The Hunger Games
as told by peeta mellark.
Favorite part of being a baker’s son? The cakes. It just gives me something to do. Something to put my heart into. It’s almost a pointless hobby, on the downside. District 12 is so poor, especially recently, that my cakes are just for hungry eyes to enjoy. Not for hungry stomachs.
District 12 is quiet today. Every year on this day, it’s like the life just disappears. Today is reaping day. I’ve managed to escape being reaped into the Hunger Games for the last few years. But every year the odds are considerably less in my favor. Her voice is ringing in my head now, “And may the odds, be ever in your favor.” Well you know what Effie? Not this year, not this day. I frown at myself a bit for this selfishness. There are plenty of kids who have their name entered many more times. Kids who have nothing. Kids who hunt for their family, take care of their family. Who am I, a baker’s son, to complain about my odds? I’ve never had to worry about food. And unless I’m reaped, I’ll probably never have to.
I need to stop thinking about the reaping. My heart is racing and my hands are clammy. I need a distraction. I go into the back room of the bakery to see my two brothers Karros and Bane. They have managed to avoid the reaping longer than I have. Thinking about this calms me down. For a little while, at least.
“Peeta. Mom wants to see you.” Karros says at me emotionless. He doesn’t even look up.
I head back into the baking area, where I am expecting to see my mom in a flour dusted apron, kneading some dough. I turn the corner and there she is, doing exactly this. Her hair is up in a messy bun--some pins hold it loosely into place. Her face looks old and tired, but behind her marks of aging and stress, she is still a beautiful woman.
“Ah, Peeta.” She smiles at me. My mother never smiles at me. This makes me worry.
“Mom. Do you need me to go pick something up for you? Deliver a cake to the mayor? What do you need?”
But to my surprise it is neither of these things. In fact, it is nothing. My mother says nothing. Instead, she walks over to me awkwardly and opens up her arms. She brings me into an embrace, something I have not experienced since childhood, and she whispers something in my ear.
“Don’t be afraid, Peeta. It’s going to be alright. You have to believe that it is going to be alright.”
I don’t know how to react to this. I just nod and force an awkward smile. Her words play in my head for the next few hours. It’s not ideal, but it’s something. Something to keep me calm.
I sit outside on the wooden steps of the bakery and just watch the wind blow the trees back and forth. I keep imagining it over and over again. Effie Trinket’s perfectly manicured hands reaching into a glass fishbowl and selecting a small slip of paper. She opens it and smiles as she reads out the male tribute for District 12, “Peeta, Mellark.” The crowd steps a few steps away from me and looks at me. I look back at my brothers; their faces are like stone. There’s no way out...my thoughts are interrupted by someone approaching. I know him from school. Gale Hawthorne. Yes, it is Gale. I remember seeing him with...with her. After school, in the summer, near the boundary fence. He stops at the bottom of the steps. He seems to be holding something to trade.
“Is your father in?” He asks.
“Yeah, what do you need?”
“Trade this squirrel for some bread.”
I tell him to wait a moment and go back in with his squirrel. He must be a good hunter. Hit the squirrel right in the eye...unless of course it was her doing the shooting. Wouldn’t surprise me. Her. Katniss Everdeen. I shake off this distraction and get Gale’s bread. As he walks away he gives me kind of a weird look. I wonder if he will be the one chosen for the 74th annual Hunger Games. At this point, anything is possible.
It’s about that time. I go inside to wash up. I put on a blue button up and my mom obsesses over my hair being perfect for what feels like forever, but I’m sure was at least a good ten minutes. It ends up being slicked back. He doesn’t like how it hangs in my face. Unfortunately for her, I like it that way. Messy.
I take one look in the mirror and think to myself, is this the last chance I’ll have to look like this? I shake it off. There are bigger things to worry about.
Every kid from ages 11 to 18 are heading to the square dressed in their best. When I think of the young ones it makes me sad. I remember my first reaping. Not as well as I remember my third. That was a tough year for District 12. A couple months before the reaping we had a heavy rain. It was cold, food was scarce, and those not as fortunate as I was were literally dying in the streets. It’s such a blur. I remember my mother. She was so angry at me; angrier than I’d ever seen her. I had burnt some of the bread, and in times like those, it was a huge waste. She hit me that day. I remember how it felt...her hand striking my face with so much force for such a small woman. I’d never let her see me cry. As instructed by my mother, I went out front to throw the bread to the pigs. The rain felt cold as ice on my cheek. My welt was searing hot. I start breaking the bread to pieces to throw into the sty. It’s so hot it burns my fingers. Then I see something out of the corner of my eye. I see someone. There is someone, a girl, lying against the oak tree in the front yard of the shop. She looks weak and cold. I’ve seen her face before. I recognized her hair...a beautiful braid down her back. It was her, the one I’ve been watching for years come home from school everyday. I instantly think to help her. But I’m not sure what to do. If my mother saw me go out and help her she would hit me again, if not worse. Was she worth it? Yes. She was. I wanted to just go to her in the rain. Her lips were turning blue, and the rain was cold. So I did the only thing I could think of. I threw the bread at her feet. Confused. That’s the look she gave me. Sometimes in a world like ours, charity is unusual. It’s all about self preservation. The fight to survive.
I’m up next in the line. A woman from the capitol takes my finger and I feel a prick. I wince, but only slightly. I see my name, “Mellark, Peeta” in green letters on her machine, and she passes me through. Now we just wait for the “festivities” to begin. After everyone is checked in and it is confirmed we are all present, the reaping officially begins. Effie Trinket waddles on stage, the clacking of her ridiculously tall high heels echoes throughout the square. I don’t think any of the people in the districts understand the Capitol’s style. Effie is wearing a pink wig, and a hideous green dress suit. She looks so fake to me, her pink lips and cheeks, her heels. I look around at all the people from District 12. All the coal miners, the children, the healers. Even though the Capitol treats us like animals, they are the real animals.
Effie does her usual spiel about the rebellion, playing a video clip we have the great “joy” of getting to watch every year at the reaping. After the first year I think everyone just ignores it. It tries to glamorize the idea of the Hunger Games. Make it see like a big celebration, and that all the tributes have the “honor” of representing their district. It’s all just a joke. The Hunger Games is merely a way to torture us. Nothing less, nothing more.
