The smell of fresh bread sits sweetly in the air as I slowly open my eyes and get up out of my soft snuggly bed. The house is quiet. Not normal. I call out to the echoing empty hallways:
“Hello! Peeta!?” No answer. I begin to make my way downstairs, wishing I had taken the time to put on some socks, the cold floor torturing my feet as I continue. I find myself in an empty but well light kitchen, the oven warm from Peeta’s fresh bread; that wonderful smell that woke me from an uneasy slumber. What would I do without this man?
Every night I still have them; those horrible nightmares of my past, things that I live with every day of my free life, those faces that never leave me. In some way I think that those faces are supposed to stay with me, a way for them to live on, through me. I slowly bend down to peek into the oven, hoping the bread is almost finished as running in my sleep seems to famish me almost to the point of starvation.
“What do you think you are doing there sweetheart?” Peeta purrs from behind me. I quickly drop the oven door letting is slam shut with a loud, BANG!
“Nothing, nothing at all!” I say mischievously, he knows full well I was going to pinch his perfect loaf. He comes closer to me brushing my cheek with his as he slyly bends behind me to reopen the warm oven and relieves it of the loaf slowly running it just inches from under my nose as he places it on the countertop beside us. I smile at him cutely as I watch him slice it into pieces for us, spreading Prim’s smooth, soft goat cheese onto it with a fresh basil leaf he was clearly outside collecting. We sit there silently eating, smiling. Happy.
Mockingjay’s begin to chirp up as the sun pears over our district. A hauntingly beautiful melody I know all too well. Rue’s song, something that is commonly heard near our homes now as Peeta is often whistling the tune in the garden, clearly what he had been doing on this morning. Perhaps Peeta was the one to wake them up this morning. I can imagine the birds awakening from their cozy nests, feathers beaded sweet dewdrops. With all the changes my life has faced it is amazing how each morning with Peeta is always so peaceful, calming and filled with love. I am so thankful to be here, with him, next to him, smelling his sweet bread every morning.
After we finish our sweet silent breakfast I get up from my seat and walk to Peeta’s side, kissing him lightly on his neck savoring his sweet smell. That smell I grew so accustomed to in that cave holding him to keep warm and learning to love it. Realizing that, after the games, I couldn’t sleep without it, couldn’t face my day without it, without him. The haunting smell of musk and fresh bread, as if living with it all those years and working with it made the smell completely permanent on him, even after marinating in pond mud, blood and sweat. I walk to the front door, grab my bag and jump into my boots, heading out for what he knows is a long day of hunting and escaping. From my thoughts, from my concerns of our future, of everyone’s future.
Despite how I felt about the victor’s village, or having Haymich as a neighbor, Peeta, my mother, Prim and I have created a lovely home. From time to time my heart aches for my old life, but this one is filled with a sense of comfort and joy. I also, thankfully, have the ability to frequently visit my old home as I use it as a sort of hunting lodge. A place of old comforts where I can be alone with my own thoughts, not to mention change out of the clothes my mother thinks I should be wearing; rather than the old comfortable clothes I usually hunt in. The pair of black boots my mother insists on me wearing pinch my feet as I walk towards my old neighborhood and they have a “mechanical” stiff feeling to them that I greatly dislike. I wouldn’t dare house my weaponry there though, not on my life, as hunting is still very illegal here in district 12 and, of course, punishable by death. Even if the peacekeepers still gain from my kills from time to time that doesn’t matter in the slightest. The district likes to just keep quiet about these things and everyone is allowed to do their business as long as it doesn’t become obnoxious. Things have always managed to stay rather slack here in the district as long as everyone is benefiting together quietly.
My old home still holds the dusty smell it always has but it lacks the smells of my mother and Prim, or of fresh coal on the fire. Everything is covered in coal dust; my father would hate this, coal dust on everything. I should clean this place, but I don’t have the time today, I still need to get out hunting and my time is slowly ticking away. I still hunt for Gale and his family, after finishing school he has now gone to head into the coal mines to support his mother, younger sister and brothers. Working twelve hour days he doesn’t have the time to be out early in the morning to go hunting, or setting up traps, he has to dig deep, deep in the earth. The darkness. So I have taken on the responsibility and I am thankful for it, even if Gale wasn’t pleased with the idea in the first place. It gets me out of my house, doing something I love, even if he isn’t by my side.
Before I continue putting on my old hunting boots and wriggle my toes in the ends of them, stretching out my stiff, cramped muscles. I put on a nice coating of my mother’s fresh peppermint ointment to soothe them before a long day of hunting, the last thing I would need is a compromising injury if I get into any trouble while out in the woods. Alone. One of the main reasons I miss having my hunting partner with me, that sense of safety and security. That someone was always there to help you get home, home to Peeta. But Gale and I never see each other anymore, after the games nothing was the same. Not with him, the games for him, watching my love affair was painful, even if we had made no official connections to one another. None that I had been clearly aware of, but I was so focused on survival how could I have thought of a man in that way? And that is what he looks like now, a man.