I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer of ash
settles on the worn leather. This is where the bed I shared
with my sister, Prim, stood. Over there was the kitchen
table. The bricks of the chimney, which collapsed in a
charred heap, provide a point of reference for the rest of the
house. How else could I orient myself in this sea of gray?
Almost nothing remains of District 12. A month ago,
the Capitols firebombs obliterated the poor coal miners
houses in the Seam, the shops in the town, even the Justice
Building. The only area that escaped incineration was
the Victors Village. I dont know why exactly. Perhaps so
anyone forced to come here on Capitol business would
have somewhere decent to stay. The odd reporter. A committee
assessing the condition of the coal mines. A squad of
Peacekeepers checking for returning refugees.
But no one is returning except me. And thats only for a brief visit. The authorities in District 13 were against my coming back. They viewed it as a costly and pointless venture, given that at least a dozen invisible hovercraft are circling overhead for my protection and theres no intelligence to be gained. I had to see it, though. So much so that I made it a condition of my cooperating with any of their plans.
Finally, Plutarch Heavensbee, the Head Gamemaker who had organized the rebels in the Capitol, threw up his hands. Let her go. Better to waste a day than another month. Maybe a little tour of Twelve is just what she needs to convince her were on the same side.
The same side. A pain stabs my left temple and I press my hand against it. Right on the spot where Johanna Mason hit me with the coil of wire. The memories swirl as I try to sort out what is true and what is false. What series of events led me to be standing in the ruins of my city? This is hard because the effects of the concussion she gave me havent completely subsided and my thoughts still have a tendency to jumble together. Also, the drugs they use to control my pain and mood sometimes make me see things. I guess.
Im still not entirely convinced that I was hallucinating the night the floor of my hospital room transformed into a carpet of writhing snakes.
I use a technique one of the doctors suggested. I start with the simplest things I know to be true and work toward the more complicated. The list begins to roll in my head....
My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen years old. My home is District 12. I was in the Hunger Games. I escaped. The Capitol hates me. Peeta was taken prisoner. He is thought to be dead. Most likely he is dead. It is probably best if he is dead,,,,
Katniss. Should I come down? My best friend Gales voice reaches me through the headset the rebels insisted I wear. Hes up in a hovercraft, watching me carefully, ready to swoop in if anything goes amiss. I realize Im crouched down now, elbows on my thighs, my head braced between my hands. I must look on the verge of some kind of breakdown. This wont do. Not when theyre finally weaning me off the medication.
I straighten up and wave his offer away. No. Im fine. To reinforce this, I begin to move away from my old house and in toward the town. Gale asked to be dropped off in 12 with me, but he didnt force the issue when I refused his company. He understands I dont want anyone with me today. Not even him. Some walks you have to take alone. The summers been scorching hot and dry as a bone.
Excerpted from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Copyright © 2010 by Suzanne Collins. Excerpted by permission of Scholastic. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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