Slowly, with many lost days, I come back to life. I try to follow Dr. Aurelius's advice, just going through the motions. I find solace in sitting by my usual chair by the fire, watching the flames dance and flicker, waiting for them to ignite a spark within myself, so I have the inspiration to live again. But they never do. Instead, I sit there, an empty shadow in a chair, Buttercup purring on my lap, mewling around the chair, trying to annoy me enough to get out of my chair, which has become my rut. But it never works, so he gives up. He alternates between comforting me with his fur and irritating me with his witch-like noises every day, so it becomes routine.
Greasy Sae comes by twice a day and forces me to eat, then washes the dishes she's used, but nothing else. Sometimes her granddaughter comes with her, but not very often. I think she's scared of what she might find. Haymitch drops in once a month or so, but this usually consists of him entering the threshold of my house, seeing me in the chair, tutting and muttering to himself, then turning and leaving, slamming the door behind him, annoyed that I haven't made any progress. The stench of cheap alcohol he leaves behind is almost enough to make me want to get out of the chair and open a window. Almost. Instead, I wait hours for Greasy Sae and she does it for me.
Rather than spending all this time thinking about life, my mind is numb. Some days there are fleeting thoughts, but nothing ever lasts long enough. My thoughts are like smoke, and acting upon them is like trying to hold water in my hands. Every passing second they slowly slip away from me. Like everything and everyone else in my life. I do not live, I only exist. Gale is in District 2, and I know that with every day that passes, he thinks less and less of me, as he moves on with his life and becomes closer to finding somebody new to heal the pain I put him through. I wonder how long it will take for the scars I left on him to completely heal. In a sick way, I hope they will never fully heal, so he will always have something to remember me by. So there will be proof I existed. Not as the Mockingjay or The Girl on Fire, but as Katniss Everdeen, the young girl from District 12 who went hunting with her best friend as often as she could.
Those days feel so far away, trying to remember them is like trying to see through dirty water. It is possible, but I have to calm myself and it takes a long time. It takes too much effort and leaves me feeling drained, so I don't do it very often. I just sit in my chair, listening to the rhythm of my heart and breathing, wondering if the slight pumping noise will ever stop, and all my pain will cease. Whenever the phone rings, I know it's my mother, but I only answer it if Greasy Sae is home, because she answers for me. She talks to my mother for a while before handing the phone to me. Usually, I do not talk, but instead listen to my mother talk at me, silently making sure is okay. I know my silence hurts her, but she is thousands of miles away and moving on with her life. She doesn't need me around to constantly remind her of her past. I wish she'd just stop calling. When the phone rings and Greasy Sae is around, I let the sound echo around the empty house, then when it finally stops, I battle with the shame that bubbles up inside of me.
I know I shouldn't push people away like I do, but it's all I know. There is only one person who can break through my walls and he lives next door. I face away from the windows so I don't ever accidentally catch a glimpse of him. I never let myself think about him. Whenever my mind wanders, he is there and it takes every ounce of my abysmal strength not to break down in tears. He never visits. I don't know if he hates me or if he thinks he's doing me a favour. All I know is that I need him, but that I will never admit that to myself. I slowly come to terms with the fact that I have lost Peeta and that he will never be The Boy with the Bread ever again. Not to me.
That is why when I hear his gentle voice flutter through the locked door, my eyes widen in shock. "Katniss?" he asks, after I had ignored his preceding knock. My heart rate doubles and I begin to sweat, but still, I sit there frozen. This is the most alive I've felt in months, knowing he is there, only a few feet away, only a thin wooden door separating us. I'm so unsure what to do, so I don't do anything. I do what I have always done, since I left the Capitol for the final time. I just exist, waiting for others' actions to affect my life. Part of me hopes that Peeta will give up, turn away and never come back. But another part of me, much more dominant, wills him to open the door. It is this part of me that allows me to finally find what I have spent months searching for, in the depths of my heart.
