We could do it, you know," Gale says quietly.
"Leave the district. Run off. Live in the woods.
You and I, we could make it," says Gale.
I don't know how to respond. The idea is so preposterous.
If we didn't have so many kids," he adds quickly.
They re not our kids, of course. But they might as well be.
Gale's two little brothers and a sister.
Prim. And you may as well throw in our mothers, too, because how would they live without us?
Who would fill those mouths that are always asking for more?
With both of us hunting daily,
there are still nights when game has to be swapped for lard or shoelaces or wool,
still nights when we go to bed with our stomachs growling.
I never want to have kids, I say.
I might. If I didn t live here, says Gale.
But you do, I say, irritated.
Forget it, he snaps back.
The conversation feels all wrong. Leave?
How could I leave Prim, who is the only person in the world whom I love?
And Gale is devoted to his family.
We can t leave, so why bother talking about it?
And even if we did . . . even if we did . . .
Where did this stuff about having kids come from?
"What if we runaway? Into the woods where no one can find us."
I thought about it. I can't get it out of my mind. I've been thinking about the possibilities.
The risks. Prim, my mother, Gale's family. What if we get caught? What if I get picked as tribute?
What about Gale? At the age of eighteen, he has his name entered forty-two times and is up for if that happens and we don't show up?
What punishment will we face? It's been four days since me and Gale talked to each other about running away. The reaping is three days away. I head to the woods to hunt.
There was no sight of him there. Hours passed and I can tell by the sun that it's about 1 o'clock.
I lie down, facing the sun, feeling the moist mud and hearing the dried leaves press on my body.
After a few moments later, I feel my stomach growl and I almost forgot.
I haven't been eating since last night. I hide my bow and arrows under a trunk and carry my hunt back to the hob. I got ten squirrels and seven tree rats. I save one each for my lunch.
''Hey Katniss, Gale's not with you?" Greasy Sae asks.
"No, I haven't seen him these past few days." I answer.
She looks at me as if she knows what's going on. I look at her eyes and she looks away.
So I head back home and eat. Prim's in school, and my mom just lying down quietly. So I decided to go back to the woods and swim in the lake. I remove my boots, to my clothes and my underwear.
Leaving me naked. After awhile, I dress up and lie down.
The air is fresh, the birds humming and I feel refreshed from the water. I just wanna sleep under the tree.
I close my eyes then suddenly, I hear footsteps.
Gale. I looked at him and we caught each other's sight.
''I've been thinking these past few days." He says as he sits by my side.
"Yeah? Me too. About running away." I answer.
There was a long pause and silence remained.
"Do you think we could make it?" I ask.
"I can't tell. Maybe." He answered.
"We could try it you know? We hunt. And we could probably find a lake. We'll travel until we find a city. Where we can be safe." I say.
He stood up, walking and walking forward. I grabbed my bow and arrows and I followed him. We walked for almost two hours. He stopped walking and looked around the area. Inspecting the trees, the animals, and the lake.
"There's a possibility that we can make it." He said.
I walked back and said, "Where? Here? Are we going to stay in the middle of the woods? If ever there was a city here, how can we survive?"
I really thought he had a good idea in walking. But he lead me to nowhere.
"No. We go further. Straight ahead."
He says and continues, "We could trade!"
He calls my attention. I stopped waling and faced him.
"We earn our hunt, trade, and when we've earned enough, we could go." he says.
What about the games? The reaping is three days away and if we're going to leave, we should leave now. There are so many risks here. I don't even know if we get picked.
"We don't have enough time." I say.
"Time? We can leave tomorrow night. And you? You can kill seventeen animals half a day. Include me. We can do this. Let's hunt now. Until tomorrow afternoon then we pack. We should leave at once. The night before the reaping we must've gone far. I believe we can make it out." He exlplained.
How did he know about me hunting? Did Greasy Sae tell him? Was he following me? I really don't know. He said enough to convince me. well planned, but risky.
''Let's move" I say.
Then I shoot a bird telling him to hunt. He gives me a smile and started to hunt.
We head back to the hob and trade. We were satisfied with how much we've earned.
We looked at each other and I know we were thinking the same thing. That this could work.
Now,we go home.
I find Prim and her cat Buttercup still awake.
Prim was holding him in her arms, stroking his back while staring at me.
