The Caged Bird Sings

Catbird


Catbird


I wince, sucking in a sharp hiss of air.

"You're bleeding, again," Antonia says, cleaning up the sticky red stuff between my legs. The ointment she carefully applies feels worse than the pain and I have to wonder if the treatment is worth it. Why would it be a treatment if it causes similar discomfort to the pain it's attempting to lessen?

It hurts, a burning sensation that prickles my nerves, but she's quick and thorough. Soon, she's packing up the medicine kit, walking to the door, and leaving without a backwards glance in my direction.

I carefully amble my way back to the bed, a sigh leaving my lips as I lay upon my back. The pain in my pelvis continues to increase as well. It worries me; I've never felt such aches before, not even during my cycles. This is different, sometimes sporadic, but the one thing I can always expect from my bleedings is just that—I expect them.

The bed is too hot for my liking but I don't move, the pain between my thighs intensifying with every minute movement. My mother may not be advanced like the Capitol, but she heals with amazing capability, as well as Prim and Rue. They could help.

Another jab through my pelvis snakes into my head, increasing the headache. I breathe in slowly, exhale slowly. I do this for a while, and it alleviates a bit of the throbbing that's bashing inside my skull, but it does minimal effect to the rest of me.

I watch the door open, hearing the creak, and Antonia comes back inside, holding washcloths but makes no step in my direction. She goes to the window and opens the curtains, blinding me with hot, white light. My eyes squeeze tightly, drawing another hiss through my teeth, and I cover my face from the sun. It's too, too bright and everywhere.

"Ugh, shut that!"

I hear her humph and she takes quick steps back to the door, saying, "You need the sun. You're looking very pale."

"My vagina hurts, woman, not my skin." I reply, glaring at her through my fingertips.

She stops, stares at me, and sniffs. "What the master sees in District 12 trash, I'll never know."

"I'll gladly switch places with you—then you can learn through the experience." I snap.

Her eyes widen a little before she purses her lips and vacates the room.

I know I should be more lenient, even polite and kind, to the people who come and take care of me. But Antonia is a completely different person from the other women who come in. They don't say anything about my situation but they're demure, even if they are quite standoffish. I'm rude, however, even to them. A little. Not as much as to Antonia, who seems to make it her life to bother me, but still.

I wonder how much she knows about my situation. If she believes I have sex with him willingly.

Does anyone even bother to find out what he does to me behind this door?

I understand that houses belonging to victors are enormous compared the miniscule homes in the districts, like the Victor's Village back home, pristine and overflowing with bushes of vibrant, colorful flowers.

I let out another sigh, sitting up as carefully as possible. A gasp escapes me when I take the first step, trembling from the ointment that didn't help and the heat pooling there, thin needles gouging the skin. I notice I'm bleeding again, but I want the window shut. I don't want the sunlight getting in here, showing me the world I've lost and will never have. I don't want the world anyway—it's too cold, too raucous, too bloodthirsty, and too wrong.

I look at my fingers before I close the curtains, however. I am getting paler, but I think she's over exaggerating. However, my nails may as well be considered nonexistent. They're chipped, bleeding, scabbed at the top and some of the skin is dry. I would go and wash them, like I always do, for there's nothing to do and I tend to scrub myself viciously whenever possible but I'm too tired to make the short trip to the bathroom sink.

The moment the curtains fall, my eyes sting less, relieved in the shelter of blackness, no light.

Darkness is nice.

I fall asleep in fire and ice, watching Prim freeze to death in my father's hunting jacket, my mother not even looking around, the living dead; and my body is burning from the biting snow, from heat too, because Peeta and Gale are both behind me, being burned alive at stakes, and Rue's whistle is the only echo—

"Wake up."

I do, I wake up. I touch my forehead and sweat covers my hand.

I look up, meeting his eyes, my heart stirring at seeing someone familiar, even if he's dangerous; he narrows his eyes at mine. "You're not getting sick again, are you?"

"No," I reply, "But I am bleeding."

"Again?"

"Yes, again."

He sighs loudly, crossing his arms, "That's perfect. You'll use up all the medicine in our cabinets before they're even necessary for the rest of us—"

"Where's Hyacinth?"

I know he doesn't like to be cut off midsentence and I'm surprised a little that he hasn't punched my face like usual, but normally he brings my baby with him.

"He's right there on the bed," he jerks his head back and I turn. He's awake, looking around with gray eyes. My captor had brought in a nightlight of sorts so there's some light, but not as bright as from the world outside. It's enough where it doesn't hurt to look at it and good enough where I can see my son in peace.

"He was looking for you."

"Really?" I ask, unable to contain mirth at the idea of my child wondering where I might be.

"Yeah; he was with me all day."

I ignore him, just watching my son look around, look at me, occasionally look at my tormentor, then back to me. I whisper little sweet things, delight bubbling in me.

"Antonia tried to sing to him last night. Didn't work so well,"

I snort.

"Can you sing to him?"

Singing. Can I sing? I don't remember having a voice.

I shrug. He sighs. "Being difficult won't get you anywhere."

I continue staring at my child, Hyacinth now latching onto my pinky, but bitterness creeps into me. I fear what he can do to me, what he may to do to Hyacinth, but it spills out, "You don't even know if I can or not."

"I know you can."

It startles me so much I jump on the bed. "What?"

"I've watched the reel of our Games. You sang to your little friend from 11. Why can't you sing to our son?"

He's watched me? He knows my special gift, given to me by my father?

Our son?

He just keeps looking at the pair of us, stark and bold, like the sunshine that made my eyes flame up and make me dizzy.

"Well?"

I'm not sure what to do. One half of me does not want to do anything he says, but the other half desires to badly to please my son.

Before I can answer, he's leaving and I ask where he's going.

"I'm going to the courtyard. I'll be back to pick him up."

Once he's gone, I find myself being a little braver and sing to Hyacinth, the walls, the ghosts that haunt my waking moments.

It's barely five minutes, I'm sure of it, because he comes back in and he has the smirk in place, the one that always means my destruction. He's tricked me again and he loves it.

"Gotcha,"

I weep for my voice that he stole without my permission.

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