Always and Forever

A Little Paradise

“Good Morning sunshine.”

Groaning I open my eyes and for a moment I forget where I am. Then the events of yesterday come flooding back to me, being unconscious, the island, building our temporary shelter. Looking up I observe the branches for the roof over our heads and know that it wasn’t all just a terrible dream, this is real.

“Morning.” I reply to Peeta and slowly sit up, rubbing the stiffness out of my neck.

Sleeping on the hard ground with only Peeta’s chest as a pillow has left my neck and back quite sore.

“How did you sleep?” He asks, taking me out of my thoughts.

“Pretty good considering the circumstances, although I’m a little stiff and sore.”

“Well that’s to be expected, don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.” He assures me with a comforting smile.

“I sure hope so, I won’t be much help hunting or exploring if I can hardly walk. How did you sleep?” Peeta yawns and sits up beside my, “I slept very well thank you.”

“That’s good. So what are we doing for breakfast?” I ask, standing up and going over to where my clothes are.

“I think Finnick and Annie found some kind of tropical fruits called mangos and we’ll start with that for our meal then search for something more substantial.” He replies.

“Great, I’m starved.” I pull Peeta’s t-shirt over my head and put on a pair of shorts and one of my tank tops. Then after slipping on my sandals I sit back down and wait for Peeta to get changed as well.

“What are we going to do about showers?” I ask. “I could use one.”

“For now I guess we’ll just use the sea water since it is quite clear and clean even though it is salt water. I heard that it is very cleansing for the skin.”

“And what about soap and shampoo?” I persist.

“We’ll just have to make do with what we have for now. Who knows, maybe we’ll find something useful when we go exploring later this morning.”

“I hope so.” Five minutes later we are both dressed and ready. Sticking my sunglasses on the top of my head we push the branches away from the doorway and step out into the fresh, tropic air. I inhale the air and smells of the trees, sighing with a sense of contentment. Then after taking Peeta’s hand we begin our short walk down the narrow, dirt path to the Odair’s for breakfast.

We are both greeted warmly by the two couples who are already seated around a small crackling fire enjoying the morning air. Glancing down at the waterproof watch that I received for Christmas last year, it shows that it is only nine in the morning, leaving plenty of time to explore the small island.

“Morning Madge, how did you sleep?” I ask, sitting down next to my friend.

“Hello Katniss, under the circumstances I slept quite well on my bed of leaves.” She replies with a smile. Nothing like my mattress back at home but not too bad. How about you?”

“Well I’m a little sore since I’m not that used to sleeping on the hard ground but I am rested and ready for adventure!”

“Good, because we’ll need you and Gale’s hunting skills to get us some meat for lunch and dinner.” Finnick says.

“No problem.” I reply, “But I kind of need a bow and some arrows.”

“You know we might find one on our expedition later since we’ve already found proof that other people have lived here before us.”

“That would be great.” I say.

“I also made a small net from some of the grasses that I found a little bit down the beach, so we can add fish to our menu.” Finnick lifts up his handywork to show us.

“Yum, I can’t wait.” Madge says, licking her lips.

Annie then hands us each an oval shaped fruit that is sort of yellow, red and green on the outside.

“How do you eat it?” Madge asks.

“You need to peel the skin off then you eat the dark yellow stuff in the middle.” Annie instructs us. Peeta and Gale each pull out a small knife and begin peeling the fruits. Once Peeta is finished he hands me the peeled one and I hand him the other one. He then slices off small pieces of the fruit for us to eat.

“It’s delicious!” I say, savoring the sweet, juicy fruit.

“I know!” Annie grins, taking a big bite. “We have them every once in a while in District 4 and they are by far my favorite fruit ever.”

“I agree.” I reply, taking another bite. The mangos are quite large but sit in Peeta’s hand easily and are just the right amount to make me full. Since there are no dishes we just gather all of the peels and deposit then in the compost pile a little ways away from the campsite.

“Should we head out and begin exploring this place?” Finnick asks, putting out the fire with a little sea water. We all nod, “We’re going to have to find a source of fresh water before we get too dehydrated.” I tell everyone and they nod once more in agreement.

