The Hunger Games are a sign of the Capitol's mercy and forgiveness... HA!
That would make even the most serious, bitter person of the entire Seem laugh. Which, included me, I guess. I wasn't born bitter or serious, in fact, when I tried, I could even be considered funny. If you could laugh at my brutal battle humor anyway. That's what Peeta called it: “my battle humor.” He didn't laugh at it though, not very often anyway. He was the opposite of me, funny, caring, gentle. While I tended to be bitter, rough and used too much foul language.
I kept most of that language for the silence of the woods or the Hob though. I didn't want the children at the orphan home picking up on it. Respectable people didn't use language, and I wanted them to grow up with dignity for themselves and others... Not like me, who had about as little respect for other's as I did the squirrels that I hunted.
Even when I was young I was rough and hostile. I had to fight my way all growing up, both at the orphan home and at school. The orphan home was where I grew up. They said I was brought in as a baby so I didn't have any clue of who I was before that, and neither did the staff at the home. While growing up in the orphanage, the older kids seemed to think I had enough spunk to put up with their torments... Which was really only their own pain, locked away deep inside them, and to lessen it a little, they picked on me. I'm not really sure how this made them feel better, but it must have worked because they just kept on tormenting not only me, but others as well.
As I got older I began to fight back, and that was when I was finally kicked out at age thirteen. I was going to have to leave soon anyway though, they needed more room for the younger kids coming in and the older ones were more likely to survive out in the district by themselves. I didn't mind that, I wanted the younger orphans to have somewhere safer and I liked being on my own anyway. I was hungry a lot but that wasn't a new feeling. The problem was finding shelter during bad weather and avoiding the gangs that roamed the district looking for fresh prey... But even so, I still managed. I learned how to blend in—to disappear.
After a few weeks of starvation I finally found a way out of the electrical fence that surrounded District 12. The fence was supposed to keep the flesh eaters out (which it did, to an extent), but it was really meant to keep us in. And it did, if you didn't count the desperate souls like myself.
I knew a little bit about hunting because Old Sam taught me how. Old Sam was an elderly black man who tended the garden outside the orphan home. He was my only friend... no, not just a friend. He was like a father to me growing up. He was the one who helped me control my temper, tended my scraps when I got beat up and who taught me everything I knew. He was skilled in herb lore and even hunting. He never took me to hunt but he taught me how to shoot a bow, throw a dagger, and even how to defend my self in hand-to-hand combat. He taught me in secret of course because if anyone found out, then we'd both be death faster then you could say Hunger Games.
He was the one who taught me the song... Safe and Sound. It was about our world... how we must turn a blind eye to the horror around us so that we could stay at least semi-sane. How, if we just kept plowing through life, someday we might find that message in the song—We might be safe and sound.
Old Sam was my dad, you could say. He taught me everything and I loved him. But he died when I was nine. That's when I started to get violent, because the only one who had ever taught me to control my anger was gone. I tried to do what was right, for him—to make him proud. But now that he was gone... I didn't have anything. I was a shell—a shell full of anger, and I didn't have anyone to heal the cracks in my shell when it broke because Sam was gone. So, in consequence, all of the anger flew out of the cracks. It was because of the anger fleeing through the cracks that I was kicked out of the orphan home. But, like I said before, I didn't mind at all. It was a chance to get away from the bullies, it was a chance to be free and do what ever I liked, it was a chance to put to use all of the survival skills that Sam had taught me, it was a chance to go and hide
When I found my way out of the district I began to use my herb lore, I practiced even more with my weapons. And since that day, I've hunted.
Sure, it was as dangerous as walking into hell. But it kept me alive, and the children at the home too. I took most of my kill to them. There were two hundred of them... Two hundred starving kids and I helped feed them. There was satisfaction in that. It helped me to keep going, to persuade me to want to live another day. I helped keep the kids from starvation and ultimate death, and they gave me just enough joy with their hopeful faces and small gifts to inspire me to keep on living...