And the feel of it rushes through me
From my heart down to my legs
But the room is so quiet
And although I was losing my mind
It was a call that was so sublime
But the room is so quiet
I was looking for a breath of life
A little touch of heavenly light
But all the choirs in my head say no
The boy never even glanced my way, but I was watching him. Because of the bread, because of the red weal that stood out on his cheekbone. What had she hit him with? My parents never hit us. I couldn’t even imagine it. The boy took one look back to the bakery as if checking that the coast was clear, then, his attention back on the pig, he trew a loaf of bread in my direction. The second quickly followed, and he sloshed back to the bakery, closing the kitchen door tightly behind him.
I stared at the loaves in disbelief. They were fine, perfect really, except for the burned areas. Did he mean for me to have them? He must have. Because there they were at my feet. Before anyone could witness what had happened I shoved the loaves up under my shirt, wrapped the hunting jacket tightly about me, and walked swiftly away. The heat of te bread burned into my skin, but I clutched it tighter, clinging to life. […]
I put my clothes to dry at the fire, crawled into bed and fell into a dreamless sleep. It didn’t occur to me until the next morning that the boy might have burned the bread on purpose. Might have dropped the loaves into the flames, knowing it meant being punished, and then delivered them to me. But I dismissed this. It must have been an accident. Why would he have done it? He didn’t even know me. Still, just throwing me the bread was an enormous kindness that would have surely resulted in a beating if discovered. I couldn’t explain his actions.
I’m coming back into focus when Caesar asks him if he has a girlfriend back home. Peeta hesitates, then gives an unconvincing shake of his head.
‘Handsome lad like you. There must be some special girl. Come on, what’s her name?’ says Caesar.
Peeta sighs. ‘Well, there is this one girl. I’ve had a crush on her ever since I can remember. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t know I was alive until the reaping.’
Sounds of sympathy from the crowd. Unrequited love they can relate to.
‘She have another fellow?’ asks Caesar.
‘I don’t know, but a lot of boys like her,’ says Peeta.
‘So, here’s what you do. You win, you go home. She can’t turn you down then, eh?’ says Caesar encouraging-ly.
‘I don’t think it’s going to work out. Winning…won’t help in my case,’ says Peeta.
‘Why ever not?’ says Caesar, mystified.
Peeta blushes beet red and stammers out. ‘Because…because…she came here with me.’
‘I don’t know how to say it exactly. Only… I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense?’ he asks. I shake my head. How could he die as anyone but himself? ‘I don’t want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not.’
I bite my lip feeling inferior. While I’ve been ruminating on the availability of trees, Peeta has been struggling with how to maintain his identity. His purity of self. ‘Do you mean you won’t kill anyone?’ I ask.
‘No, when the time comes, I’m sure I’ll kill just like everybody else. I can’t go down without a fight. Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to… to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games,’ says Peeta.
‘But you’re not,’ I say. ‘None of us are. That’s how the Games work.’
‘Okay, but within that frame work, there’s still you, there’s still me,’ he insists. ‘Don’t you see?’
‘A little, Only… no offense, but who cares, Peeta?’ I say.
‘I do. I mean what else am I allowed to care about at this point?’ he asks angrily. He’s locked those blue eyes on mine now, demanding an answer.