I lay in the hospital bed with tubes running all over my body, burned practically beyond recognition. There was no making sense of what had happened – my sister was dead…nothing else really mattered. All of this had been from her, I failed to keep her safe, what was there left for me? The last moments of her life played over and over again in my mind. Was there something else I could have done for her? Maybe I could have reached her in time, or yelled out in warning. It was hard to believe there was nothing I could have done differently, I have always been able to keep her safe, but now she was dead.
Visitors walked in and out of my room but I could do nothing but stare at them numbing, trying to make sense of a world where Prim did not exist. I didn't want to talk to anyone, I didn't really ever want to speak again, I could do nothing to make this world better, everything I touched turned to badness, I didn't want to infect anyone else with the blackness that consumed me. The doctors grow more and more concerned, I don't speak and there is no medical reason for it, I make no attempt to communicate or even to sustain myself. I grow thin and frail along with remaining mute and there is talk of having me committed. I really wish I had burned to death, what I feel now is worth than even the most painful death.
My mother was the first to visit, but she could do nothing for me. When my father died she had retreated inside herself. Over the years she had come back out, but now with Prim gone she really had no more reason to live. She made a few attempts to get me to talk to her or to the doctors but it was futile, I can't even look her in the eye, all I can see in her face is Prim. Prim had inherited her high cheek bone and slender nose, they had the same natural ability to heal…it is impossible for me to look at my mother without thinking of my sister.
Peeta comes in next and he is about as helpful as my mother. I can still see the effects of the hijacking in him. He sits by the bed and strokes my arm and talks to me in soothing tones, but when I don't respond either physically or verbally he gets angry, lost in one of his false memories. He calls me all sorts of names, and many of them are true. I am a selfish and self-centered person. Prim, who I had done everything in my power to save, had died and it was because of me, because of the rebellion I caused. He went on and on with the accusations and the insults. He would leave me when he grew too disgusted with me, even trapped in the hijacking he was too kind and gentle to hurt me, he would just leave.
Every time he would return to my bed and apologize for the way he acted, describing the memory that had been triggered in me, but each time my non-response drove him to have more flashbacks. Eventually the doctors told him not to come anymore; he was not helping me and was making himself worse. The last time he came he just cried by my side, he took my hand and I squeezed his back to give him something, tears streamed down my face but I didn't say anything. Eventually he walked away, telling me he loved me one last time.
Then I was alone for many days. Doctors and nurses came in and out but I had no more visitors until Haymitch came. I wanted to see him less than anyone; he'd planned the rebellion from the beginning, the very thing that resulted in my sister dying. I know it isn't his fault she is dead but I am still raw and anything connected to her death makes my heart hurt. He is sober when he comes to talk to me, but this doesn't make him anymore pleasant. He begins gently, them when I don't respond he becomes nasty. Like Peeta he calls me selfish, asks me what my plans are, do I want to stay here forever? He threatens to douse with ice water, to send Effie in for long period, and anything else he can think of that I won't like, but I don't care. Nothing worse can happen to me than what already has happened. After a long time he too gave up, leaving my room telling the doctors that I may as well be dead. He is right.
Soon it seems like people were coming to say their last goodbyes to me before they went on with their lives. Plutarch came by, he told me of his new job in the new administration and the latest Capital gossip, he told me he would miss the Mockingjay and kissed my check before leaving. Coin came in, she had little to say to me, she laid a few medals by my bedside, honors for my military service and she walked out of the room without so much as a glance backwards. Soldiers I had fought with streamed in and said their farewells, they are in and out quickly, much like a casket viewing line. Annie came and talked about the baby she was carrying, she tried to motivate me by telling me I should live for Finnick. She might be right, but I can't bring myself to it.
Finally I am alone and I sleep as much as possible, I let the drugs take me to a place of emptiness as often as I can, but they don't give me nearly enough to subdue my conscience all of the time. A doctor comes in and tells me that if I do not begin talking and functioning soon I will be moved to the mental ward, there they would give me medications for mental illness until they could find a combination that allows me to function again. This thought is terrifying…what are my options is I never want to function again? Suicide is the only thing I can think of and I don't know if I can do that to my mother. She hasn't always been the best mother, basically forcing me to raise her family from a young age, but she is my mother and she's just lost a child, my killing myself may well be the nail in her coffin.