I notice sitting on the stage is our only surviving victor from the two that District 12 has had in seventy-four years: Haymitch Abernathy. Effie is turning abnormally red in the face as Haymitch begins to make a scene. He is trying to steal the microphone from her in a drunken rage and it concludes with him passing out and falling off stage. The mayor looks disappointed. Another reason for District 12 to be the laughing stock of the districts in this year’s Hunger Games. Now Effie is about to draw the first tribute’s name. Every year it is ladies’ first. Before she walks over to the bowl I see Gale to my right, smiling. I follow his eyes and see he is looking at Katniss. Are they as nervous as I am right now?
“Primrose, Everdeen.” Effie’s voice booms over the speakers. I haven’t even had time to comprehend when I see tiny Primrose walking towards the stage and coming after her is Katniss. What does she think she can do for her now? The she says two words and my stomach sinks,
What was she thinking? This was unheard of, especially in a place like District 12. Sacrificing your safety to protect someone you love. Never. I start to tremble as Katniss approaches her sister. I can see her trying to hold back her tears. I admire her bravery. The square is filled with the screams of Prim, as she yells for Katniss. She walks slowly up to the stage.
“What is your name?” Effie asks excitedly. A volunteer should make her have a pretty good reputation as one of District 12’s mentors.
“Katniss. Katniss Everdeen.” She chokes out. You can still see the tears welling up in her eyes. She looks far off into the distance. Effie speaks again,
“I bet that was your sister, wasn’t it Katniss?”
I am amazed at the lack of emotion in her voice. But then Effie walks over to the second bowl to pull out a male tribute to be reaped. A voice in my head is saying, “It won’t be you. It’s never been someone you know. Until now...” Before I can finish talking myself down her voice booms once more,
I stood in that square still as stone expecting something to happen. Where were my brothers? I looked around until I saw Bane’s curly blonde hair. He was looking at the ground. There was no getting out of this. I am a tribute of the 74th annual Hunger Games, and I am going to fight to the death against Katniss Everdeen.
“Come on, now.” Effie says sweetly, ushering me forward. I snap out of my shock and walk forward. I take a good look at the people around me. The people I grew up with, grew close with, grew apart from, and grew to love. The people I may never see again.
I finally make my way up the stairs of the stage and stand next to Katniss. She doesn’t even look at me; still staring into the distance.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the District 12 Tributes for the 74th Annual Hunger Games!” Effie says enthusiastically. No one claps. No one EVER claps. I scan the crowd and find my mother’s face. I don’t know what to make of it, but she looks right at me. I force a smile, one that is not returned from anyone in my family. This is not something you smile and shrug off. This is life or death. And with Katniss in the mix, I can tell it is going to be death.
Peacekeepers collect us and take us to the justice building. We will have a short time to say goodbye to friends and family. As I’m waiting for my first visitor, whoever that may be, I look around the room. There are no windows, but plenty of paintings. There’s a painting of what this land used to look like before the rebellion. It’s beautiful, really. There’s a snow globe on the window pane that has a replica of the Capitol inside. Then I see the last painting before the door opens hanging above a wooden table. It’s an intricate painting of an older man, with a snow white beard and a rose in his jacket pocket...
“Peeta...I’m so sorry.”
I jolt and turn around, not realizing anyone had come yet. It’s my father. He has two plates of homemade cookies from the bakery. To my surprise, he only hands me one.
“Thanks, Dad. It’ll be nice to have some good food before I’m thrown into the wilderness to face my fate.” I say a little too roughly.
“Peeta! This is not the way I raised you. I raised you in the spirit of positivity and perseverance, and as much as it pains me that you will have to apply these lessons in this kind of situation, you still must do so. For the sake of yourself and the family, Peeta, please.”
I don’t know what he wants from me right now. Does he want me to win? Is he asking me to win so that life will be easier for them? Or is he asking me to try, so that if I do go down I go down putting up a good fight?
“Okay, dad. I won’t forget. The other plate of cookies...what’s that about?”
“You know. Who else?” He answers bluntly.
He kisses my forehead and wishes me luck, then he leaves. Is he giving cookies to Katniss? Before I can understand why, my mother and my two brothers enter the room. They are expressionless. Maybe a bit ashamed. A part of me is angry at them, but I try to think, what would YOU do in this situation Peeta?
I am overwhelmed with my brothers’ trying to explain themselves; trying to not show that they’re scared for me. I’ve never seen them this way. It feels good, I feel important for once. Not just one of the baker’s sons, but now I’m Peeta. The boy with the bread.
“Peeta...I know Katniss volunteered for her sister and everything and we should have protected you...we just didn’t know what to think! We didn’t have time to think. I’m sorry, Peeta. But you’re strong, you will do so well. We know you will come home, right? You’ll come home? Peeta?”
It took me a minute to realize I hadn’t been doing or saying anything in response to Karros’s pleas.
“I think I would have frozen up, too. It’s okay man. I’m fine. I’ll be fine.”
Lying. I’ve always been good at it. It makes it easier to not have to show how you are feeling all the time. And with how I’m feeling right now, I wouldn’t want anyone to have to see.
Next, my mother comes up to me. She hugs me tightly for a long time, and then she kisses me briefly on the cheek.
“I believe you in you Peeta. It’s going to be alright. You have--”
“--To believe it’s going to be alright. I know mom. I’ll remember. Take care of yourself. I love you.”
It took everything I had not to get emotional. I didn’t want them to see I was scared. But honestly, this is the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced, and the games haven’t even begun.
“I’ll miss picking on you, Peeta! Take care of yourself. Be smart. MAKE the odds be in your favor, bud. See ya around.” was the last I heard from anyone in my family, and that was Bane. He’s the oldest in the family, and you can always count on him to be Mr. Optimist. I wonder if there’s anyone else to visit me. I wait a few more minutes in the wooden room, and then a peacekeeper arrives to take Katniss and I to the train station.
The train station is not far from the justice building, but any time spent exclusively with Effie feels like forever. She goes on and on about what we will have the “opportunity” to experience. I steal a quick look at Katniss and can tell she’s fighting to keep her composure. I look out the window and I can’t help but feel like I’m never going to see this place again. I don’t know how much longer I can restrain these tears that feel like they need to come out. I can’t remember the last time I cried. This seems like an appropriate time, so I let it out a bit. Katniss exchanges a weird look. She seems almost angry to have been stuck with me. Does she remember that day, too?
The train station is swarming with people waving goodbye, yelling out our names and asking questions. Cameras are pressed in our faces, and I can see it all live on tv screens placed in various spots throughout the station. Like I said earlier, the Hunger Games is kind of a big deal for Panem. It is our one big annual festivity, and I am but a mere token.
