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Seeing Things

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“Finnick,” she says, “Finnick.”

 

The person standing at the end of the dock doesn’t hear her. He’s staring at the water, lost in thought, dangerously close to the edge.

 

“Finnick!” Annie cries. The person turns sharply, and loses his balance, falling into the water…

 

“NO!” Faster than thought, she dives into the water, looking for a body, for anyone—

 

But there’s nothing.

 

She can’t see much because the light is blurred, tinting everything a murky blue, and the water weighs her clothes down—

 

Oh gods. There’s water.

 

Water around her, suffocating her, pushing her down, catching her in its arms, malevolent…There are eyes, staring at her, ready to grab her, and the water chokes and crushes.

 

Annie Cresta screams.

 

And the salty-bitter water fills her mouth. She can’t breathe now, she really can’t breath, and her arms and legs thrash wildly, but she hasn’t swum since forever, and the weak strokes do little more than stopping her from sinking lower. Propelling herself skywards, to the light above, is almost impossible—

 

Strong arms grab her and pull her to the dock.

 

She lies there, gasping, not even noticing her wet clothes, because Finnick has come and rescued her, and she wonders why she was ever scared, because of course he’d come and rescue her no matter what. Slowly, her eyes open, and she can make out his face silhouetted against the sky, pale with worry. Then she is enveloped in a hug, water dripping from her clothes onto his, but she doesn’t care, because she’s with Finnick, and she’s safe.

 

“Mom, I’m here, you’re not in the water anymore, you’re not dy—I’m here, relax.”

 

At that voice, she freezes, because it isn’t…it’s not…

 

“Finnick?” she asks quietly. There is a pause, and that pause is enough.

 

“Mom, it’s me, Finn,” her son says, pulling away and sitting.

 

“Finnick? Where is he?” Her voice rises an octave, and she moves to get up, but Finn stops her.

 

“Mom, he’s dead. He’s been dead for sixteen years.”

 

And suddenly, Annie remembers everything. Everything. How they married (and she’s Annie Odair now), their first—and only—night together, Finnick going away to kill Snow, and his death, his awful death, then Finn…

 

“Sorry, dear,” she tells her son, “I’m sorry.”

 

“It wasn’t as bad as usual today,” he says, because what else can he say?

 

She winces at Finn’s words. Not as bad as usual. When had the baby she had borne—Finnick’s baby—begun to speak like this? It wasn’t fair that a sixteen-year old had to take care of his mother.

 

But then, Annie thinks with a furious twist of her mouth, when was life ever fair to her?