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In Another Life

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It is not until three days later that I can reach the town center. Three days I’ve been in a frantic state of anxiety, trying different ways to get there without result, whether through snow that reached my hips or my waist, depending on the area and not knowing when I might come out of the Seam and find out about Peeta’s fate. It wasn't until yesterday, when I saw Gale, that I had some news. I was about fifty meters away from my house when I heard him call me.

“Where do you think you’re going Catnip?”

“I have some errands to run in town,” I'm not lying though that isn't the main reason for my hurry to get downtown.

“Those must be some important errands, I’ve been watching you fighting against the snow for several days now.”

“Yeah well, that and I can’t stand being stuck between four walls anymore. You? forced vacations at the mines?”

“Well yes,” he says smiling, “It’s a nice change to be able to enjoy the sun these days. I’d even say a luxury, if it wasn’t because they’ll deduct from my monthly pay. Anyway, we’ve been told that we’ll go tomorrow, it seems they’re starting to clear the streets. How about if instead of attempting the impossible, we play with the kids and make a snowman?”

I nodded reluctantly, aware that we wouldn’t be able to hunt anything, so I went with Gale to the backyard of his house, at least that’s where we thought we were, because with this amount of snow it was difficult to know where we stood. His brothers came out right away and Rory volunteered to fetch Prim. The afternoon were by more pleasantly than if I'd spend it at home wondering about Peeta's whereabouts. Having the Hawthornes for our neighbors has always been a blessing.

I see the bakery from across the square, it's open, there's people coming and going and I think that’s a good sign, otherwise it would be closed, right? Although with Peeta’s mother, you never know.

I go to the back, as I always do when I trade, and because that's where Peeta usually works. Before knocking at the door I release a sigh when I see a blond head bowed collecting sacks on the warehouse. Without a second thought I knock at the glass, but when the blond guy turns, I see that it's Rye, not Peeta.

I stand still and my heart begins beating. Rye gestures for me to come closer, I comply fearfully. As soon as he opens the door, I start talking.

“I need flour, I forgot it here, the other day, before the storm. Your father can tell you that I brought some squirrels.”

Rye looks at me disgruntled, frowning.

“If you want flour I can bring it for you, but I thought you were here to know about Peeta. I was wrong,” he says seriously, as he turns to get the flour, it doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes, “here you have it, good day Everdeen.”

Before he closes, I put a foot in the door frame so he can’t close the door.
“You’re right, I came to know about Peeta. The flour… the flour was just an excuse. Well, I actually left it the other day, but that’s not the reason I’m here".

Rye stares at me but finally decides that I deserve to have some news because he starts talking.

“He is pretty sick, the doctor was able to come by this morning, seems he has pneumonia, he has a high fever we haven’t been able to control, he can barely breathe and rest because of the coughing. My father is with him now. Doctor said there are no guarantees.

“It can be true,” I say trying to hold back the tears that are pooling in my eyes.

“I found him lying in the snow on our back yard, he was trying to crawl to the door. I got him home quickly, and turned on the oven to heat the room but I don’t know how long he was outside in the storm. He kept repeating your name,” Rye says as tears flood my face, I’m about to ask if I can see him when he cuts me and keeps talking, “Katniss, I don’t know what’s going on between you two or why he decided to get engaged to Delly, but now is a delicate time and mother is already angry enough with him, she almost threw him out of the house that morning when she saw that he had escaped and we had no bread. Him, saying your name hasn't exactly helped. I don’t think you being here is such a good idea.”

“I understand, but…I need to do something to help and to know if he is still okay. Please Rye.”

“Your mother and sister are healers, right? Maybe you could see if they have something that might help him with the fever, or the coughing,” I nod while I internally chastise myself for not thinking about it before, “listen, it will be less risky if you send your little sister early in the morning. She could drop the medicine by the door and knock. I'll be in the lookout for her”

I nod again and turn to leave, suddenly , I notice that I forgot something.

“Thanks Rye. If he wakes up, I mean, when he wakes up, don’t tell him I’ve been here, it'll only make things worse.”

Prim is more than willing to help me, of course. After preparing a chest poultice and an infusion to control fever, we go to the bakery. They might not want me there, and I don't planned on being seen but I can hide and watch my system from afar. Prim does what we agreed. She drops the medicine, along with the instructions, knocks on the door and runs to meet me at my hiding place. A few minutes later Rye comes out, he takes the medicine and goes back inside. We won't have any more news until tomorrow.

On Wednesday and Thursday Peeta had showed no improvement, but prim assures me that’s good because it means he's controlled. On friday, the news are that Peeta is a little better, it seems the fever has gone down a bit although he isn’t conscious and lucid yet. Finally, on Saturday, when I see Prim hugging a smiling rye, I know the worst is over. The day is cold but sunny, and I decide to go to the woods to hunt, because the rest of the days I haven’t, not because of the snow but because it would have been useless to try to concentrate.

The ride turns very profitable when I get to shoot a couple of wild turkeys. One will be for Sae and the other for us, we could even make soup and bring it to Peeta. Suddenly, with the clarity the forest gave me, I come to the realization that my plan to keep him safe is failing miserably, so far, he has come to the woods by himself, has nearly died of pneumonia and his mother almost kicked himout of his house. However I know that I'm to blame because my resolve isn't as strong as it should be. Peeta feels that the door is still open, that's why he's been so determined about giving me this gifts. This has to stop. I have to find a way to put an end to it.

I come home in the evening, after having gone to the Hob, and I find a package on the pillow.

“Prim!” I call ,“what is this?”

“I don’t know, Rye gave it to me, it's for you.”

“Rye or Peeta?”

“Rye just said: ‘give this to your sister.”

I look at the the package reluctantly, it doesn't make sense for it to come from Rye to me. It doesn't make sense for the package to come from Peeta either, since he's only been awake for twelve hours.

“Katniss, open it already, it's possibly just something to compensatefor the medicines. they probably don't want to accept charity either,” she says to finish and goes back to the kitchen.

Fearfully, I approach the gift and take it. It doesn't seem like it is flour or biscuits. Gradually, I tear the paper and a silky fabric appears under it. It's a scarf embroidered with a beautiful yellow dandelion. I begin to get away from it, because it is one of Peeta’s gifts, I can feel the scent of cinnamon and bread that always accompanies him , is a comforting and familiar smell that makes me close my eyes and I bring it closer to my face to caress it.

However, the illusion lasts only a few seconds because I recover quickly, and leave the scarf in a box with the rest of the gifts, now I know how I’m going to stop this nonsense, next Sunday I’ll leave the box at his door.