After plenty of photos and video footage was taken, Effie hurries us on to the train and doors come together to a close. I take a deep breath. It all begins here. Effie gives us a small tour of the train. Of course, we won’t be spending much time here. The train accelerates at a whopping 250 miles per hour, so our journey will take less than a day. Nevertheless, Katniss and I each have our own room.
We head to the dining car, for supper. Effie is looking around as if she had misplaced something.
“Where’s Haymitch?” she finally asks, puzzled.
“Last time I saw him, it looked like he was going to take a nap.” I told her. I had seen Haymitch earlier, but didn’t take much notice of him.
“Well. It has been an exhausting day!”
Effie sounds happy here, as if Haymitch not being around deducts from her stress level. In a way, I can see how that is.
Finally, supper has arrived. It comes in courses, just like a nice fancy meal. We’ve had meals with courses on special occasions in my house, but judging by the look on Katniss’ face, she’s never eaten like this in her life. I feel a twinge of guilt thinking about this: how much more fortunate I am then her. There’s a carrot soup, salad, lamb chops, mashed potatoes, and lighter things like cheese and fruits. Also a delicious and rich chocolate cake for dessert. I watch Katniss shove massive spoonfuls into her mouth one after the other. I’ve never seen a girl eat so much in my life!
“At least, you two have decent manners,” Effie points out after main course. This seems completely irrelevant to me but she continues by saying, “The pair last year at everything with their hands like a couple of savages. I completely upset my digestion.” Directly after Effie’s comment, Katniss drops her silverware and starts eating her food using her fingers. I try not to laugh when I see Effie’s reaction to this. Her face was all scrunched up and she tried to ignore it. That’s just how Katniss is. She kind of marches to her own drum. I like that about her. I like her.
After supper Effie leads us to another train car to watch the other reapings throughout the districts. Now I get to see what I’m up against. In District one and two, there are almost always volunteers. I hate that. They raise them in a facility where they train for combat in the Hunger Games. They know exactly what they are doing. They’re like weapons. A few stand out to me, both the tributes from District 2 are intimidating. There’s Cato, he’s large and very muscular, and you can just see in his sneer he was bread to kill. Then there’s the female tribute, Clove. She’s somewhat tiny, but I can just see it in her eyes: she’s vicious. A poor crippled boy from District 10. That sounds rough. But the worst for me, every year not just this one, is when an eleven-year-old get’s reaped. This year there is an eleven year old girl from District 11 named Rue. She is small and dark skinned with large, shiny brown eyes. I notice Katniss’ eyes widen when they show Rue. I wonder if she reminds her of Prim. Then our own reaping comes on. I get to relive the heart wrenching feeling of watching Katniss scream after her sister and take her place. I laugh as I see Haymitch fall off the stage. Effie is disgruntled again.
“Your mentor has a lot to learn about presentation. A lot about televised behavior.” This makes me laugh some more.
“He was drunk! He’s drunk ever year.” This has become no surprise to the people of District 12. Haymitch Abernathy is now almost the comic relief of the otherwise tragic reaping. This makes Effie mad. She scoffs and then preaches to me,
“Yes, how odd you two find it amusing! You know your mentor is your lifeline to the world in these Games. The one who advises you, lines up your sponsors, and dictates the presentation of any gifts. Haymitch can well be the difference between your life and death!” I have no worries about Haymitch. I mean, I don’t know him personally or anything, but I know I can learn a lot from him, and I intend to do so.
Right after Effie yells at us for laughing, Haymitch staggers in tripping over his feet.
“I miss supper?” He slurs. Then without warning he vomits all over the pricy carpet in the train car and faints.
“So laugh away!” Effie Trinket huffs. In a rage she hops around the pile of vomit and out the train car door. So this our mentor. Haymitch Abernathy, the drunk.
Katniss and I spent a long period of time looking back and forth between each other, and Haymitch, until he tries to get up. It’s quite comical seeing him stumble as he tries to come to his feet, slipping in his own mess.
“I tripped? Smells bad.” He says nonchalantly. I motion for Katniss to help me, and we each take one of Haymitch’s arms over our shoulders. I want to help him, after all Effie was right. He could be the difference between life and death. If he is going to be an irresponsible drunk during the actual games, the least I can do is try to learn something from him now.
“Let’s get your back to your room. Clean you up a bit.” I tell Haymitch. Katniss glares at me. But then again, Katniss is always glaring at me, or so it seems.
We help Haymitch walk back to his room, and occasionally his legs will go weak, and we will basically carry him, but it is only for small spurts. When we get to his room we look around for a spot to let him sit. Since he is covered in vomit, we thought it best to set him in the bathtub, rather than on the fancy embroidered bedding Effie was ranting about only hours earlier. We turn the shower on to wash him down. This doesn’t seem to phase him. I want some one on one time with Haymitch. Now is my chance,
“It’s okay,” I say, smiling at Katniss, “I’ll take it from here.” To my favor, she doesn’t seem upset in the slightest. In fact, she seems relieved. She agrees and offers to have one of the Capitol members aboard assist me.
“No. I don’t want them.” is my response. I need this alone time with Haymitch. Maybe it will give me a leg up in the Games. Katniss doesn’t say anything more, and exits the car. Now time to help wash Haymitch up.
I’m not sure where to begin with this. I can feel my cheeks flush. After all, this is kind of awkward. I try to rinse the puke out of his clothing before stripping him down. Regardless, I am still getting it on my hands. Now is not the good time to have a weak stomach, Peeta! After I remove his shirt, Haymitch turns to me and looks like he’s going to blabber some drunken nonsense, but instead he says,
“What you trying at, kiddo? Trying to get on my ‘good list?’”
“Uh, no, sir. I just wanted to ask you some questions. Some one on one time without Katniss here to, ya know...” I feel kind of guilty after saying this, I wish I could take these words back. Haymitch chuckles. He has a goofy laugh. It makes me grin.
“Well kid, I think I know what you mean. She’s a tough one, I can already tell. Tough, but stubborn.” His prediction of Katniss is completely accurate.
“Well, if you don’t mind, I’ll get myself showered alone, if that’s alright with you.” I can’t help but laugh at this.
“Of course, I think I can survive not seeing you naked in my lifetime.”
“I like your spirit, kid.” He winks. Then he closes the bathroom door and I wait in his car.
