About two weeks ago, I wrote a prequel for Hunger Games for a little writing contest. Like so many other tweenagers around the country, I have caught Hunger Games fever and anxiously anticipate the big movie release later this week. So, in honor of its premiere … and at the request of two of my writing pals … I have written a prequel to my prequel. I’m sure HG author Suzanne Collins will thank me for giving her a leg up on her next book. (You’re welcome, Ms. Collins. Happy to be of assistance.)
If you have read any or all of the books in the series, I’d love your opinion on both prequels. If not, what’s keeping you? I promise you that I barely pass for literate in this world … and the books have consumed me. Perhaps my sequels will help to suck you in so that you, too, will taste the rainbow! (Wait, crap. That’s the Skittles slogan. Let’s try that again.) … catch the fever!
Oh, and According to Mags and Ninja Mom, I dedicate this prequel to the prequel to you both. And I thank my local friends (Ashley, Vanessa, Melissa, Mignon & Jennifer) for getting me hooked on the series in the first place. I hope you guys all enjoy what I did here. If not, please just lie and say you did.
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Hunger Games – The Prequel to the Prequel
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I watched as my arrow sailed through the air, right past the tree intended as my target. “Don’t worry, Katniss,” said my father, patiently. “Practice makes perfect. And if we have to stay in these woods all day ’til you hit your mark, then we will.”
“But Mama will be expecting us,” I said, thinking mostly about the hunger growing in my stomach.
“Your mother will be fine. She’s got her hands full with your little sister. I’ll bet she won’t even notice if we’re late. Then, he took a quick look around, surveying the area, and turned back to me with a playful grin. I already knew what was coming. “You go get the arrows by the lake and I’ll collect the ones that ran off into the woods. Last man back has to clean ‘em.” And he took off like a shot through the trees.
I stood there watching him, watching my father scamper away happily just like one of the other kids at my school. He was never as happy as when we were in these woods together. And I felt exactly the same way about him. We both loved Mama and little Prim more than words could say but the relationship we had with each other was unlike any I had with anyone else. I always knew what he was thinking before even he did. And he always knew what I was going to say before it came out of my mouth. We were “cut from the same old, tattered cloth,” Mama always said, pretending to mind when we came home filthy from these little dates together. But we knew she was just as happy to get her alone time with little Prim, the two of them being two peas in a pod.
I cherished the private moments with my father, so much so that sometimes I think I actually aimed poorly and missed my targets on purpose, in the hopes of extending our time together. He was determined to teach me to shoot straight. He said he wanted a hunting partner. And these woods could provide food for our family and a little extra to sell in town. But we had to be careful. We weren’t even supposed to be in the woods, much less hunting and selling our kill.
As I walked along the lake’s edge, I thought about my father and worried about what would happen if the Capitol ever caught him or anyone else from District 12 out here. It seemed like more and more people from the 12 districts were getting into trouble with our leaders these days. The country of Panem was always making new laws for its people and those who didn’t follow them paid dearly, usually with their lives. At seven, I comforted myself with the fact that I was a still a half a decade away from the possibility of competing in the Hunger Games, the Capitol’s way of punishing us every year for something that happened so long ago. I shuddered at the idea of my name being among the others in that glass bowl in just five short years. And then I realized why it was so important to my father that I develop my hunting and survival skills.
He was trying to prepare me in case my name was ever selected for this savage annual event run by the Capitol.
I found myself consumed with these terrifying thoughts and gathering the last of the arrows when I saw him. My father and I weren’t the only ones in the woods today. There, only about 10 yards away from where I stood, was a boy. He couldn’t have been more than a few years older than me. He turned sharply to face me when my foot snapped a twig beneath it.
“Hello,” I said, feeling oddly at ease with this boy I had never met.
“Hi,” he answered, clearly relieved to discover the sound he heard was made by another child.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m … I’m trying to catch a rabbit,” he answered, sounding a little more nervous now.
I knew I could put him at ease again if he knew we were in the woods for the very same reason. “My father and I are here hunting rabbits. Well, he’s hunting them and I’m just learning to shoot.”
Instantly relaxed, he smiled. “I’m better at trapping them. Want to see?”
“Sure,” I said, walking over. “My name’s Katniss …”
“Catnip?” he asked.
“No, Kat-NISS,” I explained. “My father named me for the flower. He said …”
He laughed. “I was only kidding, Katniss. My name is Gale.” And he turned to set the snare. “Okay, Kat-NISS. Want to catch a rabbit?”
I realized it was starting to get dark and knew my father would be searching for me. “Thanks, Gale. I really do. But I need to find my father and get back home to my mother and my sister, Prim.” Why was I telling him so much? We’d only just met. “Can we meet back here at the same time tomorrow?”
“Sure, Catnip. See you tomorrow,” he said with a smile, as he set the trap and walked off into the woods.
I turned and ran back to find my father. I knew he’d want to get in a little more target practice before heading home. And I was ready. Somehow, I knew I’d be hitting that old tree with my very next arrow.
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