The Caged Bird Sings




I've given these actions its proper name: rape.

I know what it is. I know it's horrible, violent pain. Back home, even if it was a private affair, I doubt that such things were going on, even a little. I am not naïve. After these endless days and nights that blur into one another, I know I'm not. But we're such a small community, and in the end, all we have is one another. Perhaps I'm trying to keep my home intact, think of it as a more beautiful, peaceful place in the midst of all this, but it is fine with me. My home will always be better.

He never comes to me in the morning, and it's good for me. It gives me a chance to recuperate from every horrible emotion he makes me feel. He returned later that night and had his way with me, back to sounds of ragged breathing and my trying to crawl away fast only to be dragged back by my hair, my legs being parted and terrible pain shooting through my very core, rougher than sandpaper grating bare, bleeding flesh.

I look around the interior of the room, still white and clean. It frightens me, the walls that don't remind me of home and pine, the lack of human interaction, the scent of my blood and his sweat and our cries—

No. Not our cries; my sobs, his laughter.

I'm nothing like him, he's nothing like me.

We are not one being, like I've been told man and woman should be.

This is a violation of something that's supposed to be sacred. Something treasured.

I told myself I would never have kids and I meant it when I told Gale, that day that feels so long ago in the past of another person's life. I don't hate children. I love children, how precious they are and how lively they are. But children mean heartbreak too—watching your little ones, that you've nurtured and raised, taught how to speak, taught how to be decent people, watching those same faces be called to slaughter and there's nothing you can do but break inside and when they die in the Games… the pain is almost unbearable. I knew about a woman who had mourned for an entire month before killing herself. I'd find her staring out the window, dead in her eyes, shattered. They found her body lying in the runoff for sewage and waste, a filthy knife still tightly wound within her bony ashen fingers.

That's how I knew I would feel, maybe even do, if I lost Prim. It hadn't occurred to me until her name was called that just because I declared I would never bear children, didn't mean I wouldn't be attached to someone like a child, like a daughter to me. Prim is my child. But I had the opportunity, the possibility, and the hope, which most parents never have: to give up their lives for their children.

Even now, in the darkness of barren light and cruelty, I don't regret taking her place, saving her from emotional and psychological scars. And the voice that whispers, on occasion, how I should never have gone after her, I destroy it until its dust—there's nothing I wouldn't do for Prim. Nothing; I'd give her the world.

She's not just my sister, she is my daughter…

…and something strikes me now, something so horrible I can't fathom it.

Bearing the child of a killer, a murderer…

The voice speaks.

I crush it… after listening about my sacrifice. It was worth it for her, I'm sure of it.

…is it?

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