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A Prologue to "Catching Fire"
I stand in the middle of the town square, my sister Prim beside me. The sky is grey, much like most of our surroundings. It seems District 12 has become a colder, rainier, grittier place since I came back from the Games. I stare down at the worn old cobblestones of the street and try to wash away the feeling of pure loathing that has been plaguing me for a week.
“Mom said she’d only be a few minutes,” I say to Prim, trying to break the heavy silence we have lapsed into since my mother went to the mayor’s office. She’s presumably there to have a personal meeting with the mayor, involving our family getting a new house. It’s mandatory to check the District’s budget and to make sure your decision is absolutely “necessary” before getting a new residence. Prim nods in reply, but seems far too focused on the weird moss growing on one cobblestone to really care.
She’s still young and naïve; she can drop off into her own little world. Some of us aren’t that lucky.
I try to shake off the bitter thoughts, but they keep coming.
Some of us have to watch the only home they’ve ever known be abandoned. Some of us have to see the place we dreamed about during those horrible days be tossed aside.
Then I think about it. What are Prim’s fond memories from that house? Her father’s brutal death? Her mother’s isolation and depression? Never having enough food to eat? Her sister, plucked from her life, to be shown struggling to survive nightly on television?
What is that house for Prim except a nest of disappointments, terrors, and loss? Each one, just like the horrible Tracker Jackers, have their own everlasting sting. A sting that lasts not only in the moment it‘s given, but also in memory.
“Here I am,” my mother’s voice says, interrupting my thoughts. I force a smile that matches hersand try to look less impatient. My eyes fly to the two objects clasped in her thin, worn hands. The sight of an official housing license makes me feel a sudden pang, but I swallow it. My eyes fall on the other article, a pouch of some sort.
Prim and I both look at her questioningly, and her smile grows bigger. She quickly makes her way to one of the merchant tables left in the square and sets the pouch down. We watch her cautiously, as if we are afraid an animal of some sort will pop out of the tiny bag. My mother slowly unites the pouch, and to our surprise, dumps its contents onto the harsh, dark wood.
What is inside the bag is not some weird creature, but what looks like thousands of golden coins, the most money anyone from District 12 could ever imagine.
Those shining, tinkling coins have changed our lives faster than they have all fallen onto the table.