The Hunger Games – Peeta's Tale

Chapter One

I'm suddenly jolted out of sleep, and my eyes snap open suddenly. A tight knot of nervous tension fills the pit of my stomach, spreading until the feeling completely takes over. I take a deep breath and try to calm down, but it's no good because I know what day it is. Today is reaping day. I listen to my second oldest brother Robus lightly snoring in the bed on the other side of the room, and it calms me down slightly. It's selfish of me I know, to be thinking only of myself at a time like this. Living in bakery all my life, means that I've never gone hungry, never had to put my name in the reaping bowl more times that necessary. Unlike most other people in District 12. The thought sickens me somewhat, and makes me feel ashamed of myself. The knot of nervousness tightens.

I try to push the thoughts out of my head and try to go back to sleep, but it's no use. The faces of all the people I know who might be speeded off to the Capitol to await imminent death in just a few hours, keep playing in my mind. Her face flashes up whenever I close my eyes. I know that it seems weird to love someone who you've never formally met, but I fell for Katniss Everdeen the first moment that I saw her.

I think about that moment I can never forget. The sight of her frail body against the apple tree in the back garden, her hollow cheeks, her eyes becoming sunken. She looked skeletal. I was in the shop at the time, when I heard my mother shouting at someone. I walked to the back door just in time to see her shooing Katniss away from our bins. My mother came back to the door and snapped at me to go and get the bread out of the oven. I stayed just long enough to see Katniss collapse by the base of the tree. I knew that I had to help her. I went back in, to the bread oven in the kitchen and tried to think about what I could do. My mother was in the room so I couldn't just go and give her some bread. No I had to play it carefully.

"Oh no!" I exclaimed

"What!" My mother shouted "What did you do!"

"I'm so sorry, I dropped the bread." I said whilst fishing the two loaves out of the flames with a pair of tongs. They were only slightly blackened but I knew that it would be enough.

"You stupid boy!"

My mother whacked me hard across the face, before pushing my back towards the garden.

"Feed it to the pigs! No one decent with buy burnt bread!"

She stormed back in to the house, and I seized my opportunity. I lobbed the first loaf and it landed at her feet, I threw the second loaf and scurried back inside.

I think about that moment all the time. It's the only moment that just me and Katniss share together. But I wish that I had just gone out in to the rain and handed her the bread, and then walked her home, just to make sure that she made it back there.

The suns up now, it's ironic really that on such a grim, disturbing day, it's so beautiful outside. I sigh and sit up, putting my feet on the dusty wooden floor boards. I go down the creaky stairs and go in the little room at the back of the shop that we use for a sitting room in the evenings. I find my mother filling an old iron tub with water from the pump outside. We are one of the few families in District 12 who have an indoor toilet and sink, but even we don't have a plumbed bath or running hot water. My mother looks up and see's me. I try to smile but all that I end up with is a sort of tight grimace. My mother doesn't even attempt to smile back at me. She just shoves a striped shirt and a pair of beige trousers in my hands.

"Get washed and dressed, then come and help your father in the shop." She snaps.

Geez, you'd think that she would act a bit nicer to her son seeing as she may well be saying good by to either me or Robus in a few hours. I guess the tension effects everyone in different ways. The water is positively icy so I scrub myself down quickly, and slip on the shirt and trousers. Like almost everything I own they once belonged to Robus, and like almost everything he owns they also once belonged to my oldest brother Sol. He's twenty now and so reapings are over for him, but he's better at supporting me and Robus than my mother is. I suppose the reapings are still a lot fresher for him.

I walk in to the front of the shop just in time to see a tall male figure with dark hair leaving the shop. It's Gale Hawthorne, him and Katniss are closer than anything, and so I'm insanely jealous of him. He's probably going off to meet her right now. I look around and see my father holding a dead squirrel looking slightly guilty. I smile, my father loves to eat squirrels, but will only ever trade for one when my mother isn't around. He puts the squirrel on the counter and turns around to look at me. He smiles at me and pats me on the shoulder.

"You'll be fine son." He says. "Your name's only in there five times, the likelihood is that you'll be home tonight."

I nod and look down at my feet. I know that he's only trying to make me feel better, but I can't help but feel guilty for worrying about myself, when there are others like Katniss whose name is in that reaping bowl for twice the amount that mine is.

I help my father in the shop, and after about half an hour Robus turns up, his skin pink from soap and scrubbing, his hair still damp. He raises his eyebrows at me before going to knead some dough.

The minutes tick by too quickly for my liking, and at ten to two we all head down to the town square. Me and Robus bid our parents and Sol goodbye before going to sign in. We then say goodbye to each other as we go and stand in our designated age zones. I catch sight of Katniss across the square, she's saying goodbye to her little sister Primrose. Her dark hair isn't in its usual braid, but it's been elaborately plaited around her head. She looks very pretty. I pull my attention away from her and focus it on the stage that's been put up in front of the justice building.

Mayor Undersee does his usual speech about the dark days, and how the Hunger Games came to be. I can't concentrate on it though; my stomach is tying itself in knots. After a while District 12's only surviving victor Haymitch Abernathy arrives on stage, blinding drunk as usual. He goes to hug the Capitol escort Effie Trinket, which makes her stupid pink wig go wonky. In any other situation I may have laughed, but nothing at this moment could force me to laugh. After another few minutes Effie stands.

"Happy Hunger Games!" She trills, honestly that Capitol accent is just ridiculous. "And may the odds be ever in your favour!" She totters over to the glass ball on the left of the stage.

"Ladies first!" She smiles. She plunges her hand in to the ball, and pulls out a slip of paper. I hold my breath as she opens and smoothes the paper. She clears her throat before reading out the name.

"Primrose Everdeen."