“Well let’s just hope we find a stream or well close by with good drinking water.” Gale says. We all link hands with our spouses and begin by walking down the beach. Everyone takes off their shoes and carries them as we chase each other like children in the sand and let the waves lap up to our ankles. Shrieks of laughter come from Annie and Madge as they splash around, picking up shells here and there.

Then when we are too tired to run anymore we continue strolling down the beach, close enough to the trees and keeping our eyes open for anything that could be useful to us.

For just a few minutes I let myself forget that we are stranded on a deserted island and enjoy the sights, the smells and leisurely walking down a golden beach with my best friends. I am brought back to reality only a moment later when Finnick calls us all over to where he is, all the while waving wildly.

Peeta and I run the short distance through the sand over to where he and Annie sit crouched on the ground, looking for something. Madge and Gale join us a moment later.

“Did you find something?” I ask, panting a little as I settle down beside them.

“Yeah,” Finnick replies, “It’s a plastic water bottle.” Annie picks it up and let’s us examine it.

“And not that old either.” Gale deducts.

"Could have been left by someone who was also shipwrecked like us." Madge adds.

“So if there is a bottle there must be water close by or at least on the island?” Peeta says, summing it up.

“That’s right.” Finnick smiles and stands up.

“Well what are we waiting for?” I get up as well and grab Peeta’s hand, then all six of us start out at a brisk walk through a denser part of the jungle like forest, eyes and ears on the alert for anything resembling the sound or even the smell of water.

Gale and I automatically go into our ‘hunter mode’ and begin treading softly on the leaves, ears open for any kind of sound that could indicate our next meal or running water, both which are needful for our survival in this place.

I wonder how many people survived the sinking of the ship, I wonder how many of them knew how to swim, and how many died. Hate almost as strong for Snow builds up in me for the Captain, former brother of Snow, and Cato and Colette. They just killed hundreds of innocent people to revenge one man who killed thousands, I just don’t get it.

“Stop!” I halt and turn around to Gale who was the one that called out.

“Gale what is it?” I ask curiously.

“Do you hear that?” I turn my ears, listening intently for any sign of what he could be talking about. Then I hear it; like the sound of the waterfall back home in the woods. Water cascading down a mountainside, it’s the most beautiful I’ve ever laid eyes on.

“Yes!” I say grinning. “I hear it! It sounds like a waterfall!”

“That’s what I thought.” Gale replies grinning as well.

“Well let’s go find that water and hope it’s drinkable!” Finnick announces and we all begin walking in the direction of the sound; it gets louder with every step we take and I keep getting more and more excited to see it, to bathe, to drink because my mouth has gotten quite dry. Five minutes later the sound of the water is so loud that we have to yell to communicate with one another.

“We’re really close!” Gale calls.

“I know!” I yell back. We soon arrive at a row of tall bushes, like a hedge. The guys pull them apart to reveal the most amazing waterfall, tumbling down a small mountain like pile of rocks. Smiling at each other we rip off our clothes so that we are in our swimsuits, leaving the discarded clothing and shoes in a heap on the ground before we jump into the clear blue pool at the bottom of the waterfall. It’s not freezing cold like I expected but comfortably warm and cool at the same time. I swing around when I hear Annie let out a scream but calm down when I see that Finnick had crept up behind her. I laugh along with Madge who is beside me and we watch the show.

Just then Madge screams and begins splashing in the water and kicking her legs. I’m about to help when Gale pops up from underneath right directly in front of her face, placing a wet kiss on her lips.

“I am so going to get you for that!” She squeals like a little girl and jumps onto his back. I smile as I watch the two couples splash around like kids, Annie on Finnick’s shoulders and Madge on Gale’s while the two girls each try to push the other off her husband’s shoulders. Then I realize that I haven’t seen Peeta. I begin searching all around, then I see his clothes also on the grass so I know that he is in the water somewhere. I decide not to worry about it and I am just about to swim over to the others when something with an iron grip grabs onto my ankles and locks me into place. I don’t scream but begin kicking and struggling, eventually the culprit comes up, gasping for air.

“Peeta! I was worried about you!” I scold him. “Don’t do that!”

“Sorry.” He looks at me guiltily then grins and picks me up, setting me on his shoulders like the other girls.

