Interviews: Big Shoes
Stephano and Octavian appear on the screen that night to tell us our Training Scores. Dutch looks nervous, but definitely not as nervous as I feel.
The two Capitolites talk about the Games for a while: the excitement of the chariot rides, and everything they could possibly say before actually getting to the point.
"Alright, and with that, I think it's time to reveal the tributes' training scores!" Octavian says happily.
Stephano nods and looks at his papers, "How exciting! Start us off, Octavian!"
"I'd be honored." The older man clears his throat.
"Osmium Krietzer, District 1. Score of… 9."
I grin and let out a happy little squeal. I look over at Dutch and he definitely looks surprised. I doubt he expected me to score above a six or seven. I guess he doesn't know how much I've trained back at District 1.
On those nights when Dad, Dutch, and Nick were all out at an auction, I'd spend my time training in the gym until I puked up dinner and then studying in the library. Dutch probably figured out how often I went to study in the library. He knows better than anyone that I always go to the library to clear my head. But I doubt he knew how often I'd trained with actual weapons.
Pleasure looks even more shocked than Dutch at my score. I smile proudly.
"Only because he made 5 cry," Pleasure mutters, scowling. Sure, she can believe that.
"Os, that's a great score!" Dutch finally says, as Pleasure's score of 8 fades away. Pomp gets a 9, Marcella an 8, Lucy a 9, and Sampson an 8. The boy from District 3 gets a 6. The boy from 5, Glitch, gets a 4, which is a score a lot higher than they usually give to those who spend all their time at the berry station. Raleigh from 6 gets a 5, and Lanchester also gets a 9. Wow.
Marlowe comes up next. She gets a score of 7. Reuben comes after her and gets a score of 8.
Wow, an eight! How'd he manage that!?
District 8 passes. Chase gets a 5. Ten, eleven, and twelve: Carrie Caldwell gets a 6. Closing remarks are made, but my heart is still soaring. My real alliance and my temporary alliance both scored well, and not to mention I shocked everyone!
Boy, I wish I could've seen Dad and Nick's faces. I'm so happy with the turnout. Not a single soul will even think of calling me weak ever again.
I grin uncontrollably as Dutch shuts off the TV. Pleasure and her mentor go off to bed.
"Night," Dutch says. I smile at him brightly. "Night."
Dutch sits across from me the next day and smiles. "Well, here we are. Interviews."
I smile. "Yeah." Then add, as an afterthought, "You seem cheery, all of a sudden."
"Just enjoying our time together. I know what he means: he's savoring it for however much longer it may last.
"So, are you ready to" he mimics Dad with dramatic hand motions, "Act?"
I laugh and he grins at me. Our father turns into a completely different person when cameras are rolling. He's taught all of us: including Nick: how to act. Dutch was never quite as convincing or good as Nick. They often tell me that I'm the best actor out of the three of us. That should definitely work in my advantage.
"It's terrifying," Dutch confesses, "When you first get out there. But soon it'll become easy." I nod and he continues, "You're the most famous of the tributes, but you also have some big shoes to fill. But… I have faith in you."
"What do I say?"
"Everything pro-Games and pro-Capitol. The audience already knows your life story, so don't bore them too much. Got it?"
I nod, "Crystal clear."
He smiles at me, "Good."
There's a pause. Then a question pops into my head.
"Dutch, should I come out to them now or do it after the Games?"
He blinks. "Oh, uh…" and thinks about that. "I… I don't know. Just… Surprise me." I sigh but know he's really trying his very best.
"I talked to Nick last night," Dutch says. "He told me to tell you that he's sorry for being so rude to you and that he wishes he could've told you goodbye and see you soon."
I shrug, glad to hear that apology, even though it's through Dutch's voice and not Nick's. "I'm pretty sure that soon I'll be able to understand it all, so no big deal, right?" Next time you talk to him, tell him that I forgive him. Also, mention that there's no need for goodbyes. I'm more of a threat than they all think."
He nods. "I'll transfer the message." A small smile plays across his features.
I feel good when I get dressed by my prep team. Today, I've been put in a rosy pink suit with a black tie. They press my eyes with eyeliner and then get to working on the rest of my makeup. Later, when they finish putting powder and gunk on my face, they all step back and gush.
I go over to the mirror and stare at my reflection. I look like a completely new person. A lot less dorky than I usually look. My skin is tanner, my lips are redder, my eyes pop out more… I have to say it makes me feel empowered.
We meet up with the mentors. When Pleasure looks over she stares for a while before breaking her glance. "Alright, you know what to do," Dutch whispers, tugging my collar.
"Of course I do."
He smiles and asks, "You nervous?"
I nod. "This was all a lot easy pretending."
"You can do this. You're the second best actor that Panem's ever seen, next to Dad!"
I make a quiet, bubbly, giggling noise. He takes my arm and guides me to the back room.
"Good luck. If you get shaky legs, I'll be right there, in the audience." I smile and nod, feeling Pleasure's eyes on me.
