Chapter 4: Letters to God
Amnesia, that's what the doctors told me. They said that all the blows he has received to the head are partially responsible for his memory loss. They also told me that when he was first brought into the operating room, his blood had a cocktail-like consistency caused by an overload of drugs. Several tubes of Peeta's blood was sent to the research section of the hospital. There, they found out that several of the narcotics had side effects that left a person unattached, impassive, and un-self-aware. The drugs caused his mind to go blank.
When Peeta's mind was numb, apparently, they would inject him with tracker-jacker venom - this causes the memories he was having at the time stick, and the ones that weren't present in his mind (especially pre-capture) dissipate. In conclusion, because he was senseless when they injected him, almost all his memories were wiped like a clean slate. The doctors' theory is that the capitol doctors were trying to erase the part of his memory that related my safety with information about the rebellion and District Thirteen. Their goal was to make him feel more comfortable sharing what he knew, while making him feel like he wasn't putting me in danger.
It was a good plan, and apparently, it definitely worked. But the problem was, it worked too well.
He could hardly remember his own name when we talked to him. All of the events that took place prior to his capture are gone in his mind. He doesn't know my name, he doesn't know what we have went through together; basically, he doesn't know who I am. That crushed me. Haymitch is also devastated about Peeta's condition. He actually sobered up before he met Peeta, which made the whole situation hit him harder. Peeta didn't remember him either.
The researchers guessed that this was a new technique that the Capitol came up with, and they probably didn't expect him to lose more than a little of his memory.
The only person that Peeta actually remembered was Johanna Mason, and he still only remembered her up to a week ago. He has no recollections of her from the Quarter Quell. The worst thing about the whole situation, besides not being able to recognize me, is sometimes certain objects make him freak out. Peeta isn't always one hundred percent sure why they unnerve him, but Johanna is usually there to translate. More than not, they were used or somehow involved with some of the torture they underwent.
The head doctor of District Thirteen, Dr. Aurelius, is working hard to bring back his memories. Because Peeta is in such a delicate state mentally, Dr. Aurelius doesn't want to show him any video footage of his entanglement with either
of the Hunger Games.
So instead, I have been tasked to visit and talk to Peeta. Everyone thinks that I would be completely enthusiastic and thrilled with this task, but it's hard - it's really hard to talk to the boy that I love, who used to love me, and know that my existence wasn't registered in his mind until he was rescued.
It's absolutely horrible. I would prefer it if I was a bitter memory to him, if he hated me, I would even prefer it if he went crazy and tried to strangle me during our reunion. Anything. Anything would have been better than him not remembering me.
I look at my alarm clock, and notice that it's time for me to go. The plan is for me to stay with Peeta for a couple hours, and then around 12:45 we will go to lunch together. Everyone that is informed about his condition is on edge, because today will be Peeta's first time eating outside of his hospital room.
I briskly walk into my bathroom to wash my face. When I'm done splashing my face with freezing cold water and drying it off with a towel, I head out to the hospital wing. I haven't seen Peeta since the first day that he was brought to District Thirteen. When it was evident that there was something very wrong with Peeta, the psychiatrists banned everyone that had personally known him from visiting him. The only person that had the privilege to see him was, of course, Johanna Mason.
I got to Peeta's room and punched my IDN into the door's keyboard. I then timorously open the door when I hear it "click." When I see him, I have to catch my breath and refrain myself from lunging at him. The last time I saw him, his body was so marred that I could barely identify him. Now (in great contrast) he is actually sitting up on his own, his cuts are healing, and he is able to be more alert. I cannot believe how efficient District Thirteen's doctors were - it has only been two weeks.
"Hi," I feebly say.
"Hi," he says in a light hearted way that only Peeta could emote. One word. One word from him is all it takes to overwhelm me with nostalgia for the past.
"I'm glad to see that you're doing better. How are you feeling?" I hated talking so formal, so unfamiliar with him.
