Monday, January 28, 2013

Life Lessons 13: Sorrow

A/N: I'm sorry for the long wait, guys! Since my last update school's started back up for me again, and I've been adjusting to my new classes and stuff. It's going pretty well.

I had fun getting into Mrs. Everdeen's head for this. She wasn't a character I gave much thought to while reading the books, but she turned out to be pretty interesting to write. Also, don't ask how I came up with Dani's new hobby. I don't know a thing about needlepoint, but it seemed like a somewhat quirky hobby to have. I guess I liked the idea of Dani having a hobby that was somewhat unusual.

Mrs. Everdeen had never particularly enjoyed her rare visits to District 12. It was an entirely different place than the one she had left, yet it held a certain quality about it that took her back to a different time. A time she had no interest in being reminded of on a daily basis during her trip. Still, she forced herself to travel to the small district at least once a year. For years it had only been to see her daughter and the man who eventually became her son-in-law. Then one year she found herself beginning to visit grandchildren. She knew visiting the only family she had left in the world should feel her with joy, and it did at times, but even more of her time spent in the district was taken up by her struggle to forget the past.

She knew Katniss would have taken any excuse she gave her as a reason not to come, but she'd never been able to bring herself to that. Sometimes Mrs. Everdeen wondered if it was because she had to prove to Katniss, and herself, that she was still a mother. Yet most of her visits were spent largely out of Katniss' company. Her grandchildren seemed happy to see her at least, but she wasn't much fun to play with. She wasn't often away from her own sorrow enough to play childish games, and her old age made it even more difficult these days. Unfortunately, this left her with a lot of free time during her visits, which was omething she didn't want in a place where it was so easy to sink back into horrible memories. She was forced to wander around the house she had lived in for almost a year. A house that held some of the memories she was most anxious to get rid of. Yet she still came.

On this particular visit she had spent more time alone than she had on any visit since Dani and Nickel were born. In addition to all of her usual sorrow, she was forced to face the fact that they were growing up. It seemed like Dani was constantly off with one of her friends, and Nickel was either with his own friends or out in the woods with Katniss, something that worried her ever since she had heard about his leg injury. She tried to visit during school holidays, but that never seemed to matter. Katniss and Peeta had always been busy when she was there. Mrs. Everdeen was positive that Katniss went out of her way to be out of the house as much as possible. Peeta made an effort to keep her company, but she never knew what to say to the man and he had a bakery to run for most of the day.

On this particular day, Mrs. Everdeen had busied herself by looking through the old plant book when Nickel suddenly came through the front door, startling her a bit.

"Grandma," the boy seemed extremely excited. "Guess what happened at school today." He looked at her expectantly, waiting for a reply.

Mrs. Everdeen honestly had no clue what could have caused Nickel so much excitement, and she'd never been one for guessing games. There was an awkward moment of silence while she struggled with a response before Katniss came in the door Nickel had left wide open carrying two bows and some arrows. They either hadn't made any kills or had stopped to sell the meat in town.

Nickel finally seemed to realize that his grandmother wasn't answering anytime soon, so he leaned in to tell her quietly. "Mommy used the money we got from selling meat in town to buy Dani's birthday present, and I know what it is!"

"And you promised you wouldn't tell," Katniss scolded him gently from the hallway where she was placing her load in the closet.

"I'm not telling Dani!" Nickel protested. "And Grandma won't tell her either. Will you Grandma?"

"Of course not," Mrs. Everdeen smiled down at her grandson. She was thrilled at the chance of being in on something. Nickel's trust in her secretly made her gleeful that she was being included in a family secret.

"It's canvas and yarn for her to needlepoint more. We even got a book to help her!" Nickel's excitement seemed to be at the same level Dani's would be when she opened her present.

Katniss came and sat on the couch next to Nickel. "She did some needlepoint at school and loved it. She got Peeta's creativity, but she doesn't feel like painting is her thing. She's good, but she seems to think she could be even better at needlepoint. I suppose she likes that it's something of her own. Painting gives her time with Peeta, but she likes being able to make something that she won't mentally compare to her father's work."

Mrs. Everdeen was surprised that Katniss had been able to come to these conclusions when she was usually so clueless about other people. Katniss must have been able to read her mother's expression. "Or at least that's what Peeta told me the other day," she smirked slightly. As Mrs. Everdeen smiled back she realized this was a bit of a new experience. She couldn't remember the last time Katniss had truely smiled at her. It was a small thing, but it made her continual sorrow just a tiny bit more bearable. After all, District 12 may hold a lot of painful memories, but it also held her family.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Life Lessons 12: Tears

Peeta always enjoyed the days he picked up is children from school. The walk home was always pleasant, and the kids usually seemed extra cheery right after school. Never before had Peeta arrived at the school to find one of his children sitting in front of the building with tears running down his face.

