CleanedA Chapter by Annie
Can I just say thank you to all of you for your lovely comments! I'm back with the fourth chapter! Clove and Cato are in the remake center now, and it's when Clove starts to realise that Cato isn't as horrible as he may seem. Also, I changed a little thing from the book. I thought, when I read them, that the Districts would arrive in order. 1, then 2, then 3 and so on. Because Clove is from 2, she'll arrive earlier that other Districts. The parade isn't until all of the tributes have arrived, which they haven't yet.
I'm going to shut up, I hope you make sense of it. Feel free to ask me any questions if you don't understand!
“See you on the other side, I guess.” Cato rolls his eyes as a group of scary-looking stylists bustle him away. I raise my hand and wave, but flinch and snap out of it. I can’t do this to myself, but he’s too nice. He isn’t nice though, he’s trying to kill me. I’m so confused now.
“Clove Roxen?” A turquoise-skinned woman smiles at me, “Could you come this way, please?” She smiles, a flashy, white smile that makes me blink. I nod and follow her aimlessly down the corridor before she pulls me into a room.
“What is this place? I don’t remember seeing this on the screens at home.” I frown and take in my surroundings; a large, dark room with vents on the walls, buttons everywhere and one shower right in the middle. A black bench is sat in one corner, with a pile of folded towels and a thin gown on the top.
“The remake center. Where we just clean you up so you’re presentable.” I spin around at her words.
“We?” I ask as I do so, but then stop. 3 quirky people stand in front of me. The turquoise woman, with silver, spiky hair, is still smiling, like it will never be taken from her face. A large, pink woman also looks unnaturally happy, with her leopard-print suit sparkling. I realise later that it is, in fact, made from thousands of little beads. And then a skinny man, the only natural one of the three. He’s still from the Capitol, his lips are painted blue, and his eyes are rimmed with glitter. Maybe he originated from 1. Either way, I’m terrified of all of them.
“W-What are you going to do?” I stutter. I never stutter. It feels weird and thick in my mouth. I probably wouldn’t stand being unconfident.
“Like I said, clean you up.” Turquoise smirks and looks me up and down. I stare at her wide-eyed for a second, “Well go on, take off your clothes.” She seems so happy with the sentence, like it’s a normal thing to come out of someone’s mouth. I don’t know what to say. She stares at me intently for a few more moments, then I finally give in, and, beetroot red, take off my clothes. The stylists surround me, and, almost like an eagle circling its prey, they walk around me, looking me up and down. I keep my eyes pressed firmly shut, not wanting to see their reactions to my bare body.
"Glitter would be good."
"Maybe some orange.. "
"No, definitely pink."
"A mix could work well, especially around her shoulders and arms. They're so slender." They introduce themselves somewhere in between their rambling, but I don't hear it.
"Such a pretty girl."
"And a Career, too. Lots of sponsors there." I'm actually surprised there. Is Glimmer stood next to me and I don't know? I let my lashes unfold and open my eyes. No-one but my prep team and me. I let them continue their brainstorming and try to relax my neck, the muscles in it are tighter than ever. Which shows that my stress levels are through the roof.
"Well then, your dress will be ready for tomorrow. You’re meeting the head stylist then as well, and I’m sure he’ll love you. And I have a message for you, from Pentha. She says that you are not to leave the apartment tonight. Apparently this year's crowds are a little bit wilder than usual. I'll take you and Cato down to your rooms once we've finished clearing you up. Alright?" I nod, the information taking a while to register. I'm to be washed and cleaned and refreshed. Then Miss. Turquoise will take me to the Training Center apartments with Cato. Where we will stay.
I'm then hosed off. Quite literally. They take a shower head and wash off every last speck of dust. But even that's not good enough for the Capitol. They then scrub, rinse, cover, polish, wax and brush. I feel raw when they're done with me, and I catch my reflection on the tiled walls and see someone I don't recognise. She has dark hair, which falls around her face, emphasising her slightly pointed chin. Her brown eyes are wide and shocked, and her skin is perfectly clear. She smiles a little and stands upright, her hair shimmering as she moves. Although she could never compare to Glimmer, she looks more beautiful than she ever has in her life.
"They'll be here in a minute." Miss. Turquoise, whose name I now know is Ailie, mumbles, looking up and down the corridor. I fiddle with the buttons on my shirt and adjust my trousers. The outfit the stylists put me in makes me feel oddly uncomfortable, because it hasn't been chosen by me. I usually choose for comfort, not style. It is clearly the opposite here.
"Wow." The quiet sound of shock comes from beside me and I jump.