After Haymitch is showered, he comes out in a cream colored suit. The under shirt is all the way unbuttoned and he is wearing a dirt stained t-shirt beneath. Even though he looks remarkably better, he is still grungy. I think this is just something you have to get used to about Haymitch. I’ve never seen him any other way. We walk into the dining car and sit down at the table next to the window. The train is moving so incredibly fast that the landscape out the window looks like a blur of green, from the trees. Haymitch sits down and pours me a cup of a dark liquid I’ve never seen before. It’s brown and it’s steaming, so at first I think it’s coffee. He must have noticed the confusion in my face because he says,
“Just drink it, dammit. It’s just hot chocolate.” I take a sip. It is rich and creamy and sends warm rays throughout my body. I wish we had this back home. My brothers would love this. I felt it. The first twinge of homesickness. I’m in for a long ride.
Haymitch starts buttering himself a roll, and as expected, pours himself a drink of liquor. If I wanted to know any tips on how to survive in the Hunger Games, now would be the time to ask.
“So, Haymitch. When you won the Hunger Games, what would say was your best strategy? What helped you get to the point of becoming victor?” He takes a shot of his drink and then ponders for a moment.
“Well kid, I’ll tell you what I did to win the Games. I survived. Simple as that.” I can’t tell if this is intentional sarcasm at this point, or if sarcasm is just naturally apart of this man’s diction.
“Were you ever in a life or death moment and something saved your life?”
“Peeta. The Hunger Games is a life or death moment. It’s two weeks of life or death. But I suppose there are certain things. You want people to like you; sponsors are everything in the world of the Games. Also, you can form alliances, Peeta, but just remember that in the end only one of you win. Be careful who you choose.” I think of Katniss and I forming an alliance. Huddling together for warmth in a tree every night, hunting together, protecting her... Haymitch interrupts my daydream with another word of advice.
“Finding water is one of the most important things to do. Find it on your first day. Get it done. You could very easily die of dehydration, and we wouldn’t want the capitol seeing someone as tough as you dying a boring death like that.” He chuckles. It will take me forever to fully understand this man’s humor.
Later on, Effie and Katniss arrive for dinner. We both get a huge plate of food. Eggs, ham, potatoes. I grab a roll from the basket from earlier and butter it on both sides. I take a bite. It’s warm and flaky, just like the bread at home. When I was a kid, my father taught me and my brothers our way around the bakery. He taught us how to cook, how to test, and how to sell all sorts of goodies. My brother’s loved to make the bread. Mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, making it into loafs. I guess it gave us something to do, and we could be more like our father. But me, I was always into the cakes. We ate bread with every meal since I can remember, but cakes were a special delicacy. I remember getting to pick out one each year for my birthday. My mother would cook it special, and then my dad would by some good meat from a place called the hob, which was like the black market of District 12. My mother always cursed him for going there. “That’s no place for a sophisticated working man such as yourself!” She would say. But my dad didn’t listen. He said they had the best meat in all of Panem. Ever since I saw Katniss with some game, I have wondered if I ate her meat on any of my birthdays.
One year when my father asked what kind of cake I would like for my birthday, I asked if I could be the one to decorate it. After that birthday, it was my duty in the bakery to decorate the cakes. It always made me feel a little special, because neither Karros nor Bane were any good at it. It was all my doing.
Katniss pours herself a cup of the hot chocolate.
“What is this? Coffee?” She asks.
“They call it hot chocolate. It’s good.” I tell her. She brings the cup to her lips and takes a long sip, closing her eyes, as if she wants to take in every sensation from it. After her first sip, she doesn’t even touch her food again until she has downed the entire mug.
Long after both Katniss and Effie finish their food, I am still stuffing my face. I am trying to eat as much as I can before I am thrown into the arena, where I don’t even know if I will be able to eat. Haymitch doesn’t seem to interested in his food, but very interested in the red wine he keeps replenishing his glass with. Katniss is scowling at him. I wonder why. I wonder if she is bothered by Haymitch. Personally, I like Haymitch. He has a good sense of humor, and he won the 50th Hunger Games, didn’t he? Haymitch won during the quarter quell. Every 25 years of the hunger games, there is a “special’ Hunger Games, in which something about the typical rules is altered. In the year Haymitch won, there were twice the amount of tributes: four from each district, and even with 48 people against him, he still one. I don’t know what Katniss’ plan of action is here, but I am getting as close with Haymitch as I possibly can.
Katniss breaks the silence, and it’s as if she wants to learn some things from Haymitch, as well.
“So, you’re supposed to give us advice.” She says plainly.
“Here’s some advice. Stay alive,” Haymitch says and then bursts into a fit of laughter. When I see Katniss’ face after his response, I can feel my cheeks get hot and the anger well up inside me. Sometimes, Haymitch’s rude humor goes too far. I exchange a look with Katniss and then I snatch the glass of wine from Haymitch’s hand and throw it to the floor. It shatters loudly, and blood-red liquid splatters the windows of the train car. Before I know it, Haymitch’s fist strikes my jaw, so hard it knocks me out of my chair. I wince. This reminds me of my mother. As I start to get up, Haymitch reaches for his drink when a knife stops him right in between the fingers, stuck into the table. It is then that I see Katniss looking at him with hard eyes. I expect him to yell, and maybe even hit Katniss as well. He better not. I rise to my feet to protect her, but he just sits back in his chair, confused.
“Well, well, well, what’s this?” he asks. “Did I actually get a pair of fighters this year?” I’m too mad to answer his question. Instead, I grab some ice from under the fruit bowl and go to apply it to my jaw, when Haymitch stops me.
“No. Let the bruise show. The audience will think you’ve mixed it up with another tribute before you’ve even made it to the arena.” I consider this for a moment, but realize it may have ramifications.
“But that’s against the rules.” I say.
“Only if they catch you. The bruise will say you fought, but you weren’t caught. That’s even better!” Then he looks at Katniss.
“So, can you hit anything with that knife besides this table?” I know Katniss can hunt. But doesn’t she usually hunt with a bow and arrow. At least she has a strength and a strategy to go with. At this point, my only is strategy is “survive.”
Haymitch ushers us to stand up, side by side. He looks at us and circles us and then says bluntly,
“Well, you’re not entirely hopeless. You both seem fit. Once the stylists take a stab at it, I’m sure you could be attractive enough.” It’s not like the Hunger Games is a beauty pageant, so I’ve never seen the importance of this. But I’m sure it’s for a good reason.
