I actually wrote this a while back but it took a while to decide if it was good enough to publish. I finally just decided to go with it. It developed from wondering what it would be like to be a child of Peeta's and Katniss'. What would the world look like years later? After finishing the last story "Rediscovering the Dandelion" I wanted to go further but from their child's perspective. To everyone that I promised to continue their story, thanks for being patient. This is the continuation but I have put in under a separate story due to the new perspective.
The biggest challenge was to name the new characters in this world. Believe it or not I did extensive research. If anyone is interested I can provide where the names come from more extensively and more about them. The quick story is that Amaranta is a flower that is a symbol for some of immortality due to the fact that it keeps its color long after being picked. Because of this it has been used in some cultures to spread on graves. It also has various parts that can be eaten in a variety of ways. Silas simply means man of the forest. Due to the nature of names some of you will not like what I came up with. That is ok. But I tried hard to be true to the characters and world they live in and name accordingly.
Many thanks, as always, to Pauline (from The Hob- a Hunger Games fansite for adults and also an author on this website) who read this over a LONG time ago. Also thanks to my husband who read it recently and pushed me to go ahead and post it. All copy rights to the characters from The Hunger Games are Suzanne Collins. They belong to her and I am just borrowing them to expand on the ending she gave us.
A gentle pressure on my shoulder wakes me. "Amaranta," I look up into my father's gentle face as he quietly calls my name. I turn over to see the blonde curls peeking out of the covers in the bed across the room and try not to wake my brother as I put on my clothes. I take my father's hand as we walk to the kitchen. He gives my hand a light squeeze before he releases it and begins to haul out the heavy bags of flour and equipment. I am still too small to be of help to him with these heavy things.
I feel lucky that he allows me to wake early with him and help him work. I miss all of our time in the kitchen now that I have been going to school for several years. I love the feel of dough in my hands, shaping it into various designs. I am not nearly as good as he is when it comes to decorating and icing but he insists I help since he knows how much fun I have. I suspect he can't sell most of my finished products in the bakery in town or even trade them, so I assume a lot of people get them as gifts. Haymitch tells me he likes my cookies the best but I don't think I believe him. At least I am getting better with practice. After a while I begin to hum a soft tune. It is one of the songs my mother sings to me when she tucks me in at night. Before long the song transforms into actual words. I look up to see my dad standing still at the counter, his eyes shut with a smile on his face. When I break off my song he opens his eyes and tells me "don't stop, that was beautiful. I love to hear you sing. It always makes me happy."
He walks over to me to kiss the top of my head and says "you sound just like your mother did at your age."
I love my mother's voice. A warm feeling grows in me to think that I sound like her. I am much more like my father in most ways so it is nice to share something with her, especially since her voice is so beautiful. It is my younger brother, Silas, who is her shadow.
While both my brother and I love to walk quietly through the woods, I enjoy collecting roots and berries to take home with us. One of my favorite things is to try and pick out new colors that my dad and I can mix into paints to capture the scenery here. Sometimes I dance to the music that so often runs though my head. Silas, on the other hand, grows bored with gathering after a while, and only lasts a little longer as my dance partner. If we concentrate on being quiet, animals will begin to scurry about too. I can watch them run and play for hours. But what I do not enjoy is when my mom shoots them with her arrows. I always want to run and fix them, help them to wake up again. It is my brother who raises his smaller bow in imitation. He is still too young to have the force to take anything down yet, but it isn't from lack of trying. I won't likely be present when he finally does because my mom has sensed my reserve to hunting. She usually takes me out for gathering and Silas separately out for hunting. This suits me since I get my father all to myself when they are out.
I resume my song as we set back to work. After our first round of pans is coming out of the ovens my mother enters the kitchen in her hunting gear. She kisses my father on the cheek and gives me a quick hug before she sits down with a muffin. My brother emerges shortly and I notice how his body has lost that small child's chubbiness he seemed to have just had. He is slimming so quickly and I realize he is growing up before my eyes. He is in his hunting clothes too and I think that if she is taking him it must be a short practice session as they are off to a late start.
He has started school this year, so it is nice to have him to walk with every day. Both of us would rather be at home with our parents though. It is not as if I don't enjoy school for the most part. I have made some really good friends there and I think Silas has too. It is just that I sometimes miss my family and we would both prefer to be home than at school.