While I think about this the door to the door quietly opens and shuts. Someone has entered the room but I don't care enough to look up at the person. Whoever it is comes closer to me and I hear, "Hey Catnip" in that unmistakable voice. I snap my eyes to him, I can't believe he could come in here, after his horrible design has killed so many, Prim included. Having not felt anything for so long the rage that suddenly courses through my veins surprises me. "Get out of here!" I scream at him shooting him a look that could stop anyone else cold. Instead of retreating out of the room he comes closer, standing just out of my reach next to my bed.
"Katniss, I hoped to hear something else from you, but thank you for something" Gale says calmly, boring into my eyes with his own. "Everyone is so worried about you…I am so worried about you…they thought maybe sending me in could get a reaction out of you. A bad reaction maybe, but we needed something before you were locked away in the mental ward." I groaned and leaned back against the bed, I didn't want him here, all I could think of was that he was a murderer. "Get out…get out" was all I said but the same anger wasn't behind my words and hot tears fell down my cheeks.
Gale came near me and stood at the head of the bed trying to sooth me by running his hands over my hair. His touch disgusts me, the same hands that designed that bomb were not touching me. "I can't believe you…you…think you can come in here…likes nothing happened. You have no right…no right" I get out between gasps and sobs. The flood gates were finally opening and I was consumed with my grief. "You killed her…you…" and on I went, spiting hate at Gale through my tears. Gale sat by me and continued stroking my hair the entire time, never saying a word. His eyes mirrored mine, dark and full of sadness.
Maybe I wasn't being fair to him, but I didn't care. I wanted to know why he did it, how he could have thought of such a terrible thing, I had to know whether it was his bomb that killed her. "Was it your bomb?" I ask him after I am calm enough to be understood. "I don't know Katniss" he states plainly, with those eyes that hint at host lost he is at the moment, "Liar" I hiss at him, refusing to believe him, he must know and then, "Coward" because I know he simply wants to avoid having her death on his shoulders.
"I've gone over and over this in my head, me and Beetee have spent hours reviewing all the records, the rebel's and Capital's alike and I cannot find mention of the final bombing. Whichever side gave then order and dropped the bombs it was not documented at it should be. It is possible they were the bombs I helped design…but the Capital has similar weapons. They've tried to find the remnants of the bombs but there is nothing left. In the future I am sure there will be hearings and further investigation, but until then we cannot know." He paused for air and pleaded for me to believe him with his eyes, I returned his gaze with a blank stare.
"Every day I wish I could go back in time and not be involved with the development of the bombs. Beetee does as well, had we known then what we know now…we would not have done it. This war has changed me, it has made me a harder person, but you have to believe me I loved her almost as much as you did. If I had know that children would be the target…" he trails off looking at me for a response but I am mute again thinking this over, I don't know if I care even if it is all true.
"You're a monster, you've become someone I don't know" I spit out, but this is only half the truth, I don't know why I hold back, it makes me feel worse because I know I must still feel something for Gale if I am trying to protect his, this realization makes me sick. "Tell me Katniss, get it out, please, I can take it…you can't break me any further, I have been broken for a long time. I deserve whatever you have to same to me and more, most of it I have said to myself."
