor any other drain of energy as I run to my dead friend. In any case, I run out of fear that he will disappear if I do not reach him in time.
When we finally meet, we embrace in a hug.
After the greetings are exchanged, I try to speak but I am lost for words. Fortunately, Cato is able to break the ice.
"I take it you're glad to see me?"
"Yes. I love you."
"I love you too. You seem tired; I know a place where we can rest and I can answer any questions you have while you walk."
"Cato, what is this place?"
"Some call it the Field of Warriors, some call it Dwelling of the Blessed. I'm not really the poetic type, so I only call it home."
"Is any of this real?"
"I can't answer that question, I'm afraid that's up to you to decide."
I myself can not answer this, as I have no prior knowledge in regard with the metaphysical. Instead, I decide to milk my presence here for all it is worth.
"Is anyone else here?"
"Oh yes, tons of people. More than I can count."
"Is anyone I know here?"
"Absolutely. In fact, I'll point them out to you."
While I ponder this, he motions for me to walk with him. As we walk, I notice that it takes no effort whatsoever to walk through the field as the flora seems to flow around us. Even stranger, treading on the flora does not even dent the flowers or the grain.
Eventually we reach a gathering of large tents, picnic blankets, outdoor eating tables, food, and people. The people here are all laughing and enjoying themselves. Some of the people are having picnics, some are playing cards or talking at the tables, some are swimming in watering holes. They are spaced apart enough that it does not feel crowded, yet close enough to be within walking distance of each other.
While many of them I do not recognize, a few I do. Among these are Clove, Gloss, Cashmere, Brutus, the rebel who wanted to surrender, and the rebel whom I stabbed to death fairly recently. However, I don't stop to talk with any of them.
As I see them being happy, I am aware of how out of place I am.
"Cato, why am I here?"
"Why shouldn't you be here? You are a good person."
"What makes you so sure? I'm not as sure as you are."
"While you may have made mistakes in your past, that alone is not enough to make you a bad person."
"Then what is?"
"If someone does something bad out of malicious intent with understanding the full gravity of their actions, than what he did is bad. If that person chose to cause harm or loss of life purely out of his free will, than what he did was evil. If he never feels doubt or guilt for his actions, than he is evil."
"And someone is only an evil person if all these apply?"
"Yes. Some people only kill because they have to, or some are incapable of understanding the gravity of their actions; neither of these people are truly evil."
I think about this for a few moments, matching these up with my experiences. The instances where an evil was committed by my enemies were all times where they knew what they were doing and were doing it just to make people suffer.
My thoughts are interrupted the first person Cato wanted to show me walks up to me. Harod was sitting at a table playing cards with his wife Anna and another peacekeeper; I am not sure how I know this, but I just know that the other peacekeeper is the one who threw himself on a grenade to save my life.
Harod, like me, is wearing a dress uniform.
When I see Harod, I give him a bear hug like I gave Cato a few minutes ago.
"Harod, I want to start by saying I'm sorry. I should have been there to help you, and I let you down."
Harod smiles his warm smile. "You don't need to be sorry, I already forgave you."
"Because that is what friends do, friends forgive each other for their mistakes."
After talking with Harod for some time, we walk to another point in the camp where I see my grandfather and my father.
My father speaks first. "Lysander, it is good to finally see you after so long. My nephew Cato was just getting done telling me what a fine young man you turned out to be."
Next my grandfather spoke. "We know about what you were up to, and much of it was good. You're on the right track."
I talk with them for some more time, happy to meet these people whom I have not seen in a long time.
Eventually, Cato and I walk to the edge of the camp.
"Lyes, it was good talking with you again. I missed you too."
"Wait, what do you mean?"
"You need to go back."
"Cato, when you died I was afraid I would never see you again. I'm afraid that if I go back I will lose you."
Cato smiles his welcoming smile while continuing.
"Did you get happiness from me while I was alive?"
"Would you say that the sadness of my death overshadowed that happiness or prevented you from getting happiness from memories of me?"
I have to think about this for a moment, as the question caught me off guard.
"... No. What time I have with you easily brought me more happiness than the amount of sadness I felt at your death. I would not have felt sorrow at all if I did not care for you."
Cato grinned at me having gotten to the point that he was leading me to.
"It sounds like you were never separated from me to begin with."
I had never thought of it like this before, and this notion warms my heart considerably.
In showing Clove there (and I will leave it up to you as to whether it was a dream or something more), I am not denying that she clearly did very bad things. I am just saying that Clove, like many other child-soldiers, probably did not grasp the complete severity of her actions and attempted actions.
Likewise I personally believe that the dead career victors were not particularly sadistic, they just believed that the other tributes would have to die anyway so it is okey if they kill them. I would like to believe that they, like other career victors, used part of their winnings for philanthropic purposes.