"Thank you. I'm feeling much better than I have recently, though I am aching to leave this room," he says optimistically, "I'm sorry. This is a little embarrassing, but what is your name again?"
I knew that I didn't have high expectations, but that did hurt.
"I'm Katniss, Katniss Everdeen," I inform him. I really wanted to tell him what my relationship used to be with him; however, I was warned not to - apparently it could send Peeta into shock. My instructions were to make conversations with him, and answer any questions that he asks.
"Nice to meet you," he greets. "I remember seeing you the day that I was brought here."
I laugh slightly, with barely any humor, when I remember the confusion that covered his face. I can only imagine how crazy I must have looked to him.
"Sorry if I surprised you… I was just really excited to see you," I think that's ok to tell him.
"Oh no, don't worry about it. Trust me, after seeing the faces of those… what do you call them… Peace keepers, seeing your beautiful face was a breath of fresh air," Peeta compliments me.
I think I can feel some heat creeping to my cheeks, but I don't care.
"I don't think it's too hard to look better then the peace keepers who… um..." I catch myself before I can accidentally say 'the peace keepers who tortured you."
"The peace keepers who tortured me," Peeta fills in the blanks. "It's ok. I know that they tortured me, but I can't really remember what they did. I guess I'm kind of lucky, huh?"
"Peeta Mellark, you are the most unlucky person in the world," I say on the verge of tears. "From now on that's going to change."
Peeta stares at me mystified as he unfamiliarly repeats. "Mellark?"
My mind begins to spin in rapid circles. Crap. I didn't know… I didn't know he doesn't remember his full name. I hope I didn't… didn't do anything… Damaging.
"Mellark?" He prods again.
I might as well tell him. I can't imagine that he would have a melt down from knowing his own name.
"Your last name is Mellark. Did no one tell you that?"
"No. I feel like everyone that comes in here know who I am, what I've done. For some reason, no one tells me anything! But I know. I can see it in the way that they look at me. I know that they know all about me. It's so frustrating to be locked in a white room again. I feel like I've been taken from one prison and transported into a new one. Did you know that yesterday was the first time they took the bed restraints off of me? The peacekeepers used to tie me up too, before I was tortured!"
Once again, I feel so beyond selfish after hearing Peeta's rant. I have been sulking about the fact that he doesn't remember his love for me, that I never thought about how scared Peeta must be. From what I can tell, he doesn't even
know where he is. For all he knows, this could very well be just another room the Capitol decided to lock him up in.
"Peeta…" I say sympathetically. All I want to do, in this moment, is wrap my arms around him and tell him that he's safe now. I know I shouldn't do it though, because it might send him into a relapse.
I decide that I'm going to do whatever it takes to make him feel more at ease - I owe it to him.
"If you have any questions… You can ask me. I'm more than happy to answer all of them," I decide to screw whatever District Thirteen's plans are for Peeta. I knew him the best.
"Ok," Peeta says looking more relieved. "Am I in a new holding cell?"
"No!" I accidentally shouted. "No," I now say with more control, "you're safe now. No one is going to hurt you anymore."
"Then where am I? Why have I been locked away again?" He challenges me.
"You're in District Thirteen,"
"District Thirteen? Where is that?" The quizzical look on his face tells me that this isn't going to go anywhere.
"Peeta, just how much do you know? And I don't just mean about this situation. What do you know about anything?" I ask him.
He tears his eyes from my face and looks up at the ceiling, his mind deep in thought. After a minute or two of contemplation, he looks back down at me.
"Uhm… What I know is that my first name is Peeta… That took me a while to remember. I now know that my last name is Mellark, thanks to you… Uh… I have a strong dislike for white rooms, and I remember that whatever I went through, I didn't go through alone. The girl, Johanna, was with me."
It is truly heartbreaking to understand that this is all that he consciously knows. I want to tell him everything that I know about him, all the memories we had together - but I know I can't. I think the best way to help him is to create new memories with him, and hope that along the way, he will slowly remember who he is.
