“AND THEN YOU JUST left like that?”
I nodded. Jake chortled.
“Oh, that was a good one.”
“I suppose, yeah.” I shrugged, and Jake let out one last giggle.
“Sorry,” he said. “I just don’t think Leo’s used to being talked to like that. He must’ve been really angry.”
I remembered Leo’s face. He was pretty angry. I shifted in my seat and couldn’t suppress a grin. With how much everyone talked up Leo's fighting skills, I couldn't help but feeling a little bit proud. “You think so?”
“Definitely!” He returned my smile. Then his face changed as if he were thinking about something troubling, and seconds later, the sweet, toothy grin melted away. “But why didn’t you tell me you played the violin? Not to mention that you’re extremely good at it.”
I bit my lip and absentmindedly picked at my roll. I predicted this question, and I didn't want to answer it. “I don’t know…. I guess I don’t really like people knowing.”
“Why?” he asked incredulously. “Fame’s what kids come to this school for. You already have it.”
“I’d rather be under the radar,” I said. “I don’t think I’m cut out for fame. I can’t handle it. People treat you differently, and I don’t really like that. But I don’t make nearly as much as they think, so at least they don’t try to mooch off me anymore.” I sighed. “I hate it when people mention the fame. My mom likes seeing me play in front of the crowds, so that’s why I still do it. I'm surprised I'm still around, actually. My heart's not in it. And when your heart's not in it, you're not as good as you could potentially be.”
“Oh,” Jake said simply. He took a bite of his usual ham-and-cheese sandwich and chewed it slowly. “That's true. And I’m, uh… sorry.”
I shook my head. “It’s fine. You shouldn't be sorry. I don’t expect you to know everything.”
“Okay,” Jake said. I ate some of my own sandwich.
“What about you?” I asked. I wanted to change the topic. Not just because I selfishly wanted to keep information to myself, but because the details of my career was extremely boring. “How’s your art going?”
Jake’s face lit up. “It’s great! We started this new project already. Mrs. Malison paired everyone with someone else, and we’re supposed to make a portrait of the other person using our creativity.” He made a drum roll with his fingers on the table. “You ready for this? Okay, okay—I thought of this great idea where I’d make a painting of sorts out of the dried-up paint everyone usually throws away. I’d glue colors to the canvas to make the face. Good idea, huh?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “That sounds really cool.” I sunk down in my seat slightly. Looking at Jake, you could see the blatant excitement and passion he had about his art on his face. He loved what he did, yet I was the one who made it. Me, who didn’t want any of it. I squirmed.
Why am I talking about me? This is Jake. I should be excited. And I am.
Jake smiled nervously and let out a long sigh. His eyes were placed somewhere behind me. “It has to be perfect.”
He continually flickered his eyes to the same spot over my shoulder. I turned around and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. “What are you looking at?” I asked, facing Jake again.
He suddenly got a wild look and met my eyes, not blinking. “What? N—no one. I mean nothing! I wasn’t looking at anyone—or anything! I—I was just looking at… at the—the, um… the lunch… line! The lunch line.”
|Some girl with fair skin and long dark hair||as Paige Nickels|
|Some guy with olive skin and curly dark hair||as Leo Wright|
|Josh Hutcherson (in Peeta form)||as Jake Olson|
|AnnaSophia Robb||as Angela|