Haymitch makes us a deal. If we don’t interfere with his drinking, he’ll make sure he is sober enough to help us get sponsors and keep us going during the Games. Sounds like a deal to me. Although, Katniss doesn’t seem as convinced as I am. I trust Haymitch. I just don’t think he’d pull any funny business when lives are on the line.
“Fine with me.” I say. Katniss just nods.
“So, help us,” Katniss asks Haymitch, “When the Games began, what is the best strategy at the cornucopia?”
“We’ll get to that later. One thing at a time, sweetheart. We’ll be at the station any minute now, and you’ll have to split up and meet with your stylists. And I’m warning you. You’re not going to like it. But no matter what is, don’t resist. You hear me?”
“But--” Katniss begins, but Haymitch shuts her down instantly.
“ No buts. Don’t resist.” He takes another sip of his wine, and exits the car. After he leaves the car becomes suddenly dark. The only light is coming from a few dim lights on the ceiling of the car.
“We’re in a tunnel. We must be getting close!” I say to Katniss. As nervous as I am about the Games, I’m excited to see the Capitol in person. I’ve only seen paintings and replicas my whole life. I don’t even know how big it will be. After a few minutes I can feel the train slowing down and suddenly light comes flooding in the car. I run to the window, and Katniss follows. There it is. The Capitol. I’m trying to take it all in at once, but the train is still moving to quickly. Everything is shiny and magnificent. The paintings I’ve seen growing up don’t do it justice. It is hundreds of times more grand and beautiful. There are so many colors here. It seems so bright compared to the dusty grays back home in District 12.
We pass the awaiting crowd as we glide into the station. People are pointing excitingly, waiting to see us. Waiting to see me, Peeta Mellark. For the first time in my life, it’s about me. I feel important. When more people begin to wave, Katniss steps away from the window. I don’t know what she’s so afraid of, but I just continue waving back at the audience. I can’t help but have a smile from cheek to cheek. I might as well enjoy this now.
I look back at Katniss and see her staring. She doesn’t seem to understand my reasoning.
“Who knows, Katniss? Maybe one of them is rich. Sponsors?” Is all I say, and then I look back out the window. It may look like I’m trying to forget all about the Games in a few days, but believe me. I haven’t. I’m always thinking in strategic mode. What can I do now to save myself then? I don’t know what Katniss has planned, but I got it pretty much figured out. I can only hope she does the same.
Remember how I said I hated getting my hair messed with? Well my stylist is even worse than my mother. The people or the Capitol take some getting used to it. My stylist, Portia, has bright green eyeshadow caked from her eyelids to her brow, and is streaked off her temples. Every time she turns her head, the light shines on her face and you can see the green sparkle. She has abnormally white hair which is very curly and pulled up into multiple pony-tails, which all seem to end up in one at the end. I wonder if she would be pretty in real life. You know, without the mask.
When I first got here, I went to a prep team and they got me ready for Portia. Now, she is going to make me look “presentable.” She looks me up and down like she has her work cut out for her. Her insect-like eyes are always avoiding eye contact as she asks me to remove my garments, so she can hose me down. I flush. I’ve never been naked in front of any woman besides my mother when I was a toddler. I kind of stand around awkwardly until she notices and says loudly,
“Chop, chop! I have work to do!”
As fast as I can I remove all my clothing, until I am standing stark naked in front of a female I’ve never met before who has eyelashes longer than my pinkies. I don’t know what to think of all this. Just don’t let anything awkward happen. You don’t want to be humiliated, I think to myself.
Portia hoses me down. It’s so different from back home in District 12. The water is so warm, I’m actually starting to enjoy it ricochet off my skin and down my bare back.
Three Hunger Games ago, one of my childhood friends was reaped as the male tribute for District 12. Of course, since Haymitch is the only living victor 24 years, he didn’t win. His name was Rye, and we grew up together. He wasn’t rich like me, a baker’s son. He was poor, like Katniss. I remember reaping day that year almost as vividly as the one a few days ago. When Effie went to pull the male tribute’s name, for some reason I thought for sure it was going to be me. Usually the reaping is something that will affect other people, not me. But this year was different. I had it set in my mind it was going to be me. In fact, as she was pulling out the name, I started to walk forward. But then she said it, “Rye, Bjork.” My stomach lurched. I was feeling too many mixed feelings to comprehend all of them. I was relieved for my own safety, scared for that of my friend’s, sad that someone I cared about got reaped, confused as to why it wasn’t me, and more.
When we were watching the Hunger Games that year on the television, I remember being really excited for the interviews, because I actually knew one of the tributes personally and was anxious to hear what they would ask him and how he would respond. Also, I was excited to see Rye dressed up. In all my time knowing him, I never saw him clean, showered, or wearing anything but raggedy hand me downs. This was Rye’s moment to shine. When he got on stage, he was greeted by the famous Caesar Flickerman, the social host of the Hunger Games festivities. This year, Caesar’s hair is a pumpkin orange.
“Hello, Rye! District 12, eh?”
“Yes, sir.” Rye says proudly. He looks so good I barely recognize him. Caesar commences the questioning,
“So what is your favorite part about the Capitol compared to back home?” I am curious as to what he will say. He thinks for a moment and then says,
“The showers. They’re fantastic.” This makes both me and Caesar Flickerman laugh, but now I know why. There’s nothing quite like a warm shower.
I enjoy my last few minutes under the water and then Portia gets to work. She is plucking hairs from my eyebrows, shaving the hair on my chin, and whitening my teeth. Portia holds out what I am to wear and at first I am disappointed.
“Don’t look so glum. It makes you look bad, and you haven’t seen what this thing can do yet.” Is all Portia says before leaving me to dress myself, which feels odd after hours of someone doing everything for me.
I get into the outfit, or costume rather, and head out to the gathering of tributes before the tribute parade. I see that neither Katniss nor Cinna has arrived, but while I am looking around the crowd for their faces, I am suddenly bombarded with compliments and squeals from Effie.
“Oh, Peeta! You just look darling! How do you feel? Are you ready? Haymitch was right. You do clean up well!”
Soon Katniss and Cinna arrive and so does Haymitch. All the tributes are lining up near their chariots, waiting for the parade to begin. Some of the tributes look nervous, others eager. There’s a large muscular boy from District 2 who is staring at me. At first I think it’s just coincidence; that we both looked the same direction at the same time. But even Katniss has noticed.
“He’s looking at you like your a piece of meat.” she says nervously. Haymitch puts his hands on our shoulders and turns us so our backs are facing the District 2 boy.