"That's good. I'm sure you'll remember more within time. For now, how about we leave this room and get some lunch?" Peeta's entire body perks up when he hears this.
"You mean I finally get to leave this room?" He questions, eyes filled with bewilderment.
"Absolutely. Lets get you ready to leave," I say while motioning to his hospital gown.
"I don't know if I have any clothes… Do I?"
"I think there are some that you can wear, here," I get up and walk to a small metal dresser.
When I open it, sure enough, there are some neutral colored clothing inside. I grab one pair of everything and hand them over to Peeta. He gratefully accepts them, and then he walks into the bathroom. After he goes into the bathroom, there is a knock at his door. I walk to the door and type in my IDN. I open the door, and there is a cleaning lady standing outside. She is carrying a bucked, a mop, and a few cleaner supplies.
"Hi, I'm here to clean a 'Mellark, Peeta's' room," she robotically declares.
"Ok, please come in," I try to say curtly.
I'm a little upset that she didn't wait for us to be gone before she came, and for some reason I feel like she's invading on our time together. I almost laugh aloud at myself for being so obsessive over Peeta, but I don't doubt that I am. From now on, I want to spend as much time as possible with him. I hear the bathroom door open, and I turn to see Peeta come out. The difference between him dressed in a hospital gown, lying underneath a sheet is striking compared to him standing, fully dressed, and alert.
"Ready to go?" I ask him.
"Yes, I am ready to-" He stops mid sentence, and I look at him worriedly.
I put my hand on his shoulder while I ask him, "Are you ok? What's wrong?"
To my absolute shock, his entire body is shivering tremendously. I look down at his hands, and I can see them fidget uncontrollably. I grasp both of his hands with my hands.
"What's wrong? Peeta, what's wrong?" I now ask more frantically.
He starts taken deep, shaky breathes - I can tell that's he's trying to calm himself down.
"The b-b-bucket…" He stutters.
I turn my head and see the metal bucket on the floor next to the confused maid. I don't allow myself the time to become puzzled or ask questions, all I know is Peeta does not need to be in this room any longer. I remove my right hand from him, and then I walk over to the door while pulling Peeta with me. I almost break the key pad as I punch in my number. As soon as the door unlocks, I pull us through the door way with lightening speed. Once we get outside, I let Peeta crumple into a sitting position, his back against the wall.
"Urh… hen… huh…" he pants while he wraps his arms around himself.
I take a seat next to the rebelling boy, and after much contemplation, I decide to hook my arm around his shoulder.
"Peeta, it's all right. You're safe here. Nothing is going to hurt you anymore," I soothe.
Peeta leans his body against my side, and I encircle him in my arms. I trace gentle circles onto his back with my right hand. A nurse realizes what had happened, and now she's walking over to us. When she reaches us, she crouches down to eye level with us.
She then brings out a syringe and says, "Hold still for a moment, this will make you all nice and calm."
The nurse takes the cap off of the sedative, taps the tube, and then squirts a little of the liquid into the air.
"No… No," the terror in Peeta's eyes is alarming when he denies the nurse.
"Don't worry, it's ok. You'll feel better," she complains.
"Please," the word comes out strangled and strained. "No more. No more injections," Peeta begs. He presses his face between my back and the wall - essentially he's making a shield out of me.
"It won't take more than a min-"
"Back off, ok?" I interrupt the nurse. She looks at me like I had just torched new born puppies alive. "Look, I understand that this is your job, but you're going to do more harm than good if you force the morphling on Peeta."
Her mouth gapes open a little as she slowly backs away from us - both of her hands are held out, as an act of defeat, in front of her. After she clumsily stumbles our of view, I pull Peeta into a standing position. I look at him, and I am immensely relieved to see that his tremors have stopped. I'm scared that he will have another meltdown if I ask him about it, but I decide to take the risk.
"Do you know what happened back there?" My voice is thick and laden with perturbation.
