The Caged Bird Sings



I didn't plea to see my son. I didn't do anything as he walked out that door, leaving me in the shadows, my only company the sliver of moonlight, a thin claw dragging across the floor, and the misery that shrouded me, a heavy, dark curtain.

Sleeping is difficult but being awake is harder. I dose for several hours, wake up, listening to nothing.

I remember things in my dreams, beautiful, horrible things, drifting in and out of consciousness—the world a part of fantasy, where fairy tales are bloodied jewels that stab my hands: the scent of my father's hunting jacket, the way my mother threads my hair into a braid, Prim's shirt sticking out; the sound of Rue's whistle, the screams of tributes in agony, the moment—frozen in time, imprinted on my whole being—when he towered over me, and he took me, claiming me before the world's cruel, uncaring eyes, and the laughter of the people who watched as I was taken from everything I knew and loved.

I hear the sound of the door creaking open and I don't even glance. I have no other visitors.

The sound of a child's gurgles, however, makes my head snap up and I look at the door in surprise. There he is my killer, and my son. My hands instinctively reach out and I'm pleasantly thrown into tears as he places the soft bundle into my arms. I hold him close to me, sniffing in the clean scent—it's been so long since I've smelled and held anything so pure.

My child squirms in my arms, writhing, and it pains me when he begins to cry, long, loud sobs. "No, wait, hey, it's all right—"

My captor comes forward and swipes my child from me, murmuring quietly into his small ear, and the demon in him seems to smooth out somewhat. My son calms down almost instantly and there's an ache in my chest, in my arms. I'm shaking from this scene—it speaks volumes to me, the fact my son trusts this beast more than me.

He'll never know me the way he knows living darkness…

To add insult to injury it seems, he says, "You scared him. The boy doesn't know you yet,"

I'm about to shriek, the pain in me rising to the burning ire that's surrounding my vision, encasing my heart, scorching my ribs because this terrible excuse for a human being is ruining everything and I can do nothing but die day by day inside from the loneliness—

And before I can scream bloody murder, my son is handed back to me.

"Here, just try again."

My boy doesn't squirm as much, only a little, and in a few minutes, he falls asleep, cradled into me. My breasts become heavy and milk stains the thin garment I'm wearing. He begins to whine and immediately, with delicate care, as though I was meant to do this, I move my shirt so he can drink. His eyes look into mine, an exact replica of stones, and I smile so widely that I laugh, lightly, the way only Prim could draw out of me.

I watch his little mouth move, the small flickers of his eyes behind his lids, listen to the occasional little snort that comes out his nose.

"He makes you smile easily,"

I don't answer. I just look at this child that's mine. But the grin he was speaking about is gone, diminished in size but it is there, in my heart, just for my baby.

"I thought you might like to see him."

Something in me stirs from the way he sounds. It's too soft; I can't trust it.

He continues to stare at us. I'm compelled to yell at him but disturbing the baby would not be good, and I can't seem to find it in me to shout. I mean… he didn't have to bring my son to me. I never asked. I just assumed he'd keep my baby from me forever.

My beautiful, handsome little boy…


"What?" his voice breaks my thoughts.

I look at him, squarely in the eyes, "His name."

"I've named him already."

A tiny spark in me burns my tongue, "You can call him whatever you like, but I'm not stopping from naming my son,"

There's quiet, stretching. I wait with bated breath.

"I like it."

I beam.

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