The caged flyer
The Caged Flyer
I remember that most living things need air to breathe, so I poke holes in the shoebox. Through the tiny holes I peek at it, it's little body curled and trembling in the corner.
Outside, I dig in the yard for worms, I don't find any, so I walk go back inside and sit on my couch and stare at the wall.
Sae comes in and feeds me lunch and then later dinner. I ask for both to be served to me on my couch, but she refuses and demands I come to the table to eat it. I don't know why I listen to her. After all, my face is one of the best known faces in Panem.
But I do as she says and drag my feet to the table. Greasy Sae sets a bowl of rabbit stew in front of me. I stare at it for a while and then slurp it down.
She's doing the dishes when she says. "I like him."
"Who?" I ask.
"Oh," I stare fixedly at my soup.
"You noticed theres only rabbit in that soup."
"Yes," I say, glad she changed the subject.
"I could use some more meat."
I don't say anything.
Every day after that, Greasy Sae persuades me to start hunting again, but after my futile hunting trip that ended with having me brought back into town on a body cart, I refuse every time.
One morning, Greasy Sae's granddaughter heard my bird thumping around in his shoebox, she ran to my hunting closet and almost set him free, but Sae had quickly wrenched it from her.
"It's okay." I say to her granddaughter. "That bird is probably hungry, it could use some worms."
From then on, Greasy Sae brought me food, and her granddaughter brought the bird worms. The little girl would take a dish rag and wet it with water, then she would take the shoebox, open the lid slightly so the birds head peeked out, she would hold the rag upright so drops of the water would begin to drip. The bird would open its beak to take the water.
And thats how it survived.
Peeta comes every morning with warm bread for breakfast. He comes with Greasy Sae, I think he waits for her to arrive first so he doesn't have to come in alone, and once he's here he sits quietly and eats his food, which is usually soup. That's only about one hour a day that I see him.
That's plenty enough time for me.
One morning, he comes baring bread and a cardboard box. I don't ask, so he brings it up himself.
"Dr. Auroralius sent me this." He says gesturing towards his the box. "He'll send you anything you want him to. You're answering his calls aren't you?"
"What is it?" I ask, pretending I don't hear the rest of his questions.
I open the box he had set on my table. Inside are slim bars of silver metal. They look like weapons. A wave of fear flows through me. Could he kill me with one of these silver bars?
Peeta nods. "For your bird."
Oh. He's still making my birdcage. They aren't weapons after all. They're materials to make a cage. That's nice of him.
I'm surprised the flying thing is still alive.
A week later Peeta comes to show me the finished product. The aluminum is bent into a large slim dome. It takes two hands to carry it. He has painted the cylindrical bars gold, and I find it beautiful for a prison.
Peeta looks proud of his work. And he looks so genuinely happy giving it to me that I force myself to smile at him, but I think he catchs the hint of forced happiness in my look. He doesn't say anything though.
"Thank you." I say softly. He just nods.
I fetch the shoebox from my hunting closet. I set the shoebox inside the cage, lift the lid and then hurridly slam the tiny door shut. The yellow bird is dazed by its sudden freedom. It looks all around itself and I actually can see his eyes grow wide. It rejoices for a while and gives us his simple one verse song.
Your not free you stupid thing, you've just changed prisons.
It finally gets that it's still a slave, and his song mellows out.
"What are you going to name her?" Peeta asks while kneeling down beside me and the cage on my living room floor.
I look up at him, and am surprised at his closeness and I wish he would back up. It confuses me when my chest gives a funny squeeze.
"It's a he."
"How do you know?" He asks looking back at the bird.
"Only the males sing."
"Oh," he says, still waiting for an answer.
"So, what'll it be?" He says trying to urge me on.
"Bird. His name is bird."
Peeta laughs. "That's not a name!"
"Yes it is. He belongs to me. I can name it whatever I want."
And with that, I quickly stand up and take my breakfast to eat upstairs in my bedroom.
I shouldn't do that. I shouldn't be so rude to Peeta. He has given me everything. The man that came back from the Capitol was not Peeta. So I don't consider almost killing me something that Peeta has done. But the thing is, I don't know if the old Peeta has come back to me yet, or if he ever will.
He probably won't.
Peeta eats down stairs at my kitchen table and makes the little girl laugh. I don't know how or why. I don't know why he doesn't give up on me for being so cold and passive towards him, either.
It seems I don't know anything anymore these days.
I stand in my bedroom. All I want to do is to sleep, and pretend like no one died. I want to pretend that Peeta was never taken by the Capitol. I wish my little sister had never left me alone.
I wish I had been kinder to my mother. I wish boggs had survived. I wish Gale had never had his chance to dig his way into my heart. I wish Annie's son had a father.
For a few days, I bring my breakfast into my room, and I think Peeta looks dissappointed every time I climb the staircase with my plate.
