Hello again, long lost land of fanfiction! Apologies for my long absence; I've been working on a screenplay and/or novel based on this fanfiction but I have terrible motivational block. I'm hoping that sharing my work in progress here will spurn me to work faster and get my research done. I love the subject matter and frankly, am tired of me holding myself back.
While the work here is not factually accurate; the screenplay/novel will be. That being said, if you note a date or a term I've misused, please let me know.
Glad to be back!
A Journey North
"Katniss? It's time to go."
Katniss quietly dug her fingernails into the pale blue fabric of the armchair. A listless breeze was picking up in the late morning and it tugged at the leaves of the fading dogwood outside.
"I'm ready." Katniss stood up and smoothed the worn dress with her hands. She detested the smocked waist and little yellow flowers. She wanted her uniform dress. But he had bought this dress for her when she graduated the nursing program. Before he went to France. So she wore it for him.
Her mother offered her a pinched smile that Katniss did not return.
"The car is just outside," Rudolph Thorne stammered from the door. His plump hands crushed his hat. He glanced at Katniss's stony face. "I'm so very sorry, Miss."
Katniss said nothing.
"Thank you for your kindness," her mother breathed, smiling at the butcher graciously. "Katniss?"
Katniss nodded silently and brushed past them both to take her coat from the rack by the door. Outside, the smell of fall hung heavy in the air. The sun was cool and feeble on the rolling grassland in which their modest farmhouse sat. It was a day he'd want to be outside, raking leaves. She'd have been with him.
She moved down the painted porch steps as she heard her mother emerge from the house behind her. She walked over to the gleaming limousine and reached for the door handle.
"Let me get that for you, miss." He hurried to join her and his greasy hand closed on the handle by hers. She could smell the years of meat and blood on him. She yanked her hand away too quickly.
She slid into the cold backseat bench. Her mother followed shortly thereafter. He hesitated, looking as though he thought to sit with them. But Katniss had not moved to the window and there was no room. He nodded with a nervous smile and closed the door. Katniss felt the shadow as he passed between her and the sun on his way to the passenger seat by the limousine driver.
"Katniss, please. Mr. Thorne is escorting us as a favor."
"He's not family. He doesn't belong with us."
"He's a friend and a gentleman."
Then he was waving to them from across the expanse to the front of the car and they were obligated to sit in silence in the dark, pristine cabin.
Katniss watched the buildings in the distance roll gently by as the car meandered into the small town. The sun was golden against the buildings.
It was a beautiful day. It was the day she'd been fearing since a chilly December morning over three years ago. It was a day she'd been fearing for a long time.
The phone had been ringing when they walked in from church that Sunday morning in December.
Katniss picked at the wool skirt nervously. She still wore her heavy winter coat and her boots dripped melting snow onto the living room rug under her foot. She curled into herself as she listened to her father's hushed voice on the phone. Her fingers found the fraying seam and she tugged at the skirt harder.
"Katniss, don't pull that," her mother fussed from her seat.
Adam Everdeen hung up the phone. "I've got to go, Emily," he told his wife. "I'm needed on post."
Katniss's mother nodded but her eyes betrayed the confusion and fear. Katniss glanced at her. "What they said on the radio, Dad...what did it mean?"
Adam sighed and rubbed his temples. Katniss watched his steady hands trace his eyebrows.
"It's begun." He paused. "There was a bombing at a naval base in Hawaii." Emily gasped.
He sat heavily into the chair opposite his daughter. "We lost a lot of boys," he mumbled. Katniss saw sunshine over blue water. Heard birds calling. The sweet smell of salt water and flowers becoming melting to burning fuel and blood.
She wondered if any of the boys she'd graduated high school with were there that morning.
"I'll go with you," she blurted out, sitting up. "To the post. I'll go with you."
"No, Katniss." He came back from his thoughts and stood, reaching for the wool coat he'd only taken off a few minutes prior. "You should stay here with your mother," Adam continued.
"You'll need help," Katniss insisted. "I'm quick with your paperwork."
"It's just a briefing, Nissy," he told her firmly. "You can help me out on Monday just like every other week."
"This isn't every other day." She stood up, worrying the buttons on her coat now. "I should be there with you."
He shrugged the coat onto his shoulders and turned to look at her. They were so very similar. His hair had faded to grey but it still betrayed the rusty brown she wore when the sun glinted off the strands. Her hazel eyes were the mirror image of his own. Her nose and lips belonged to her mother, but he proudly claimed her stubborn streak.
He took her in and managed a smile. "I'll be home late, Em. Don't wait up."
