I was fourteen, I was married, and I was in labor. I pushed as hard as I could as the first of my twins was born.
Damn, the pain hurt! I was scared of birth complications by now.
"PUSH!" they yelled.
"SHUT UP! I'M TRYING!" I screamed.
They were silent and the first baby was born. It was a little girl.
Clarx held her in his arms and smiled.
"What do you want to name her?"
I started crying happy tears. "Clara Rose Manuel."
They started the procedure for the next one.
I pushed as hard as I could until my second child was born. It was a boy.
"Ronan Rick Manuel?" I asked.
He nodded. "It's the best way to honor Rick," he said.
I nodded. Clara Rose was my little girl, who was somewhat named after my mother. Rose was her name.
Ronan was named after my brother, Ronan Rogers, and his middle name was Rick, for my dad. He died in the last war and I avenged him at the end. Clarx and I were married on the survivor ship last year. The same place where Rose and Rick were married. I was six months pregnant at that time.
The next War was coming up in three weeks. I needed as much training as I could get.
"Hello?" I saw Ron, my brother, enter the room. I smiled. He had both girl and boy balloons and he brought his fiancé, Karenna with him. Karenna was Clarx's sister.
"What's their names?" Ron asked me.
"The girl is Clara Rose," I said. Ron nodded.
"Darn, so close to Clarx!" Ron joked.
We all laughed.
"You'll laugh at that in a few years," he said. This was on video. I hope he's right.
"And my son's name is Ronan Rick."
Ron froze. "You named that angel after me?"
I smiled and nodded. "Thanks, little sis."
"By twenty damn seconds!" I laughed. He always called me little sister even though we were twins. 'By twenty seconds' was always my response.
"Have you practiced for the War of Two?" I asked him.
"Yeah. This time, 100 people have to make it. So, Karenna joined to help us out and keep me safe from hell knows what."
He and Karenna loved each other so much. They needed to make it out together. If you don't want to reenlist, you have to survive two rounds of the War. That's why Karenna was joining. It was hard enough to survive one round. Surviving the next would be even harder to make it out alive. I hope she's not joining because she wants Ron to be alright. She's endangering herself for him. They love each other that much?
I looked at Clarx when they left.
"We've gotta take care of both of them. Karenna can't use a heartbreak and Ron can't take any more loss. Both of them have gotta make it out with us. If one dies, so does the other."
Reenlisting was hard. I didn't want to leave my children, but I knew I'd make it out. Clarx was upset. When he reenlisted, I knew something was wrong.
"What is it?" I asked.
"If they're cutting it down to a hundred instead of one-fifty, then that means they're trying to get rid of the other fighter. In this case, that means Ron and Karenna. We can't die, our kids would be lost. We can't let our family die either. Damn, I wish I only had to worry about you! I know you can make it out alive!"
I smiled. "Hey, at least they're together."
"Manuel, Clarx!" Clarx rolled his eyes.
"Reenlistment," he said.
"Rogers Manuel, Roisa!"
I ran back to my house that was two stories high. It had five bedrooms. One for my kids, one for me and Clarx, one for Ron and Karenna, one for my sister, and one for their child, who Karenna was pregnant with.
Karenna didn't want to threaten the life of the baby, she was eight months pregnant. But, it was due in a week.
Renee wasn't fighting. She still technically counted as a death in the War. She died as Marie Lilac. I revived her with the saddest tears of my life.
Renee was going to stay and watch the babies for us.
Ron had already reenlisted. Karenna filled out the application for the next war.
While I was out shopping with Renee, I got a phone call saying that Karenna had given birth to a little girl named Karen JoClare Rogers.
"Good news, Ron," I said when I saw the picture.
"She doesn't look a thing like you."
He gave me a look.
"Don't worry," I said. "In a few years you'll laugh at that."
He rolled his eyes. Renee was happy to look after Clara, Ronan and Karen. They were her nephew and nieces, even though she was only thirteen.
