Disclaimer: I do not own The Hunger Games series
I hold the bow just like she taught me. The arrow poised against my fingers. My eyes quickly scan the forest until I spy my prey. A doe. My hands begin to shake and the branch below me begins to quiver. Don't mess up! Don't mess up! Don't mess up! The branch cracks and the doe is off. I let the arrow escape and it flies quickly disappearing through the trees completely missing my prey. I stumble backwards but catch myself before I fall.
"Oh, come on!" I groan in frustration. "Are you kidding me?"
My outburst must have scared off all the animals in the area. I climb down from the tree and land on the ground with a soft thud. My boots are dirty from the forest ground and my hands red and scraped from climbing trees all morning. Its Saturday and like always I find myself out in the outskirts of District 12 practicing my hunting skills. But who am I kidding. I'll never be as good as mommy dearest.
I walk through the trees in the direction my arrow went. You'd think after years of practicing I'd be able to take down a small doe. But not even the Mockingjay's blood that runs through my veins can help me. I'm very much like my mother- or at least people say I am. I look much like her but I have my father's blue eyes. Something she says she loves. But I do not believe for one second that I am like my mother besides in looks. My mother is…well, how can I even begin to explain my mother? She's something of a legend throughout the districts. And I? I can't even walk a straight line. My mother can shoot down a flock of ducks in under five minutes. I trip on my own feet. My mother brought down the Capitol. I'm pretty sure I'm failing my physics class. It is pretty obvious. Still, people keep insisting we're almost the same person. Perhaps in looks but in hunting skills? I think I inherited from my father in that department.
I find my arrow embedded in a tree. It takes me a while before I manage to yank it back out. I sigh to myself, "At least I caught a tree." I try to laugh at my own misfortune but I only feel even more pathetic. I sling my bow over my shoulder and decide to head home- but not before going to my favorite spot. The meadow. Not only do I need the peace and tranquility but I need an excuse as to why I came home empty handed. And to think I'd stroll through town with that doe. I really fooled myself this time.
I sit on the meadow where my younger brother and I used to play as children. I know now that I sit upon a graveyard. In school we learned about the Rebellion and of course, the infamous Hunger Games. I know that my parents were a part of them. Together they won the 74th annual Hunger Games and led the rebellion that my mother unwillingly or unknowingly sparked. But what I do not know, are the details of their stories. The reasons why my mother wakes during the night screaming our names. Why my father must compose himself to fight back the flash backs that haunt him. Why there is the constant question of, "Real or not real?" echoed through the halls of my home.
I remember when I was little and would have nightmares my mom would come in to my room to calm me. Dad said I always cried for her even though he was better at comforting us. I guess it was because she was familiar with all those nightmares, herself. But I used to cry about silly things. Like monsters under my bed or strange men in the closet. Things that weren't half as terrifying as what my own parents had seen with their very own eyes.
Mom would sit down next to me and say, "Ivy, dreams can't hurt you. Real or not real?"
I'd look at her with tear filled eyes and answer, "Real."
"You are brave, real or not real?" I'd frown upon this question but she always smiled and said, "Real. You are very brave, little bird."
There never were any monsters under my bed or strange men in my closet. But they were present in my dreams and even more so in my mother's. I remember when I was five, I asked her if monsters existed. My question stumped her but at that age I could not comprehend why she couldn't answer me. Now I know. There are monsters, she's seen them. She just didn't have the heart to tell me.
I used to dance upon this graveyard. My brother struggled to keep up with me as our parents watched us. I smile at the memories of my childhood. And wish I was four years old again. I pick a flower from the ground. Mom used to make little crowns with them and place them on me. Dad used to pick me up in his arms and spin me around. They were the happiest moments of my life. Then when everything was calm my mom would begin to sing and all the birds would go silent.
After another moment of self pity, I stand to my feet and leave the meadow, my childhood memories behind with it. I make my way back to District 12 where I enter under the shabby fence. It had not been turned on for years but the people feel safer with it around. I guess old habits die hard. Not many people live in District 12, less then before the bombs destroyed it but more then when my mother first returned after the rebellion. Still, every single pair of eyes looks down at me expecting me to live up to her. My mother. District 12's winning tribute. The Girl on Fire. The Mockingjay. Every thing I am not. I walk pass the homes of the Seam and up to the Victor's Village where we live. Only two houses are occupied, however, Uncle Haymitch's house looks shabby and abandoned- like always. Dad's home as a victor is empty since he moved in with mom before they were even married. I often sneak in when I need time to myself.
When I arrive, I find my younger brother, Luke, sitting on the porch. He looks bored and somewhat anxious. "Hey," I say. Luke's eleven. Four years younger then me.
