The frail, but hard to kill yellow bird

MIA


After Peeta had hurried out of my house, I had taken a shower. My heart had been dropped into my stomach and my legs had gotten weaker like they had just run a long distance.

Though I didn't expect it, Peeta came for breakfast the next morning. He had placed two loaves of fresh bread on the table, had quietly sliced them, and didn't look up from his plate of food again.

After he had finished, he had washed and put away his plate, quietly uttered a goodbye, and left.

He didn't come the morning after that.

I didn't go hunting that day either.

I plan on spending my day sitting on the couch when the telephone rings. I run to it, thinking it might be Peeta.

It's Dr. Aurelius.

"Hello Katniss, I'm surprised you answered."

"Well, I wasn't doing anything, so I thought I could spare you some time." I say, a little annoyed with myself. Why would Peeta call me?

He laughs. "You need to answer them more. It's been weeks since you last picked up your phone."

"Sorry," I say.

"So Katniss, tell me. How have you been spending your time?"

"I hunt." I say immediately. But then I ad, "Peeta and Greasy Sae come over for breakfast usually."

"Ah, so Peeta tells me."

I grit my teeth when he says this.

I'm quiet. Dr. Aurelius fills in the gap with a question. "So how are your sleeping habits?"

"Nonexistent," I answer. "Too many nightmares."

I go on and tell him about my nightmares about Prim and yellow birds. I also tell him how I always wake up screaming.

Dr. Aurelius listens intently and doesn't to claim to understand. I find I'm glad to have a pair of ears to listen to me.

"Tell me about these yellow birds, why do you think you're dreaming of them?" He asks.

"It's hard to explain. But I keep one as a pet."

"Oh yes, Peeta was telling me about that as well. I remember sending him the aluminum materials. But if the bird gives you nightmares, then why not get rid of it?" He suggests.

"I...yeah...yeah I guess I will."

"You take care of yourself now, Katniss."

"I will." I say softly. But then I think of something. "Ah, Dr. Aurelius?"

"Yes?"

"Um, remember when I told you about seeing Greasy Sae every morning?"

"Ah, yes. A neighbor of yours?"

"Yes, sort of. Well she seems to know about ...Peeta's condition. She watches closely, like she knows what might happen."

"You mean, she knows that he might go mutt?"

"Yes, I think so. You didn't warn her, did you?"

"No, Katniss that wasn't me. I'm not sure how she found out, but I'm sure if she knows, everybody else in your district knows, too."

I'm not sure how I feel about that.

"Oh," is all I say.

" And Katniss?"

"Yes?"

"You should look outside your front door more often. Maybe take a walk in the square. You might see a few things that will cheer you up."

I don't go see the square. What could possibly be there? I sit on the couch for the next two days. A tiny spark of curiosity hits me. But I shove it down. I'm just too tired.

Another day comes. No Peeta.

A week passes. No sight of him anywhere.

I try to go hunting after a week and a half. I catch one rabbit. Then I go home.

I took Peeta's advice and give three halves of my doe to Greasy Sae. She put it all in the soup. She said it disappeared within a few days.

I eat only the leftover venison I kept at my house until it runs out. I remember to wash my clothes all by myself. I remember to braid my hair. But that's about all I do for two weeks.

At the end of the fourteenth day without Peeta, I get angry.

Where could he be?

Could what I have frigthened him that bad? Did Dr. Aurelius tell him to avoid me? Is he avoiding me for my own good?

He could have called me. Maybe he's sick...

That convinces me to march over to my house.

I bang on his front door, ready to spit at him when he answers.

Except he doesn't answer.

I don't see any movement in any of the windows either.

"Hey, Sweetheart! He's not there." I hear someone yelling from across the street. I turn.

Haymitch is there in his yard, a bottle in his hand as he feeds the geese in his yard.

"You won't find him there." He says again.

I look at him. He's scruffy with tattered clothes, his hair is longer and he waddles over to where I'm standing.

"Well, then where is he?" I ask him when he gets close enough.

"He's in the square. Where he usually is." He says while taking a gulp from his whiskey.

"You smell."

He belches. "Maybe if you would have been around more you would know where he is."

"I see him everyday! Well, I used to, anyway."

I hear him mutter something as he drains his bottle.

"What?" I snap at him.

"I said, you should stop moping around and-" But I don't let him finish.

"Oh that's rich, coming from you!" I smack the bottle out of his hands.

He growls and lurches towards me, but I quickly step out of his path and he stumbles to the ground cursing and kicking up dirt.

I don't help him up like Peeta would. Instead I ignore his shouts and run towards the square. I run past the meadow and the collapsed houses until I'm finally at the cities center.

What I see makes my fists unclench and my mouth hang open.


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