Brief note: this ended up not being the last chapter, oops! One more.
A phone rings.
In this room, a phone rings. It’s a quiet tone, so soft and melodic I almost mistake it for the music from the TV. Except that music stopped playing over an hour ago.
This is something else.
When I look around, Chase is sitting cross-legged before the window, his body silhouetted by the streetlight, his face lit by the ringing phone in his hand. He tilts his head up, eyes meeting my own. How mine must glow for him, here in this dark room.
“You have her phone,” he says.
“You’re the blocked number,” I say. There’s a pause, a tense, heavy breath held between the two of us. He averts his gaze.
“You’re not telling me something, Chase,” I push. “I don’t know what you’re hiding, but I know you and Audrey lied about why Emily attacked Lissa.” I hang up the call and wave the phone in his direction. “Now I know Lissa didn’t want to see you, and you went to her house anyway. What did you say to her—what did you do to her?”
Content warnings for alcohol, suicide, allusions to sexual violence.
If there’s one person I never want to see when I wake, it’s Sam. So when I open my eyes to her sitting at an unfamiliar desk in an unfamiliar room, her back to me, my first reaction isn’t confusion. It’s a sudden exhaustion at the unfairness of the world to place me somewhere so obviously hers.
The room is a mess. Creased clothes tossed over every surface, at least three mugs on the desk, photos peeling from where they were stuck to the wall with gaps showing where pictures have already fallen into the chaos of the room. What sticks out most of all is a jar filled with half-dead flowers beside Sam. There’s enough life in them still to justify keeping them, but I can’t help but feel that the room itself is pulling the flowers closer to death. The limp, purple blossoms lean away from Sam as if trying to escape her anger—her room’s atrophying presence.
Or maybe that’s just how things are when you’re organic. Flowers die. Sam loses Lissa. I continue existing.
In the real world, mental illnesses affect millions of people, and yet there’s often a silence surrounding the issues, brought on by social stigmas and a lack of education on mental health. Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety and panic disorders are prevalent within The Hunger Games, experienced by Katniss Everdeen and those around her. The trilogy highlights just how much trauma can affect people, especially the young adults and children manipulated by those much older.
While the novels are far more adept at portraying the characters’ understanding of and struggles with their respective illnesses, the films do make an effort. The opening scene of Catching Fire, where Katniss hallucinates another tribute from the Games while hunting with Gale, visually captures the nightmares of the arena that plague Katniss, setting up the audience’s understanding of her mental state following the 74th Hunger Games. The majority of Katniss’ interior struggles, however, are found within the pages of the books.