I started practicing every day. I'd go with Clarx and the two of us would use our talents. He taught me how to paint myself and camouflage with the nature. He was really good at it. I taught him how to shoot an arrow. I let him borrow my bow, and I made him one. We both practiced with throwing daggers. They all hit the bullseye every time. I used to have nightmares about when I killed Liv Rifle by shooting her in the throat and stabbing my knife into Nattine's neck.
Now, I shake the thoughts from my mind.
"Alright. The baby food that Clara likes is the chicken and applesauce from Gerber food. Ronan likes the little bits of cheese and he likes pieces of pepperoni."
Renee nodded. "Roi, be careful."
Renee said bye to Ron and Karenna. She hugged Clarx. In a way, Clarx and I were more of her parents.
Ron and Karenna held hands. Ron kissed Karen's head and hesitantly gave her to Renee. Karenna cried of losing her daughter. I prayed that we'd all make it out safe. My mother died after the next two rounds. Hopefully, Ron and I survive this one. I have to make sure that Clarx survives. Karenna and Ron were an alliance with us.
We got on the train. I waved goodbye to Renee who was holding a sleeping Ronan, a crying Karen and a sleeping Clara. I smiled and I gripped Clarx's hand a little tighter. His arms surrounded me and wrapped me in a hug.
I couldn't believe what had happened in the past year. I witnessed the death of my best friend and my father, I murdered my enemies who had killed my parents, I got married and I had children. All in the course of one year?
When we arrived at the arena, Clarx and I set out for the best hotel room. In the NE Hotel, there was the Northeast States of One. Clarx, me, Ron and Karenna set out for the room that wasn't as luxurious. They were trying to pamper us so we wouldn't be prepared for the starvation and harshness of the War. On One, the climate was normal, it was mostly just in between warm and cold. I doubted that Two would be that way.
It would be either so hot that we'd die from heat or so cold that we'd all freeze to death.
In the room we'd selected, there was a dining room, a grill, and two bedrooms. We'd only be staying here for a week.
Ron and Karenna shared one bedroom and Clarx and I shared the other.
When Clarx and I unpacked, we took out our cell phones and FaceTimed the kids. Renee answered.
"Hey, Ren!" I said.
"Hey, Roi! Look, Clara! It's mommy!"
Clara saw me on the screen and she smiled and tried to reach through. I almost burst into tears.
"Ronan, look! Mommy and daddy are here!"
Ronan came into view and he did the same thing as Clara. The two of them were reaching toward the phone and looking confused as to why they couldn't reach me.
"Hey, Clara! Hey, Ronan, it's mommy and daddy! We're gonna come back after this for you. We're gonna have a big party and you're gonna eat cake!"
The power started to mess with the phone lines. "Goodbye, sweethearts. I love you," I said. I was cut off.
I sighed and put the phone down. Clarx kissed me and I kissed him back.
"How'd we get so happy over a year of crap things happening?" I asked.
"I got happy cause I got you."
"That's true, I am a rare find," I joked.
At around one in the morning, I woke up. Clarx did too. He tapped my shoulder.
"What is it?"
"I just got a weird feeling. That's all. Like something bad is gonna happen."
"I'm right here, I doubt something will happen that's bad."
"You're probably right," I said.
"I always am, especially about the right girl for me."
I tried to fall asleep again, but I couldn't. Not after the weird nightmare. I saw Ron and Karenna happy that they might survive and then an arrow falling from the sky towards Karenna only to hit Ron, who jumped in the way.
I woke up again. Today was the day of the War.
I slipped out of bed and got dressed in my leggings, my combat boots, my green camo tshirt, and Rick's old jacket.
I kept a picture of Clara, Ronan and Renee in my jacket pocket.
When I went out with Clarx, Ron and Karenna, I knew what weapons they were going to choose. Ron already had the crossbow, Clarx had his dagger, Karenna was good with a sword, and I had my bow and arrow. We all started out with our weapons.
I couldn't shake the vision of Ron's death out of my mind. It tormented me when we arrived in the battle arena.
5.....Will I make it out alive?
4.....Will I see Clara and Ronan again?
3.....Will I keep Ron, Karenna and Clarx safe?
2.....Will I see my father again at the end?
1.....Can I survive the second round?
The War of Two had begun.