Past the Point of Rescue
I hunch over my TV screen to see.
And I hate it.
I blink rapidly. This can't be true.
My mind is having trouble processing what just happened. It's all so hazy to me. It's so hard to believe…
But there it is anyways. I hit the pause button for just a second and close my eyes, taking deep breaths.
When I open my eyes, the 12 boy will be the one dead. It was just a dream… A delusion… A hallucination… It has to be…
He's still alive.
He's still alive.
He has to be alive.
I open my eyes.
But Dill isn't dead.
It's still him.
I close my eyes again and open them.
Panic builds inside me. No matter what the truth is, I'll never be able to face it unless it involves him being alive.
I open my eyes again.
He's still there.
No matter what I do, he'll still be there.
I hit rewind anyways. I know it won't change a single damn thing but I want to try just in case…
Anyways, I hit rewind and play it again just as the nursery flicks on my screen.
And he's asleep.
'He's just asleep,' I tell myself, 'He's still alive.'
I see both 12 tributes sneak up on him and watch through a crack in my fingers. Just like last time, but this time I can clearly feel myself shaking.
It's amazing that my best friend was even ready to put up a fight.
He was always good like that. You can wake him up and send him off on a marathon, that boy.
He's still alive.
He has to be.
This time, I make myself watch the battle. And I'm terrified by every second of it. But I force my eyes open, no matter how much I want to close my eyes and mute the TV.
Suddenly the door to our house bursts open.
My mouth drops, I look at the Peacekeepers in shock, tears forming in my eyes.
I may only be 13 but I stand up, "Why are you-"
They cut off my question and run to my Mom's room, "Watching!"
Then they come downstairs to my sister's bedroom, "Girl and Father watching!"
Then they walk to the living room that I'm in. I stare at them, mouth still gaping open.
"Watching it all twice," one of them says, putting a gloved hand on my back. "You're a real winner," as the other puts checkmarks on a clipboard.
I make myself talk casually, like I'm not on the verge of tears, "Yeah… I guess I am…"
Then the three file out, slamming the door shut behind them.
And when I look back at the TV again, I see it.
Looks like rewinding didn't work at all. He's still there.
His chest is still moving up and down, ever-so-slightly.
There hasn't been a cannon yet… Maybe there's hope!
His chest moves up and down slightly.
"Please…" I choke out in a shaky whisper, eyes welling up, "Please get up…."
His breathing starts to slow and the puddle of blood around his head doesn't expand any longer.
His lips form one word. One single word.
I rewind, just slightly, and watch it again, because I'm almost positive that I read it wrong.
I've never been wrong with him before, but I have to be now, don't I?
I watch it again and I can't believe.
No, I was right the first time, as I always am. Don't know why, but I was right.
He clearly said it.
It's the sound of the cannon that finally sets it in stone to me.
Elijah is dead.
My best friend since we were born is dead.
And he was 13.
I feel completely numb for a second. I stare at the television and wear absolutely no expression… Have absolutely no thoughts… Just stare.
Not even sure what I'm seeing, hearing, feeling… All I know is that there's this emotion that's forming in the very bottom of my gut.
And it's not a good one at all. But I'm not sure how to describe it.
It's my sister Cassia's voice that snaps me out of it.
And that puff of emotion in my chest explodes.
I'll never be able to face this world without him. That's a promise.
He was my other half. We did everything together!
We shared everything. Even my brand new baseballs, even his favorite stuffed animal. We shared it all.
And his last word, last thought, last anything… Was me.
Not Estella, our cat, not his Mom (who died a while back), not his sister Valentina, not his father, not any of the girls at school who had their little schoolgirl crushes on him.
His last thought was me. And he wanted the whole nation to know it.
That just makes me even more upset.
Not at him. I don't think there's a single thing he ever could've done to make me upset or mad.
Of course I'm mad at the Capitol.
But, in case you haven't noticed, there aren't a lot of dedicated rebels in the Districts. There never were, never will be, I'm sure.
Mandatory viewing time is finally over and I run outside, longing to be away from all people.
I've never wanted to be alone before.
I've never wanted to be far, far away from all living creatures, but I do today.
And I will for a long, long time.
But I stop short when I hear the wails.
All of the shutters at the Crowly place are closed, and as far as I can tell, all the lights are turned off.
I can hear Valentina's wails from just outside the wall.
"I'm a failure! A terrible sister!"
And I know that three-year-old Nickolas must be in there, too.
I turn away from there. As far as I can tell, my presence isn't going to help a thing.
I walk into the forest and find the bush that used to serve as our secret hideout. I don't want to see it ever again.
I stomp on the bush and get an insane sense of pleasure from the crunch it makes.
Then I sit in a thronbush and sob, screaming until my throat goes raw and crying until my eyes run out of tears and I'm in danger of getting dehydrated.
Just the thought of him makes it start over again.
His eyes. They were huge, and this really deep blue color. They showed so many emotions, all the time.
And, even at such a young age as 13, he was pretty emotional.
I remember when we got the news that his mother had passed on.
It was one of the worst moments of my life.
His parents are practically my parents, and my parents were practically his.
And to hear that she was gone broke my heart.
He took me by the wrist and dragged me into the forest. He sobbed like I am today.
But he had me there to comfort him, which I'm not too great at, but I can try.
It's gotta be better than this.
Anything would be better than this.
When Elijah was reaped, we were all confused. We had no idea what was happening, the idea of a fight to the death just seemed way too far out there. We never thought they'd actually die for real.
Now he's dead.
He's dead and I'll never see him again.
The tears come back, and I use up the rest of my voice screaming.
I don't care if I ever talk again.
Nobody comes after me.
They'd better not.
I'm radioactive, past the point of rescue, and I don't ever wanna be saved.
My heart withered away and died that day.
One thing is for sure.
My name is Nate McIalwain. My best friend was killed unjustly in the very first of the death pageants. But I will get my revenge on the dirty coal miners of District 12.
I'm going to.
You watch me.
Because I AM going into the 2nd Annual Hunger Games.
And you bet your bottomside I'm gonna win.