The goodbyes are the most depressing part of the day. I've used up all my energy on focusing on not crying, so I don't really say much. None of Gwen's friends come to say goodbye, even though she has tons. I guess they just feel guilty it wasn't them, since they had the exact same chance of getting picked as Gwen. I've never really had any friends. Our parents aren't really very supportive either, although they mean well. Our mother starts crying, indicating Gwen doesn't have a chance, and our father just sits there awkwardly twiddling his thumbs.
"We just want you to know that we love you very much," our mother sobs, squeezing our hands to the point of pain "both of you". I wince, but don't take my hand away so not to offend her during these few precious minutes. Gwen, however, yanks her hand out of our mother's and starts patting it comfortingly. Her eyes are dry, unlike those of our parents, yet she still looks pained to see them upset.
"Look" she says clasping our mother's worn down, clenched fist in both her hands "I'll be fine! I have Emily to look after me, don't I?"
A lot of help I'll do. I'm just a kid two years younger than her. She could have picked anyone from that mass of people, yet she chose me. What must have been going through her head for her to think it would be a good idea to pick me? Our mother clearly feels she same as I do about Gwen's situation here, as she begins to sob harder, practically screaming now. I sigh. I see Raven looking at me out the corner of my eye, with a concerned look on his face. I'm not sure whether it's because he has me to mentor him or because he's worried about my mother. No one has come to see him yet. I'm beginning to wonder if he has any family or friends at all. I don't think by the expressions on people's faces at the reaping that anyone really knew him. I look away from his gaze before he can see the fear in my eyes.
"I believe you Gwen" our father finally says, rubbing our mother's back sympathetically. When he thinks I'm not looking, he gives her a harsh look to say: Don't make it any harder for the poor girl than it already is!. She bites her lip.
"It'll be fine," I whisper "really". Everyone looks at me for the first time since the reaping, without saying anything, which just makes things worse. It's clear no one's going to tell me it's okay. It's not. Our mother forces a nod anyway.
After we've said our final goodbyes, we are bustled into the train. As soon as I set foot in the train, I am just about blinded. The ceiling in studded with crystals and have numerous chandeliers hanging from it. The floor is made of white tiles so shiny you can see your face in them, and the furniture is covered in soft, silky striped fur. I sit down on a black and white striped sofa and stroke it like it's an alive animal I'm petting. Raven sits down next to me on the plush sofa and clutches two handfuls of the fur. I gasp in wonder as I look around the room at the flatscreen TV taking up over half of the wall and the rest of the furry furniture, not thinking about whether the fur is fake or how many animals that must have been killed just for this one room otherwise. Raven laughs at my perplexed expression, but there's an element of sadness in it too. Of course, no one in District Five, not even the mayor, could ever dream of such wonderous things. We may not be the poorest district, but there's no way anyone of us could have saved up for this even if we lived 5 lifetimes. My enchanted feeling disappears as fast as it came, leaving me feeling depressed, poor and lost. Why do I do this? It seems to me that I always have to overthink everything and make myself sad, and it's an awful habit. I look behind me at Gwen who is still paused in the doorway, and see she has taken the opposite approach to this. Instead of looking upset, she looks enraged at these unfairnesses. I instantly feel worried. Nobody dares make Gwen angry. They'll only regret it afterwards. In this situation, however - if she gets angry with the Capitol, they will crush her like a bug.
I stay silent for the rest of the long, tedious day, waiting for a moment when I can get Gwen alone. She keeps giving all the Capitol people on the train dirty looks. There's no understandable reason why. These particular people aren't the reason we're here. President Snow is, only she definitely can't give him any dirty looks either. Then he'd just make sure she was given hell in the arena. While we're having dinner, I catch her grimacing at Lucius and kick her under the table. She looks surprised for a second. I've never objected to anything she's done before. She only hesitates a second though before kicking me back. Hard.
"Oooww!" I screech. Now I remember that not only is Gwen wearing our mother's dress, but her clumpy high heeled shoes. They may not fit, but they are very sharp. Raven, who is sitting on my other side, looks at me with raised eyebrows. My cheeks flush red, and I hear Gwen snort with laughter.
"Is there a problem Emily?" Lucius asks, confused.
"I-um... er..." I stammer "banged my knee on the table leg". By now Gwen has to try very hard to supress her laughter. I feel so stupid now. Once again, Gwen gets what she wants.
"Well if that's all..." Lucius mutters, trailing off. There's an awkward silence and Gwen smirks. I wait till everyone else has gone to bed until I tiptoe barefooted to her room in a night dress I found in one of the drawers in my room. I tap quietly at her door.
"Come in" I hear Gwen murmur, as well as the slide of a bolt. I open the door to see Gwen standing infront of me, still in our mother's baggy clothes. I'm about to ask her why she's hasn't changed out of them yet, when she cuts me off.
"I suppose you're here to tell me everything wrong with my behavior this evening" she snaps. I pause before answering.
"Well you could have tried being a bit more polite" I say, calmly.
"Polite?" she laughs bitterly, like she can't believe what she's hearing. "Polite? I was being perfectly polite. I'll tell you what polite isn't though. Polite isn't taking twenty-four people away from their homes where they are starving anyway and forcing them to fight to the death just to entertain your people. Polite isn't then murdering twenty-three kids just because they were picked at random. Don't stick up for them Emily, they're monsters!" she yells. I feel anger boiling up inside of me, consuming me. It's a feeling I've never felt before in my life, let alone with my own sister.
"I am not standing up for them! Don't go thinking I don't know what they're doing! It's not like I ever said I approved of it or anything - I don't. But I don't take it out on everyone I see" I snap at her, our voices now at the same volume. Gwen snarls. "And I'll tell you what's not polite!" I yell "Polite isn't forcing your younger sister to help you murder innocent people just like you. Because... because I think that's just sick!"
I slam the door behind me as I finish my sentence so that Gwen can't see the tears streaming down my face. I run back down the corridor to my room and slam the door behind me.