Sometimes when I close my eyes I think about a certain day. Or maybe the day thinks about me. I don't have much choice in the matter. It's been years since the last Games, even more years since that day, but this memory seems to grow brighter day by day.
When I lie awake at night and Peeta is asleep, I'm briefly jealous of him getting the rest I need too, and then I stop looking at the ceiling of our bedroom and let my eyes slide shut. That's when I remember.
It was when I was fourteen, I think. Maybe not quite fourteen, now that I think about it. It was only my second reaping.
The Peacekeepers from the Capital had left, but our district was still hushed, quiet by quickly-remembered habit. I didn't know the tributes that year, and all I could think of was that I could finally do as I chose again. What a relief it was that the outsiders left, because I could finally restock our dwindling food supply. It had been two weeks since I'd hunted.
When I came back, my mother was alert, uncharacteristically waiting for me in the kitchen. I handed off my bounty and let her clean it up, skin the little piglet and the couple of ducks I shot, and dawdled in the doorway, not knowing what to say.
The next morning I took Prim to the forest.
I knew it was reckless. I never told anyone about it afterwards. I just thought in that moment, watching duck feathers flutter to the floor under my mother's hands, how sweet the forest air was compared to the stale smell of blood in the kitchen, and that Prim should know it.
I can't remember that stale smell anymore. Human blood doesn't smell the same way.
I told Prim on the way there not to stray, to do what I said and what I said only. Her offended nine-year-old sense of justice was funny, so I carried on giving her my rules long past the point when I was sure she would follow them.
I had my bow with me, but all the game seemed to be hiding, or maybe Prim's little feet scared them away. For someone as wispy as she was at that age, she made a lot of noise. She touched the leaves of every sapling we walked by, tipped her head up to see the crowns of the trees undulate in the wind against the blue sky so far she'd almost topple backwards. She tripped on roots, squealing, and the further away from the fence we went, the louder she got. I knew I wouldn't take her with me again, but I was glad she'd get to see this once.
We had walked as far as the quiet pond I liked to rest at when she got tired, so I sat her down with a wedge of cheese. She was quiet, still looking all around her. It was too quiet, so I cast around for something to talk about. "That's katniss," I said. "That spiky grass over there."
Prim's eyes grew wide and I realized that she must have only seen it when she was too small to remember, when our father was still alive. He would have brought it to show us.
"It has another name that means arrow, I think," I said, making Prim giggle. "I'd show you a primrose too, but they don't grow here. Your name's exotic, little duck."
Prim stretched out on her front, staining her shirt in mud and grass, and trailed her fingers over the blades of katniss. "Wish I could eat one now."
"We have better food to eat now." I dipped my fingers in the water, watching rings spread and feather the surface of the water.
"I know," said Prim. "I just remember how Father used to bring them home."
That's when I have to blink my eyes open. I know I told Prim that we could pick some, boil it at home and eat them with cheese, and I remember how Prim smiled at me, how we slowly walked back to the fence, but I can't think of any of that. I stop at the memory of a memory, boiled katniss root on the table and the echo of laughter, long ago.