One charm for who belittled you. One charm for who called you weak. One charm for who lied to you.
Each charm symbolised a victory. Each charm symbolised another ounce of sweet vengeance.
These charms dangled off the wrist of Valencia Sonar.
Born and raised by rich victors in District One, her sole goal in life was to emerge victorious in the Hunger Games. Her supportive parents nodded their heads at her enthusiasm for volunteering, providing her with what resources she would need to win, eventually enrolling her into the Career Academy at the age of twelve.
Compared to all the strong trainees, Valencia was quite feeble. Naturally, she was made fun of for her mediocre abilities. The ringleader of this was the star student of the academy, Spike Chaffe.
One day, he walked over to her, his tall figure looming over Valencia’s small body. It took all her willpower to look him in the eye.
“Bet you can’t last two minutes in the Games,” he sneered.
The worst part of all these situations was that Valencia couldn’t defend herself without getting flustered and making herself look even worse. “Well, uh,” she tried, “prepare to lose your money because—I mean, you’re wrong—wait—”
Spike cut her off with a laugh. “Honestly, little girls who don’t stand a chance shouldn’t even be allowed into this academy.” Before Valencia could say anything more, he walked off, leaving her flushing red with embarrassment.
Telling her father about it only seemed to drag her down a deeper hole. He would knit his brows, scoff at her and say, “If petty insults like this hurt you, then you’re making yourself even weaker.”
“What do you mean by ‘even weaker’?” Valencia inquired.
“Let’s face it.” He sighed. “Look at you. It would be a miracle if the Careers would even accept you, let alone you survive an entire day. If you’re in the academy to become stronger, how come I haven’t seen any progress at all?”
“I am getting stronger!” Valencia retaliated.
Her father faced her. “Then duel me. If you win, I’ll accept that you’ve grown strong.”
She gritted her teeth. She knew she was strong, but she wasn’t strong enough to defeat a victor. Instead, she stayed silent.
He shook his head dismissively. “Just what I expected.”
It seemed that life in the Career Academy for Valencia would continue to be a bother as long as Spike was there. Despite that, she continued training for the next four years. She was sixteen and her bully was eighteen, ready to volunteer.
Valencia was just packing up her belongings when Spike picked up her javelin, examining it.
“Give it back,” Valencia growled, but he merely smirked, shook his head, and snapped the weapon into two as if it were a twig. Valencia widened her eyes.
“Now it’s trash,” Spike observed, tossing the remnants onto the floor. “Just like you.”
Before he could turn away, a dagger was at his throat.
“Leave her alone,” the wielder warned, removing the weapon from Spike’s neck.
Spike merely raised an eyebrow, before smugly saying, “Alright, I’ll leave you two idiots alone.” He left the room.
“Thanks for that,” Valencia mumbled.
“No problem,” the stranger replied. “I’m Dennis.”
“Valencia.” She eyed her broken javelin, sighing.
“You know,” started Dennis, “it’s not that bad of a loss. No offence, but it wasn’t a very good javelin. I think someone as good as you deserves a way better one.”
Valencia lit up. “You really think so?”
He grinned. “I’ve seen you fight dummies. I’d love to spar with you sometime.”
A smile tugged at her mouth. “Same to you.”
Within a few weeks, the two of them started dating. While Valencia loved their happy relationship, her father did not approve of it at all.
“I thought your sole focus was training for the Games,” he began one day, “not some stupid boy.”
“He’s not stupid,” Valencia argued. “Could you let me live a little? You always blab about how weak I am and snap at me whenever I’m not training!”
“Because training should be your main priority!” He shouted. “If you think this amount of training will grant you victory in the Hunger Games, you will realise how wrong you were when you become the first to die.”
“I’m not dying first, and I’m not dying at all.” Valencia glared daggers at her father. “I’m much stronger than you think I am.”
He shook his head. “You think you’re strong now because of your little boyfriend, but the second he leaves you, you’ll find out how weak and pathetic you really are.”
The second he leaves you, you’ll find out how weak and pathetic you really are.
Those very words resurfaced when Valencia caught Dennis red-handed with another girl.
Dennis tried to muster up any excuse he could find, “W—Wait, Val, this isn’t what it looks like—this, uh… you’re… smiling?”
He was right. Valencia was smiling, staring right into his eyes. Sweetly, she told him, “Think of me when you volunteer for the Games and get mauled to death by shark mutts, you two-faced bastard. We’re through.”
Valencia stormed out, ignoring all the apologies Dennis threw at her.
Weak. Belittled. Betrayed.