My mother invites me along but seems unsurprised when I turn her down. I suddenly feel a need to explain. "Mom, I like to go with you sometimes. But... I don't really like to watch the animals when they die."
"I know Ama, it's alright you know." She smiles at me to let me know she means it.
I continue, "I actually would much rather heal them like Mamaw does with people. When I see them fall still, I want to try and fix them." I stop talking at the look on my mother's face. She is frozen and her eyes have taken on that eerie distant look. My father walks right over to her and bends over to whisper something in her ear that I can't hear. He holds her in his arms until she begins to soften and returns to the present. It scares me a little when she does this. The oddest things will set her off. Sometimes when she gets that look she is distant for the rest of the day. But luckily my father always knows how to bring her back to us.
After she and my brother leave, my father and I resume our baking. He notices that I am much quieter now. After a while he finally sits me down. "Alright, something is wrong. Tell me what it is." His voice is very soothing and I wonder if he already knows why I am silent.
I look down at my lap. "What did I do that upset Mom?"
My father replies softly as he tucks a stray hair behind my ear "you did not do anything my angel."
"Yes I did, I could tell."
My father grabs my hands as he says "you remind her sometimes of her sister, Prim. She preferred healing animals to killing them too. But that is a good thing. It is just that she lost her a long time ago, and it can make her a little sad because she never stops missing her. Your mom was very close to her. She looked after Prim like you do with your brother. But you did not do a thing. If anything, I think it makes her feel close to Prim again. Like her sister is whispering to her from beyond." He gives me a tight hug before he gets up. "Do you want to get back to work?"
As I join my father again, I think about what he has told me. I have heard of my mom's lost sister, mostly in hushed and quiet voices. There is always a lot of sadness in my mom whenever she comes up so I have never asked much about her. I guess I can see why she reacts so strangely to any reminders. I know how sad I would be if anything bad happened to my brother. I am not sure how I feel about being compared to her sister though. I am like my father; it is not just what I want but how it is. I am going to be a baker and a painter, too, when I grow up. Well, maybe I'll heal some animals like my Mamaw does with people. I feel a little conflicted; maybe it is ok that I am like her Prim as well. As long as it doesn't continue to make my mom sad. Very soon my thoughts drift on to other things and I pick back up my songs.
Later that morning I ask my father more about Prim. What did she look like? What else was she like? I have always been too afraid to ask these questions when my mom is around, fearing her reaction. My father brings me to the living room and begins to flip through a book. When he finds the right page he puts it in my lap. I look at the picture. She does not really look like my mother. She has light hair and eyes close to my shade of blue. I begin to read as I sit next to my father and he answers my questions when there is something I don't understand. I am even sadder for my mother's loss once I am done. I think about how Silas and I lost someone special too. Some of my friends have uncles and aunts, but there is no extra family for us but a grandmother that lives on the other side of Panem. "Daddy, are there any more pictures of her?"
"Actually, somewhere in this house there is a picture of her and your Mamaw in a locket. I'll see if I can find where that has ended up."
We search through various rooms and finally find the locket pushed to the furthest recesses of a drawer in our study. My father opens it up for me. I look at Prim and Mamaw for a while but am finally distracted by a face on the other side of the locket. "Did Mom have a brother too? Why haven't I ever heard of him?"
"No, that was her best friend when she was a young girl. They used to hunt together and helped take care of each other's families after their fathers both died in the same mine accident. His name is Gale."
"Why does she have him in a locket?" I ask, perplexed and little irritated over why she would have a picture of this Gale and not my father.
"The locket and the pictures inside were a gift from me to remind her of some important people in her life. It was a hard time for her, we were very far from here and I thought it might help her to remember all the people that cared about her back home."
That seems a little weird to me. I don't fully understand but my father is looking out the window distracted so I don't ask him anything else.
After Silas is home and we have eaten lunch, I get ready to go out with my mom. She is going to drop off some of the things I made this morning to Haymitch and then take me with her to trade in town. When we arrive at Haymitch's house it takes a while for him to answer the door and only after a lot of pounding. He has a crease on his face as if he was lying on the edge of something and his voice sounds hoarse when he talks. My mother walks forward with me in tow and immediately begins to open up all the windows. She is clearly annoyed and I wonder why his place smells sour. She cleans off a chair and sits me down and then walks around picking up things and putting them in a trash bag. Sometimes his place gets really dirty. I know it irritates my parents when he does this, I guess they don't like the smell. He sits down opposite me with an odd smile and is about to talk to me when I see my mother give him an angry glare. Whatever he was going to say is cut off by her look. Very soon she grabs my hand and we head off to town. I try to give Haymitch a retreating smile but his head is down on his arms and I think I hear him snoring.
