we are shining
and we'll never be afraid again
Florence + the Machine, "Spectrum"
Thursday, April 10
"So, you draw?" Katniss asks me one sunny afternoon – the afternoon of our first date.
I suppose my first date with Katniss Everdeen technically was that day at the lake, but, our first date date occurred about a week later.
We are in the woods outside Twelve, sprawled across a rock ledge, eating blackberries we had plucked from the bushes around us.
"Obviously." I smile at her choice of words. "You make it sound so... useless," I say, barely suppressing a laugh.
"No offense, but it kinda is," she tells me in an apologetic tone.
"Would you care to give it a shot?" I suggest.
Katniss purses her lips. "I'm good at a lot of things; drawing isn't one of them," she shrugs.
I retrieve my charcoal pencil and smooth the crumpled pad of paper on my lap.
"Okay, then. Can you please stay still now?" I implore.
"Fine, whatever," she mutters.
Today is the first time in ten years that I hear her sing.
"Sing something. For me," I say.
"Sing some—" Katniss purses her lips in scruple.
She closes her eyes, takes in a deep breath.
"Deep in the meadow, under the willow
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow," she croons in a soft, melodic voice.
My eyes go wide. Whatever memories I have from that first day at school are too blurry, pale in comparison to what I am hearing now.
I notice a flock of mockingjays stopping their own song and listen to Katniss.
"Lay down your head, and close your eyes
And when they open, the sun will rise.
Here it's safe, and here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet–
–and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.
Here is the place where I love you."
I am mesmerized – so much so, that I barely notice the tears streaming down Katniss' face, as she sings the last notes of the song.
"I'm sorry," she whispers sorrowfully. I can tell this song hits close to home. "My dad used to sing it to me," she says with a weak smile. "I guess it just reminds me of him."
I wrap my arms around her.
"I'm sorry. I can't fathom what it feels like, having lost a loved one," I whisper into her ear. "I suppose I'll think of what if feels like losing you," I allow.
Katniss turns her face to face me – the world around me turning into blurry, inconsistent patterns, as she tentatively leans in.
"It's weird," I tell her, as she fumbles with her braid.
Katniss bites her lower lip. "What is weird?" she eventually asks.
"Up until... recently, you have been ignoring me. You weren't exactly nice to me and— Well, you get the point. How come the sudden change of heart?" I inquire.
"I thought you loved me despite all of my flaws," she replies, pouting slightly.
"No, but really. Who are you and what did you do to Katniss?" I banter.
Katniss simply shrugs.
"I guess I was wrong," she allows after a while.
"Wrong about what?"
"I don't know. People, I suppose."
"Wrong about people in what way?"
Katniss considers my question for a minute. "My community did nothing to help my family when we were starving," she says.
"Yeah, but—" I frown slightly. "Don't most people from the Seam suffer the same fate as you?" I ask. "In many ways, you would be considered lucky compared to them."
Katniss shakes her head. "No, no, no. I don't mean them. No offense, Peeta, but aren't townspeople better off? What ever happened to the sense of community and other grandiose perceptions of interdependence and commitment?"
I think about Katniss' obviously rhetorical question. She's right. While no one can say they truly are better of, the people of the merchant class got the lion's share. While the Seam industry —coal mining, essentially— was the one that sustained District Twelve, it was always the miners and their families that starved. Never the florist, never the draper. Never the butcher. Never the baker.
"And I suppose you've realized that I'm not like that," I infer.
"I've known that for much longer than that," she says softly.
"I had a name for you," Katniss admits after a while.
Oh. So, she had noticed me. "What was it?" I ask.
"The boy with the bread," she says, staring at her hands laying on her lap.
I can't help but crack a smile. After all, that was all I ever was to her. The boy with the bread.
As if on cue with my my thoughts, Katniss adds, "That was all you were to me – before. So, I suppose your apparent inability to properly tie your shoelaces was a real piece of luck for you."
I laugh. "I'm surprised you actually remember this," I say. "And, yeah, I guess it really was." I bite the inside of my cheek. "I could probably say the same about Prim's fondness for me," I retort with a smirk.
"Perhaps," she admits.
I fiddle with her hair, braiding it in intricate patterns.
"What are you doing?" she asks, her voice developing a familiar edge – the edge of hesitant, suspicious, incredulous Katniss.
"Just practicing my knots," I tell her.
After a while, my hands go still.
"What is it?" Katniss asks, her voice barely audible through the rustling of leaves and the moan of the afternoon wind.
"I wish I could freeze this moment, right here, right now, and live in it forever," I confess.
"Okay," she murmurs, and I know that, right here, right now, we're invincible.