“You must…. Help me... if you w-want to get me t-to the queen alive then I suggest that you wrap my leg ...” My vision was blurring, at this point, I was just trying to save my life. My attempt to get them to heal me failed. Is this how my life is gonna end, with my own family dragging me to the queen? At least I’ll die before I get there. No one should die alone. Yet here I am, and to think I thought that I would have stopped the war. In reality, it is just a fantasy I made up to make me feel better about running away from my family….. For betraying my family.
It is silly that I thought my life would end up like a fairy tale. Not everyone gets a happy ending. Even if I did get to die in my family’s loving arms, there still wouldn’t be my mother or my brother. My mother will always be missing, and my brother still will be lost to the breach. My father would still be curled up in his chair staring out the window, mourning my family. My father would have been devastated to see me die and would be worse off than he is now.
Being in my father and my sister’s arms wouldn’t be so bad. At least I’d have them. The whole world is against me. I have no one. When I first escaped the queen’s grasp I thought I had a purpose. I thought I was meant to reveal the truth about these creatures in our world. I didn’t even do that. I guess I had no purpose after all. All of the years of solitude and studying would be for nothing. Losing my family would have been for nothing.
I wish that I could turn back time and forget everything. I wish I could just be a general again. Be accepted by all, be a hero to the people around me, instead of being a hero to creatures. At least I would’ve had a good life, even if it was with ignorance of the creatures around me. The realization hit me like a brick wall. I. Want. To. Live.“I don’t want to die….” My vision has vanished. My body no longer ached, instead, it felt numb. The group stopped, “Why do you stop? I am still a living being after all..” The words slipped from my mouth, my tone quiet and ragged. The wind even seemed to calm down so everyone could hear me speak.
It was painful to smile, but I couldn’t help myself. Amusement radiated through my body. I choked on laughter, it sputtered out of my body bringing blood with it. Pain shot through my body, but I continued to laugh despite the fact it was painful. I couldn’t help it. “Nothing….nobody wants to die.” The entire village fell still. No one moved or spoke. Nothing dared to move in the silence. It was like death himself showed up at the village doorstep.
Out of rage, my sister kicked me down to the ground. The guards let go of me as I dropped to the ground. Everdeen’s eyes, even though I couldn’t see them, threatened to burn a hole in my head. She kicked me in the ribs, this time harder than before. I gasped for air. I was starting to lose consciousness. I grasped for vision, for air, for words. I wanted to make her stop. I wanted to say I was sorry. Sorry for leaving. Sorry for not ever coming back. Sorry for leaving her alone to take care of our father. I’m sorry that she had to watch our dad mourn my entire family. “I’m…..Sorry” I coughed roughly. I desperately clung to any vision to see her blurry face, trying to see what she looked like at this moment. My vision flashed long enough to see her shoulders drop a moment before she, once again, kicked me. With the kick came blindness. This time however the kick was weak. She broke the silence that filled the air with a fierce cry, “I hate you! I hate your stupid ways! You don’t deserve to say sorry! You don’t deserve to live! I wish you just died that day! I wished you burned on that damn stake!” A sob broke her lips. My mind went blank. I couldn’t form words to respond.
No one spoke after that. All I could do was lay there. I couldn’t even speak any longer. My conscious state was slowly drifting. I don’t want to die! Please…. My mind started to flash with images of my mother. Her beautiful smile shined brighter than the sun. Next, to her, my sister played with a doll that had beautiful long black hair, and my father had his arms around my mother. Unlike now my father’s eyes were filled with happiness. My brother walked up behind my mom. This memory was one of my favorites for many reasons. It was mothers day and my mother always insisted we never did anything for her. My brother never listened to her request though.
Fixated on him I watched as he handed my mother a rose. His smile was the brightest. His teeth gleamed like newly fallen snow. His cheeks had the slightest red that reminded me of a winter day. My mother smacked him playfully telling him he didn’t have to. This memory brought joy and sadness. The pain in my chest was not from my slowing heart rate but the loss of my brother. Soon he disappeared, and my heart started to pick up the pace.
