The past few months had been nearly unbearable for April. Any other year, the fifteen year old would have been thrilled that the Games had dragged out for so long, but this year was different. This year Shard was in the Games. Being a career, April had naturally watched plenty of kids she knew compete – and, more often than not, get killed – in the Hunger Games, but even watching all of them compete at the same time would be nothing compared to what she felt watching her best friend fight for his life every single day. Watching every trace of the boy she cared about so much disappear the longer he was in the arena. Try as she might, April could not deny the fact that her friend was turning more and more into a mindless killing machine. Not that it was a bad thing – wasn’t that exactly what they’d been trained to do? Shard was doing everything right.
So why was April so worried about him? And the worst part? She couldn’t even think to voice her worries to anyone. Shard was doing wonderfully. Shard could win – Shard had
to win, and as his best friend April was not allowed to even consider any other outcome. What kind of friend would she be if she doubted him, doubted his training, even for a moment? If anyone was expected to be completely confident in Shard’s abilities, it was April. And she was. She really, truly was. But she also knew all too well how unpredictable the Games were, and as much as she tried to fight it, she couldn’t help spending every day worrying over whether she would ever see her friend again. Whether if he did come back, if he would be the same person who’d left – the same boy who’d hugged her in the middle of the town square right before he volunteered.
Keeping those thoughts to herself was starting to weigh heavily on the girl, and the only way she’d been able to cope was by throwing herself into her training with more vigor and enthusiasm than ever. Which was precisely why, upon watching Shard receive another injury on her television, April had abruptly left her family room, changed her clothes
, pulled her wavy blonde hair into a ponytail, and set off running. Nothing cleared April’s mind like a good workout, and she fully intended to get just that. She’d go running until she felt like she couldn’t stand anymore, then she’d walk back to the training center and find someone to fight. A good sword fight would be – no, not a sword fight. A hand rose to trace the last hint of a fading scar on her side, but April quickly pushed the surfacing memory to the back of her mind. That was not a train of thought she wanted to follow right now – maybe not ever. No, she was just going to think about how she’d find someone to fight hand to hand
. No weapons necessary, thank you very much.
It didn’t take long for the fifteen year old to settle into a good rhythm, and as her thoughts continued to drift dangerously close to a certain boy she was trying not
to think about at the moment, she pushed herself harder; running even faster, as if by doing so she could get herself farther and farther away from thoughts of Shard. And it was sort of working. In fact, she became so focused on pushing herself to run just a little faster, just a little farther, that she barely even noticed the people approaching in the opposite direction.
She buzzed by a familiar-looking girl and continued on for a couple of seconds before she registered who she’d just passed and did a double take. That hadn’t been…no, it couldn’t be. April brushed aside the preposterous thought – clearly she was doing a bad job ridding her mind of the Hunger Games – and then stopped dead in her tracks when she noticed another person only a few feet away from her.
No. No way
. April blinked and shook her head, then looked back at the person. Oh dear God. He was still there. He was getting closer. The President’s son. Was walking. Towards. Her.
And she was wearing sweatpants
! Eeeep. April quickly ran a hand over her hair in an attempt to smooth out her messy ponytail. It was only then that she realized she was still stopped, at which point the girl found herself faced with the unfamiliar feeling of wishing she could melt into the ground. How many times had she dreamed
of meeting the boy she was now facing – written ‘Mrs. April Snow’ on her notebooks, even – and now he was only a few feet away from her, and she was standing there like an idiot and wearing sweatpants! And still thinking of Shard for some reason.
Oh this was not good. Years of practice talking to boys finally
kicked in, and April forced a smile on her face and made herself continue walking in Snow’s direction. Oh gosh. This was happening. This was actually happening. Once she was close enough, she flashed him a charming smile and waved. “Hello!”
Years of feigning confidence did not fail her as she approached the older boy and continued, “Mr. Snow Jr., if I’m not mistaken? What brings you all the way out to District One, if you don’t mind my asking? And how did you manage to get away from all the girls?”
She cocked an eyebrow at him, feeling rather pleased with herself for implying that she was not just some silly fangirl. Even though she totally was. Seriously, April might faint at any moment and it was entirely possible that at any moment her facade may break down and she would be reduced to squealing and asking for a picture. But for now, she was totally
cool as a cucumber. Yep. April Adams was a cucumber