Thanks to beta moonlightrurouni!


1938

Mama and Tata drop me off at school for the first day and I am a bit excited to learn something, maybe I'll become a nauczycielka like Pani Trinket who is supposed to be my teacher this year.

I don't know if I'll like my classmates. I already know that my classmates are not the kindest of the bunch.

Many times when tata took me to the 'merchant' park, as he calls it, so I can get to know the other dzieci who are in my class, I would get treated poorly. The kids would come over and pull on my hair and laugh and point when tata wasn't watching.

I never saw much difference between the merchants and my family, but tata explained it to me when he took me home after the incident.

I guess there are two kinds of villagers in Twelve. There are the merchants and then there are the farmers. Tata said that because the farmers don't live very close to the village and that we work on farm fields then we are different. But really and truly, I see that the merchants do live on farmland as well, so they shouldn't be complaining about me.

I enter my room school house and find a seat the front of the class where Pani is indicating the kids of my age sit.

We sit in tables of two, and I take an empty table, hoping that no one will decide to take it since there are other seats available.

When I see Pani preparing to shut the door and then come over to the front of the classroom, I realize that my wish isn't coming true.

A young boy with blonde hair about my age runs into the classroom.

"Przepraszam Pani, I'm sorry that I'm late," the boy says somewhat breathlessly.

Pani nods and smiles kindly at him.

He looks around the class for a seat to sit at and eyes the one beside me.

I internally groan. This boy looks like a merchant; just what I need when I'm trying to learn.

He barrels his way over—his feet extremely loud on the worn hardwood flooring.

He sits down and turns to me, smiling.

I muster up the smallest smile I can and quickly turn to face the front of the room, ready to learn.

"Okay class, for some of you, this is your first year at school. For others, this is another year here. I want to let you all catch up with each other and get to know one another if you don't already do. Then afterwards, I am going to partner you up with a student from another age level and they will your buddy throughout the school year, okay? Go on ahead!" Pani explains and everyone in our classroom get up and move around except for Peeta and I who sit at our desk, him watching me closely.

"I'm Peeta," he says suddenly.

I look elsewhere in the classroom, not wanting to make eye contact with him and to speak with this merchant boy, but Pani is watching is looking at me with a glare, urging me to speak.

"I'm Katniss. Why aren't you talking to the others?" I ask bluntly.

He looks surprised. "Uh, because? I don't know, they don't seem very nice," he admits.

My mouth drops. He thinks like me?

"Am I right? I wouldn't really know; my family just moved here, taking over the bakery since the old baker died," Peeta says.

"Uh, I guess," I reply, unsure about this new boy.

Pani calls attention from our class and quickly partners us up with an older level student; my partner is a nice girl named Delly who always smiles and is very sweet, but I am a bit wary about her since she is a merchant as well.

She helps me write out my name on a small chalkboard, and then she teaches me to write her name out on the board.

It's not long before Pani tells us that we have przerwie and obiad.

I go sit back behind the szkole at a small pond, pulling out my peppermint sticks that mama had managed to get and pack in my bag for the first day.

I suddenly hear footsteps coming down behind me. I turn around, hiding behind the tree and spy Peeta walking towards me.

I suck in my breath, the peppermint smell soaking into my throat and wait for him to pass by.

But he doesn't. He finds me.

"Hi," he says and smile, sitting down beside me.

I nod, to be polite, remembering what tata had told me about treating others who are nice to me.

He looks down at his hands and that's when I notice I cheesy looking bun in them.

"Did you want half?" He asks me, already breaking it in half and pushing it into my hands.

"But I don't have anything to give you." I reply, remembering that tata also said to repay someone always when they give you something.

"It's okay, you don't have to give me anything," he replies.

I shake my head.

"Let's be friends, that's your payment," he says and smiles.

I sigh and surprisingly agree, then I take a bit of the cheesy bun. It's so delicious.

"Thank you for the cheesy bun," I thank him.

"Cheese Buns. And you're welcome," Peeta replies and smiles, biting into his cheese bun.


1939

Peeta Mellark and I wait for the bell to ring; it's almost the end of the day.

As much as we have fun learning in school with our teacher Pani Trinket, it's not the same as when Peeta and I can let our imaginations run wild.