"What?" I say.
"What did you do?" she asks.
"Okay. Since you've asked, I'll explain it to you. Gale and I are planning to escape."
I was holding her on her shoulders and she gave a slight gasp.
I know many questions are flashing in her mind. But I continue.
"We're gonna leave tommorow night. With you, mom and Gale's family. We've inspected the woods and we would have a chance here. So we should pack our bags so we could be ready. But that can wait tomorrow. Right now we need sleep. Can I trust you to tell mom and fix our things?" I say.
"Yes." She answered.
I kiss her on her forehead and we went to sleep. I wake up early in the morning finding Prim asleep.
I washed up and immediately head to Gale's.
When I was about to knock, he opened the door. I laugh a little and later he figured it out.
He gave a light chuckle and said, "You could've knocked me out."
And we laugh. "Come on!" I say.
We were laughing while heading to the woods. I thought that little humor would do.
When we were hunting, we get serious. We don't let any animal pass us.
We go back late in the afternoon and we got more kills than last night.
So I go home seeing three packs ready. I thanked Prim and she returned me a smile.
I thought I needed rest first. So I close my eyes.
Suddenly I see Gale and I running in the woods, a hovercraft above us and peacekeepers around us.
They were cornering us then there was a loud Bang!
I woke up and saw Prim calling me. Gale followed in and I know it's time to go.
Gale's family is outside and I grab our packs and Prim carries Buttercup.
We entered the woods and walked and walked.
It was quiet so Gale asked me, "Had a nightmare?"
"Yeah." I answer.
"What's it about?" He asks,
"You and me, running away in the woods, and there were hovercrafts and peacekeepers around us." I say.
"Then what happened?" He says.
"You knocked." I say with a bit of sarcasm.
"Sorry for interrupting!" Gale says.
I'm happy to see Gale laughing and happy around me.
With his name up for forty-two times and also for tesserae. He's almost like my brother.
It's getting darker. We found ourselves where Gale and I stopped last night.
We stayed for the night and kept moving when the light broke out again.
Prim was still sleepy, rubbing her eyes while her other hand still holds on Buttercup.
It was getting brighter and warmer then we saw a woman. Aged just like my mother.
Few meters away from us. I can't get the smile off my face and we ran as fast as we could.
I'm very sure she's not guarding or something.
She was holding a pot and while were getting closer, she looked at us and put her pot down.
"Oh dear, where are you from? How can I help you?" She asks.
Gale didn't mind the first question and he says, "We need a place to stay."
The woman gave a smile. "Well you're in luck! You happen to be talking to an innkeeper!" She says.
She leads us inside and offers us two rooms. One for Gale's family and one for mine.
Glad she insisted to have three squirrels each room. We fixed our things and when we're done, we get some rest. I was lying on the bed but I couldn't sleep.
I watch Prim and my mom sleep while Buttercup moves around the place.
I see Gale across the room, looking outside the window.
"Gale." I called.
He looked at me immediatley and stood at our door.
"Couldn't get some sleep?" He asks.
"Yeah. I was thinking about twelve. What do think is happening in the reaping?" I say.
"Probably getting ready for the reaping. People dressing up and stuff."
He went outside and explored the place. I sat up and stick my forehead to my knee.
Still thinking of the reaping. I feel scared for it. Many thoughts fill my mind. What if I get picked?
What about Gale? Prim? Will they find us? How? When? Now?
Then suddenly I heard a big Boom! My heart beats fast, and I actually screamed.
Glad Prim and mom didn't wake up. First thing to pop in my mind was Gale.
I ran outside and shout for Gale. Then I saw a crowd of people at the other side of the street.
What's happening? I go through the crowd and I finally saw Gale.
I hugged him and I asked, "What's going on?"
"It's just a reminder for the people that the reaping has started." He answered.
So I join the crowd and watch. The anthem starts and then Effie starts it up.
Of course it's girls first. I squeeze Gale's hand as Effie slowly circles is hand around the bowl of names.
I squeeze Gale's hand harder as she puts the paper right below her face.
She gives a smile and reads, "Katniss Everdeen".
I now feel Gale's hand squeezing mine.
Now I feel nothing.
It's like my body became paralyzed. Gale hugged me as I hear Effie calling out my name. "I'll protect you Katniss."