"You're here!" Ailie and another female stylist jump into a conversation about prep and designs, but I'm not listening, because my head is buzzing with warning signs. Because Cato is stood beside me and just sighed in awe. At who or what, I don't know, but I have a few ideas. My face burns crimson and I stare at the floor, surely he's not talking about me.
"Clove, you look... amazing." Yes, yes he is talking about me. For some reason, my heart is beating erratically and I can't find words. This is wrong, I can't possibly be falling for the one person I can't fall for. My own tribute partner. Someone I'll probably have to try to kill.
“You going to sleep?” I sigh and turn when I hear Cato in the doorway. I’ve been sat awake by the window for hours now, not speaking to anyone. I don’t want him to know about the strange feeling in my gut when he told me I looked nice. I don’t want to know him. He’s probably just messing with me anyway, trying to find my faults, ready for the arena, “I guess not. Well, I am. Goodnight, Clove.” He pads away from me, the carpet enveloping his heavy feet. I roll my eyes; he can’t step carefully at all. Boys and their brute strength. They don’t care for stealth.
“Cato?” I cover my mouth and keep my fingers locked around my lips. Why did I just call out to him? Why?
“Yeah?” His head pops out around the edge of the door and he smiles a little when I glare at him.
“You look kind of nice, too.” I smirk and turn back to the window. We haven’t spoken since his compliment this afternoon.
I can see the train station in the distance, and another train pulling up. Probably District 7. The crowd has died away from the station and there’s now a cluster of people around the apartment doors. I feel high up, even though I’m only on the 3rd floor. I wonder what 12’ll feel like on the 13th. Probably like they’re flying.
“Thank you.” I have to stifle a gasp when I realise that Cato is sat beside me. Maybe he is stealthy, after all. We stay silent for a moment, before he opens his mouth and speaks again, “You’re going to win, Clove. You have to. For me.” I blink and look at the fibres in the carpet, which distract me from my rising heartbeat.
“What do you mean? You don’t have any determination to win yourself?”
“I’m not needed at home.”
“Yes you are.”
“Not really.” More silence follows. I sigh again and stand up, stalking across the apartment and into my room, shutting the door tightly. I don’t want to have anything to do with that boy right now.
I wake up in a sweat, my head throbbing and a scream escaping from my lips. Dreams of death, decay, knives, swords, spears, arrows, bricks and Cornucopias all come back to me at once and I screech again. I don’t care if I’ve ruined Pentha’s beauty sleep. Tears run down my face and I can’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t just a dream. Of course it wasn’t. It’ll happen to me in just a few weeks.
“Clove, shhhh. Calm down.” I scream again, someone’s sat at the end of my bed. Cato. I collapse into the pillows and drag in air from the room, trying to wipe away my tears without him noticing. He shuffles up the bed until he’s sat beside me.
“G-g-go away...” I whimper, and roll over, my back facing him.
“I can’t, Clove, I can’t.” I can feel his hands on my face, pulling my hair from my forehead and stroking my cheeks. Like my Father did when I was little. I choke up again and bury my face in a pillow.
I wake up in the morning, and there’s no sign of anyone. The door is shut like it was when I fell asleep, and there’s no creases in the duvet to show that anyone has sat down. I must have been dreaming.
I stumble from the bed and drag on a dressing gown, some thin silken thing. It makes me shiver, but I press a button on a wall and all of my clothing heats up. The technology here still baffles me. I wander through to the bathroom and wash off my face, leaving no sign of tear tracks or red marks around my eyes. The black circles are there though, loud and clear. I turn to the shower and, after leaving my clothes in a small mound, step inside. I can’t see the wall for buttons. In aggravation, I slam my hand into them. A jet of warm water pounds down onto my head, mixed with a large dollop of blueberry-scented foam. Several sponges and brushes burst from the walls and I let the automatic machine do its job. Soon enough, my skin glows and I feel completely refreshed. I step out of the shower and wrap a towel around myself. When I walk back into my room, my eyes immediately find a slip of paper on my bed. My eyebrows knit together as I grab it. It takes me seconds to scan it.
I’ve left some clothes in the drawers. You’re to meet your stylist after breakfast. Get dressed and hurry up, we have a lot to sort out before the parades tonight. You have a long day ahead! P x
I groan and open the ornate drawers to find a low cut, deep purple top and tight black trousers. After yanking them on and pulling my hair into a high ponytail, I take one look in the mirror and start to make my way to the dining area.
Like Pentha said, it’s going to be a long day.
© 2012 Annie
Here With Me
AboutA teenage girl who likes writing and The Hunger Games too much. more..