I hear a sudden toll of the school bell, and I dart out of my desk at the front of the schoolhouse. I throw my exercise book and tablet on top of one another before rushing down the aisle way outside to the back lake where I know Peeta will be waiting for me. This is our routine, meeting there, and from there we walk into our village square.

I fumble with my book bag and hand-me-down shoes that Mama gave me from when she was just a young girl. I have to take care of them so my baby sister Prim will be able to wear them when she is old enough.

I see his blond mop of hair by the tree and I wave to him. When he sees me coming up the path, he shines me a smile of his teeth and waits patiently for me to arrive.

"Hey, you got out fast and you're further away from the door!" I say to him as we begin our trek along the shortcuts through the growing farm fields.

"I hid my satchel in my desk when Pani wasn't looking. I wanted to leave right away, because, you know my Mama; she wants me home early so I can get started on all those doughs." Peeta replies as he trails his had along the berry bushes that fence the fields.

"Tak, yes, you're right. Want to play this weekend when your Tata lets you off from baking?" I ask him.

"Alright!" He says.

I smile.

We suddenly stop near the village square, close to Peeta's house which is above their bakery.

Peeta bids me goodbye and then darts off to his family's business.

I know why he won't let me walk by the bakery right now—his Mama doesn't like my kind. Even though they moved here of all places, it was strictly for business reasons. Back in Warszawa, there were too many bakeries, and over here in Twelve, we didn't have a real working bakery so they found business here.

By the time the weekend comes, I've seen Peeta again like I normally do, and now we can play outside.

We meet out by our secret location in the meadow; a little alcove near a waterfall.

"What are we going to play?" I ask Peeta, sitting down on the rock with my feet dangling in the water. It's still quite warm out for the month of September.

"How about—" he starts.

"Let's play pretend! I'll be the hunter girl and you be the baker and we're Mama and tata, okay?" I suggest, cutting Peeta off with a new idea of playing grownups.

"Yes!" Peeta agrees, and I run towards the trees in search of twigs so I can create a bow and arrow like Tata has in the back of our shed.

Peeta is in charge of making the mud pies for his bakery.

I hear his footsteps behind me, suddenly, and I look up and see him watching me closely.

"What?" I ask, flipping my braid over.

"Since we're Mama and Tata, I have to marry you. You need a proper wedding." he blurts out.

I stand up, and put my hands on my hips and look at him like he's silly.

Before I even understand what's happening, Peeta's boy lips are on my girl lips.

I push him away in shock and disgust and run. I run away from him to my house; away from this madness. I just run; run from our friendship; run from what's ruined.

What was he doing? What was he thinking? What just happened?


That's the last I ever see of him again. On the Monday after the weekend, we get news that something is drastically wrong.

Peacekeepers are starting to travel into our villages; men I've never seen before with guns and shields and all speaking a language I have never heard before.

This scares the merchants, people from the main square like Peeta, so his family has closed shop and left Twelve on the spur of the moment. Mama and Tata are not so frightened, but I think it's for mine and Prim's benefit.

Tata is sent out to go somewhere by the government of Poland, so I won't see him for a while until he can return.

Mama is now always taking care of Prim, since she is so little and we don't want to lose her for any reason because of the sudden changes in our environment and weather.

I don't understand what's going on, but I do know that things are not what they used to be. No longer can I run freely.

Instead of having school at the schoolhouse, Pani Trinket has moved class to the cellar of her house in the evenings and we no longer have long class periods. We spend our time learning and practicing prayer and while we younger children are doing our work, I overhear and learn about the goings on in Poland that Pani is teaching the older children.

Every time I look at my class, I see that more and more of my classmates are disappearing. One disappearance always stands out for me. Peeta. Not because he was the first student to leave on account of his Mama, but because he was my friend and of what had happened the last I saw of him.

Soon, there aren't enough kids for the classes, and Pani finally must close our secret school because it would also be too dangerous to continue it. At home, chores are forced onto me. I have to go work on the far a lot, making up for what hasn't been done since my father was sent off.