No. She wanted to be strong. She would become stronger than ever, she would be belittled no longer, and God save anyone who dared to betray her again.
So she changed herself completely.
She trained much harder than before, striving to reach the top. The trainees began to fear her after seeing how violently she tore apart dummies and ‘accidentally’ injured the others while sparring. With her newfound skills and cheerfully psychotic demeanour, no one would dare to call her weak again.
Strengthening herself wasn’t the only thing Valencia did.
She vowed to take revenge. She swore to right every wrong in her life.
That was exactly what she set out to do.
On a cold night, Valencia slipped into the Victors’ Village, sneaking around the home of a certain victor named Spike Chaffe. Upon confirming that he was home and unaware of Valencia’s presence, she began pouring gasoline at every corner, not stopping until there wasn’t even a drop left in the container.
She lit a match, maliciously smirking.
This is for all the times you humiliated me for your own pleasure.
Flinging the match at the flammable liquid, Valencia left unscathed and unseen.
The next day, the headline on the news read, Victor Found Dead After Mysterious Case of Arson. To commemorate this, Valencia went ahead and bought herself a silver charm bracelet, a single charm attached to it.
A few weeks later, Valencia brought up the Hunger Games with her father.
“I’m going to volunteer next year,” she told him.
Her father stifled a laugh. “Surely you must be joking.”
“And why do you think it’s a joke?” Valencia crossed her arms.
“You don’t stand much of a chance in the Games, Valencia,” he explained. “If you do volunteer, not only will it be a suicide mission, but you’ll bring shame to my name and District One.”
“Is that so?” Valencia began smirking. “Well, how about we have a little duel? Whoever wins is right.”
“Even though I’m a little rusty, I’m up for the challenge.” He brought his signature weapon with him—a spear.
Valencia grabbed her trusty javelin. “We go on the count of three.”
As soon as the countdown ended, their weapons clashed. Metal against metal, there were all sorts of jabbing and slicing and dodging. At first, her father effortlessly held the upper hand against Valencia. As the battle progressed, Valencia found the chink in his armour—his ego. As his cockiness increased, so did the chances of Valencia winning.
Catching him by surprise with quick attacks, Valencia soon held the upper hand. By the end of it, she held the javelin to his throat, grinning as sweat trickled down the side of her head.
“Alright, alright, I’ve severely underestimated you,” her father finally admitted. “You have the potential to emerge victorious.”
“That’s nice.” Valencia’s hands didn’t budge.
Her father was beginning to look a little nervous. “You know, you’ve won. You can move your javelin away from me now.”
“Really?” She asked. “But this is the Hunger Games, isn’t it? Kill or be killed. Only one of us can leave this room alive.”
His eyes widened. “Valencia—”
“Thank you so much for looking down at me all these years!” Valencia spoke cheerily. “Unfortunately, the line ends here. Love you too!”
She split his throat open with her javelin, laughing at the blood spraying out and staining the floor.
This is for calling me weak for as long as I can remember.
That day, she added another charm to her bracelet in memory of her loving father.
Later in the year, she met up with Dennis. They agreed to meet near the lake at the edge of the District, the same place they had their first date.
Valencia was quietly observing the tranquil waters until she heard the voice of her ex-boyfriend.
She turned to him with a grin. “It’s so good to see you again! How long has it been since we last saw each other? Over a year?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Dennis seemed uncomfortable. “Er, I’m not sure why you called me here, but if it’s because you want me back, I can’t return those feelings.”
Still smiling, Valencia took a step towards him. “That’s alright, because I feel nothing but cold hatred towards you.”
Dennis took a step back. “Uh, what are you doing?”
“You know, Dennis,” she began, “if you swam across this lake, you’d be able to get out of Panem once and for all. To prevent that, the President implemented shark mutts in the lake to rip whoever dares to leave into pieces.
Noticing the psychotic glint in her eyes, Dennis kept walking backwards. “Oh, my God. You’re completely insane!”
“Says the one walking towards the lake.”
Dennis didn’t realise he was barely a step away from falling into the lake. “What—”
Valencia pushed him into the treacherous waters, listening to his shrieks of fear and pain like a melody. Sitting down right in front of the lake, she shouted over his own screams, “Remember when I said think of me when you get mauled to death? Well, are you? If so, that’s so sweet of you!”
This is for stabbing me in the back and betraying me.
As his shrieking ended and the water ran red, Valencia added yet another charm to her bracelet.
Each charm represented a gain in strength. Each charm represented a golden victory.
Valencia intended to increase the number of charms draping her wrist when she volunteered for the Hunger Games.