One morning, I was eating tiny blue robin eggs when I hear Greasy Sae ask Peeta if he would like some more from my bedroom on the second floor. I then hear Peeta say, "oh yes please!"
Then Greasy Sae looks down at the pan and then says she thought there was more, but it turns out there wasn't.
"Oh that's okay." Peeta says lightly. Even though I can practically hear his stomach rumbling from up here on the second floor.
I pick up my plate and bring it back down to my kitchen and put it in the sink. Peeta smiles when he sees me.
"Katniss." Peeta says happily.
I try to smile. But I think it's more of a grimace. I'll have to work on that.
"I'm going hunting." I tell Greasy Sae.
"Good." She says and goes to fetch her granddaughter who is playing in my yard.
I look at Peeta who sits at my table.
"I'm glad you're going hunting," he says.
"Because it's good for you." He gets up from my chair. "Tell Greasy Sae I say thanks for the eggs."
"Bye." I call as Peeta leaves.
"See you tomorrow morning," Peeta says softly, and he shuts the door.
I watch him walk back to his house from my window. Then I get my bow and arrows.
I kill three rabbits, and pick katniss roots. When I see the lake my father took me as a child, something fierce and old hits me in my chest.
I think about all the things that happened here. I choke down my tears and go back to harvesting katniss.
I bring my catch back towards Victors Village. I surprise myself with knocking on Peeta's door.
He answers the door almost immediately after I quit banging on it.
Wordlessly, I hold up one of the rabbits that I have strung onto a game rope.
He grins. "Oh good. You should give them to Greasy Sae."
"You're hungry though." I say.
He cocks his head in confusion. "What?"
"You wanted more for breakfast, so I caught you this rabbit."
"Oh, well. Thank you, Katniss. But I have my own food here. I just made cookies. Would you like some?" He asks opening the door more to invite me in.
All of a sudden I am suspicious. He might kill me in there. I throw the rabbit on his porch step and quickly shake my head no and back away. I can hear Peeta calling my name as I sprint back to my house.
That night, I twist and turn in my bed. I think about how stupid I was to go through all that work to get a rabbit for someone who didn't need it. Why should I care if Peeta starves? I don't care.
But every time I see him my heart drops into my stomach, and I cannot deny the sanity that I see in his eyes.
It's a trick. I think. He's trying to convince you he's save to approach. Then out of the blue, he'll knock your brains out.
I am afraid to fall asleep, so I try think about things that won't make my heart throb any more than it already has been for weeks.
I think about skinning those rabbits I killed this afternoon. But then thinking about those rabbits makes me think about my sudden burst of energy that I had felt while on the mission to feed Peeta. And that makes me think about Peeta himself. I change gears and think about my hunt instead.
Just a month ago I was too weak to make it anywhere near the lake. And today, I had gone there and back without getting winded.
I am getting stronger. My bird is getting stronger too, his little lungs have been singing nonstop for a while. His bright yellow coat now completely clean of the coal dust that had once infused itself into his feathers.
I can hear him now. He sings loud and clear from his cage that I had placed upright on a desk below a window. Looking over at him, I can't help but think about how pretty he looks with moon beams falling all over him and how heartbreakingly sad his music is.
Maybe I should let him go.
But then I think about my situation. I think about what my life was before the reaping two years ago. And a spark of anger starts in my heart. Then I think about my first Games, then my second, and then Peeta being taken away from me forever. And finally, my sister being blown up.
And then all of a sudden, I am screaming at the bird again.
"You deserve it!" I screech at it, I grab a glass that I had put on my bedside and throw it at its cage, the glass breaks against the aluminum bars with a clang. This startles him and he flutters nervously about his gold dome.
I yell foul things at this tiny creature. I tell him how he killed my sister and father. I accuse him of killing Finnick, Boggs, and Cinna.
I accuse him of taking the Peeta that I loved too late away from me. I grab his cage and shake it, his tiny muscles taking the shock against the aluminum. He cries and screams, and then I am begging for his forgiveness. Setting his cage down on the floorboards, I get on my knees and hold onto the bars of the cage.
"I'm so sorry Prim!" I sob. "I couldn't...I didn't..." The bird looks at me frightfully at first, but as I enter the dark hours of the night, he hops towards me on the bottom of his cage, his eyes looking at me sorrowfully. He is accusing me of things too. Of trapping him in a shoebox, in almost killing him, in stealing his freedom. But now it seems like he is telling me 'sorry' as well. Sorry for all you had to go through, Katniss. You didn't deserve all this, Katniss. I'm sorry you had to be their face, Katniss. He still loves you, Katniss.
He slowly hops towards me, tears staining my eyes, I let him softly peck my finger. It doesn't hurt though, and I think he's just saying a shy hello.
"I'm sorry, Bird." I say, calling him by his name.