“Let’s go join the fun.” He says and begins walking slowly through the water that comes just past his bare chest. Where the others are the water is shallower and easier for the guys to move around in. Madge is already in the water, having lost the fight between her and Annie so Peeta and I step in.

“You are so going down Odair.” I smirk and hold on to Peeta tightly with my knees and he grabs onto my thighs, holding me firmly.

“I don’t know about that Mellark.” Annie grins and they move in. I make the first move and lean a little forward to try and push Annie, that obviously was a mistake because it made me be off balance and Annie got the upper hand giving my side a shove causing me to almost fall off. But Peeta holds on to me while I regain my balance so I don't fall. Smirking at Annie, then at Finnick I grab Annie’s arm and yank her towards me. She falls forward but Finnick catches her and pulls her back.

“Oh it’s on!” Annie furrows her brow and lunges forward but this time I’m ready for her. I move to the side and she ends up falling headfirst into the water. Peeta sets me down and we high five in victory.

“We’ll get you next time!” Finnick says, laughing.

“Sure.”

“Should we continue with our explorations?” Gale asks.

“Yeah, we probably should, and we need some food, that fruit is starting to wear off.” Finnick says and we all make our way back to dry land.

“I brought a few empty water bottles so we can fill them up to drink and we’ll just have to come back later.”

“Great.” I say and begin slipping my shorts and sandals back on and just carry my shirt for now until my bathing suit top dries.

We leave our new favorite place on the island and begin our trek once more. Gale had made a few snares the night before so he set them along the sides of the trail that we are in the process of making so that we’ll be able to find our way back to the waterfall easily.

“This isn’t so bad, is it?” Peeta asks, holding my hand as we walk side by side behind Madge and Gale and in front of Finn and Annie.

“Not at all.” I smile up at him. “I really think that we should come back to the pool one evening in the dark, just the two of us.”

“Sounds like a date.” He chuckles. “But I’d love to.”

“Perfect.”

We then continue walking in silence, once again keeping on the alert for any signs of game, enemies or useful things. We don’t find anything in the next hour or so of walking although I do get a good load of leaves and herbs that Gale helped me locate along the path. Maybe now we’ll have a more flavorful stew than meat and boiled saltwater.

“Hey! What’s that up ahead?” We all immediately look to where Finnick is pointing and sure enough some kind of a shelter, much like ours, but much better constructed, is hidden in amongst a group of trees about 7 meters ahead of us.

“Let’s check it out.” Gale says, leading the way. We quickly follow and a minute later we are standing in front of the shelter.

“Do you think anyone still lives here?” Madge asks quietly.

“No, I doubt it.” Gale assures her. “Nobody has been in this area in quite a while, notice how everything is grown over.”

“So, who’s going in first?” Annie asks, looking to each person.

“I volunteer!” I reply, raising my hand. “I’ll go with her.” Gale also volunteers before Peeta can say anything.

“Good.” Finnick says. “We’ll wait for you here.” Gale and I walk forward and push open the small door on the small lodging

I hold in a scream as a small mouse bounds out of the door as soon as we open it. Taking a deep breath Gale steps inside with me following closely behind. It is quite spacious and mostly empty. A pile of dried leaves, which was probably used for a bed at one point, is in the corner and an old wooden chest sits covered in a thick layer of dust in another corner.

“Let’s check out the chest over there.” I say, pointing to it.

“Good job Catnip, there good be helpful things in there from the last people that stayed here.”

We hurry over to it and I blow off some of the dust off the top, coughing at the same time. Gale tries to lift off the top but it doesn’t budge, then we both notice the lock on it at the same time.

“Let’s take it outside since it’s the only thing in here and maybe Finnick and Peeta can help us get it opened.”

“Good idea.” Helping him lift it the two of us shuffle outside and set it down in front of the others.

“There’s nothing else in there?” Finn asks. We shake our heads. “Well we can take it back to camp and hopefully I can find something to open it with.” We find two little handles on each side so two by two we take turns carrying it back to camp. We get back about half an hour later because we walk quickly and collapse at the Odair’s for more mangos and fresh water.

“Well let’s see what’s inside shall we?”


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