I own nothing of the amazing series The Hunger Games by the genius Suzanne Collins
Chapter 3: The Goodbye
One winter night, my mother made me stay up late to chop firewood. Exhausted, I didn't wake up the next morning. My brothers gathered some snow from outside, and Rory poured it on my sleeping body. The shock was tremendous, and it was extremely, bitterly cold.
That's how this feels. This doesn't make sense. On slip in thousands. The odds were completely in her favor! But that doesn't matter. The Capitol doesn't care. And I hate them with all my heart.
The crowd sounds displeased with a twelve-year old being reaped. But no one does anything to stop it. Prim is deathly pale and her fists are clenched as she walks to the stage. She passes Katniss, who is stiff. As Prim passes me, I'm watching Katniss. As Prim tucks in her blouse, I see something in Katniss. A fire. I know what she'll do. I prepare myself.
"Prim!" Katniss cries as she moves through the crowd. "Prim!" Katniss catches up to her sister and pushes her away. "I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!"
The people onstage are surprised, but I'm not. I've known Katniss for five years. We haven't had a volunteer in decades. I'm not sure they know what to do. "Lovely!" Effie says after a moment's hesitation. Her voice, overly peppy, makes me want to vomit. "But I believe there's a small matter of introducing the reaping winner and then asking for volunteers, and if one does come forth then we, um..." She stops.
"What does it matter?" Mayor Undersee says. "What does it matter? Let her come forward." I know Prim won't let Katniss go easily. Without even realizing it, I've headed up to where they are. Prim pleads with Katniss, but she doesn't listen. Instead, she speaks harshly to her little sister.
I grab Prim around the waist, and she fights me. "Up you go, Catnip." I say. There's so much I want to tell her but I'm surprised I can even say that much. It takes all the willpower I have to keep it together. I want to stop Katniss from walking onstage. I want to pull her close, wrap her in my arms, tell her that the Capitol can't hurt her and her family. That this is just a bad dream. But it's not. This is real. So, Katniss does walk on the stage and I take Prim away to her mother.
"Well, bravo!" Effie Trinket gushes. "That's the spirit of the Games!" As I make my way back to my area, the announcer's reaction to what just happened makes me nausoues. "What's your name?"
"Katniss Everdeen." my best friend says, emotionless. I know she's hiding her feelings so she doesn't look weak. Weakness is deadly in the Arena.
"I bet my buttons that was your sister. Don't want her to steal all the glory, do we? Come on, everybody! Let's give a big round of applause to our newest tribute!"
All is silent. No person, not even the ones who don't care, clap. Then, I feel moved to do something I haven't done since my dad's funeral. I touch three fingers of my left hand to my mouth and hold them up to Catnip. It means good-bye, admiration, and thanks. Its normally done at funerals, but this feels like one. The guys closest to me notice, and follow my example. Then the people close to them, until almost everyone in the crowd of over eight thousand is doing it.
Katniss is about to cry, but I don't think she knows I started it. Fortunately, before anyone can notice her coming tears, Haymitch Abernathy decides to congratulate her. "Look at her. Look at this one!" He throws an arm around Katniss. "I like her! Lots of..." He thinks, not knowing a good word to use. "Spunk!" He smiles, triumphant. "More than you!" Haymitch lets go of Katniss and goes to the front of the stage. "More than you!" He points directly at the cameras.
Is he actually taunting the Capitol? Does he actually have the guts to, or is it just the alcohal? I'll never know. Before he could continue, Haymitch falls offstage, passed out. While everyone else stares at the unconsious man, my eyes turn to Katniss. She makes a small, choking sound, then composes herself.
I try to catch her attention, but her mind is elsewhere. Maybe with Prim. Maybe about the weeks to come. Maybe she just realized what she did. Katniss stares off into the distance, to our woods.
Haymitch leaves on a stretcher, and Effie gets back to business. "What an exciting day!" She straightens her wig. "But more excitement to come! Its time to choose our boy tribute!" Its obvious she's rushing through, embarrassed by her "fashion" error. She holds her wig in palce as she hurries to the boy's ball. The one that has Gale Hawthorne written forty-two times. Effie practically runs back to the podium. I don't even have time to worry about myself.