The Caged Bird Sings



After he buttoned his shirt, he told me to get ready.

My heartbeat is still pounding wildly, even after watching him leave an eternity ago. I'm still curled up within the sheets, smelling the stale sweat and the awful heat of his body is finally leaving the bed. Anxiety is filling inside me, to the brim with dread. I don't know what he means. What does he want me to get ready for?

Thoughts cumulate within my mind, remembering past terrors, our bodies tense, my stance ready to flee to the door, freedom, and his hands holding arsenal that hurts, glinting in moonlight—

A knock on the door jars me from memory, a scream in my throat, dying, ready to release itself.

It's the girl again, accompanied this time by four men.

"It's time for you to get ready to go,"

I stare at her, not comprehending. Go where?

There's a lack of spontaneity, replaced by knowledge and fear. "To go home,"

Home… Home! There's bubbles of delight I forgot existed surfacing upon my very skin, yet another part of me is weeping, why's it weeping? There's nothing wrong with home—


"My home?"

"Our Champion's home, of course,"

Of course.

It was too good to be true, too good to be true that I'd be leaving this hellhole and going home and being with Prim, Gale, my mother, even Madge.

"…Would you like some help?" the girl asks, nervously, eying me warily. The four men behind her stand taller, to remind me they are there to restrain me if need be. I shake my head.

"You should get ready, then," she tells me, "He's almost ready to depart,"

I don't shower. I want to smell as revolting as possible.

I'd forgotten I was still in the Capitol. Moving is something I've forgotten too. My legs crack and stretch from the days of no mobility and painful postures. I walk in silence, the four men from before on every side of me. We walk outside into bright daylight, the sun so intense my eyes instantaneously shut to block out the rays. The warmth of it is unbelievable. I cry behind my lids, blaming it on the light. The walk is incredibly quick, and I'm back inside four closed walls. Because District 2 is nearby compared to my home, we'll be there in less than a couple of hours.

I sit in the smallest compartment, curling into myself to disappear.

The door slides open; there's a rustle of movement.

It's him. I know it is because of the silent way he moves. My arms wrap tighter around my shoulders.

His voice makes me jump, "It's good to be leaving."

He breathes in quietly, letting out a huge sigh. I continue keeping my head down.

We don't say anything. I remain in my fetal position, waiting for him to spring and force himself against me in this tight space. The sound of his breathing makes mine shallow, heartbeat in my throat. I dare to look up, peeking above my forearms.

He's staring out the window, my sunlight touching his face. To the Capitol, even to women of Districts, he's handsome, powerful, and ruthless: perfect. To me, he is those things. That's what frightens me—that he's gotten the entire world wrapped around his fingers, toying with it, and that makes him hideous to me, because he's capable of manipulation and it bothers him little.

He turns to look at me. My head locks to move down but I will myself to keep his gaze. The sun in his hair makes it shine, dazzles sky blue gems and burns bronze skin. He's a god to all; a demon to me.

The train rests to a smooth halt; his lips slide across mine even smoother; my hatred is the smoothest transition of all because it's always there.

"Girl on Fire," he murmurs against my skin. I attempt to pull away, forgetting his hand that always rests on the nape of my neck to keep me in place. Right there, it flickers. The look he always gets before he takes me. My body tenses, the coil in my stomach tighter than promises. He doesn't do anything; he leaves, leaving me shaking.

From outside, I hear cheering and anger floods inside me. I slide forward, and the sight that greets me pains me so much, I fall onto my knees.

He's waving to the crowd, all smiles and victory. Golden spun spikes, sunlight glinting on them, and eyes are bluer because of the endless sky, reminding me of a distant train where another boy stood, waving to the people, all smiles and grace. This contrast and similarity rocks me, leaving me gasping on the ground.

He turns, smiling at me, vanity and wrath in his eyes.

So I tackle him, plummeting down onto hard ground. Because if I'm going to be a prisoner here, I'll do what I can to make him suffer with me—two birds down with one stone. It's a noble suicide.

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