4. Chapter Four
I go to bed that night with a single thought in my head, one that dawns above all others. One that keeps me awake all night. One that makes me toss so much in bed that mother comes in because the one time I fell asleep I was screaming.
"Oh, Willow, honey, what is it?" She asks. My face is drenched with perspiration, and so are the sheets. "You've woken us the whole neighborhood."
"Mom, I had a nightmare." The thought transformed to a dream, which quickly morphed into a nightmare.
"What about, darling?"
"The Capitol. Killing you, daddy, Rye-everyone."
"Honey-" Tears formed in mother's eyes. "The-the..."
She trails off.
"P-Peeta! Honey, come here."
Father comes in, a tired look on his face.
"What is it? Is Willow having trouble sleeping?"
She explains my nightmare to him. A serious, alert look comes over his face. He sits on the bed and looks me in the eye. In a deep and heavy yet considerate and serious voice he says,
"The Capitol is no longer run by President Snow. You are safe. We are safe. If you are ever in danger, which won't happen... whoever is endangering you better expect death."
He seems pretty serious. I look at him, wiping sweat from my brow.
"What if you're not there?"
"I'll always be there."
I believe him. I don't know how I couldn't.
"Yes, honey?" She has calmed down, stopped crying.
"What did the Capitol do to you guys?"
"I'll say only this. They've taken a lifetime of what could have been happiness from billions of people. Including me. And your father. And I don't ever, ever want you to have to live through that." She hugs me tightly.
I sleep happily. Thoughts uninterrupted. Dreams peaceful. The last of which I will have for a long time.
I wake up the next morning at the sound of glass breaking. It's still dark outside. I go downstairs to find out what the racket is, and I see a figure huddled on the ground. My instincts tell me to hide under the kitchen table. So I do. I look from under it, seeing the huddled figure a bit better in the dim light from my bedroom lamp, of which the door remains ajar. It has a...bag over its head? I look and see white socks with gray tips-the same father wore last night.
An idiot would think, "Someone stole fathers socks and tied his hands and placed a bag atop his head!"
But I'm no idiot. Father is the only person I see, so I scream, another instinct. I scream, "MOTHER! COME QUICK! FATHER'S IN TROUBLE!"
I run to the bag and pull it from his head. Father is bloody in the face and unconscious. Mother comes quickly runs into the kitchen and spots me trying to untie my father. She helps, whispering, "Who did this?"
We get our answer.
A man walks in. I can't see his face well. He is hiding it.
"Who are you?" Mother demands. "What do you want with Peeta?!"
The man steps toward us, and I can see his face better.
"Gale..." Mother gasps. She stares at him, tears quickly falling down her face, the ones that formed at the sight of her unconscious husband. "Why?"
"I didn't do this," he says. I can sense something uncertain in his voice. "I-I didn't mean to."
"How do you just accidentally knock my dad out and tie him up?" I growl.
"I was drugged. By the Capitol."
That sentence terrifies me. They apparently don't want father there to protect me. How do I know? In father's lap lays a letter, apparently written in bright pink lipstick, that says Who's gonna save you now? Mommy won't. She hasn't got long.
And there is only one person I know with bright pink lipstick.