We stop first at a shop that I know well, they serve really delicious food here. It is the one owned by an old friend of my parents named Greasy Sae. The shop lately has been run by her son because Greasy Sae has been ill. She has not been in the shop for some time. After my mother leaves a bag of something we continue on to some of the other stores around the area. I can tell that some of the people are a little scared of my mother. I have seen them trade with other people and they are a lot more fierce sounding and seem to spend more time arguing. But not with my mother. She usually only offers them one exchange and if they do not take it, she will move on. Even if they call back to her, she will walk out of their shop and does not look back. This happens very rarely and usually only when someone is new in the shop. My dad on the other hand is greeted more warmly when he comes to trade. They ask questions about our family and sometimes discuss what is going on in the district or country. They do not haggle with him either, but he told me once with a wink that this is because they do not want my mother after them if they give a bad trade.
I ask my mom after a while why people do not try to talk to her and visit like they do with my dad. She explains that she does not believe in mixing business with pleasure. I wrinkle my brows trying to figure out what that means exactly.
She sees me struggling so she says "it means that when we come to trade I am not there as their friend, I am there to do business. If I meet them at any other time, then we will talk and have fun. But not when I am there to trade. It keeps people from using a friendship to get a better deal out of you."
"Does that mean that Dad does not get good trades?" Surely they do not rip off my father! It makes me angry to consider such a thing.
"No Ama, he does just fine. But your daddy has the kind of personality that everyone wants to be fair with. He is very nice, always lending a hand to whoever needs his help. He is beloved by everyone in the district. It would be kind of like," she thinks for a second "stealing the lunch from your best friend when you already have plenty for yourself. It would shame you to do so."
"But your nice too mommy."
Her eyes crinkle with her smile as she says "maybe, but not as nice as your father." I think about that. Maybe it is a little true. She is much scarier than my dad when Silas and I get into trouble, though his disappointment cuts the deepest. But, overall, I still think she is plenty nice.
When we are done trading for the day and my mom is laden with different packages than the ones she started with, we stop at a house I love to visit. My mom drops off a bag of the cookies I made this morning and another couple of packages. A lady named Mary takes them and hugs my mom. This is a grandchild of Greasy Sae's. Mary now looks after her sister who acts more like a child, as well as her sick grandmother. My parents often bring extras of things that they have to this family since Mary quit working at the medicine factory to help care for both of them when Greasy Sae grew ill. My father spent a whole weekend recently helping to fix their roof. A storm had blown a hole in it and there was also damage done by the water that leaked through.
Mary's daughter, Lilly, comes out to play with me. She is in my class at school, and my best friend besides my brother. I sat with her at lunch on my first day since she was a familiar face. Since then, we have played together during our free time and have been pretty inseparable whenever we are in school. She grabs my hand and we run outside to play. I teach her to make necklaces out of clover. She shows me a nest filled with eggs in a low branch by their house. She tells me how she keeps their cat away from it, scared it might try to eat the birds when they hatch. We then go in search of her cat, Pumpkin, who is a descendant of a cat my mother's family had when she was younger. My mother finally calls for us to leave. I really don't want to put down Pumpkin so I try to stall. But once I catch sight of her face I give in before I make her too mad.
The next day passes in a blur of playing with Silas and spending time with my family so that all too soon I am sitting at my desk in school. The teacher is beginning a new lesson about our past history today. Mrs. Young seems a little nervous for reasons I can't guess. My mind keeps drifting off to lunch which I can feel is approaching from the growls of my stomach. Finally my attention is captured when she mentions the words "Hunger Games". I have heard those words before, but usually in whispered tones. They mention them briefly every year in school but never say much about them. At this point I forget all about food, trying to unlock the secrets I sense are around me. Before I can gather too much information, however, we break for lunch.
