What About My Sister?
I’m panicking. I stand as still as possible and hope with everything I have that neither of us will be noticed and we can survive another year. Her name is in there 20 times. She thinks that I am worried for myself, because my name is in the Reaping this year, but I’m not. I know my chances. I knew the day I turned twelve. I begged her to let me put my name in more! She wouldn’t listen! I don’t know what I’d do without her.
I freeze. My blood freezes in my veins. My heart stops. My breathing stops. What am I going to do without Katniss? If I don’t take a step forward then I will pass out. If I do take a step forward I'm doomed.
Katniss calls my name and I know I’m going to cry. Stop talking. Don’t call my name. I know I can do this, just don’t remind that I am not alone in this world. I take a few tentative steps forward. My legs feel like lead and I can feel a thousand pairs of eyes staring at me. Burning holes into my back. A thousand sighs of relief kept inside because they were not chosen. Nowhere in the mix do I hear my mother. I have no idea where she is. I don’t even know if she is registering what is happening. Katniss is struggling with the Peace Keepers who try to keep her back. I don’t want her to come near me because then I know I will lose it.
“I volunteer as tribute!”
No. No! That's not supposed to happen! A thousand gruesome images cross my mind of Hunger Games, years past. She escaped! All those times that her name was in the Reaping and she escaped. Why is she throwing herself back into the mix?
The announcer, Effie Trinket, looks agast. So far as I know, no one has ever volunteered in District 12. Someone around me is crying and screaming. I can’t figure out who it is until Katniss pushes wet fingers across my face. I’m crying. I can’t deal with this. She is all I have left in the world. She tells me to go to Mother but I don’t want to. Mother can’t keep Katniss safe.
Katniss is pushed towards the stage and she walks forward. She looks determined. Her jaw is clenched and I know this wouldn’t be happening to her if it wasn’t for me. This is all my fault. I am too weak to protect myself so Katniss has to throw her life in front of mine. Doesn’t she know we won’t survive without her?
My mind doesn’t even register the boy tribute. I don’t register the same pain that his family is going through. My mind goes numb. I work on numbing my emotions.
If Katniss is going to win... no, survive the Hunger Games, then the other tributes can no longer be people to me. They are merely objects in the way of my sister.
Peace Keepers approach me and say that my Mother and I are allowed to say goodbye to “the tribute”.
“Katniss,” I blurt out.
“What?” He says. He looks at me for second like no one has ever done that before.
“Her name is Katniss and she is coming back.” My voice quivers at the end but my message was sent. One of the Peace Keeper’s face softens. Recognition flashes in his eyes.
“I know,” he says, “she always shot the eye.” He must been one of the Peace Keepers that my sister sold her illegal game to. My throat tightens and my eyes well with tears but I refuse to cry in front of him.
We walk briskly, but all I want to do run. I want to run past the last place I might ever see my sister. I want to run past the place where the Peace Keepers are dragging me. I want to run past it all and forget. I don’t want anyone to see because then they will know it's my fault, too. They will all know...
My feet shuffle into something. I look down. We have reached the staircase to the building. My final goodbyes with my sister. My legs weigh me down as I walk. The air thickens around me. It’s getting harder to breathe. I’m suffocating. I burst through the doors and there she is. I run to her before she can move.
*insert book lines here*
I don’t hear what she says to mother. I know though. Katniss is afraid, not of the capital and the games, but that mother will leave me again. That mother will be gone and I will have no one. I want to cry louder and hold on. I don’t want to ever let her go. She has to win. No matter what.
On my way out with my mother, I see Gale walk into the building escorted by two Peace Keepers. They have a tight grip on his arms like he might run. He would. He would run if he thought it would protect anyone. I help my mother shuffle home. She has already begun to retreat but there is something in her eyes that says she is trying not to. I will have to talk to Gale tomorrow.
Every morning I wake up shivering. The nightmares plague my sleep. Katniss calling my name. Katniss sleeping and getting ambushed while she sleeps. I sit up. I don’t sleep in my bed anymore, I sleep in front of the television. In the richer districts, the broadcasts are 24 hours. In District 12, the television flickers on when the fighting starts. It’s just another way the capital controls us. Nothing has happened for a couple of hours now. I should eat something while I have the chance.
Lady hasn’t been milked in a couple of days. I haven’t had the motivation to do much. It’s been three days since Katniss first entered the Arena. I was relieved when she managed to escape the cornucopia, but her trek through the Arena makes her less the focus of the Capital cameras. I wish I could tell her everything. I wish I could tell her about the other tributes that would move in her direction. I wish I could tell her not to trust Peeta.
I hate Peeta. The boy tribute from my district has made it harder and harder for Katniss to win. First, he claims he loves her, but then he joins the careers and he keeps leading them closer to her. I wish the careers would kill him so he would be out of the way. Katniss doesn’t even know that he is using her.
Gale knocks on the door. With Katniss, Gale was always relaxed and could be himself. Recently he has become withdrawn. Rory says that Gale has been trading more of the game that he hunts in the black markets and with Greasy Sae. Rory is just like his brother. He tries so hard to remain cold and unattached to things, but you can see that he cares.
“Here.” Gale tosses a bag of rabbit in my direction and it lands on the table. He knows that Katniss had always prepared any meat in the past, and that I don’t know how to properly clean anything or prepare it. The rabbit is skinned and cleaned.
He turns to leave again, but I stop him just before he steps over the threshold.
“Wait...” There’s not really a good way to say this, but I need him to know. “Please, I’m worried about her too... but... You’re going to get yourself caught!”
Gale takes a deep breath before he turns again. His face is a mask. I can’t read him. “You sound like her.” He’s referring to Madge. “She was down by the Fence again trying to stop me.” The way he says it you know he feels threatened. “You don’t understand. If I don’t give what I have to sponsor her, she won’t make it...” His voice trails off like he just realized who he was talking to. He exhales loudly and waves. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He walks out the door before I can say anything else.
I go to my mother. She hasn’t left her bed since the Reaping day. She refuses to watch the games despite my constant warnings that she will get it trouble.
“Gale brought rabbit,” I whisper. She rolls over. Her eyes are glassy and the bags underneath tell me she hasn’t slept, despite laying in her bed. She sees the television begin to glow behind me and averts her eyes. I spin around quickly to see what’s happening. The girl from 8 has started a fire and the camera pans out to show the audience that the careers are nearby and hunting her. I feel bad but Katniss is nowhere in the vicinity so I turn back to mother. She has rolled back over and refuses to look at me. Nothing I say will convince her at this point. I no longer have an appetite either.
I return to my position in front of the glowing screen, my only connection to Katniss anymore. My eyes blur with tears. Gale is beyond reason. The Hawthorne’s are going to starve. My mother is killing herself slowly. I am all alone in District 12, but what about my sister?