I nod and he leaves. Pomp and Marcella show up just then. She's wearing a sherbert-orange gown that sweeps down at her ankles. Pomp skips over and starts chatting at the speed of light about how fun this is going to be. He talks rapidly for five minutes before Marcella cuts him short.
"Sorry, One," she says, "He talks a lot when he gets nervous. On his reaping morning he spent twenty minutes telling everyone at the Academy about what he had for breakfast." She giggles and Pomp's already-rosy cheeks get rosier.
Lucy joins us just then, Sampson following.
Everyone looks so different tonight.
Pomp's hair is spiked up again and he's got some seriously dark makeup going on around the eyes. The girls' makeup is extremely exaggerated. Pleasure wears a white, short dress with a red heart on it and rainbow stripes. Her whole face is covered with bright colors. Marcella has gems by her eyes and crimson-red lips. Lucy's green eyes pop in the green dress she wears with black tights. Sampson's shaggy hair is combed cleanly and shiny, and for the first time, I can clearly see his eyes: green as the sea.
"What'd we miss?"
"Pomp rambling," I comment. Lucy glances over and her eyes stay on me for a while. Guess they changed me more than I thought.
"I'm ready for a great interview," she finally says, "And you'd all better be, too. Or else."
Pomp lets out a high-pitched, nervous-sounding laugh and just gives a thumbs up, turning pink under all the color on his skin.
The others show up and soon we can hear the muffled theme-music that signifies the start of the televised programming. This is so surreal. To think, soon I'll be that person that's on everyone's TV screens!
"Good luck," Marcella whispers, then we all line up in order. I look down the line of tributes. Lanchester is wearing a scarlet tux and his hair has darker highlights than it did at training. He looks around, looking just about as nervous as he was at training. Raleigh has a poofy, short, pink dress that makes her rosy cheeks look especially rosier (though it may be coloring, as well). Carrie wears a long dress, with a gradient: white at the top going all the way to black at the bottom.
Marlowe is dressed in dark purple dress with lace leggings and lace sleeves. Her hair's pulled up in its usual pigtails. Reuben stands beside her in a nice lilac shirt with a navy blue bowtie. His freckles have completely disappeared, it seems. Like Sampson, his usually-shaggy hair is a lot calmer today. I look over and catch the navy eyes of the girl from 5: her eyeliner wings are beautifully-done. When I see Chase, he's wearing a white tuxedo and his hints at freckles are all gone, as well.
But someone's missing. Glitch, from District 5.
He's pulled in just then. More like, he stumbles in uncoordinatedly with his escort holding his arm. His eyes, usually close to silver, are now a cloudy, dull gray color. He wears a nice shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His hair looks like it's been smothered in gel three hundred times, and yet there's still three pieces that stick out at the back. He's definitely not himself: he can't even walk straight.
Suddenly we hear Octavian's voice booming, "PLEASURE…EASTON!" She giggles at us and walks out to her interview. I bite my lip and watch the screen.
Pleasure's interview goes well, and I notice that her makeup looks a lot more normal on stage. I hear the crowd from the back room as he raises Pleasure's arm and shouts her name again. Then it suddenly goes quiet.
"Now, it's time for the debut of the one, the only, the youngest Krietzer, OSMIUM!"
Ooh, that's me! I giggle quietly to myself and wave to the others before walking to the stage with a skip in my step.
When I get out to the stage, the roaring of the audience blows out my eardrums. I smile immediately, and I don't even have to fake it. Octavian's laughter literally booms over the speaker surrounding the audience. I decide to let myself look as amazed as I feel as Octavian sits down and I sit next to him.
After a while, the crows quiets down.
"Osmium Krietzer!" he says enthusiastically. "What an honor it is to have you here with us!"
"It's an honor to be here!"
He grins at me. "Aw!" And they have to quiet down the crows again.
"Well, we already have an idea of your younger years, but please, catch us up! I'm sure there's been a ton of excitement after your brother's Victory!"
I nod. "It's been great…Having Dutch as a Victor." I may be bright and smiling, I may have that squeaking sound in my voice that shows excitement, but that was the coldest, whitest lie I've ever told.
Octavian nods, believing it. "Well, I think we can all agree that Dutch was very noble in his Games. What's your approach?"
"Well… I want to be just like Dutch. He's my hero. Both him and dad. I want to play the game fairly and with grace. I want to be brave, and win because I am the best, not because I played dirty."
My approach is the second whitest lie I've ever told. There is no such thing as winning the Games fairly. There's no such thing as winning without playing dirty. The Games are unfair and dirty, and all of the tributes know it.
But, the Capitol people look to be feasting on my words.
"Well, what a kid!" Octavian shouts into the microphone and the audience responds with loud cheering.
"So, what about your home life? Any news? Any special little ladies for yourself and your brother?" The crows goes silent and collectively leans forward, waiting eagerly.
I smile. "Nope. We're just stuck with Nick Kensy and Dad." The audience laughs loudly.
"Hear that ladies!? Both young Krietzers are still bachelors!" I hear some high-pitched screaming and decide that now is the time.
