Together, We Survive

“Who taught you to hunt?”
“My father. He is in the mines at the moment.”
“Mine, too. You know Catnip, I can show you to use these snares, if you teach me how to hunt. My family would be pleased,” Gale suggests.
“As would mine,” I respond.

This is only the beginning of their journey of helping each other survive the deadly, dystopia society they are forced to live in.

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2. Chapter 2.

I enter the woods, the day now being Sunday. I jog over to the spot where I said I’d meet Gale, but he’s not there. He never said a time though, so I hope I’m not late.

I sit down a near by rock, and look up at the tree tops, the blue sky peeking through the branches. I really wish Father was here to hunt, but he is again in the mines today. He usually doesn’t work on weekends, but a big project is going on and they need his help.

Gale slashes the small trees away with his arms, and comes into the clearing.

“You’re going to teach me how to hunt today, right?” he asks eagerly.

“If you teach me how to use snares,” I say.

“Okay, but let’s shoot first.”

“Did you bring your bow?”

Gale stares at me blankly.

“Follow me.”

I take Gale over to a hollowed out log a few feet away. I bend down and slide out a bow and a quiver filled with arrows. I hand it to him, and he takes it with the eyes of a child who just got a new toy.

“We’re going to climb…” I look around, “that tree.” I point to a nice tree, easy for climbing.

“You expect me to climb that?” Gale asks.

“It’s easy. Watch me and do what I do.” I make my way to the tree and place my hands and feet in a good position. I pull myself up, and grab another branch. I get on top, then climb to one more branch and sit on it. “Your turn.”

Gale places his hands and feet on the same spots I did. He reaches for the first branch and pulls up. He grabs another branch, but it’s weak and snaps.

“Gale!” I scream, as he tumbles to the ground. I climb down halfway, and then jump. “Are you okay?” I say, pulling him off the ground. He stands, but bends over to catch his breath, He fell from about 8 feet.

“Let’s,” he gasps, “stay… on the… ground.” I nod my head, and I lead him over to a rock structure. We hide in the little hollowed out part of the rock, so the rock hangs over us.

“We have to be quiet and patient now,” I say.

About 10 minutes later, an injured duck shakely falls from flying with it’s group. It lands near us, and starts flapping it’s wings, trying to get back up.

“Okay, put an arrow on, and pull back your string.” Gale does what I say. “Now aim, and when you’re ready, release.” Gale aims, releases, and misses by about 5 feet to the left of the duck. “It takes practice,” I reassure him.

“You could survive the Hunger Games,” Gale tells me. I don’t like the sound of that. I realize this is my first year to have a chance being picked. I look at Gale with worry. “Sorry,” he says, reading my emotions.

“So, here I am, a fourteen year old boy, trying to learn how to shoot an arrow from a twelve year old girl.”

“It takes practice. I wasn’t good right away.” We sit in silence for a few seconds.

Those seconds are quickly replaced by a deafening noise. It sounds like thunder, but way louder. The ground shakes below us.

“We have to get out of here,” Gale says, quickly getting up. “Here’s your bow.”

“Keep it for now. Return it next time we hunt.” I start running out of the woods, Gale by my side. We bolt under the fence and to our homes, not saying a word.

“Mom? Prim?” I rush in the door. Prim comes up and hugs me with her small arms. “Where’s Mom?”

“In the square, waiting to hear what happened. Many adults are gathering,” Prim responds in her high voice. I nod my head and look out the window. Towards the square, a mob of people are standing there.

***

About 2 hours later, the adults break up, bringing back news. I see the baker, and I remember my squirrel I shot yesterday. I grab it on my way out the door.

“Mr. Mellark!” I yell, getting close to him.

“Katniss!” he says, turning around. “I’m afraid there’s been terrible news, but your mother should tell you.” He kisses the top of my forehead. He can talk to me because his wife isn’t here. “What do you have today?”

“A squirrel.”

“Perfect.” He smiles and takes me to the bakery. “Stay out here,” he instructs me, while he goes inside.

It starts to rain, so I go sit under a tree. Mr. Mellark soon comes out, nothing in hand.

“Take this back. We have nothing today. I’m sorry, but we don’t even have food for ourselves.”

“It’s okay. You keep the squirrel. You have a bigger family than me.”

He smiles. “Thank you, Katniss. You’re a kind soul.” He kisses my forehead once more, then goes back inside.

I sit at the base of the tree, watching the rain fall from the grey sky. I don’t want to go home yet, even though I’m almost frozen to the bone in my soaking wet, thin cloth I wear I’m forced to call clothes. I don’t even want to go home to hear about this terrible “news” Mr. Mellark speaks of.

I hear a scream that pulls me out of my thoughts. It’s a scream of anger. A woman, who I know as Mrs. Mellark, comes out with her boy. That boy, I know I’ve seen. Probably at school.

He has blonde hair, that is covered in soot. He must clean the ovens. He wears light blue clothes and a white apron, matching his parents. His mother raises her hand, and smacks him right across the face. It leaves a bright red mark.

“You don’t burn the bread!” she screams, then goes back inside.

He turns towards their pigs, and tosses them a loaf. He spots me, and I guess I looked as hungry as I felt, because he tosses me the other loaf. We stare at each other for a brief second, then he goes inside.

I pick it up, and start to slowly walk home. I get home about 20 minutes later, receiving a bawling Prim and a depressed Mother.

“Father’s dead!” Prim shouts at me.

“What?” I whisper, in shock.

“I’m sorry. He died in a mine explosion today,” Mother says, her voice cracking.

I throw the bread on the table and hug Prim. We stay that way for a few minutes. I then pull away and head to my room.

I sit on my bed, shedding several tears. I sit in silence, thinking about how this could happen.

“Why, why why?” I whisper, starting to let the tears fall uncontrollably. I think about the other people who had loved ones taken by the accident. Gale said his father was in the mines. What was his fate? Did he return to his home? Or is he with my father in a better place?

I start thinking about other losses, and the Hunger Games comes to mind. Each year, twenty-three families lose a child. I pray for them, and those who had loss in the accident.

Gale said I could win the Hunger Games. I hope I’m not picked. I hope I never get picked, and neither does Prim. If one of us died, it would tear this family apart, ripping the seams farther apart. For now, we’ll just have to try to stitch them back up.  

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