I would have never thought any of this would happen to me. My story starts back right after the 74th Hunger Games reaping. Firstly, let me introduce myself. I'm Cinema. My mother was forced to move from district 2. She was a healer back in the more favored district and the best in her field. The Capitol sent her to district 12 to heal the miners that seem to injure themselves endlessly. Thanks to the paychecks my mother receives from the Capitol for her "out of district" work we don't live in the seam with the poorest. My father still goes off every morning to the mines and my younger brother will be following him if he can stay alive until his time comes. As the older of the two, I've been put under apprenticeship of my mother by the Capitol. I'll be the head healer of district 12 when sickness inevitably takes my mother's life. As the future of district 12's health the reaping isn't stressful for me. Each year, half my slips are replaced for someone else's name.
After the reaping that 74th year, I saw Gale take off to the forest. I'm not going to lie, even though I'm better off than him; I've always had a crush on Gale Hawthorne. The thing is, unlike the dozens of girls pining after him, I'm a boy. I've followed Gale many times in mornings where I didn't find myself having to train with my mother. I've been told I'm a natural healer, already as proficient as my mother at only 17. Gale stopped at an open field, I hid behind a tree a few minutes before going over to him and sitting down in the grass. "Why are you following me? Shouldn't you be celebrating? Your family is safe." His tone was angry; I'd seen him with Katniss all those days when I hid. I knew they were close.
"I would be, but I feel responsible for Prim's name being called. I didn't take out any tesserae hoping that maybe this year, since I had only 4 slips that they wouldn't take my name out and replace it with someone else's but they still did. They replaced it with Prim's. I flinched, putting my head down to cower when I saw his hand come up but the impact never came, and instead he put his hand on top of my head.
"It's fine. They would do that after all. They don't want 12's future healer to die in the Hunger Games. I'm sure that if your name had been picked, someone would have taken your place." I just looked at him and carefully placed my head on his shoulder.
"I'm sorry." I whispered. My gazed turned to the other side of the field. I saw a bird flying away as fast as it could from something. I recognized it as a mocking jay. Gale noticed the bird too and quickly stood up, grabbing my arm, and pulled me back towards the city, feet rushing. I glanced back over my shoulder to see a huge black panther was running towards us. Gale took a quick turn and pushed me up against a tree that had a sort of alcove in its trunk.
I blushed at the closeness of our two bodies and turned to face the ground. The panther ran past us but Gale didn't let us move for a few more moments. I looked up and saw that he had moved closer to me. He grabbed my arm and we ran back to the fence. I went under first and he followed. As soon as we were back in the safety of the meadow inside 12's fences I asked, "How did you know that was going to happen?"
"Hunting teaches you a lot. Seems the panthers in these woods took a liking to mocking jays but they're fast so the panther will usually look for something on the ground when its prey takes off in flight." He stood up and dusted his clothes. I could see drops of red staining the grass at his feet where I was sitting, still panting from the rapid chase. I looked up to notice his arm bleeding. It was my turn to grab his arm, making sure not to touch the cut, and drag him to safety. Safety, in this case, being my house. I pushed him down on a chair and took out my kit to clean and bandage the wound.
"You took care of me so I'll take care of you." I said as I finished tying the bandage. I looked up from my work to see his eyes fill with water. I took his head and put it to my chest as his arms wrapped around my body and holds me close. "I knew that you'd be holding back from crying about Katniss." I continued to rub his head patiently as he cried the loss of his best friend.
I took the time to remember how Gale and I met. It was one of those nights where my parents were fighting so I had taken off. As I was running from the house it started to rain and my foot slipped. I fell and scraped both my knees and hands. I was trying to get up and felt a hand on my shoulder. "What are you doing out here? You're hurt." I felt for the first time that someone finally cared about me. Sure, everyone knew who I was but if I developed a cough or gotten a cut they'd just send me back to my mother, never taking the time to help me themselves. So Gale helped me up and took me to his house where I sat in a chair while he rummaged around the house for his small first aid kit that his mother kept around for the younger children's minor injuries.
"Why are you taking care of me? Why not send me to my mother?" I had asked.
"Because your mother will not always be around to take care of you." He raised my chin up so I would look him in the eyes. "You need to trust others to help take care of you. I want to help you because you will be taking care of me one day."
"I took care of you," I said to remind him. I heard him chuckle through his tears.
"Yeah. You're better at taking care of people than I am. It might be because you're trained though. This might sound weird but do you mind if I keep you like this a little longer?"
I smiled and tightened my hold on him. "Take all the time you need. You just lost your best friend. Who knows, maybe she'll come out victorious."