When my vision started to return, I focused on my father’s frame. His eyes were clenched and filled with tears, and his shoulders shaking, “I’m truly sorry dad… I hope… that you can forgive me. I love you.” My eyes dropped to the ground not wishing to see his face. He fell to his knees and sobbed into his hands. Despite this he looked like he would shatter into a million pieces if he was even touched. My eyes lifted to his contorted face. “I… mean…. I….” I meant to address him as Jackson, his first name, but when I tried to correct myself I couldn’t spit it out.
My mind fought itself. Part of me wanted to take back everything, burn the notebook I’ve spent years on now. The other wants to forget about the family in front of me, taking me to my murder. I wasn’t chosen. I was just lucky. I have a purpose. I am alone. I am scared to die. I am scared of my work being destroyed. My mind races to win an argument with itself.
He looked up at me slightly, pulling me from my own mind. “W-what?” I had no answer. I wasn’t even sure what I was trying to say in the first place. So what now? No one moved, they only watched with curiosity. It felt like hours had passed and all you could hear was my choking breathes. My father was beginning to recover, wiping his eyes and collecting his thoughts. He removed his hands from his eyes and slowly raised to be on his feet again. One of his hands found his hair pulling on it tightly. His eyes were puffy and red from crying. I hated seeing him like this.
I’ve seen him like this many times; however, I never got used to it. It haunted me for years. Nightmares about my father’s sadness and guilt eating him up to the point of death. Even that the tears left permanent stains. He never moved. Always sat staring out a window. Barely even talking. He was a lean man before. His now bulbous state combined with his muscle made his size almost double.
He signaled for one of the guards to come to him. His eyes trained on the clouds above, he spoke, “ Go to the queen and tell her we have Joel Greenwell and we are taking shelter from a blizzard, and we will be there late tomorrow evening.” With that, the soldier strode off north to the queen’s palace. My father then waved his hands beckoning us to follow him on a gravel trail off to the left.
Shortly after he turned around we began to follow him. Of course, I was still being dragged. The gravel pierced my skin. Although I couldn’t move a muscle, I suddenly felt stronger than ever before. Maybe it was because my mind was trying to find purpose. Maybe it was the pain from the gravel, making me more awake. Maybe it was because I watched my father fall to his knees and cry. I’m not sure what it was but I could feel my body trying to have the will to move, break free. My mind was focusing and attempting to find a logical way to break free, to no avail.
I could only think about my family, and what I could have done to avoid this situation. If I just stayed loyal, I would’ve never been here today. My father wouldn’t have to grieve. My sister could’ve stayed the girl who dreamed of princes and dresses.
I remember when I watched a man be hung for treason, and my mother tried to calm me, but I wouldn’t listen. Instead, I ran into the forest. The forest was dark and gloomy that day. As it started to rain I decided to climb a tree, and cry. All the emotions that flooded my brain made me uncertain. My family knew that man, Connor, since I was little. He would always bring over gifts for me. He’d tell me stories of being a soldier in the war, sparing all the gory details. He was always helping the village. I could never see him betraying his home. Now I know why, but I didn’t then. When I finally had calmed down I went to leave the tree and fell, breaking my leg in the process.
Eventually, my father found me and carried me back to the house. When I found out that my mother came looking for me I felt sad. I hadn’t listened to her and ran away. I made her worried. Then she never came home. I remember how long the village mourned her. After the village returned to its former self, my father still slumped in his chair crying. I couldn’t help but blame myself that day. If I just listened to my mother instead of running away, she would still be here today.
After years of searching for her, she was pronounced dead. My father stayed home for months, never leaving his chair. Even though he never slept, he seemed to be very aware of what happened in the house. Every day he seemed to know when the flowers needed watering and when mother’s workspace needed dusting. He began to be very detail oriented. Always cleaning the house. When I was wandering around the house, I entered her workshop. It was clean, not a speck of dust. It was like she never left. That was the scariest part. It’s like I could still feel her in that room. Like her existence still lingered around the house. It made me uneasy.
For the longest time, I didn’t know why my father knew what needed to be done, after all, he never left that chair. My father used to be very lean and skinny, but now he had a round belly, most likely from the amount of sitting and beer he consumed. At times, I recall him talking to himself, sometimes refusing to do something, other times nodding, this made me want to leave the house even more. Due to this, I went out and recklessly searched for my mother. In the forest, I felt as if I was connected to my mother at some level beyond understanding. I reckon that this made my sister even angrier, for she had to take care of him, while I did nothing. I felt as though I lost touch with everyone. People only whispered about the tragedy, so instead of talking to others, I began to go into the forest even more often.