I start to chuckle quietly to myself, catching Octavian's attention.
"Osmium!" he makes a mocking-offended face. "You're not telling us something!"
The crows erupts into shouting.
"Tell us!" Octavian hollers.
I chuckle and say into the microphone, "Oh, Octavian…" The crowd goes silent.
"I'm not just after girls."
The crowd gasps. Perfect.
"What!?" Octavian asks, shocked and dramatic about it. I chuckle, "Yeah! I'm pansexual!"
There are more gasps from the audience that are soon accompanied by whistles and cheers. I continue, smiling, "I can fall in love with anyone, no matter what gender. And, to be honest, I think that everyone is cute."
I hear giggles and more whistles and cheers.
"Everyone? Really, everyone!?"
"Yep! Everyone!" I smile, and suddenly the buzzer rings. Octavian laughs into his microphone and announces, "OSMIUM KRIETZER, EVERYONE!" He holds my arm up and the crowd goes wild. Dutch catches my eye and gives me a big thumbs-up, grinning proudly.
Dutch hasn't been proud of me in years. I decide to enjoy it while it lasts.
Marcella interviews well, just about as well as Pleasure, from what I heard. Pomp spends two of his minutes rambling before getting comfortable and then gets the crowd hyped up. After his interview, he comes and stands next to me by the screens to watch, stroking his chin with his fingers. Ratchet from District 3 has a lot calmer of an interview. Lucy speaks very loudly, practically shouting, appearing to make the audience uncomfortable. Sampson nods and shakes his head but doesn't talk. The audience takes a certain liking to that, though. Kara, the girl from 5 with pretty eyes, gives a calm and collective interview. Glitch can barely walk straight when his turn rolls around.
"Well, Glitch, how are you feeling?!" Octavian asks. Glitch looks around with big cloudy eyes, before he finally responds, in a voice an octave lower than I remember: "Drugged."
The audience laughs but the kid looks uncomfortable. Soon he's asking about life back at 5, and I listen, as much as I know I shouldn't.
"Back home? What home? I lived in the poorest part of the District because I was a mistake and my parents were both kicked out. We lived with my uncle for a while, actually, but he went ahead and raped me whenever he felt like it for three years. Finally he starved and my aunt kicked the three of us out. Moved to the Smog when I was 11, the place where you go when you have nowhere else to. Got abused. Pass out every time I have attention to me: either that or puke, like after the reapings." The crowd seems a little disgusted but Glitch is wound up and doesn't notice. "Met a boy who was 16. I…I thought I finally found someone trustworthy. He made me feel worth something. Didn't last long before he broke my trust in him, too. Resistance was futile." The crowd responds to his story with disgust, muttering bad things about both of them. Wow, surprising they'd care. Glitch doesn't notice this, either. He's too out of it. "The last one was an 18-year-old girl. Never took no for an answer. Wish she would've. Wouldn't believe I'm 13, would you?"
Octavian pauses. "Wait, you slept with an 18-year-old girl!?"
The crowd now mutters impressed words.
"Uh, yeah, I guess, but that's not the point-" Octavian laughs and says, "What a fellow! Nice to see it all worked out for you in the end!"
The boy blinks, not comprehending the scene unfolding in front of him.
"No worries, Glitch. Win the Games and all your problems are solved!"
"Won't be that easy."
"We have faith!" The crowd cheers and the buzzer rings. As soon as Glitch stumbles off the stage he makes a dash for a trash can and pukes his guts out. I ignore the noises, as do the others, and turn my attention back to the monitor, frowning.
Raleigh tells stories about her home and Octavian listens intently. The Capitol knows she's cute, but they also know that she stands no chance in the Arena. Lanchester is one of the other crowd favorites. He gets whistles and cheers, and the audience is captured by his story about his mother and uncles. Even I'm captivated by it; Games theory interests me to no end. Marlowe doesn't even pretend to be happy, only wearing small smiles and talking about life in the orphanage. I have a feeling they're going to forget about her. Reuben makes the audience swoon with his charming personality. I barely knew he had it in him. The boy from 8 tells jokes and makes the audience laugh.
Chase wins their hearts with his big puppy dog eyes. He tells his story and makes everyone feel it. Then, to the surprise of the Capitol as well as myself, he comes out of the closet. I stare at the screen, realizing that I'm no longer special, but I hope they still remember me. I think it was the best solution for him, though. He'll definitely stick in their minds.
The girl from District 10 is almost as loud as Lucy and sounds almost manly from where I can hear. Octavian has a hard time getting her to be relatable at all, and her buzzer rings before the audience reacts to anything. The District 11 girl, Daisy, makes the audience smile with her happy memories and cute little giggle, but doesn't do anything memorable. Carrie Caldwell goes on a long rant and then works herself up too much to answer many more of Octavian's questions. By the time interviews are over, I'm able to have a brief conversation with Marlowe and Reuben without the other Careers noticing.
Then, the TVs go black and we all separate to go to bed. I was the makeup off my face and shower, then I thankfully climb into bed, wrap up in the covers, and doze off.