Peeta was crouching down in front of his son before he even realized the other boy's presence. Colby, Nickel's best friend, was watching Nickel with a worried look on his own face.

"What happened?" Peeta directed the question at both boys.

When Colby realized that Nickel had no intention of answering, he spoke up. "Some boys were bothering him. They said stuff about you and Mrs. Mellark being famous and how Nickel could never live up to you guys. They said he was a loser."

Peeta gritted his teeth and reminded himself that going after these boys wouldn't solve anything. His son was more important right now. "Nickel, none of that is true." Peeta didn't really expect those words to have much of an effect, but there wasn't much else to say.

"I know that," Nickel quietly remarked. "But it still felt bad."

Peeta sighed, "The hurt will go away as long as you remember it's not true." He glanced around the schoolyard. "Where's your sister?"

"She went after the boys when I told her what happened."

Peeta knew that couldn't be good. "Stay here for a minute," he told Nickel. "I'll go find her."

It didn't take long for Peeta to find Dani standing in front of three very terrified young boys who quickly scurried away when Peeta distracted Dani. Instead of scolding her as Dani was obviously expecting, Peeta just led her back over to her brother before they headed home.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Life Lessons 11: Blood

A/N: This wasn't meant for people with a phobia of blood! The research for this made me sick. The emotions made this hard to write as well. I know medicine has probably advanced, but we're going to assume stitches and stuff are the same. Thanks to my mom for help with medical stuff.

Katniss saw blood regularly, whether it was in her nightmares or after making a kill out in the woods. Katniss had never seen blood as something to be scared of. Sometimes seeing blood meant death, but the blood itself wasn't actually causing the death. There was no logical reason to fear the red substance. In fact, blood was a requirement of life. Why then was the blood she saw now sending terror through her?

Katniss had been hunting in these woods for years. She never worried about tripping over a stray branch or rock. That's why she had been so startled to hear a thump immediately followed by a cry of pain. The first thing Katniss noticed upon turning around was that Nickel was now on the forest floor. The next thing she noticed was that his bow was still in his hands, but his arrow was suspiciously missing. It took miliseconds for her to piece together the arrow's position. She closed the three feet between her and her son quicker than ever before and began to inspect the leg wound the arrow had caused.

Katniss had never liked wounds, but seeing her own child in pain was the worst she had ever felt. There was also something about the blood that scared her like never before. In the past, it had always been the pain she saw that scared her. Now, this wound brought a new kind of terror to her. Not only was her child in pain, it was also a terrible wound that much she could tell already. Horrible scenerios ran through her mind: What if it had to be amputated? What if he lost too much blood? The sight of blood had never scared her so much. The rational part of her mind was telling her that, while serious, this didn't look like a fatal wound if it was taken care of properly. Her emotions, however, were telling her the exact opposite.

She went to pick the young boy up but quickly realized that the eight-year-old had grown in the past year or so. Nickel was now three-fourths of her size, and there was no way Katniss could make it anywhere while lugging him. She also knew that she was too far from town or people for her to run for help. There was no way she was leaving Nickel alone in the woods, especially with his injury. This was the only time she'd ever regreted not buying one of those stupid little phones you could carry around with you. They'd always been popular with the Capital and had begun catching on in the districts, but Katniss had always thought them a waste of money.

Katniss's mind had been working overtime in the five minutes since Nickel had fallen, and she forced herself to calm down. Nickel had begun to cry, and Katniss did the only thing she could think of at the moment. She sat down next to him and held him against her chest while running through every possible course of action she could think of. None of them were realistic or possible. Katniss had never been one to believe in miracles, but she found herself wishing someone would magically stumble upon them in the usually deserted woods.

It didn't take Katniss long to realize she was going to have to do something about the wound herself. The thought made her queasy, but she braced herself for what she knew had to be done. Katniss could remember being told sometime in the past that it wasn't good to remove something lodged in the skin. At least not if it was in as deep as the arrow. That would only cause the blood to flow faster. At least, she knew that applied to some wounds. Was it true for this one? Maybe that was only if it hit a vital organ. She didn't have any medical supplies on her, and she had no way of cleaning the wound if she removed the arrow. She was going to have to get Nickel to the hospital in town, and the only way to do that was for him to limp while Katniss supported as much of his weight as possible. It would have to work.

