"Why do you think Haymitch is like that?"
Dani turned from her spot on the back porch steps to find her little brother standing behind her. He was staring at Haymitch's backyard where the old man could be seen feeding his numerous geese.
"Like what?" Dani was honestly unsure of what her brother was implying. "He's just feeding his geese. You've seen him do it a million times before."
"Yeah," Nickel agreed. "But only for a week once a month or so. There are long periods of time where he just sits around drunk. I asked Mom about it once, and she wouldn't tell me anything."
"Maybe he's just a drunk." Dani didn't know all of Haymitch's story, but she knew there was more to it than that. She'd learned enough about the old games Panem used to hold to know that they were horrible enough to turn any living victor into a drunk. Nickel, however, didn't know as much about the games as Dani. In his two years of schooling, he would have only learned the general history. He knew Haymitch and their parents were victors, but Dani didn't think Nickel fully realized what that meant.
"It helps him forget," Dani told him. "It's his solace."
"Forget what?" Nickel seemed confused. "His games?"
Dani nodded. "Of course. Can you imagine having to kill and then being in charge of tons of kids over the years who end up dying? Anyone would want to forget."
"But Mom and Dad don't drink alcohol. At least I've never seen them drunk before." Nickel seemed to be struggling to wrap his mind around what his sister was saying.
"That's because they've never been drunk before. At least not since I can remember." Dani thought for a moment before adding. "They must have different ways of forgetting."
"Like what?" Nickel looked up at his big sister.
"I don't know. Us. Each other, maybe."
Nickel looked back at Haymitch as he turned his sister's words over in his head. "But Haymitch has us too. Plus, Mom and Dad. He lives right next-door. He sees us all the time."
Dani had to refrain herself from rolling her eyes at her naive little brother. "It's not the same, Nickel. Mom and Dad are married. Haymitch doesn't have a wife, and he's never even had a girlfriend that I can remember. We're Mom and Dad's kids. Haymitch doesn't have kids."
Nickel still didn't seem to get it. "But we still love Haymitch too."
"Yeah," Dani tried to quell her frustration. "But you love Dad more than Haymitch right."
"Of course, he's Dad."
Nickel thought maybe he was beginning to understand. It was sad, he thought. "Hey, Dani."
"Do you think we could find Haymitch a wife, so she could be his solace and he wouldn't have to drink anymore?"
Dani smiled at her brother's innocence. "You could try, but I doubt you'd be successful. Good luck though."
"Yeah," Nickel sighed. "No one would want to put up with those geese."
Dani laughed. "Right. The geese are the most annoying thing about Haymitch. They're definitely keeping Haymitch from finding the right woman."