He looks up at me with his gray Seam eyes. Eyes of our mother. "Hey." he answers.
I fix my empty bag over my shoulder, "What are you doing out here?"
Luke is everything an eleven-year-old boy pretty much is. Rambunctious with a knack of getting in to mischief. So I'm not surprised that he's out here. He must have gotten in to some trouble and dad was bound to come out and give him a good talking to. He leans his lanky body back. His blond hair is shaggy and getting long to the point where mom keeps brushing his bangs out of his face. Dad then jokes about taking him to her stylists back in the Capitol. "Peeta!" Mom gasps, "Not even as a joke." Dad only laughs.
"Dad asked me to wait for him here."
"Oh no," I sigh, "What you do this time?"
"Nothing." He mumbles hiding his eyes. Lies.
I raise my brow at him, "Seriously."
Luke groans throwing a pebble he had been holding in his hand, "I was playing in Uncle Haymitch's backyard."
There it is. A sole purpose to send my mother on a rampage. She worries about us a lot but I could not blame her. Uncle Haymitch's backyard is somewhere I dare not go. Not with his flock of killer geese ready to attack at any moment. Does he even feed those things? They are probably starving for the taste of human flesh by now. I swear it could be a perfect arena for the games if they still existed.
"I thought she warned you to stay out of there. You didn't kill a goose with that slingshot of yours, did you?"
"No!" He retorts, "I didn't kill a goose." He buries his cheeks in his hands. His pink lips pout slightly.
I laugh and ruffle his messy blond hair, "Good luck. You'll need it."
"Well, if I had killed an animal then at least that makes one of us!" He calls back.
This makes me come to a complete halt, "What?"
"Pfft, who are you kidding, Ivy? You couldn't shoot a rabbit if it was hanging right in front of you."
"You little weasel." I grab him by the shirt completely offended by his comment.
Luke isn't particularly fond of the bow, he'd rather shoot things with the sling shot Uncle Haymitch gave him for his eighth birthday. Something my mother completely dreaded. No vase or window survived that year. Still, the little punk has a better shot with that thing then I do with my bow.
"Ivy." I hear my name in a stern voice and look to see my father standing at the door. His arms are crossed and his brow is lifted at me. I let Luke go and smile, "Hey dad."
He chuckles, "Hi Ivy. How'd it go?"
Luke laughs and I elbow him, "Fine."
"Catch anything?" He asks but I know he knows I didn't.
"Didn't try to." I lie.
Dad only smiles and walks over to me planting a kiss on my head, "Alright. I left you some cheese buns in the kitchen in case you're hungry."
"Thanks, Dad." I say and head inside leaving dad to tend to Luke. Its then I hear him begin, "Alright, mister." but the rest is muffled when the sweet smell of cheese buns fill my nose. I had left so early I didn't catch breakfast, heck, I didn't catch anything. Just a tree.
Dad rebuilt his parent's bakery back in town. He bakes and paints. Mom teaches a survival class at the school. I was her student one year. It…it was quite embarrassing. I'm not sure which one of us was more embarrassed though. And I hated the way everyone expected me to pass that class. Either because the Mockingjay was my mother and I had obviously inherited her skills or she would just pass me because I was her daughter. Neither, I passed because I worked hard at it. I earned it.
It is then my mom walks in to the kitchen. She holds a piece of rope in her hands. She uses it to calm down after some sort of episode. I'm pretty sure Luke brought this one on. It takes her a moment to realize I'm sitting there with my cheeks filled with cheese bun. "Ivy." she says surprised to see me. I guess she hadn't expected me home so early. "You're home early." Mom is still young and beautiful as ever. True, years of night terrors and old scars have worn her down but she still finds a way to shine. Even if she denies it. I did not have the heart to tell her I grew tired of failing so I came home early to bury my feelings with bread and sweets.
I swallow my bread, "Yeah, I-" but I could not find an excuse. Mom could see right through lies as if they were water. She saw my sad attempt at covering up my failures but before she could say anything Luke and dad came in to the kitchen.
"Now, you'll go apologize to him today before dinner, alright Luke?"
Luke sighs defeated, "Alright."
Dad looks to mom and sighs, "No slingshot for a month."
I take this opportunity to jump to my feet and escape before my parents begin to drill me with any more questions. I hurry up to my room upstairs at the end of the hall. I close my door, drop my empty bag on the floor and fall back on my bed. When I was little, my dad painted the forest on my walls along with cute little animals and a beautiful blue sky. His paintings were beautiful and I never had the heart to paint over them. No matter how old I get. I look to the Mockingjay he painted on a branch and sigh. Nor could I ever paint over the Mockingjay that watches me so closely.