Her mother calls to her when she’s at the top of the stairs, right foot poised in mid-air to descend. It’s 2:00 on Saturday and he’ll be here any minute now, his brusque knock on her back door.
Madge is startled. Usually her mother is not up at this time or day (though she hasn’t been awake in years, not really, anyway) and there are stretches of days where Madge doesn’t hear her mother’s voice.
It’s a shame, really. Her mother has a lovely voice, sleek and silvery like the wolves Madge has read about. It has a nice deep timbre, not masculine, but enough to suggest a drawling intelligence. Madge likes to hear her name from her mother’s lips, the word coming out like the note of a song. For years, Madge has plunked away at the piano trying to figure out which one, but the key to her melody is too minor and remote for her to discover.
When Madge’s mother calls to her, there is no greeting, only this:
"You don’t want to go down that path, sweetheart."
Madge, alarmed and confused at these words, heads into the bedroom and finds her mother, to her surprise, sitting up in bed, her eyes tired but alert, her hair brushed, the linens folded back neatly.
"What?" She gasps.
"That boy," her mother continues, her eyes pinning her into place. "Gale. I know how you feel about him, Margaret."
Madge’s lips pinch together. She stays silent.
"I don’t know what fantasies you’re concocting in your head, but it’s best if you end it now. He’s different, Margaret. Not just because he’s from the Seam, but because there’s a fire, a rebellion in him. He is dangerous, not just to you and this family, but to the whole district." Her eyes gleam in the shadows. "Don’t go down a path you can’t return from."
There’s a knock on the door, firm and brief. Madge and her mother look at each other silently for a moment until Madge finally turns and leaves to get her strawberries, berries that both Madge and her mother know that Madge doesn’t even like that much, anyway.
Madge thinks about this odd occurrence in the coming days. Sure, she has feelings for Gale, but Gale doesn’t love her, nor will he ever, not with the way he looks at Katniss. Perhaps her mother really is crazy. And how could she have ever noticed this, anyway? It isn’t as though she was awake for any of their brief interactions…
It’s when she sees Haymitch Abernathy, a bottle of liquid fire in his hands, that Madge understands that her mother’s warning wasn’t for her; not really, anyway.