Katniss stood on the painted wood porch until she could no longer see his taillights over the rolling green land surrounding their modest Lynchburg farmhouse. Her mother finally pulled her in to the house, complaining of the cold. They picked at a small dinner of chicken soup and hot tea while they listened to the radio and were lost in the fear spreading over the nation: War had finally come.
Katniss stared at her mother's mute form across the table and angrily wished her father were with them. To say something. To say anything. After Emily had retired to her bedroom to read and sleep, Katniss had settled into his wingback chair to listen to the radio alone.
When he'd come home near midnight, Adam had found his daughter asleep on the stairs in her robe and slippers.
"Why aren't you in bed?" he whispered as she grimaced at the crick in her neck and yawned.
"I was waiting for you. What's going to happen?" she whispered. "To you?"
He sat on the step beside her. "I'm going to train new recruits. New medics. That's all, Nissy."
"They won't send you to Japan, will they?"
"No, no." He rubbed her back with his solid hand.
She breathed in relief. "I want to join up."
"Katniss," he said, "you're doing well enough in nursing school now. No need to start over after all this work."
"I don't think I'll need a bedside manners class when I'm teaching your boys how to give a tetanus shot," she said wryly.
He shook his head and smiled. "We'll see, all right? I need to think about this on a clear head." He stretched and yawned. "We both should get to bed."
She smiled. "Okay. I'll wake you when it's time for us to go to the post tomorrow."
He shook his head as she stood and climbed the stairs to her room.
She woke to the argument from the kitchen. She could see the fresh layer of crisp frost on the tree outside her window. She sat up and listened.
"She's twenty. Bobby Sweeney won't wait forever. The neighbors are all talking-"
"Emily, she'll be a fine nurse and nobody thinks less of her. She'll train other nurses here; she's not running off across the world."
"She would if she were following you," Emily snapped. Katniss heard something hit the basin in the sink and her mother's footsteps stomping up the stairs. She waited until the door to her parents' bedroom had slammed to slip her feet into the wool house shoes and wrap her robe around herself.
She gingerly opened her door and crept to the stairs.
"I was going to wake you," she said softly to her father's back.
He spun around in the squeaky kitchen chair. "Sorry, Niss. I didn't sleep well. Was up anyway."
She nodded and headed to the coffee pot. She poured it black, just like his.
He cleared his throat. "I think your mother has misgivings about your joining the nursing program, Katniss. Maybe you should speak with her first."
Katniss scoffed at the cup. "She wants me to marry Bobby Sweeney instead?" she asked in a sour voice.
"And why not?" he mused. "You've been sweethearts for nearly two years. It's about time you started thinking about it," he hinted.
"I suppose," she said. "But I want to serve first."
"Katniss, it's not just about what your mother thinks-"
"She doesn't understand, Dad. She never has."
He sat back in his chair. He shook his head. "Katniss, don't say such things. Your mother loves you very much."
She flushed. "I know. I'm – I'm sorry. But I want to help Dad. Working with Bobby Sweeney at his father's grocery store isn't going to save any lives."
"How do you know that? What if there's a carrot emergency in aisle four?"
She smiled against her will. "I think Bobby can handle the carrots."
"Can he handle your leaving?"
"I'm only a teller," she frowned. "I don't think Mr. Sweeney will have trouble finding a boy or girl from the high school to take over my register."
"No, Katniss. I mean, will Bobby have trouble?" her father asked.
She was silent for a moment. "He'll just have to," she said. "He'll just…he'll just have to," she repeated. She turned back to the counter and searched the breadbox for a slice of wheat.
"Katniss." His voice was beside her. "I'm very proud you want to be a nurse. I don't, however, want you to miss out on an opportunity for happiness. You'll be a fine wife and mother, too."
She forced a smile. "Thank you, Dad." She looked to him. "I just want to be a nurse first."
He laughed softly. "Oh, you do take after your old man. It's a miracle your mother can stand either of us."
"It is," Emily said, returning to the kitchen, fully dressed and pinning up her hair. "Katniss, you should dress for class. It's nearly eight."
"I'm going with Dad to the post today," she told her. "I'm going to register for the nursing corps."
"You're leaving school?" Her tone was clear.
"It's not too late for you to get spring tuition back," Katniss scowled.
"That's not my concern. My concern is your reputation. Adam, I thought you were going to speak to her."
"My reputation? Is that a joke?"
"You watch your tone with me, young lady," her mother warned.
"Emily," Adam broke in. "I'll take Katniss to the post today so she can get more information; I'm sure they haven't organized the volunteer enlistment office yet. And-" he cut off her protest, "It's a fine career and it will do her well. Bobby Sweeney wants a slew of children; that's a lot of skinned knees and summer colds to take care of."
Her mother looked unconvinced. Katniss stomped past her. "Where are you going?"
"I have to dress for enlistment."
To Be Continued...