What am I going to do? I whisper to the walls. Because I really dont know.
People keep talking at me, talking, talking, talking. Plutarch Heavensbee. His calculating assistant, Fulvia Cardew. A mishmash of district leaders. Military officials. But not Alma Coin, the president of 13, who just watches. Shes fifty or so, with gray hair that falls in an unbroken sheet to her shoulders. Im somewhat fascinated by her hair, since its so uniform, so without a flaw, a wisp, even a split end. Her eyes are gray, but not like those of people from the Seam. Theyre very pale, as if almost all the color has been sucked out of them. The color of slush that you wish would melt away.
What they want is for me to truly take on the role they designed for me. The symbol of the revolution. The Mockingjay. It isnt enough, what Ive done in the past, defying the Capitol in the Games, providing a rallying point. I must now become the actual leader, the face, the voice, the embodiment of the revolution. The person who the districts most of which are now openly at war with the Capitol can count on to blaze the path to victory. I wont have to do it alone. They have a whole team of people to make me over, dress me, write my speeches, orchestrate my appearances as if that doesnt sound horribly familiar and all I have to do is play my part. Sometimes I listen to them and sometimes I just watch the perfect line of Coins hair and try to decide if its a wig. Eventually, I leave the room because my head starts to ache or its time to eat or if I dont get aboveground I might start screaming. I dont bother to say anything. I simply get up and walk out.
Yesterday afternoon, as the door was closing behind me, I heard Coin say, I told you we should have rescued the boy first. Meaning Peeta. I couldnt agree more. He wouldve been an excellent mouthpiece.
And who did they fish out of the arena instead? Me, who wont cooperate. Beetee, an older inventor from 3, who I rarely see because he was pulled into weapons development the minute he could sit upright. Literally, they wheeled his hospital bed into some top secret area and now he only occasionally shows up for meals. Hes very smart and very willing to help the cause, but not really firebrand material. Then theres Finnick Odair, the sex symbol from the fishing district, who kept Peeta alive in the arena when I couldnt. They want to transform Finnick into a rebel leader as well, but first theyll have to get him to stay awake for more than five minutes. Even when he is conscious, you have to say everything to him three times to get through to his brain. The doctors say its from the electrical shock he received in the arena, but I know its a lot more complicated than that. I know that Finnick cant focus on anything in 13 because hes trying so hard to see whats happening in the Capitol to Annie, the mad girl from his district whos the only person on earth he loves.
Despite serious reservations, I had to forgive Finnick for his role in the conspiracy that landed me here. He, at least, has some idea of what Im going through. And it takes too much energy to stay angry with someone who cries so much. I move through the downstairs on hunters feet, reluctant to make any sound. I pick up a few remembrances: a photo of my parents on their wedding day, a blue hair ribbon for Prim, the family book of medicinal and edible plants. The book falls open to a page with yellow flowers and I shut it quickly because it was Peetas brush that painted them.
What am I going to do?
Is there any point in doing anything at all? My mother, my sister, and Gales family are finally safe. As for the rest of 12, people are either dead, which is irreversible, or protected in 13. That leaves the rebels in the districts. Of course, I hate the Capitol, but I have no confidence that my being the Mockingjay will benefit those who are trying to bring it down. How can I help the districts when every time I make a move, it results in suffering and loss of life? The old man shot in District 11 for whistling. The crackdown in 12 after I intervened in Gales whipping. My stylist, Cinna, being dragged, bloody and unconscious, from the Launch Room before the Games. Plutarchs sources believe he was killed during interrogation. Brilliant, enigmatic, lovely Cinna is dead because of me. I push the thought away because its too impossibly painful to dwell on without losing my fragile hold on the situation entirely.
Excerpted from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Copyright © 2010 by Suzanne Collins. Excerpted by permission of Scholastic. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
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