Lilly seeks me out and we find our usual seats. Not so usual, Henry Silverthorn comes to sit at our table. I am not sure why, but he seems to have taken a disliking to me, teasing me when he gets the chance. Usually I just ignore him. But today he grabs my attention by saying "So Ama, what do you think about your parents having been in the Hunger Games together?"
He is lying. Didn't Mrs. Young just say that only one person was allowed to win those games? And that they were an incredibly horrific way of keeping the districts in control with usually the more brutal contestants winning? So I turn my head back to my friend. Lilly, however, has her eyes carefully turned away from me and is staring only at her food.
Henry can tell that I do not believe him. When neither of us says anything in response, he continues. "Haven't they ever told you about it?" I want to hit the smirk off his face, but I try and control my anger. To strike him would only let him know that he has affected me. There is no way that I can believe my parents are killers of people. But I make a promise to myself to ask them about it later so I can disprove his lies.
Lilly is usually pretty good at responding to Henry but she seems unable to come up with any good come backs at the moment. I think that anything I say will show how little I know about all of this, so I grab her hand to move tables. We finish our lunch as my friend busily talks about her great grandmother. Apparently she is getting worse and Lilly is starting to really worry about her. Haymitch is the only person I know that spends any time sick and he always comes out of it eventually. So I have never really experienced much of illness and certainly not death, all I can do is listen and let her talk. I allow her to keep my thoughts on this topic so I do not have to think about those Hunger Games.
During dinner I keep trying to gather my courage to bring up my questions. But I am still a little too scared of the reaction from my mother, what if I send her off to that distant place she sometimes goes? Plus, it would seem kind of rude to start off with, "hey mom and dad, did you forget to tell me that you killed a bunch of people and won some really horrible game a long time ago," even if it is all ridiculous. So I wait until after dinner and my mother is busy. I pull my father outside, making up that I want to ask him about something I found earlier.
"Dad, they started teaching us about something called The Hunger Games in school today." I check his face which looks calm so I continue. "Our teacher told us that they were horrible and that you won if everyone else was dead. They said that the winners had to kill other people. And then this boy in my class said that you and mom won them together. But I knew he was lying." I peek up at him carefully, afraid he might be angry. But he doesn't look mad, just really tired.
"There is a lot that you need to know about what our world was like back then to understand everything. It was very different than what it is now. Remember some of what you read about Prim?" So my dad tells me about the world then and their lives. Some of it I already learned in school, but some of it is new to me. He eventually explains about the games. He does not tell me a lot of details, but he tells me why they were started and what it cost the winners. He explains how sometimes there were kids who wanted to be there and that they did not seem to be as bothered by killing others and that made it easier for them to win. But he also tells of the children who won but did not want to be monsters. Sometimes unexpected things happened and they were just better at surviving. He tells me about how Mom's little sister was supposed to go to the games but my mom took her place to protect her. That her sister Prim would have been killed for sure if she had had to go. He describes my mother's courage for volunteering. That same year my dad's name was drawn.
"Didn't you have someone to take your place and keep you safe?" I ask him. I understand wanting to keep a little sister safe as I consider someone wanting to take my little brother off to some games that would kill him. I know my father had older brothers then, so why did he have to go?
My Dad explains how rare it was to have someone take your place in the games since being from this district had almost always meant death. He tells me the whole story of how he met my mom, and a little more about their lives back then, about what he decided to do during the games so that he would not be a monster. But then how that allowed them both to survive the games. I sense that he is leaving things out, but I do not think I really want to know them so I do not ask. He tells me of my mom trying to save another little girl her sister's age and how she even risked her life to save his. We talk a little longer about them and he answers the few questions I am willing to ask. After an hour or so my mother sticks her head out of the door and insists it is time for me to go to bed.
That night it takes me a very long time to go to sleep. I think about what I would do if I had to take my brother's place in such games, though I know back then I could not have done so since he is a boy and I am a girl. I am so proud of how brave my mother was in taking her sister's place. And I am also proud that my mom and dad risked their lives for each other. But I am so sad thinking about things they had to see and do. I try not to picture any of it in my head. I think I finally understand why my mother can bring down an animal with her bow to feed us and not have it cause her pain the way it does for me. If that was how I had to keep my family safe and fed then I could do it too. My mind wanders to how I would be dead very quickly in such games and would be able to help no one. Maybe I should try to do better at hunting.