I think this over for a moment, I have been thinking all of these awful things about him, could he have been blaming himself the entire time? That really messes with the version on him I have been working on in my mind for weeks now. I decide to unleash everything as he'd asked and I take a deep breath. Gale notices a change in me and says, softly, "Please…"
"You are… a dark, twisted person…how could any human being think it was OK to make a weapon specifically meant to have a second blast that would kill medical responders? How... my mother and Prim are medics, you designed something to kill people like that… unarmed people who were doing nothing but helping the sick and injured. I don't know what happened to you, you are not the boy I hunted with for all those years, I didn't think your anger streak would go so far…so far that you were out for vengeance at any cost. You're...I don't even know… a monster, there is some darkness in you… I can't… I don't know…"
I go on and on, alternating between calling him every name I can think of, insulting his character, and confusing babble about not being able to do this. The entire time he didn't say a word, he just looked at me with an unwavering sad expression, his eyes full of sorrow. How could he just there and take this from me? I would be enraged to listen to such a tirade from someone, but here he was, the boy with the quickest temper in school taking all my hate, asking for it even. It was so confusing. Finally when I had run out of things I am gasping from the effort and staring at Gale a response, any response, "Well…Well?" I spit out at him.
He maintains eye contact with me at he lifts his hands to his face. He tucks his hair behind ears and takes a few deep breaths, attempting to get his thoughts together, "It's all true….all the things you said about me...all those bad things… they're true. I am horrible, it was a horrible idea, a horrible weapon… no one good would have ever thought of it… my anger, my rage at the Capital, it's no excuse, there is no excuse." He puts his forehead in his hands and I look up at him and am shocked to see tears streaming down his face, silent sobs wracking his body. I've never seen him cry before; I am stunned as I cannot take my eyes off of him. Suddenly I am sobbing as well, not silently like him but loudly making a horrible wailing noise.
We stay like that for a long time, crying next to one another but neither of us comforting the other. I don't know what to think about what he's just said, its true – there is no excuse, somehow it makes me feel immensely better to know that he feels badly what he's done. He's overcome with guilt, and this satisfies me. He sees that there is something wrong with him, that his anger has horrible consequences. But so what? What good does this do? What happened, it happened and there isn't anything that is going to bring Prim back to me, that will dig my mother out of her depression, or anything that will bring back any of the Capital children . Does knowing that Gale knows the magnitude of what his designs did make it easier to look at him? I'm not sure.
Finally, when we have cried all the tears left inside of us Gale looks at me as says in a slow and sad voice, "You won't ever be able to forgive me will you?" he looks at me, his black eyes have softened, there is no anger in them now. Without thinking I answer back, "That's not true". We both look at each other in surprise. "Katniss…I would understand if you couldn't" I nod and answer back, "I don't know how…but I know I could...maybe… I don't know. I hadn't considered you'd feel the way you too." Gale let out a breath I didn't even know he'd been holding.
A knock comes from the door, a doctor walks into the room wearing the biggest grin I have seen in a long time. "She speaks…the Mockingjay speaks!" he exclaims as Gale looks down to the floor, clearly unhappy that our conversation has been interrupted. "Mr. Hawthorne, thank you… finally someone has managed to get her to utter something…this is amazing, this was a last resort, we've not wanted to upset her further, we figured at this point it couldn't do more harm than good," Gale stared at the doctor waiting for him to say something else. "You can go now, thank you again. Hopefully she'll be feeling better soon." He dismissed Gale and turned back to my bed.
Gale stood but didn't move from his position… I was frozen as well, I didn't want to feel all of things I was feeling, but it seemed better than feeling nothing at all, I decided to protest, "Why does he have to go now? Will he be back soon?" Gale changed his gaze from the doctor to me; he's at a loss for words, which is unusual. The doctor looks from him to me, clearly not having listened to our conversation, only knowing that I had spoken so his mission was over. "You've been in for over an hour…how about he comes back tomorrow during visiting hours?" I nod and Gale agrees scurrying out the door, likely as emotionally drained at me.
The doctor conducts some tests on me, but it's not needed, once I found my voice again I didn't plan to lose it again. I realized that I might not know the entire story. I always just assumed Gale was proud of his design, while he was probably sorry that Prim died I didn't think he regretted anything that led up to it. He was so full of anger and the need to hurt the Capital, he was blinded by these things… could it be possible that he was no longer blinded? I couldn't be sure…. But I wanted to find out…no I needed to find out. Gale had been my best friend… and as I am beginning to realize he is more to me…but I never had the chance to find out how much more.