"No, I have no idea," he gasps out. "I saw the… bucket," the way he says the word 'bucket,' one would suspect that he was talking about a hypothetical love child created by President Snow and Alma Coin. Ick. "When I saw the bucket, I just snapped. And then when the nurse came with the needle… I can murkily remember that I used to get many injections. Thanks for helping me, Katniss."
"Don't worry about it," I respond. "Are you feeling good enough to go get some lunch? Or we can go back to your room if you want."
"No!" I nearly jumped at Peeta's sudden outburst. "No," he says again, this time he's more calm and slightly embarrassed. "This is my first time in weeks - no, months - that I can finally walk outside of a room without being bound or shackled."
A new wave of pity washes over me, but I know that it will do him no good if I keep feeling sorry for him. I muster up a sad smile, I take his hand, and then I lead him to the elevator. Once we are inside the elevator, I curiously watch Peeta as he scans his eyes around the box. His face reads pure intrigue.
"What are you thinking?" I ask Peeta.
"I have strange nostalgic feeling that I don't quite understand," he answers with honest confusion. "For some bizarre reason, I have a strong urge to protect my hands."
It then suddenly click in my head. He may not remember it, but I sure do. Peeta must subconsciously be remembering the time when I aggressively lashed out at him after he told Panem that he loved me. Even to this day, I still have a slight sense of lingering shame for what I did.
"Don't fret, I won't push you," I jokingly wink at the boy.
An instant of understanding flashes across his features, but then it is quickly overtaken by innocent confusion.
"Hmm?" he asks.
"Oh nothing, nothing. I'm just saying things." Before Peeta can make further inquiries about my awkward behavior, the elevator's doors slide open.
I interlock my fingers with his again, and lead him out of the metal elevator. Just like before, Peeta is more then excepting to hold hands with me. I have now come to believed that whether or not he has lost his memories, aside to his occasional misty flashbacks, Peeta will always act the same. His disposition will remain unchanged. As we stroll through the long, gray hallways of floor 14, I become aware of the fact that Peeta might not have an IDM. You can't eat without an IDM.
"Peeta?" The blue eyed boy looks at me when he hears me call his name. "Do you have an Identification Number?"
"Yeah, I think I do," he responds.
"Do you have it written down on a piece of paper or something like that?"
"Nope, I actually have it memorized," he proudly lets me know.
"Really?" I am a little surprised, and I now feel a little inadequate. It took me weeks to memorize mine.
"Katniss, what else is a guy going to do while he lies in bed all day?" His question helps nurse my pride.
Peeta and I both jump at the intruders words, and then we turn around sharply to see who snuck up behind us.
"If it were any guy that was lying in bed all day, he would masturbate… But then again, I doubt Peeta would actually do that. Actually, since Peeta is so damn good with words, I think that he could convince people that by giving him hand jobs, the cure for cancer could be found," Johanna Mason so thoughtfully informs us.
I can tell by the way Peeta stares insecurely at the wall, that the term 'hand jobs' have not been swiped from his mind.
"What are you doing here?" I scoff at her. Once again, I immaturely think that she is invading on my precious time with Peeta.
"Hmm… This and that. I heard that Peeta was going to eat lunch for the first time outside of his room, so I wanted to join him. You can come too, if you want."
How very nice of her to offer.
Peeta, Johanna, and I walk into the cafeteria. We get our food trays, and then we take our seats at a table. Surprisingly, eating lunch with Johanna isn't all that bad; of course, I would much rather it be just Peeta and I eating together, but it's not terrible. When we finish devouring our food, Peeta has to go back to his room. I walk him back to his room, and just before he slips into it, I kiss him tenderly on his cheek. I am more than overjoyed, when he reciprocates by kissing me on my cheek.
I have a couple of questions that I want to ask, but I know I shouldn't press Peeta with them. I think that since Johanna forced her way into my alone time with Peeta, I deserve answers from her. After a long time of searching the residential area of Thirteen, I finally find Johanna's room. She was able to move out of the hospital much faster than Peeta, because although her wounds were bad, they were never close to what Peeta had. I curl my hand into a fist, and give her door three pronounced 'knocks.' I can hear some muted rummaging coming from the other side of the door, and then the door opens.
