I woke up to the faint hissing of Prim's cat, Buttercup, who was hunched beside my sister, protecting her as always.
"Shut up," I hiss back at it. Buttercup simply narrows his eyes into slits before he returns his attention back to Prim. Prim, my precious little sister. I call her 'Little Duck' though the nickname no longer suits the holder. Since I've returned back from the Games, I've noticed a sudden change in my sister. She's more mature, more calmer, more wiser. Prim is no longer the same sister who I witnessed crying the first time I brought home a squirrel as Game. She has now become a girl who is aware of the true realities of life, alongside that of the society.
I try to get back to sleep, though I know my attempts are futile. That stupid cat. I peer down at my left arm to find that I have been scratching it in my sleep again. I can't help it. Every time I shut my eyes I just imagine that I'm back in the arena… that my body is filled with tracker jacker venom, and I no longer know what is real or not. Though I have been given a house in VictorsVillage, I choose not to live there. I am not a victor, I am not a champion or whatever anybody else seems to be calling me now a days. I am simply a girl who was forced to fight for her life. Why should that be celebrated?
"Katniss?" I hear my sister mutter.
"What's up little duck?" I whisper quietly.
"What time is it?"
"Around 4am, go back to sleep little duck," I answer. I watch as Prim falls silently back to her peaceful sleep. How I envy that. I decide to go prepare breakfast for my mother, sister and I. As I walk into the kitchen, I flick on the switch to realise that the power has been cut to our house. Again. I light a candle which barely lights up the dingy kitchen. My eyes flicker to the calendar to notice the date. The 4th of September. Something rings in my head, suggesting to myself that there's something important about this date, but I don't know what. I walk over to the table, pulling out my hunting boots which I left under the table from last night. I put them on quickly, picking up my Game bag whilst hurrying out the door, hoping not to wake anyone.
As soon as the cool breeze hits my face, I feel a sudden relaxation from within me. I take my usual journey towards the fence separating District 12 from the woods. I listen patiently to hear the faint buzz to suggest that the fence is live. It never is. I crawl through the small gap and stroll quickly down to the woods, submerging myself with the trees and bushes, hiding myself from wondering eyes. I pick up my bow and arrow and go hunting in my usual spot.
Whilst walking I notice a fairly decent size rabbit hanging up by its back feet. Gale's snares never fail to work. I take down the rabbit placing it inside my bag. I reset the snare in hope of catching another one. Ten minutes of hunting and I have already caught three squirrels and a wild turkey. I always find it best to hunt when Game are likely to be sleeping.
"You're up early," I hear someone say from behind me. I turn around to find my best friend, Gale, smiling at me.
"Same could be said to you," I reply. I notice Gale's smile widening slightly before he directs the conversation to the snares.
"I notice that you've reset my snare, did we catch anything good?"
"How do you always know when I reset it? And yes, we got a rabbit."
"I can just tell a Catnip snare from mine," Gale shrugs.
The two of us begin walking back towards District 12, back to our form of prison. Since I've come back from the Games, I feel that Gale has become more distant with me. Well, who can blame him? I don't know if I would be able to look at him in the same way if I witnessed him killing people. But me and Gale used to be able to speak about anything, now we only talk about hunting or Prim. He doesn't question me on the Games, which I'm grateful for.
"Are you ready to go back to school?" Gale asks.
"What do you mean?" I reply in confusion.
"Well, today's the first day of school isn't it? My brother has been dreading it."
"Is that today? I knew there was something about today's date which rang a bell!" I exclaim, "I need to go home and make myself look presentable."
"You look fine to me," Gale smiles. I smile back, though I feel slightly awkward by his comment.
As we near the fence, I feel Gale grab onto my arm, he turns me to look at him before speaking.
"Ignore everything negative which people say to you today, Catnip. I mean it. No one knows what you have had to go through, so no one has the right to judge you." I stare at Gale, absorbing his words. What does he mean? I didn't assume anyone would say anything to me at school… but he's right. A school full of gossip queens, my name will be on everyone's lips. Judging me. I simply nod my head to Gale before I return home to Prim, mother and Buttercup.
As soon as I get home, I go up to the bathroom and run a bath. There is no hot water in this house and I haven't the time to heat it by gas, so a cold bath it is. I edge myself slowly and carefully into the tub. The water piercing my skin. As I sit in the bath, I can't help but remember the first time when I arrived in the Capitol and was practically hosed down by my prep team. Like I was an animal. But, I was practically was an animal. The lives of those in District 12 and that in the Capitol are unbelievably different. After an hour in the bath, I decide it's time to get out since I hear Prim waking up from our room.
"Katniss?" I hear her shout.
"I'm in the bath, Prim." I reply. That is one thing I have noticed with Prim, how anxious she has become when she does not know where I am. My poor sister. I get changed, wearing only a plain top and jeans before I braid my wet hair back. I walk downstairs to find my mother cooking up some squirrel which I had caught earlier this morning.
"Gale must have came round and dropped us off some food," my mother states when she sees me.
"That was nice of him," Prim adds whilst feeding Buttercup some of the squirrels intestines. I simply smile before sitting down opposite my sister at the table. I hadn't even noticed how much I had been fidgeting until my sister points it out.
"Katniss, are you okay? You're moving your hands around a lot."
"Of course I am, little duck. I'm just nervous for my first day at school."
"You? Nervous? You sound almost like I used too!" Prim laughs. I laugh too, before walking over to Prim and giving her a false stern look.
"What do you mean used too?" I question before tickling my sister.
"Katniss! Stop it-" Prim squeals whilst Buttercup tries to attack my hand.
"Alright you two," my mother comments. She hands us each some squirrel stew before putting away the rest for later.