Impressive but not elegant, assorted chairs, some comfortable, some upright with padded seats and carved backs, prints of country landscapes, beaches and flowers were sprawled on each wall, each depicting beautiful scenery: rolling waves on idyllic sand, cows grazing in meadows, and bees on flowers. Across from me was a tiny black maple wood coffee table holding health magazines. Underneath it was a dull grey carpet that covered the whole room. A television hung in one corner displaying boring commercials. I was too anxious to read any of the magazines or watch TV, so I just tapped my foot impatiently, my eyes fixated on nothing. I stared at the black-framed wall clock for the ninth time in what seemed like an hour but couldn’t have been much more than 10 minutes, scrutinizing the second hand, which seemed to linger an extra minute at every passing second. I took my gaze off of the clock, silently vowing to not look at it once more until absolutely necessary, and pulled out Eliza’s ring. I skimmed my fingers across the smooth metal and smiled softly. After what seemed like an eternity, I reluctantly glanced at the clock as the second hand continued to move in its persistent manner. My concentration was disrupted by the sudden sound of a door creaking open, and my eyes shifted to the door to see a young woman in her 30s stepping out. I immediately rose from the edge of the chair and went over to her.
“Your parents are here. Do you want to see them?” she asked boredom seeming in waves through her words as she played with her manicured nails. “Please” I respond, impatient. She nods and then leaves. A few seconds later my mother and father enter, holding hands. “I’m so proud of you” are the first words that come out of my mother’s mouth as her eyes brim with tears. My father nods in agreement drawing me into a hug. “Do us proud and win. You will be in and out of that area. You need to show everyone you are not to be messed with, understand?” he asks in a single breath. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was nervous. “Of course daddy,” the pet name always seemed to soothe him and today was no different “I’m a Singer remember. We never lose.” He grinned at me, his eyes wrinkling happily. My mother chokes back a sob as envelops me with her arms. “I will miss you, come home soon won’t you? Kill them all and be done with it.” I nod in assent. All too soon, the woman re-enters, “times up. Your sister is here, should I let her in?” I nod at her and she goes out. I am crushed by another hug this time from both of my parents. “I love you.” I say as they leave and Eliza comes in.
“I love you too” she says smirking as the door shuts behind her.
“Not you, prick” I say laughing as I hug her. “Look after them till I get back. Don’t let mother start drinking again will you?”
“You know I won’t, I know how bad she gets.” She replies in a drawl. “Don’t change too much in the games. I like our banter and it would be bad form if when you come home you’re a boring bitch” she laughs
“Look after yourself, and keep crafting, I expect a beautiful ring as a present for your beautiful sister when I get home.” I laugh and she joins in shoving my arm so I fall off the sofa. “Bitch!” I cry and start to chase her round the room as she squeals. We fall into a heap laughing and that is how the woman finds us when she comes in. her face was priceless, a mix between ‘what-have-I-walked-in-on’ and ‘do-I-even-want-to-know’ and of course this just sets us off laughing harder. “Um….Times up, there’s a boy outside claiming to be your friend should I let him in?” I nod swallowing in an attempt to get my laughter in check. And failing. I almost choke as I splutter with laughter as Eliza leaves, face red with the effort off holding back laughter.
Bruits enters and I smile at him. “Hi there” he says clearly confused. I shake my head telling him not to ask and smile at him, reclaiming my spot on the sofa. He chuckles slightly and sits next to me.
“Kill them all dead and come back to me” he says into my neck as he hugs me. I smile.
“I’d die before I let anyone kill me” I said and he laughed.
“That’s counter intuitive but I’ll take it. Then when you get back, ill volunteer for next year and I’ll join you as a victor. Deal?” I nod smiling. This had always been our plan. I wanted to do the games to show that I was strong and for the fun side of it. Plus, as a victor, I’d have unlimited access to the Capitol. Bruits wants to compete in a Quell because he was in it for the glory and had always loved the twists of a Quell but he wouldn’t be eligible so we agreed that we’d go one after another. I think that they are too unpredictable so in more likely to die. I’m not afraid of death, but that doesn’t mean that I will run headfirst into its loving embrace. “Remember, everyone there wants to get home just like you, trust no one. Not even your district partner, I’ve asked around, apparently, he’s a right arsehole.” I snort. Of course he had, always looking out for me. He was the best friend anyone could wish for. “You’re like an overprotective big bother, I can look out for myself.” I say and he smiles ruefully. I hug him one last time and he leaves.
The woman comes back in about five minutes later to tell me that the train will be arriving any minute now and that she’s to take me to the station. I nod and stand, taking one last look around the room before following her out.