Peeta,” I say lightly. “You said at the interview you’d had a crush on me forever. When did forever start?”“Oh, let’s see. I guess the first day of school. We were five. You had on a red plaid dress and your hair... it was in two braids instead of one. My father pointed you out when we were waiting to line up,” Peeta says.“Your father? Why?” I ask.“He said, ‘See that little girl? I wanted to marry her mother, but she ran off with a coal miner,’” Peeta says.“What? You’re making that up!” I exclaim.“No, true story,” Peeta says. “And I said, ‘A coal miner? Why did she want a coal miner if she could’ve had you?’ And he said, ‘Because when he sings... even the birds stop to listen.’”“That’s true. They do. I mean, they did,” I say. I’m stunned and surprisingly moved, thinking of the baker telling this to Peeta. It strikes me that my own reluctance to sing, my own dismissal of music might not really be that I think it’s a waste of time. It might be because it reminds me too much of my father.“So that day, in music assembly, the teacher asked who knew the valley song. Your hand shot right up in the air. She stood you up on a stool and had you sing it for us. And I swear, every bird outside the windows fell silent,” Peeta says.“Oh, please,” I say, laughing.“No, it happened. And right when your song ended, I knew—just like your mother—I was a goner,” Peeta says. “Then for the next eleven years, I tried to work up the nerve to talk to you.”“Without success,” I add.“Without success. So, in a way, my name being drawn in the reaping was a real piece of luck,” says Peeta. For a moment, I’m almost foolishly happy and then confusion sweeps over me. Because we’re supposed to be making up this stuff, playing at being in love not actually being in love. But Peeta’s story has a ring of truth to it. That part about my father and the birds. And I did sing the first day of school, although I don’t remember the song. And that red plaid dress... there was one, a hand-me-down to Prim that got washed to rags after my father’s death.It would explain another thing, too. Why Peeta took a beating to give me the bread on that awful hollow day. So, if those details are true... could it all be true?“You have a... remarkable memory,” I say haltingly. “I remember everything about you,” says Peeta, tucking a loose strand of hair behind my ear. “You’re the one who wasn’t paying attention.”“I am now,” I say.“Well, I don’t have much competition here,” he says. I want to draw away, to close those shutters again, but I know I can’t. It’s as if I can hear Haymitch whispering in my ear, “Say it! Say it!”I swallow hard and get the words out. “You don’t have much competition anywhere.” And this time, it’s me who leans in.

~ Suzanne Collins

How quiet it is,' Danny said, digging in his knapsack for the canteen full of water he had brought. 'You don’t realize how scary it is, having a whole mountain on top of you, until you’re in the dark as I was in that tunnel, or when you begin hearing the silence.''I didn’t know you could hear silence,' said Irene.'Then just listen.'They sat still, and Danny added, 'Put out the flashlights for a minute.'In the dark, they understood what he meant. All the familiar noises of the upper world were gone: the wind, the rustle of branches or leaves, the chirping of birds, the sounds of automobiles and doors slamming, and people laughing. There was nothing but the faint tinkle of droplets of water, each drop like a distant musical chime, and each one pursued by tiny echoes. Then, after such a note had sounded there would be a long and empty quiet in which they could hear their own breathing and the steady beating of their hearts. They found themselves straining their eyes to see something, anything — the slightest sign of light, but they could not even tell the difference between opening their eyes and shutting them.Irene burst out suddenly, 'Put on the lights!'Danny let out his breath with a whoosh. They all snapped on their lamps, and as the welcome light flooded the chamber, he said, 'It’s — it’s like being buried alive.''Don’t let’s try that experiment again,' Irene said, with a shiver. 'I just hope we get out of here before our flashlights give out.

~ Jay Williams