Chapter 17

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I re-surfaced. Falling to the ground. Weeping.  I cried for my sister, I cried for my broken family and I cried for me. Ever since Carmen's death, my parents were so protective of me. They had tried so hard to shield me from the horror of the world. But they couldn't protect me from the Games. 

I had tried to repress those memories of Carmen, tried to forget. Our village had mourned her death; she was such a well-liked one among them. I remember her funeral clear as day...

Sitting there in my mother's old black dress, wishing I was somewhere else. Hearing everyone talk about how sweet, how kind and gorgeous and wonderful she was. And she had been all those things. Walking to the stage, my legs shaky, and standing awkwardly, the lectern hiding my body. The sobs wracking my body as I tried to speak. Wiping the tears away determinedly, forcing myself to talk.

"Carmen was my little sister," I spoke. "My angel, my world. She was everything to me." 

"She was every good quality you could name and more. Carmen wasn't the stereotypical little sister. She didn't nag me, she didn't whine, she wasn't a brat. She looked up to me and she....respected me. Carmen was the best sister , I could ask for. And, I hope that she's happy where ever she is and if she's in Heaven....she would be one of the angels."

I had been too overcome by tears to continue, stepping down from the stage. My mother and father had soothed me, wiping away my tears. 

The thing is, about Carmen's death, it was my fault. I hadn't been the one driving that car but I was the one who left her alone. I should have been there, making sure I got the ball, making sure that she stayed safe. But I wasn't there. And, every day, every time I thought about it, I pleaded to Carmen, telling her how sorry I was. Sorry that I didn't save her. I should have saved there, should have been there. I was in charge, I was the fifteen year old. 

I should never have left her alone....

I sat there on the carpet, lost in my thoughts. The memories of Carmen.

How she used to wake me up early each morning, so we could play Barbies together. The way she smiled at me, an innocent, gorgeous smile. Her laugh. The nickname she gave me "Ellie." No one else was allowed to call me that. 

Sometimes I think that maybe I should have died in her place. Carmen had such a long life ahead of her and....she was so young. My parents would have their Carmen back, their wonderful gorgeous, little girl. And I would be repented of the guilt I felt from her death. I was too much of a coward to find a way, though. Too scared to die. I knew that if I asked Raxis, he might accept. But, my life would therefore be his and I was too scared of death. 

It was stupid anyway, I thought, shaking my head. Carmen had been cremated, and scattered to the winds at The Sanctuary, a park. It was Carmen's favourite place. 

I wished that I had her in my arms again. Hear her joyous laugh. Play with her. I wanted my little sister back. All these thoughts were tumbling around my head, having been dormant for so long. I had forbade myself to think about her, knowing that it would renew my misery. My sadness. 

After her accident, I had been depressed. The doctor thought I should go into therapy. I hadn't really cared. At the time, the only thing that would have made me better, would be to have Carmen back. The therapist tried to make me believe that it wasn't my fault, that it wasn't true, that I couldn't have done anything. That Carmen wouldn't want me to be sad. 

My parents, I think, were worse off than me. They hid their grief behind fake smiles and hastily wiped eyes. I remember walking into the house on day, and catching my dad unawares. He had been crying on the couch and he was moaning one word.

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