Facing the Nightmare
As much as I wanted to talk with Peeta after he returned form the games, I could not get myself to do it. There were many times I would walk by the bakery when I knew he was in there but my legs would never step through the door. I knew he wanted to talk with me, I felt his eyes trail me whenever I did happen to see him, but I always avoided him and disappeared into the woods. What was I going to say?
'Thanks for almost saving my sister?' I was grateful for what he did, I am sure he is one of the few that would have done that for Prim, but there something stopping me and I could not put my finger on it. Before he left for the Victor tour, I made eye contact with him as heleft for the train. Once again his piercing blue eyes haunted me; there was just something about them that I could not shake. Now more than ever they reflected back to me what I have had to live with all my live.
The pain that this day might be the last one – tomorrow my never come.
No one knew what it was like to be a Victor, everyone sees it as a joy, living the 'high life' and never having to worry. But what I saw in Peeta's eyes was much colder. His face had hardened over the two weeks. He had known what it was like to have to survive and be more afraid than ever before.
I now spent most of my days in the woods, I should be with my mother, and there was more distance between us than ever before now that Prim was gone. I think we both know she is what held our little family together. She was the only one who seemed to be able to think straight. My stubbornness clouded my judgment most of the time and my mother was too numb to even be able to function properly.
Now that she is gone, there is no longer that bind that held us all together, it was cut the moment Prim was. It was a horrible thought, I hated thinking it, but it is the truth. I cared for my mother, but once my father died she no longer was a mother to me or Prim, and for that I resent her. I believe things would be differently if she had not crawled into a shell and die on us. Sure her heart still beat, but her mind no longer cared.
I decided I needed to talk with Peeta when he got back; I was not going to be able to avoid him for the rest of my life. There was something inside of me that was begging to talk with him; I knew it would not subside until that happened. My stomach roared with nerves at the thought of what might happen. I always saw Peeta as the-boy-with-the-bread, but now, after what had has done for me and my failing family, he was whole new person.
One I knew had to be a part of my life.
I walk into my house that now felt emptier than before, and sit down at the slanted wooden table. My boots are coved in mud, but I knew neither my mother nor I cared as I kicked the off and the left a trail as the hit the ground. My mother had not moved since this morning, she still laid in her bed, her arms wrapped around her knees and her eyes staring at nothing but the empty spot where Prim should be.
"Mom," I said, knowing she is not going to look at me. "I caught some rabbits; I am going to make some stew." My mother moved her head up and down a bit, but said nothing and never moved her gaze. I study her for a moment; she looks more hollow than ever.
Sighing I stand up and get the things ready that I need to make the stew. I had been saving a lot more meat for the two of us then I used to. I figured the baker was not going to need to buy my rabbits anymore, plus my mother needed it. Although there was that resentment, I could not lose her, not now; not after Prim.
Rabbit stew was one of the few things I could cook with my eyes closed, I did the actions mindlessly, just wanting to feed my mother and go back in to the woods. I hated leaving her alone but I could not stay in this house longer than a few hours, to many memories of both my father and sister. The stew fills the house with a new aroma, on that is not acid to the noise and covers up the dead rat stench.
As soon as I'm done cooking I pour two bowls and force my mother to eat, she does it, again not looking at me; I don't think she has since the night of Prim's death.
"Are you going back?" My mother asks me, her gaze fixed on the empty bowl in front of her.
"Yes," I reply simply and stand up, putting the boots back on my feet. "There is more stew if you would like." I say before walking out the door.
"Catnip!" I turn around just before I make it to the fence and see Gale. I have not seen him since the day after the games ended; he had been on double shift at the mines since they lost a few workers.
I try and fail to place a smile on my face, every day it seems harder for that to happen, that soon it will become impossible to smile, and if anyone was to ever mention it, they would say it's a myth. 'That Katniss girl never smiles, she is like a stone.'
"I heard he is coming back today," Gale finally said after a long moment of silence. My eyes widened at his words. I had lost track of the days, it no longer mattered anyway, I lived day-by-day, as long as I was breathing the date did not matter. "You still want to talk with him?" Although I did not tell Gale about what happened during visitation, he had asked about what Peeta had done for Prim, I told him as little as possible but he knew my desire to talk with Peeta was important.
"I need to Gale," He nodded, but I could tell he was not happy about it. I did not get it; it was clear on Gale's face he did not like Peeta. I knew neither of us had really talked to him before; that's what makes me wonder why Gale always tenses up whenever Peeta is mentioned. I tried asking, but Gale did that thing where he ignored the question because he was to stubborn to answer it.
"Do you want to go down there?" He asked a moment later. I shake my head; I cannot deal with all the people. I need to talk with him alone and without all the eyes on the two of us.
I say nothing more just duck under the fence and head to the meadow Gale and I share. This is the one place I feel save, the one place I know the Capital can't touch me. Yet, every time I enter I can't help but kick myself for not taking up Gale's offer to run away. Take Prim and my mother along with Gale's family. We could have done it; it might have been difficult at first, but I think all of us could have handled it one way or the other.
Gale joins me and I offer him a better smile then I did outside the fence, but it's still weak.
We have nothing to say to each other, and it bothers me, I feel like I am drifting from everyone. My mother for sure and now Gale; that was the last thing I wanted. He has always been there for me, I knew that without him, my family and I would have been dead a long time ago. Yet, I could not help but feel like there is something between us now that wasn't there before, something ripping us apart. I could not be sure if it was Prim or maybe even Peeta, but there was no way I was going to be able to lose Gale's friendship and recover.
The two of us sit in utter silence until the sun sinks low into the ground and leaves but a dim light to use to help us return home. There are still roars and cheers from the square for Peeta, I listen as everyone praises him and loves him, I wanted to be there, but then again I didn't. In front of all those people, I might do something I regret.
I bide goodbye to Gale, knowing it might be another few days till I see him again and walk into my house. I see my mother is now asleep, her arms still wrapped tightly around her legs. I notice that now as she sleeps she no longer looks as young as her age, the death of Prim has caused more damaged then I knew. There is a deep pang in my chest; I knew little about my mother.
Just as I am about to try and sleep, praying that nightmares don't flood my dreams tonight, there is a light knock on the door. As I open it I am shocked at who stands before me, "Peeta, what are you doing here?"
I own nothing, everything belongs to the writer of The Hunger Games.
I want to say thank you to all the lovely reviews I got. It made my day. I hope you like this chapter. I know it's going a bit slow but it will pick-up. I apologize for the spelling mistakes I might have - I tried my best in correcting them. Till Chapter Three!