“Ignore him. He’s a career.”
“Career?” I ask.
“District 1 and 2, they train in a center until their 18 and then volunteer. They’re lethal. More about that later. We got to finish your costumes.” this must be what Portia was talking about. I give Katniss a confused look but she just shrugs and looks away. I wish I could read this girl’s mind. Seriously.
Cinna comes up to us with a lighted torch. At first, I think we are going to hold them for effect, but then I realize there is only one.
“Alright, let me light you up.” He says. Katniss backs away quickly.
“Whoa, Katniss. Calm down. It won’t hurt you. It’s fake. It works, trust me.”
He lights me first to ensure Katniss, and then we both are aflame with the fiery heat. I look at Katniss and am overwhelmed by how beautiful she looks. It takes everything I have not to tell her this. I just want to take this moment and stay in it forever. I just want to be able to see Katniss like this forever; beautiful, healthy, and most importantly...alive.
My thoughts are interrupted by Cinna ushering us onto the chariot. I can see two large doors iron doors open, and I can see up ahead District one’s chariot head out, followed by two and so forth. As our chariot pulls itself through the doors, I steal one last look at Katniss, and she gives me a nervous look. Then, millions of people, or so it seems, screaming our names, clapping, jumping, and some fainting. The audience is just a blur of colors from the odd hair colors of the Capitol people and all I can hear is a wash of sound. I wonder if my brothers are watching...there it was again. Homesickness.
As soon as our flames are completely exposed the crowd goes while. Hope begins to burn inside of me; we are the best ones here. With these flames burning brightly, we may just get ourselves some sponsors...and a reputation. I think back to some of the advice Portia and Cinna had offered me before the parade.
“I think we are supposed to hold hands.” I say nervously to Katniss. I extend my hand out and wait what feels like ages before she clasps her hand in mine. I can’t help but smile idiotically right now. This is the closest I’ve ever been to her, and it feels amazing. With more encouragement from the crowd, I notice that Katniss is starting to be more interactive. She reaches her free hand to her lips and blows the crowd some kisses, even.
Katniss is squeezing my hand so hard that it starts to feel numb, but I don’t even care. I’m holding Katniss Everdeen’s hand. Nothing matters right now. After a while she notices how hard she is squeezing and goes to let go. I keep holding her hand tightly and say,
“No. Don’t let go of me. Please? I might fall out of this thing.” Did I really just say that? Oh well. She seems to have bought it.
Once all of the chariots reach the circle at the end of the parade strip, our chariots line up. I look around the stadium full of avid Hunger Games viewers, and I wonder how many of them will sponsor me. Up in the higher part encased in glass are the prestigious and wealthiest among the Capitol people. I like to call them Panem “Royalty.” Alongside victors, of course. Up in the box I can see a man with a white beard like now that reaches far past his chin. He has tired eyes and what seems like a permanent scowl on his wrinkled face. He is wearing a grey suit, and in the front pocket is a white rose, with a red substance staining one of the petals. This must be President Snow, the man in the painting at the justice building. He looks even more intimidating in person.
Snow gets up from his seat and steps up to a podium.
“Welcome, tributes of the 74th Annual Hunger Games!” He says in an almost sarcastic manner. He waits a moment for the screams of the crowd to die down and then he says,
“May the odds, be ever in your favor.” At this, the ceremony comes to a close. I realize that Katniss’ hand is still glued to mine, since she pulls away.
“Thanks for holding on to me. I was getting a little shaky there..” I say, embarrassed.
“Really? I bet no one noticed, it’s okay.”
“No one noticed because they were too busy looking at you. You should wear the flames more often. They suit you.” At this I gave her a smile. A smile I’ve been wanting to give her since I was five.
I remember the first day I saw Katniss. I was five years old, and my father was walking me to my first day of school. When we reached the schoolhouse, there was a girl to our right walking on the dirt path. She was coming to school too. She had to long, dark braids down her back.
“You see that girl over there, Peeta?” My father asked me.
“Yes, daddy. Who is she?”
“I think her name is Katniss. Everdeen. I knew her mother once...” He said sadly.
“Oh, were you guys friends?”
“Oh, Peeta. It was much more than friendship. I wanted to marry her mother.” I didn’t understand this. My father was wealthy, handsome, kind, and smart. Why didn’t he marry her.
“Why didn’t you?”
“She married a coal miner instead. Anyway, off to school now son. I’ll come down to walk you home later.” I wanted to know more about why Katniss’ mom would want to marry a coal miner over someone like my father. But my father had already walked off.
School was long. We learned about the rebellion and the splitting into the districts. Can you believe they taught that to five-year-olds? When my father came back to the schoolhouse to walk me home, I wanted to ask him all about this coal miner and why he was “better” than my father. I waited a little while before I asked,
“Dad? Why would Katniss’ mom want to marry a coal miner instead of you?”
“Well, Peeta. He could sing. He had the most beautiful voice. Whenever he sang the birds would fall silent, and then you could hear mockingjays sing out his melody long afterwards. It was beautiful.”
“Oh.” I say. I had never heard anyone sing quite like that.
The next day at school during music class the teacher asked if anyone knew the valley song. Katniss’ hand shot straight up. She walked to the front of the class. She twirled the ends of her braids around her finger nervously and then began to sing. All around the birds went quiet. Her voice filled my ears and my heart. I could’ve listened to her sing for hours. Then when she finished and the class applauded, you could hear the mockingjays in the distance singing her songs. Ever since that day, for the past eleven years, I’ve watched her. I’ve watched her going home, coming to school, eating her lunch with the Mayor’s daughter, Madge. She was always quite shy. But after the coal mine explosion killed her father, she never really talked again. Music class was empty without her energy...her voice. I look at Katniss now, and wish I could hear her sing. Just one last time.
At first Katniss returns my smile, but then she looks at me like she is studying me. To me surprise, she leans over and kisses me on the cheek, right on my bruise from earlier. At first I feel elated. But then I think, is she trying to give me a weakness? I can’t have any distractions from the game now, but how can I possibly win, when I know I can’t live without her. I can’t. I won’t.
After the parade, we head to the training center. It is massive, considering each district gets a floor for the tributes and their teams, and there are twelve of us. Katniss and I get the top floor, or as Effie likes to call it, the penthouse. I think she says this to make us feel better, but it doesn’t make this feeling of terror that has been increasing quickly go away or fade.