The next day during class I beat Harry to the punch by volunteering a little of what I know during the discussion. My dad told me last night about the second set of games that my parents were sent to and how it led to a rebellion that changed the country. This brings on some curious stares from the other children. Harry leaves me alone at lunch but I catch him looking my way a lot. I wonder why he hates me so much and always has to be so mean.
The following day I am not so lucky. Harry seems to have gathered something new because he approaches our table at lunch almost gleefully. "Good thing you've got your mommy around to keep your family safe. Everyone knows she is the reason your parents survived the Games. Your Dad is not good with a bow and does not even hunt, your mom does. Your Dad is weak! He had to have his wife rescue him."
I am so mad that I don't even dare to speak. How dare he say anything bad about my father! Luckily, Lilly does. "Whatever, Henry, I'd like to see your dad try and take Mr. Mellark. He'd get beaten up and killed in about two seconds." She laughs viciously.
"At least my dad is tougher than my mom," he growls back.
Lilly replies in a hushed voice "yeah, and he shows it alright. I saw her yesterday with the black eye. I hear you guys at night sometimes since you live so close. So shut up and I won't say anything else." There is a shocked silence that follows. Henry gets up to leave with a scowl as I sit in quiet surprise.
"Is that true?" I whisper to Lilly after he is gone.
"Yes, but don't say anything to anyone about it, ok? I'm not supposed to know. I hear my parents talking sometimes about what to do. We hear their fights and they get pretty bad."
I sit there feeling really horrible for someone I do not even like. But I did not know. Is that why he is so angry all the time? While I am trying to understand this new piece of information Lilly continues. "I think that is why he is extra mean to you. Everyone knows that your father loves your mom and would do anything for her. And that your mother loves him right back and is completely devoted to him even though she isn't close to many people. So he's just jealous. You have something he will never have. His family never sounds happy."
I sit there thinking about this and realize that I can't hate Henry anymore. I still do not think that I like him, but I know my reactions will be different to him from now on. I also reflect on how lucky I am to have been born into my family. The rest of the week Henry leaves me alone, even when the class discovers that a group of people that included my father had to be rescued from the capitol during the rebellion.
It takes around a month before I discover a more personal insight into my parents and the Games. It happens on a special trip that I look forward to each year. Silas and I anticipate it eagerly as a special tradition that is unique to our family. We visit a secret place of my parents' way out in the woods, where no on else ventures. Saturday night finally arrives and my brother and I go to bed early with a sense of anticipation. In the morning our whole family will be hiking out to the cabin deep in the woods. My mom keeps bows and arrows there and my brother and I practice shooting at branches and other non living things. We also swim, which I like the best. I love the feeling under the water of being in a different world.
I hear my brother whisper my name from the next bed. He cannot sleep either as he is too excited and knows that we have a fun day ahead. I call for him to climb into my bed. It has been a long month learning about the past. I want the security of having him as close as possible. I push his blond curls from his eyes as I tuck him in beside me and then tell him stories and sing until he is asleep. I watch him for a while, so sweet and still in his slumber, trying not to think of how it would have been if we had lived when my parents were young. My eyes finally grow heavy and I fall asleep.
The next day Silas wakes me and we get ready in a hurry. I help him with his shoe laces even though I know my mother would be disapproving, she wants him to practice for himself. But I feel extra protective over him so I don't care if it is babying him. When everyone is dressed and ready we head for the meadow. I love the flowers that grow here and remind myself to pick some on the way back. I dance my way through the field of yellow with my brother at my heels. My brother rides most of the way on my father, but I prove how much older I am becoming by walking the whole way and keeping up with my parents' pace.
Once we arrive mom and dad set out a small feast of incredible foods. They always go all out during these trips and many of our favorites are included each year. I know that this is a tradition that my parents had with each other before my brother and I were even born. I am glad that we get to share in it now.
When I finish, I strip down to my undershirt and underpants and jump into the lake. The water is still cold but I don't mind. My brother joins me and we play games I have made up where we pretend to be sea creatures from my grandmother's district. At first my mom and dad simply watch us as they sit on the quilt laid out by the side of the cabin, hands held and leaning against one another. My dad eventually takes out his sketch books and begins to draw. After a while my mother walks out to my brother and starts working with him on how to keep water out of his nose. I dive for roots and dig around at the edges of the lake for any signs of aquatic life. My father eventually joins me as I search, teaching me about some of the things that I find. He tells me that my mother taught him a lot of what he is now sharing with me. My brother grows tired of swimming after a while and is not interested in learning about the aquatic life. He and my mom head off to practice with his bow and arrows. They go all the way to the other side of the lake so there will not be any stray arrows our way.
