The Tributes

Chapter 1

WhenIwakeup,theothersideofthebediscold.Myfingersstretchout,seekingPrim’swarmthbutfindingonlytheroughcanvascoverofthemattress.Shemusthavehadbaddreamsandclimbedinwithourmother.Ofcourse,shedid.Thisisthedayofthereaping.

Ipropmyselfupononeelbow.There’senoughlightinthebedroomtoseethem.Mylittlesister,Prim,curleduponherside,cocoonedinmymother’sbody,theircheekspressedtogether.Insleep,mymotherlooksyounger,stillwornbutnotsobeaten-down.Prim’sfaceisasfreshasaraindrop,aslovelyastheprimroseforwhichshewasnamed.Mymotherwasverybeautifulonce,too.Orsotheytellme.

SittingatPrim’sknees,guardingher,istheworld’sugliestcat.Mashed-innose,halfofoneearmissing,eyesthecolorofrottingsquash.PrimnamedhimButtercup,insistingthathismuddyyellowcoatmatchedthebrightflower.Hehatesme.Oratleastdistrustsme.Eventhoughitwasyearsago,IthinkhestillremembershowItriedtodrownhiminabucketwhenPrimbroughthimhome.Scrawnykitten,bellyswollenwithworms,crawlingwithfleas.ThelastthingIneededwasanothermouthtofeed.ButPrimbeggedsohard,criedeven,Ihadtolethimstay.Itturnedoutokay.Mymothergotridoftheverminandhe’sabornmouser.Evencatchestheoccasionalrat.Sometimes,whenIcleanakill,IfeedButtercuptheentrails.Hehasstoppedhissingatme.

Entrails.Nohissing.Thisistheclosestwewillevercometolove.

Iswingmylegsoffthebedandslideintomyhuntingboots.

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