Katniss, Effie, and I step into the elevator after entering the training center. Haymitch doesn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. He’s probably up in his room drinking. After all, he kept his promise--he’s been sober enough to be a responsible mentor so far. So we have to hold up our end, I suppose.
Katniss pushes the button that says “12” and the elevator zooms upwards. I’ve never ridden an elevator, not even the one in the justice building back home. It’s a funny sensation. My stomach feels sort of nervous and it feels like I’m flying...it feels dangerous. But not Hunger Games kind of dangerous. I like that I have something to distract me from it.
Effie seems very pleased with us. Enthusiastic, really.
“Oh you two were just so lovely! Well done, both of you!” she practically squeals. She is twirling her bubblegum pink hair from her wig and smiling at us excitedly.
“Not just those wonderful costumes, even though they were quite the riot! But also the way you conducted yourself was just really lovely. I just loved when you guys held hands! Oh this is going to be lovely.” Katniss and I look at each other awkwardly not knowing to say. When Effie isn’t looking I look back at Katniss again and make the face Effie always makes when she’s excited. She’s not smiling, but she’s smiling with her eyes, and her lips are all puckered and protruding. Katniss laughs out loud, and Effie gives us a funny look. The rest of the elevator right up is silent.
Now that we’ve arrived on our floor, I can understand fully why Effie likes to call it the penthouse. I don’t know if the other’s tributes floors look ours, but this unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Its unbelievable. The penthouse is fully furnished with Capitol-style furniture and wall hangings. Everything seems to be in the right place. There is a dining room table full of beautiful, unused china, and a big leather couch in the living area that is in front of a large screen that covers half the wall. I assume this is the television we will use when we watch Caesar Flickerman announce the tribute’s scores after the evaluation.
“Do you think you got us any sponsors today?” Katniss asks Effie.
“Well, I had to be very mysterious. Of course Haymitch hasn’t told me anything about your strategies, but I’ve done my best with what I had to work with. You know, you volunteering to save your sister and how you both have had to struggle immensely to overcome the barbarism of District 12.”
What’s barbaric about District 12? The hard working families? The people who live on the streets because of the “barbarism” of the Capitol? Effie is more oblivious to district life than I thought. I think Effie noticed our offended looks because she clarifies,
“Everyone has their reservations, you know. Naturally, you being from a coal district and all. But when someone was questioning why they should sponsor anyone from you two’s backgrounds, or districts for that matter, I said something very clever!” Effie being clever? This is going to be good, I thought. She continued,
“I said if you put enough pressure on coal it turns to pearls!” She looks so pleased with ourselves that Katniss and I praise her enthusiastically and compliment her wit, even though she is very wrong. Coal doesn’t turn to pearls, those come from shellfish. Maybe she meant to say they turn to diamonds, but that isn’t true either. Well, at least we know she is generally trying to help us, even if her smarts about our district aren’t top notch.
“Unfortunately, I can’t actually seal the deal on the sponsors. Only Haymitch can do that. But I’ll do everything I can to get them lined up! Now, off to bed you too. You have training in the morning!” She says and ushered us to our rooms.
Katniss and I walk up the stairway together and we get to the top she turns left to go to her room and I turn right. When I open the door I realize that my room is probably bigger than all of the rooms in the bakery combined. It is very open, and it’s style reminds me of Haymitch’s car back on the train. It’s very victorian looking. Everything is embroidered and a blood red color seems to be a common theme. The color red makes me sick. All I can think about is what I would do if I was put in a situation in the Games where I had to kill someone. I’m sure I’ll come across it, too. It’s the Hunger Games isn’t it?
I have a little bit of time to clean up and check out my room before Effie calls Katniss and I down for dinner. I head down and see Cinna and Portia talking quietly on the balcony over looking the Capitol. I want to wait for Katniss, so I come up to them and make casual conversation. After a few minutes Katniss arrives, and Cinna and Portia tell us both that tonight we will be discussing strategies with Haymitch, so tonight is very important.
We all head to the dining room. There is a man, young enough to be called a boy, even, who is dressed all in white who offers us glasses of wine. He is silent, never even opens his mouth. Right away I accept the boy’s offer, and he pours me a small glass of this wine. I look over to see if Katniss takes any. At first, she seems hesitant, but then she finally agrees. I can tell by her face after the first sip that she’s never had wine before. Her face puckers and she looks shocked. I’ve had wine many times at home, so it’s not a surprise to me.
Haymitch comes into the dining room right as dinner arrives. I am amazed at how good he looks. He’s wearing clean clothing, and he is well groomed. He also looks more sober than I could have ever imagined Haymitch being. Of course, he doesn’t turn down the offer of wine from the boy, but he only takes a sip and then starts to eat his soup. I’ve never seen Haymitch eat. I can tell tonight is going to be effective.
Cinna, Portia, Effie, and Haymitch start small talk as we all start to eat our meal. Effie and Haymitch seemed very pleased with our stylists. They keep praising them for their creativity and effectiveness in the tribute parade. I’m glad everyone is on the same page, this means more will get done to prepare Katniss and I for the Games. Dinner is delicious tonight. Mushroom soup, some greens, that I don’t particularly care for the bitterness, roast beef, noodles in a green sauce, and some mouthwatering cheese that is served with sweet grapes. Quite the feast. I notice there are more servers like the young boy, all dressed in white. None of them speak, they just move around and make sure cups and platters are full.
Cinna and Portia bring up the topic of our interview costumes and all things fashion, when Katniss interrupts the conversation, addressing one of the server’s dressed in white. A girl, with dark red hair.
“OH! I know you!” Katniss says to the young girl. The girl looks at her with terror in her eyes, as Katniss studies her face. The table has fallen silent, and now everyone is looking at Katniss awkwardly.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Katniss! How could you possibly know an Avox?” Effie snaps. “For goodness sakes.”
“What’s an Avox?” asks Katniss confusedly. She looks embarrassed, but to be honest, I don’t know either. Haymitch answers her,
“It’s someone who has committed a crime. The Capitol has cut her tongue out, that’s why they can’t speak. She’s probably a traitor or something, so it’s not very likely you’d know her. She probably just looks like someone you know.” I can see Katniss considering it in her head, but then she keeps looking at the girl and I can tell she knows her. This could be dangerous for her, if she keeps talking. I try to think of a way to ease the tension and get back on the subject of the interviews.
“Even if you did know her, you are not to speak to her! Not unless it’s to give her an order, of course. But of course, you don’t really know her.” Effie says angrily.