"Nickel," Katniss's voice was raspy from fear but she succeeded in getting her son's attention. "You're going to have to try and walk. I'll support as much of your weight as I can, but you're going to have to try. It's the only way to get you to town."

The boy nodded in agreement but didn't look happy about it. His breathing became even more ragged as Katniss hauled him to his feet. It was a struggle, and Katniss could tell that this would be just as difficult as she imagined it. She could only hope that they'd run into help on the edge of town, so they wouldn't have to make it all the way to the hospital by themselves.

An eternity seemed to pass before they reached the fence surrounding the district. Katniss had to lower Nickel to the ground before working to make an opening large enough for her to fit through while supporting Nickel. Katniss wasn't one to normally call attention to herself, yet she found cries for help leaving her mouth as they came upon the first scattered houses on the outskirts of town.

Katniss spotted a few people peak out of their windows, but only one came to their aid. The man was middle-aged and kindly-looking. Katniss could almost cry as he lifted Nickel into his arms and began carrying him the remaining way to the hospital. The small hospital was a welcome sight when they finally came upon it, and doctors rushed to their aid. Katniss knew they were lucky to live in District 12 where the hospital was always low on patients because of their small population. If the hospital had been busier, they could have been waiting a long time, and Katniss was getting more and more worried every second.

Although Katniss wanted nothing more than to stay right by Nickel's side, she knew Peeta needed to know what was happening, and she didn't feel right letting the nurse make the call for her. After two rings, Katniss started worrying that Peeta wasn't in the house to pick up the phone. She was getting impatient when she finally heard him say hello on the other end.

"Peeta," she spoke in a rushed voice. "It's Katniss. I'm at the hospital. Nickel got hurt in the woods. Arrow in his leg. I got him here as fast as possible. Can you come?"

There was a second of silence where Katniss assumed Peeta was taking it in. "I'm on my way," Peeta said before hanging up the phone.

Katniss rushed back down the hallway to find a doctor leaning over Nickel. There were also two nurses standing by. Katniss felt a bit uneasy over leaving her son with three strangers when he was in such a state. Neither the nurses nor doctor paid her much attention as she made her way to her son's side. Her grip on Nickel's hand was tight as she watched the doctor extract the arrow from the wound. Once the arrow was extracted and handed off to one of the nurses, Katniss heard the doctor muttering to himself, "Doesn't seem to have hit anything we can't fix. Should just need stitches." Katniss breathed a large sigh of relief, taking this as a good sign.

If the sight of the needle used to numb Nickel's skin had caused Katniss discomfort, Katniss's stomach convulsed as she watched the doctor sew up Nickel's skin. Katniss knew how stitches worked, but she'd never expected them to really be that similar to sewing pieces of fabric. The doctor had obviously done this many times before as he sewed up the skin quickly with a stitch that expert seamstresses would have been jealous of.

Peeta found Katniss and Nickel moments later. The doctor had just left, and Katniss was fussing over Nickel as he tried to make himself more comfortable without upsetting his leg. Dani was with her father and appeared sick. She'd never been in a hospital before, and she didn't like the eerie atmosphere of the place.

"The doctor said he can leave soon. He'll just need to be careful about his leg." Katniss told the new-comers as they crowded around Nickel's bedside.

Peeta let out a sigh of relief, and his whole body seemed to instantly relax after inspecting his son. Dani quietly stood away from the others as she observed her brother. She wasn't sure what to say or do. The stitches on his leg were something she'd never seen before. Although Dani felt relief that her brother seemed to be okay physically, she was a bit wary of how he was doing emotionally. This wasn't just a minor cut. He'd had to go to the hospital. She didn't know how to act. Should she act sorry for him or just express happiness that he was okay? She settled for standing between her parents in silence.

Nickel, however, didn't seem to notice the extreme emotions his injury had caused his family. He was inspecting his stitches as closely as he could without touching them. He stared in wonder at them for a few minutes. "These are so cool!" he finally exclaimed. All of the pain he'd gone through today seemed to have been forgotten. "They just sewed it up like I was a doll! Am I going to have these stitches forever? Because I want to show everyone! Wait until my friends see this!" In his excitement, Nickel failed to notice his father's chuckling or the fact that his mother was staring at him in shock and suddenly seemed unsteady on her feet. Dani smiled at her brother and hopped onto the hospital bed beside him before joining him in inspecting this leg.