Finally, I have my fill of swimming and exploring and wander over to where my dad is back sitting on the quilt, finishing a picture of my brother and I in the water. We begin to walk around the lake to join my mom and Silas. I am running far ahead when my Dad yells for me to stop. I don't understand what is going on until I see what has him worried. He shouts out to my mom to grab her bow.
I am trying very hard not to let my terror take over as I stare at the wild dogs that are approaching. I don't know if I should run as there are no trees near enough to climb, but I am frozen in place regardless. My father is well behind me and I know he has no weapon in his hands anyway. I watch them crouch for an attack and I realize that I am about to die. Blind panic wipes all other thoughts from my mind. My mom lets her arrows fly, taking down one dog after another in immediate succession. I barely even take in the fact when she runs out of arrows and cries out to my father. The last dog has begun its approach to attack.
The dog is mid jump and seconds before impact when I am almost knocked sideways as my father bursts by me. I don't see exactly how it happens but the next thing I know I see him with the dog locked in his grip. The dog in my father's arms is attempting to thrash, but its neck is held tight by my father in some kind of choke hold with its mouth clamped shut. My dad looks me in the eyes and says very softly "turn you head Ama, do not look. And cover your ears."
I look away as I realize what he is going to do, but I can't cover my ears. I have to know what is happening. There is a horrifying whimper, a cracking sound and then I hear it drop. There is a noise as the last dog that I had not seen runs away. I stand there shaking with tears running down my face as I realize how close it was. My father scoops me up in his arms holding me tight to his chest. I can feel him start to shake too as he stands there holding me. "It is alright, you are alright. I've got you now and nothing is going to hurt you while I am here, my precious girl." I hear my mother run to us with Silas in her arms. She too has tears in her eyes and she attempts to put an arm around my father and me.
All she can say over and over again is "Thank God, Peeta, oh thank God!" My little brother is crying but I am not sure that he really understands what almost happened or if he is just reacting to the rest of us. My father is beginning to shake fairly hard now so he hands me to my mother whispering briefly in her ear as he does so. He walks just a short ways away before he drops to his knees, facing away from us so that I can't see his face. I can't take my eyes off of him wondering what he is doing. His body is bent over and rigid while still shaking, his hands are curled into tight fists and he is breathing very fast. I ask my mother softly, so that my father won't hear, what is wrong with him and if he is alright.
She replies just as softly "he will be ok, it is just that he and I both went through some really terrible things a long time ago. Every once in a while, when something reminds him especially of that time, he has to have a bit of time to calm down. It dredges up memories for him and he just needs a minute to push them back away. Don't let it scare you, he'll be fine."
I notice that she won't look me in the eyes and at first I think it because she is hiding something from me. But then I remember my talk a little while ago about the Hunger Games and wonder if he is remembering something from them. What horrors did the pack of dogs bring back from that time in his memories? Or is it the fear of loosing someone you love? My father slowly relaxes and slows his breathing. He returns to us as if he had never had any sort of episode. He hugs my mom then pulls me back into his arms and holds me tight to him.
We slowly make our way to the cottage where we close the doors and my brother and I huddle close to each other. My parents gather our things and we head home, much quieter than we had been in the morning. I realize that we never even got to sing. I didn't get to hear my mother shame the mockingjays as she usually does. I am afraid that what happened today will mean that we will not return to the forest next year. My mom reassures me that we will; we'll just be more careful next time.
I have time to think about things on our walk home. I think about Henry saying that my dad is weak, well implying that he is weaker than my mom actually. But I have just seen proof that he can be every bit as lethal as my mom. I think I am beginning to see how they made it through the Hunger Games. My heart is a little heavier with the understanding that my parents had to learn how to fight for their own and each other's life, heck, even stranger's lives. Their world growing up was the stuff of nightmares, and I realize that I will never really understand it.
Thanks for reading everyone! I would really appreciate it if you took the time to review this story. I had originally planned to take this story further (and have a direction loosely plotted out), but it could easily end right here. What do you guys think? Should I continue it or stop now? Let me know what you think.