Song of the Mockingjay

Hunger Games fanfiction, telling the story from Rue's perspective. And who knows, maybe this time she will survive...

I slip out of the house as the first light comes through our windowsill, unable to stay a minute longer with those nightmares. Running soundlessly down to the Meadow and straight to my hiding place, I sit down with the empty basket beside me. It is still dark here, the sky marginally lighter than the pitch black night that graces District Eleven. I have hoped that the terrifying visions will not follow me here, but in the soft scurrying of animals I can still hear the battle cries of the Hunger Games tributes.

With one hand against the gnarled tree for support, I force myself to breathe slower. Rue, think about your chances. A meagre eight slips in a bowl that contains more than half a million. You’ll be okay. Shakily I repeat the last part out loud, over
and over.

“You’ll be okay, Rue,” I whisper to myself, “You’ll be okay. What are the chances? You’ll be okay.”

Eventually my hands stop shaking and my voice becomes steadier. I take a last deep breath before stepping out from my hiding place, ready to get on with the day’s work. The sun has come up higher now, streaking the sky with a soft orange glow. I allow myself a moment to drink in the sunrise, and am surprised to find myself smiling. In a world with something as beautiful as that, surely nothing can be that terrible, I tell myself as I pick a basketful of wild berries. Perhaps I will be okay.

The house is teeming with noise by the time I get back. A big breakfast lies on the table, eight bowls of porridge made from our ration grain. The sight of that steaming bowl makes my stomach rumble loudly. The rumbling produces a tinkling round of laughter started by my little sister, Rose.

“Hey, I’m only hungry,” I say to her, poking her tummy teasingly, “Bet you are too.”

She giggles and tries to poke me back, but I am too quick for her. Darting over to the bench, I took out three handfuls of berries and drop them in a rusty bowl. Rose runs after me, followed by my four-years-old brother, and I easily dance out of her reach. Once outside, I run the water pump next to our house to wash the wild fruit. The rusty metallic screech as the pump levers moves down suddenly brings back the nightmares, and I bite my lip in order to not cry. I have forgotten about it in that brief moment with Rose, but all my fears are back.

“Are you okay, sweetie?” asks my mother, and it takes me a couple of seconds to realise she’s talking to me.

I want nothing more to tell her the truth. I want to run into her arms and tell her that I am terrified of being twelve, of having to be part of the reaping. But she has enough burdens on her shoulders as it is, and after all I am the oldest child. It’s times like this that I wish I have an older sibling, an older brother who will protect me or an older sister who will look after me. I try for a small smile and turn around to face her.

“Never better,” I lie and push past her with my bowl of berries, hoping she didn’t catch on to the waver in my voice.

Somehow the rest of the morning passes me by in what feels like seconds. By the time I finish preserving the berries it is already midday. We sit down an unusually silent lunch, passing around slices of coarse ration bread and sharing a small cheese. It is a feast really, but knowing that I stand a chance in getting picked as a tribute makes the food that much less appealing. Mother guides me into the bedroom right after we finished. It is time to prepare for the reaping. The new outfit lying on my pallet is prettier than anything that I currently own, a sky blue blouse paired with a creamy skirt. It must’ve costed a small fortune, but I guess the cost is not too much
if you count how many times it will be worn. That’s the good thing about having five girls; anything that’s mine will be my sisters’. It’s just ironic that I may be wearing my best dress to my death.

At last it is time to leave. There’s a sinking feeling in my stomach as I step out into the front room, my hands fluttering nervously around my newly-combed hair. Father tells me that I look beautiful, and so I make a show of twirling and smiling for him. I dance a little with each of my siblings, even with little Violet who is only three. But I can’t shake the sickening feeling inside me, and it seems as though I am the one clinging on to dear life when four-years-old Zac thrusts his hand into mine.

“Oh Rue, you’ll be back here before you know it,” says my father lightly, “You don’t have to drink in every single detail right now, love.”

I shake my head ever so slightly, but my feet are already pulling me forward to the  Square. Turning me head on last time, I whistle four little notes and wait. A chorus of mockingjays answer my song. It seems like a promise, a wordless way of saying I’m safe and I’ll be back soon. I dearly hope that this is the case.

The End

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