"Yes? Oh. It's you," Mason says rather disappointed.
"Yeah, it's me. Sorry if my presence is a let down."
She smirks at me.
"What do you need?" She questions me - I can see the suspicion in her eyes.
"Um, well… You know. I have a couple questions that I'd like to ask." I am a little anxious when I say this.
"Let me guess, it's about Peeta?" Well she hit that nail straight on the head.
"Yeah they are. I would ask him, but I don't think he would be ready for them. Also I doubt he will have the memory capability to answer them." It's the depressing truth.
"Alright, well you can come in if you want," she sidesteps away from the entrance of the door, and I tentatively step into her room.
When I look around her room, I'm not surprised to see that it looks like every single other room on this floor. The walls are all a light shade of gray, the bed has a metal frame, there are no windows (of course), and the room is barely furnished. She leads me over to the bed, and we both take a seat on it. She doesn't have any chairs yet, since she just moved in a few days ago. Once we are situated on her bed, she gives me a look telling me to spit out whatever I came here to say.
"Earlier this morning, when I was visiting Peeta, a maid came in carrying a bucket," I can see Johanna's eyes snap open when I say 'bucket.' "When he saw it, he started to shake uncontrollably. I had to pull him out of the room. Do you know why he reacted like that?"
I wait patiently while Johanna recollects herself; she obviously does not have any fond memories with buckets, either. My hunter's sense can feel the tension that Johanna is emitting.
"When we were still locked away in the capitol," she finally speaks. "They would sometimes do this style of torture. They called it the 'medieval torture.' The peace keepers informed us that it was an ancient style of inflicting pain to victims." I nod my head at her, begging her to continue. "What they did is quite simple, actually. They would place a small rodent on Peeta's or my stomach, and then put an upside down bucket overtop it. For the final step of the process, they would heat the top end of the upside down bucket. We would never really feel the heat, they never intended on burning us; however, the rodent felt the heat. It would panic, and try to find an escape route from the bucket. The only thing it could do was to… to chew its way into our stomachs. Once the torturers thought that it chewed enough, they would remove the bucket and the rodent from our abdominals. It was probably one of the more painful methods that we had to go through."
I can hardly believe the words that I hear. Even for the capitol, that seems overly cruel.
"Johanna," I say sympathetically. "I am so sorry. I promise, we are going to put an end to the Capitol one day."
"It's ok. I'm fine. You don't have to feel sorry for me. And I'm going to ruin the Capitol before you."
"It's on," I say competitively.
"You bet it is," she retorts. "Did you have anymore questions?" She asks.
I definitely do have some unanswered questions, but I don't want to upset her anymore than I already did. Maybe some other day I'll ask her them.
"Nope, no more. Thank you for your time. I'll see you later." With that, I walk out of her room.
I hadn't heard to much about the physical torture Peeta had endured, so after talking to Johanna about it, I am absolutely appalled. The things the two of them went through are just so inhumane, so unfair. Immediately I want to blame myself for everything that has happened to Peeta, but then I have to remind myself to stop being so narcissistic. I am nothing more than a mouth piece. Sure, I might have lit a flame, but even without me this rebellion was going to happen. It's selfish for me to think so much of myself. I suppose I wish that it was my fault, that way I can have somebody to blame.
If I allow myself to wallow in self-pity, I will lose a lot of important time that I could be using to help Peeta with.
I head back to my miniature apartment, and I stay there for the rest of the day. After my talk with Johanna, I have lost any desire to do anything. I decide that if there is a chance that Peeta never gets back his memories, I'm going to make sure the new memories of me are going to be great.
Sorry, I know that took me freaking forever to update, but now in my second week of exams… bleh. Since school is now becoming more intensive, I'm probably going to update one story every week. It'll most likely be in a rotation, so next week will me Just Can't Quite, then My Opression the week after that, and then this story the following week. Something like that. Please review :)