One time, I almost got caught; I was in the corn field and I was picking corn of the stalks. The peacekeepers had decided to cut through my family's field on the their horses. A peacekeeper had seen me in the high stalks, but continued to go on past me, and let me go without notice. He didn't capture or kill me. This is such a common situation for peacekeepers to travel through farms and take citizens because since they have invaded Poland, under their leader's orders, they are to take away any Polish citizen that they come across in their trails. I am so greatful for this guardian angel who has decided to spare me.

As this new environment wears on and as I get older, I realize that this was a war and the head of the peacekeepers who had invaded Poland was named Snow.

Now that the war was getting quite violent, Mama and Prim and I had to hid in our storage shelter, living off beans and any extra food we had while the war raged on. It is too dangerous for us to escape Poland. We wouldn't make it five kilometres. We aren't cowards, but it sure beats the possible chance of getting killed.


1945+

After the war, word gets out that Tata was killed in action. Hearing this news is like a punch in the stomach;bringing us to reality that we are now on our own without tata and we have to fend for ourselves. Mama is beside herself. She suddenly shuts down, and I am now forced to take care of Prim as well as mama all by myself. It's hard work, but since I have Prim going to school, it takes away some of the stress and work to watch her.

To keep up with having to run the family, I have to get myself a job. I find myself at a sanatorium in the next village, working as a maid. I'm not the only young one working; I've found other girls who work there who have forced me into being their friend. They are Madge, Johanna and Annie, and they are a lot like me. They all come from families who have taken a toll due to the World War and now it's up to them to pick up the pieces. They are also quiet people, which is like myself, but we seem to automatically open up to eachother. They each have their own personal issues, such as Johanna and Annie both being temporary prisoners of war, but were able to escape and now have been traumatized. But we all help eachother feel comfortable and we keep our minds away from the pain the past war has caused.

We work together for five years, taking care of young children who are sent here, and I actually learn to enjoy children; but I could never have one―no, not since I saw the terrors of the children during the war. I could never put any child of mine in harm's way.

One early spring day, I receive a letter in the mail from the Abernathy's who live in Canada. I realize it is my Ciocia and Wujek who had left prior to the war because they wanted to explore the world.

I read their letter and discover that they want Prim and I to come back to Canada with them when they arrive on the twentieth of April and the main harbour. That is only a few months way. I am unsure about what to do and how I should deal with Mama, so I talk with Doctor Aurelius at the sanatorium and he suggests that I bring Mama to the sanatorium so she can be taken care of properly. Bringing a person such as my Mama on board a boat to sail for eight days until we can reach Canada would not be very wise. So I decide to do just that, although it hurts me so much to leave her even though she left us years ago.

I speak to Prim about the deal and with very much same reluctance, she agrees to it.

"Mama," I say to her.

She doesn't show any emotion or any confirmation of my presence.

"Mama," I repeat more firmly and gently turn her head towards me so that she can focus on me. "Ja dostałam list od Cioci i Wujka Abernathy," I say, telling here that I had gotten a letter from my Ciocia and Wujek. "They are coming to Poland, Mama, from Canada. They want to bring Prim and I back. I-I don't know how to say this, but―but" I unfortunately choke on my words, not able to tell the truth.

Prim suddenly comes into action. She pads over to Mama's ear and whispers to her.

Mama must understand because she suddenly nods sullenly, just a tad; her response.

I move forward and hug her.

By the time April has come, Mama is settled nicely at the sanatorium under Doctor Aurelius' watchful eye. Our bags are already packed, and our house in now not ours, and our neighbours in Twelve have bid us farewell.

We've said our goodbyes to Mama and we have to get on the train to take us to the docks where Ciocia and Wujek are waiting on a boat to take us back to Canada. I feel my jitters coming up, exciting me.

To be continued…


Polish Words Glossary:

Pani- Mrs, Miss, Adult woman, (shows respect)

Mama- mother

Tata- father

Ciocia- Aunt

Wujek- Uncle

Warszawa- Warsaw, Poland

Tak- yes

Ja- I

Dostałam- got

list- letter

od-from

Przepraszam-excuse me/pardon

Szkole-school

Przerwie-break time/free time/recess

Obiad-lunch

Nauczycielka-teacher (female)

Dzieci-kids/children