I hear the people gasp in surprise and I feel my eyes tearing up.
I try my best not to cry. No sound replies from faces moving trying to find me.
Effie calls out a peacekeeper to report to the President about the missing tribute.
She called out the boy's tribute, "Peeta Mellark! I hope this one shows up."
Then he steps up on the stage, looking troubled. Trying not to cry infront of the public.
I remember him. He's the baker's son. I owe him some for saving my life.
and Effie closes it with the phrase, "And may the odds be ever in your favor."
It's done and I can't hold my tears anymore. I run back to the inn and pack up my things.
Gale followed me inside and said,
"I'll go with you. I'll protect you. We'll go far from here. We can change identities. I promise."
So we go to our rooms and talk to our families. I wipe up my face and wake up Prim.
"Prim, wake up. Mom, get up. We have an emergency." I say.
"What emergency?" Prim asks.
"I got picked as tribute and Gale and I have to hide first. But promise me you'll keep your identities and change them." I explain.
Prim almost cried. "It's okay, You're safe as long as you'll be quiet. Besides, you get to pick your own name." I said, cheering her up.
"Can my name be Jane?" She says.
"Of course. Then Jane it is. And mom, you'll just be Kim. And I, will be, Alex. Okay? We will be Jane, Kim and Alex Hargrave." I say.
Then they approve. I hug Prim and I talked to my mom.
"Take care of Prim while we're gone. Please. I need you to protect her. We'll come back as soon as we can."I say.
Then she approves. I grab my pack and I see Gale. So I act up.
"Hey there. Sorry, but, What's your name again?" I say, making him laugh.
"Oh yeah. The name's Oliver. Oliver Collins. And you?" He answered and smiled at me.
"Alex. Alex Hargrave." I say.
"Come on. we've got no time to waste Alex." He says.
We ran and ran. We saw some peacekeepers searching for Katniss, but we stay out of there sight.
We found a place where Oliver and I stayed for months.
They already have a new tribute but still on the search.
I don't know what punishment awaits me if I get caught. But after a year or so, they stopped the search.
Then Gale insisted we go back to our families. They were still in the same old inn.
As I walk, I saw Prim, playing outside and I see she got used in being called as Jane.
She saw me, not forgetting the identity thing and called me Alex.
She hugged me and we went home. I walk around the town alone. Looking around for the first time.
We got used in the place.
Oliver and I work for the market as hunters, Jane's in school with Oliver's two brothers and one sister,
and my mom works in the hospital.
One day I woke up with a question in my head, "Will we go back?" I ask Gale.
"I don't know. But we can try. But just this once." He says.
Grabbing our bags. We ran for excitement and we stopped by the lake near twelve.
We wash our faces and freshen up. We left our bags by the lake and we walked to twelve.
We head to my house first. I step inside the broken door.
It looks like it was hit by an axe for a couple of times, but still holds on the wall.
I feel the wet mud on my skin, the stench of soil and dirt makes my nose wrinkle.
Though the house is still there, the inside was sacked.
"It's been two years." says Gale.
He follows me inside. I crouch down to the ground to dig out the mud but he stops me, holding me on the shoulder. "Don't Katniss, you shouldn't leave traces that you've been here. Let's go."
I follow him and we go to his house. We went to the hob and found nothing. It's gone.
"I guess it's not only our houses that were abandoned and sacked." I say.
"They punished the people in twelve. They destroyed our home. Because of us." I say.
"It's not your fault Katniss!" He shouts because I was running back to the woods.
He followed me and held my hand. He held me on my shoulders saying, "No."
"If only I ran into the reaping when I got called, this wouldn't happen. Leaving you safe." I claim all the blame.
I should've been the tribute. To die for people's entertainment. I should have died for my people.
"NO." He shouts.
"If there's someone to blame, it's not you, or anyone else. It's the Capitol. Don't worry. You're safe with me. I promised right?" He says.
"But-" He stops me with a kiss. I kiss him back and I feel his hands on my neck.
I put my arms around his neck and I step back a little.
"Thankyou." I say. We smiled at each other and I picked up my bag.
"Let's go back. Start fresh. Alex." He says.
I look at him and answer, "Yeah. I think that's the best thing to do, Oliver."
We head back to the small town and live our lives just like at twelve.
But this time, as Alex Hargrave and Oliver Collins.