The forest was the one place I could find peace. With the war and tragedy, the village became sad and stressed. Everyone worked twice as hard, but that didn’t stop the famine or diseases that hit our village. My house was dull and sad. The forest, on the other hand, was lively with birds and wildlife. I remember walking through the forest with my brother, and he would tell me about the different birds. I remember the camping trips in that forest. The whole family together.
Now the forest was dull and empty. The cold snow licked the ground in thick layers. The air was cold and empty. Looking around now I realize how much the harsh winters here truly affect the land. Even though I was being dragged, I wasn’t being dragged to the queen anymore. This was a bonus, but I know I don’t have much time until I will continue my journey there. If I am patched up when we wait for the blizzard to pass then I might be able to muster enough strength to get away.
I wish I could convince my father and sister to join me, but that would only cause them to lose everything as well. I will just have to do this alone. Once I prove that the creatures aren’t bad, then I can see my family again. I hope they can forgive me. For my sister’s sake, I hope that she isn’t brought to the breach. I hope that I can return to her and be able to explain everything in full detail. Yet again that is just a hope.
First, I must find a way to escape. I need medical supplies and warm clothing. Food and water for the journey as well. I can get that from the market just a few blocks down.
If I assume correctly then they are taking me to the prison. I’ve been there plenty of times as a kid. I obviously wasn’t there cause I was in trouble, I knew the sheriff. I know that place like the back of my hand. I know a secret way to get out that I made myself years ago. I hope I can still fit. I made it when I was six years old and I’ve grown a lot since then. Otherwise, I’ll have to convince them to let me go. Which at this point would be very unlikely.
First order of business is to get patched up. The sheriff station looks the same as it did all those years ago. The brick was a warm brown color, with vines growing and snaking up it’s sides like spider webs. The windows were bared but they were still welcoming. A chimney crawled up it’s side and reached towards the sky. Out of the chimney came a plume of smoke. A warm yellow light reached out the windows and licked the outside softly. Warmth.
My body suddenly yanked itself out of the grip of the guards and lunges forward to the door opening it with a loud click swiftly falling hard onto the ground. My body pulled itself to the fire that sat in the chimney to the left, soaking in the warmth. I let out a shaky breath of relief. My body tingled from the sensation of heat that I sorely missed. However, it made me more of the pain through my body. I ached from head to toe and my body felt like lead.
The guards and my family who were about to chase after me froze in shock. They all had expected me to run away. Honestly, I had no idea I could still move. Let alone run. That’s why I need them to patch me up. I chuckled, “ you really think I can run?” Everdeen did not like my sarcasm. She clicked her tongue and heaved me off the ground, and towards the nearest jail cell. She made sure to put me in the cell farthest away from the fire. The tingling sensation faded and was completely replaced with pain. Even though I wasn’t the one walking it felt painful to be carried.
My father came up to the cell after Everdeen locked it, “Everdeen….” he glanced at my leg, “...get a doctor to patch up her legs.” Everdeen’s face twisted into anger, “she’s a prisoner. Why would we do that for her?” Jackson just glared at her. His hand rested on her shoulder, “Just…. Do it….” She was off soon after without another word. Although her face was still twisted in anger.
Jackson’s eyes fell back onto me. They went soft for a moment, then hardened again. He turned away ordering the guards to take patrol outside of the building. He then said something about someone coming to guard the front shortly.
This made me confused. Who would he trust to guard me? Anyone…. That’s the answer. Everyone hates me here. No one in the right mind would let me go. The queen would have them killed. I fell back onto the ground.
Even though Eve had put me in a cell far away from the fire, the air was much warmer than outside. To my relief. My legs throbbed in pain. I rolled up my pant leg to find a large gash in the side of my legs. The skin around the gash was purple and littered with gravel. My head was spinning and I couldn’t see very well past the bars of the cell. To add to my injuries my ears were ringing.
