Title: On Fire
Disclaimers (Hunger Games): The Hunger Games trilogy was written by and belongs to the brilliant Suzanne Collins. I'm just borrowing the characters and world for a short while. I swear I'll put them back in (mostly) good working order, and I promise not to make any money off of this.
Summary/Notes: I'm writing these over on the "Non Star Wars Fan Fiction" section at boards. theforce. net for a specific challenge there called the Ultimate Drabble Challenge (#6), but I thought I'd post them here as well since I actually really like the way they're turning out. It'll go all over the trilogy in terms of order of events and characters, though I will do my best to keep things chronological within each individual week.
Most weeks I let the words lead me to the character. Week 20... I was always pretty sure I knew who it was gonna be, no matter what words I was given.
Thank you, everybody, who read and reviewed and talked along with me through this experimental adventure. I can honestly say this challenge made me look deeper and rethink a lot about this whole series, completely changed the way I see this world. And I loved every minute of it. I kind of wish it didn't have to end at Week 20.
Week 20 (The Girl and The Boy)
She holds the knife in her hands, studies it carefully. Her mother tried to take it away when Uncle Haymitch gave it to her. "What is wrong with you?" she'd screamed, wild and scary in that way she gets. "She's too young!"
The old man just shrugged. "She's eleven, Katniss."
Mother looked like she might cry, and she almost gave up the knife, but didn't.
In the fields, she hacks at the plants and grasses she's learned about from her mother's books. She whittles and carves, gouging lines in the tree bark until they turn into pictures.
Her father smiles.
Her hands move with gentle, practiced motion as her baby brother squirms and cries. She hums a tuneless melody as she cleans the blood away and wraps a bandage around his leg.
He thinks he's grown-up already, tries to chase after her and falls a lot. This time, he'd cut himself on a sharp stick trying to keep up with her in the woods. She knows there used to be a fence there, but now, even the youngest kids are familiar with these forest trails.
"She's got her skill," she hears Daddy say quietly.
And she hears Mother crying.
Her brother toddles after her, immune to her scowls.
She watches him run through the grass, tripping and giggling and picking himself back up again, yanking up the yellow flowers so hard that patches of grass come up with them. When he has collected more than his small hands seem designed to carry, he hurries back to her with a huge grin lighting up his chubby cheeks. "All done!" he squeals proudly. He claps, cheering himself on, immediately dropping his prize.
"They're just dandelions," she says testily. "What are we supposed to do with them?"
"Mommy likes them," he insists.
Her mother refuses to have a television in the house, no matter how much she begs. It's not like there's anything dangerous on TV.
"No!" Katniss snaps. "This conversation is over."
Then one day in school, they learn about the Hunger Games.
The chatter in the classroom stops, like everyone is holding their breath. The teacher speaks in quiet, halting tones. And her friends exchange knowing glances. This is why their parents disappear sometimes, lost in their own heads. Or they lash out with sudden anger. They constantly hover, worrying over tiny things.
This is what they never talk about.
She goes out into the woods and climbs a tree and whistles, waiting for the birds to whistle back. And she sings, only snatches and phrases, the little bit she remembers. She can't finish any song, and even the songs she knows, she gets the words wrong. Her mother used to sing when she was younger, she still sings for her brother sometimes. But as soon as she got old enough to ask, to try to learn them, Mother refused to teach her. And when the mockingjays pick up the words and phrases, Mother always wants to go back inside.