“No...I, I guess not. I just-” Katniss stammers, trying to find the right words to explain herself. I snap my fingers and say,
“Delly Cartwright. That’s who it is. I kept thinking she looks familiar as well, but then I realized she’s just a deadringer for her.” Katniss looks at me with relief, even though we both know Delly Cartwright looks nothing like this Avox girl.
“I think it’s the eyes, mostly.” I say. Everyone relaxes after this and we get back on topic. We all start digging in to a special cake that Cinna ordered for our success at the parade.
“Who’s idea was the hand holding?” Asks Haymitch.
“Cinna’s,” says Portia proudly. Haymitch smiles.
“Just the perfect touch. Of rebellion, that is. Very, very well done, Cinna.” Haymitch says with admiration. Cinna accepts the compliment but insists that it was all Katniss and I, for pulling it off.
“So. Tomorrow morning you two will have your first training session. Meet me down here for breakfast, we are going to go over exactly how I want you to play it,” Haymitch says to Katniss and I, “Now. Off to bed, you two. You’re going to need the sleep.” I want to stay longer and discuss strategy, but I guess now is not the time. Katniss and I say goodnight, and then head up the stairs to our quarters. I want Katniss to explain to me about the Avox girl. Who was she. When we get to her room I lean in her doorway, blocking her way slightly.
“So. Delly Cartwright’s lookalike? Imagine finding her here.” is all I say. She looks at my nervously. We just stand there in silence for a few minutes. She’s probably contemplating trusting me enough to tell me about her, so I try to make her feel better about it.
“Have you been on the roof yet?” She shakes her head. “Cinna showed me. You can see all of the Capitol. It’s beautiful, but sometimes the wind is a little loud.” To this, she thinks about it and than asks me,
“Can we just go up there?”
“Yes. Come on, let’s go.” I say. I lead the way up the stairs. When we get to the top, there is a small round door that leads to the roof. When we step outside it’s somewhat chilly and the wind blows against my face, and I shiver. I marvel at the beauty of the Capitol--I’ve never seen anything quite like it. There’s lights everywhere. The electricity back home isn’t so good, so it’s so amazing to see all the lights at once. Katniss starts walking to the railing on the roof and she looks down. I follow her eyes to the hundreds of people walking the sidewalks of the Capitol. The city is crazy right now, with all the hype of the Games.
“I asked Cinna why they let us up here.” I tell her.
“Why wouldn’t they? You mean incase a tribute would try to jump off to kill themselves?” She asks.
“Exactly. But Cinna told me it’s not possible. There is a force-field of some kind that just throws you back onto the roof.” She looks interested in this. It seems ridiculous to me, the amount of safety they put on us just to keep us safe so we can get killed in the Games later on.
“Ah. Always worried about our safety.” Katniss says sarcastically. She is silent for a moment and then asks,
“Do you think we’re being watched, now?”
“Like taped? Maybe. Come see the garden. It’s beautiful.” I lead her to the garden on the other side of the roof. There’s lots of flowers with bright colors and potted trees. There’s also hundreds of wind chimes, and every time the wind blows the garden is full of the sound. I look at her, waiting for her to tell me about the Avox girl, when suddenly she says,
“We were hunting in the woods one day, when I saw her. We were hidden, waiting for game.”
“You and your father?”
“No, my friend Gale,” she says. I feel the jealousy fill me up, but I try to ignore it. “All of the birds stopped singing except for one--it was making a loud shriek, like a warning or something. That’s when we saw her. I’m positive it was the same girl from dinner, Peeta. She was with a boy, and their clothes were torn and stained. They had dark circles under their eyes from not sleeping. They were running as fast as they could.” she says sadly. She doesn’t say anything for a while, she seems upset by this memory.
“Then, the hovercraft appeared out of nowhere. I mean, the sky was empty and then all of a sudden a net dropped down and picked up the girl. It was so fast, like the elevator. They shot the boy with some kind of spear, and then hauled him up as well. But I’m almost positive he was dead. Then the hovercraft flew off. Just vanished. And the birds began to sing again. It was like it never happened.” She finishes.
“Did they see you?” I ask worriedly.
“I don’t know, honesty. We were under a rock. Probably, not.” She says this in a tone of uncertainty, and I wonder if she’s leaving a part of the story out, but I don’t ask, because she already seems fairly upset. I notice she is shaking, and I want to just hold her and tell her it will be alright, but I know I can’t.
“You’re shivering.” I tell her. I take my jacket off and wrap it tightly around her shoulders. She tries to step back and avoid the jacket but then she changes her mind, and cuddles herself into my jacket.
“Were they from the Capitol?” I ask, “The boy and the girl from the woods?” She nods.
“Where do you suppose they were going?”
“That, I don’t know. Or why they would leave here. It seems so much better than the district life. They had everything here, didn’t they?” She responds. Everything? Not even close. I love district life. The Capitol is a joke.
“I’d leave here,” I blurt out loudly. Damn. Too loud. I try to laugh it off,
“I’d go home now, if it was an option. But I do have to admit. The food is phenomenal. Let’s go in, it’s starting to get cold.” And we walk together towards the other side of the roof.
“Your friend, Gale. He’s the one who took your sister away at the reaping, right?” I ask. Gale. The last person I want to talk to Katniss about. Why did I ask that?
“Yes. Do you know him?” Do I know him? In all honesty, I can’t say I know Gale, but I definitely know of Gale.
“Not really. The girls talk about him a lot, though. I thought he was your cousin our something, you favor each other.” I say, and I hope my jealousy couldn’t be detected/
“No, not related.” Is all she says.
“Did he say good-bye to you?”
“Yes. So did your father. He brought me cookies. They were good.” is all she says. So they were for her. I knew it.
“Really? Well. He does like you and your sister. I think he would rather have a daughter, then all us boys.” I say back, “He knew your mother, you know, when they were kids.” She looks surprised.
“Oh, really? She did grow up in town.” We finally arrived at her door. She turns to me and says,
“See you in the morning then.” What I wouldn’t give to kiss her. After all, I’ve thought about it so many times in my life, and there may not be much time left for us. In fact, there definitely isn’t much time left. But I resist, out of shyness.
“See you,” and I quickly walk down the hall to my room. When I shut the door I sit on my bed and stare out the window. Then I realize that I have fully accepted the fact that I will not win. Not a chance. How could I, when the woman I love is with me in the arena. No, I will do anything and everything to keep her safe. I will sacrifice myself to protect her. And with this thought, I go to sleep. I’ve got a long day ahead of me.