I know that I don’t have much time. Until my wounds are patched up, I know I can’t go anywhere. Time is slowly ticking away and my window for escape is narrowing. Where is this doctor anyway? I look out the barred window into the frosty landscape. The forest was covered in a milky darkness. It felt like I studied the blurry landscape looking for my eyesight to return. I was searching for signs. Signs that I would make it out of this place alive. I found nothing. No signs, no hints, nothing.
Finally, the door opens and in walks the doctor and my father. My father opened the door to allow the doctor to walk in. The doctor quickly got to work on my leg. Removing the gravel and cleaning the wound he only glanced up at me. He purposely avoids eye contact with me acting like he didn’t know me. He left after he was done, my father followed without a word.
I rested my back on the wall behind me no longer looking out the window. I was tired. My body felt like lead. I know I had to escape but my body was urging me to sleep and rest. I glanced around the cell trying to find something interesting to look at. Nothing, just plain white walls. I know how to escape, if I could just find something sharp. I turned to the bed in my cell looking for loose metal wiring. When I touched the mattress I realized that it was a spring mattress. I tore open the side of the mattress with all the strength I could muster. Reaching inside the fabric I pulled loose one of the metal springs. My heart leaped in joy at the thought of getting away.
“I hate seeing you like this” A voice drawled slowly, as if in some sort of agony. I turned swiftly to the familiar voice hiding the metal behind my back. When I met his eyes I could see sorrow, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. “Mason…” Mason Clark was like a father to me. When my dad never left the house, Mason would take care of me. He would always bring me to do all types of things. First, he taught me to fight. I can thank him for the ability to become a general. Then he would bring me around and teach me all sorts of lessons. I would end up going to him for everything. I mean everything. When I had school troubles, or when I missed human contact, or when I was thinking about joining the military. He seemed to solve all my problems. He was a father to me.
I had no words that filled my mouth. None. I could barely think, let alone talk. The sorrow I saw in him twisted my heart and shattered it to pieces. I haven’t seen him for three years. This is not how I wanted to see him again. He looked barely put together like he just got out of bed. His hair was definitely bedhead. His face had the drowsiness of deep sleep, “Did you just wake up?” He smiled, obviously amused, “Oh birdie, I haven’t seen you in three years and then you show up in jail. Of course, I would get here quickly. I’m sorry that my appearance doesn’t please you.” Birdie was his nickname for me. It started when he realized my fascination with birds and animals. I used to ask so many questions that he could barely keep up. I frowned even more than I was, “That’s…. Not what I meant. I’m surprised you still wanted to see me.”
His smile faded, “Why wouldn’t I want to see you?” Why? What does he mean? I’m a traitor, criminal. I betrayed him. As if he could read my thoughts he said, “You will always be my Birdie. I can’t believe you betrayed us. I won’t believe it. I hate seeing you here. You don’t belong here. How do you plan to get away after you use that metal to unlock this door?” My eyes widened, but at the same time, I wasn’t surprised. He always noticed the little things. I pulled the metal from behind my back, “I...don’t know. I missed you. I really did.” I found my book in my satchel opening it to a page where I drew a rough sketch of Mason, “When I left it terrified me to forget your face… so I drew it..”
I held the book out towards him. He took the book gently, his eyes never leaving mine until it was in his hands. His eyes scanned the page, “Is what have you done all these years?” I thought for a moment, “Creatures are fascinating and not what the queen says they are. They are unique and often kind if you don’t make them mad. It’s much more complicated than she says. I have studied them. I wish to change people’s views.” With that he flipped through a few pages and examined them, interest seemed to peak in his eyes, “Will you teach me something about it?”
That I was not expecting. It made me angry. I know I shouldn’t be angry, but it’s hard when I am about to die and he thinks I have the time to teach him anything. I stood up and pressed myself into the bars, “I’m going to die in a matter of a day and you want me to teach you something? Mason, I don’t have enough time to even start.” His eyes scanned my body then the jail. He was deep in thought, about what? He left through the door of the jail without a word. He had taken my book with him. I should’ve just told him something! I should’ve taken the book back. I felt defeated. Without my book, there was no reason to escape.
I placed the metal piece onto the bed and sat back down onto the floor. I realized that my vision had completely returned and I had more strength than I did. What’s the point now? I don’t have any of my work. Why would I escape now? I felt tired and exhausted. My eyelids dropped and this time I accepted it. In fact, I welcomed it. Now even Mason hates me. I am alone.