I feel it, igniting my core. I hear the doorknob turn and the flames within me spread from my core, slowly seeping towards every crevice and orifice in my body. The door creaks and Peeta opens it and I hear his gentle footsteps on the mahogany floor. He is now in the same room as me and I am alarmingly aware of this fact. The fire within me coarses through my veins, my capillaries until every cell in my body feels like it is on fire. I am in pain, but I believe that I must be a masochist, because the pain relaxes me. I am a complete oxymoron. I feel alarmed, intense knowing that Peeta is near, yet calmed by his presence.
He crosses the room and stands between myself and the fire, his body blocking the light and warm of the flames, but bringing a warmth and brightness of it's own. My gaze remains the same, only I am staring at his torso, rather than the flames. Peeta lowers his body down onto the balls of his feet as he crouches down, so my eyes are staring deeply into his.
And my walls crumble. They crash down around me, causing an earthquake of emotion. I launch myself off of my wooden chair and he only just catches me in time, my weight knocking him back into the wall behind him, but I do not stop. I force myself upon him, knowing he'd allow me entry if he had the choice anyway, but I do not give it to him. I kiss him passionately and I feel alive.
Once he has a moment to catch up, Peeta reciprocates my kiss and I feel all the emotions between us. All the pain, hurt, anger, sadness, elation goes into this once kiss that lasts for at least ten minutes. For the first times in months I have an actual indication of time. Whilst kissing me, he has wrapped his arms around my waist as I have him locked against the wall. I do not want to stop kissing him, because I don't want to have to deal with the ramifications of my bold actions. All I know that is every second of numbness I felt in this kitchen have been worth it, for this one moment. This one kiss, which I want to get lost in forever.
I feel his hands slip from my waist, down my legs, until he grips at the backs of them and I know what he wants. I jump as he lifts me and my legs wrap instinctively around his waist. Not breaking the kiss, he leads me out of the kitchen and into the hallway, towards the bedroom. He begins to ascend the stairs and bumps me into a few walls along the way, but I do not mind. Not one bit. Finally, breathlessly, he throws me down on my bed and throws his shirt off before jumping on top of me, peppering me in kisses.
Everything is moving so fast, like a blur. I find it hard to concentrate as I dig my hands into his sandy blonde hair. I focus as much as I can on Peeta whilst he slowly takes my clothes off. I arch my back off of the bed and my body into his as he pulls off my shirt and throws it aside. His hands run down the side of my body and unclip my trousers as I wriggle out of them. When I toss them aside, I unclip his trousers and do the same. Because I need him. I need him so much.
We sit on my bed for a moment, staring at each other, wearing only our underwear. His body is so beautiful, I think as I marvel over him. I take in his tanned skin and his beautiful blue eyes. I can't look at anything else but him and wonder what I did to deserve him. "Are you sure you want to do this?" Peeta asks me nervously, his eyes piercing into me. I am unsure of my answer and I freeze up. I know I want this so much, but I also know it is not the right time. Not right now. The epiphany fills me up and I can't help but let out what I've been holding in for so long. The tears roll over my eyes and down my cheek, landing on my pristine bed sheets. Peeta watches me for a moment, then pulls me under the bed covers with him.
He pulls me into him and I nestle into his warmth as I am surrounded by safety. All I can feel are him and the blankets. He puts his arm around me and rubs comforting circles into my arms with his thumb. He calms me when I sob particularly loudly, but otherwise he allows me to get everything out. I roll onto my side and spread my arms protectively over him, curling around his neck and locking him into me with my grip. He chuckles a little, his strawberry sweet breath blowing into my face as he burrows his head next to mine. My sobs finally subside and I am tired. More tired than I have been in a while. I feel sleep anchoring me down, but I do not want to fall. Instead, I battle to stay awake. Peeta watches me and sees my eyelids fluttering. He leans in and plants a slow, gentle kiss on my slightly parted lips.
"Sleep." He says through the darkness, as nighttime has finally descended upon us. "I'll still be here in the morning. I promise."
And with his promise to me lingering in the air, I lose the battle with impending sleep and fall into an impending nightmare, but I know, deep in my subconscious, that Peeta will be there to comfort me when I wake up screaming. And that comforts me to no end.