Hey guys, I'm starting something new. I already listen to music when I write, so now I'm gonna start listing playlists that match the mood of the particular chapter. Some songs may be repeated. If you are like me, music can be related easily to literature.
Unbreakable by Firelight
Maneater by Nelly Furtado
Facedown by Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Eight months ago, I wasn't who I am now. I was Ariella Vanders, daughter of a fisherman. And in District 4, nearly every girl you came across was daughter of a fisherman. But today, I was Ariella Vanders, daughter of a fisherman, and a killing machine. And at this moment, there were only four of those in District 4: Blythe, winner of the first Hunger Games. Viktor Tyson, Blythe's original trainer. Undin, my fellow team mate/ target. And myself.
Three months after her victory, Blythe toured our schools. She rounded up all of the sixteen through eighteen year olds and put us through basic physical tests. Those who passed were invited back and informed that they were being selected for a special mission. We were all very eager to be chosen, but she said that only two would be.
This time we had harder tests, like running a mile, scaling a tree, throwing a ball as far as we could. And once again, I was invited back. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was one of only two who were invited back.
There were no tests this time. Merely a speech about the special mission we were being trained for. Apparently, they were starting a program to control who went into the arena and represented our District. And we would be teaming up with Districts 1 and 2 for the time being.
I had been chosen for this year's games. Undin was to be my partner. And we were going to win… well, one of us would win.
The first thing we had done to prepare was to decide our specialty. Blythe had us pick how we wanted to kill. There were three categories: Distance killers, like her. Combative killers, like most of her pack had been. And Silent killers. The kind that slithered around in the shadows and that killed without them knowing what hit them.
I told Blythe that I wanted to be a combination of combative and silent, but I also wanted to learn to use a bow. She said that that was pretty easy to do, so we got to work.
Undin was solely combative, so we sparred a lot. But he was better than me, so even though our bouts lasted a long time, he usually won. I knew that he would be a fierce competitor if I had go head-to-head against him in the arena.
The whole system was very complex. We weren't allowed to tell anyone except our parents that we were being trained because it was against the rules. But Blythe said it was only a matter of time before the other districts started doing it.
The hardest part was telling my dad. What daughter wants to tell her father that she had promised to enter herself in a fight to the death? Not me…
It was a Friday. I was out of school for the weekend, and I wasn't scheduled to fish until Sunday. Dad was going to sea later that night, so I figured it would give him plenty of time to accept it.
"Dad?" I called as I walked in the door to our small house.
"Ariella?" he called back from upstairs.
" No, its your other daughter," I teased him. Who else would it be? I climbed the stairs to his room where he was dressing in his fishing boots and waterproof overalls. "I have something to tell you dad," I said.
He looked up at me. He could tell that I was no longer joking, that what I had to say was serious.
"I have signed up for something, and you're not going to like it," I said.
"Ariella, don't tell me you are going deep-sea swordfish fishing! You know very well that that is how both your mother and your uncle were killed!"
"No, its not fishing. It isn't even in District 4." As soon as I said this, his eyes grew confused, and his countenance showed unwilling curiosity. "I've signed up to be trained for the rest of this year and then enter myself into the Hunger Games next time the reaping comes."
His jaw dropped and his eyes nearly popped out of his head. He stayed there, slack-jawed and wide-eyed for a few minutes, so I just turned and left him to his thoughts.
One of the hardest things for me was becoming Blythe's idea of an ideal girl tribute – a sex object. She said that half of the men in the Capitol sponsor those girls that they would love to be in love with. So thus began my transformation from an ordinary girl to an extraordinary girl.
My long frizzy red hair would not do, so Blythe bought me a hair straightener. It made my hair longer. It fell down to about my hips. I wanted to cut it, but Blythe had a stylist cut it into "layers", making it look thicker, but still just as long.
Then Blythe took me shopping in the merchant part of town. She bought me all new clothes, including three "push-up bras" which were uncomfortable. But I had to admit that by the end of the day, I looked good.
And so I have looked since then. I have trained night and day for the past eight months, and it is all to come down to this. This reaping. I have to be the first one to volunteer.
I hear our escort, Lillianna Laprizz read the name of some sixteen year old girl who walks towards the stage. She has barely put her foot on the step when I say, "I volunteer!"
They beckon me towards the stage. I can hardly contain myself. I am going into the Hunger Games! I mount the stage and look out towards the crowd, every eye on me. And oddly, it doesn't disorient me. I find that I am actually enjoying the attention. I enjoy being looked at, and I am suddenly grateful for Blythe and her additions to my bodily beauty.
They soon draw another name for the boys. It is the boy sitting next to Undin in the eighteen year olds section, but he doesn't look eighteen. He is skinny and has skin problems. He looks up at me, and smiles at me. I laugh as I see Undin stand up and volunteer. The boy's smile falters as Undin joins me on the stage.
They make us shake hands, then we are escorted into the justice building. We each get an hour for visitors.
The room is beautiful. More beautiful than any place in District 4, except maybe Blythe's house. The entire room is teal, silver, and blue, mimicking the effect of moonlight on the ocean. There is a warm fire in the fireplace, but the log burning is driftwood, making the fire blue.
I am still admiring the fine décor when the door opens. The noise startles me, shaking me abruptly from my silent stupor. I turn and see Blythe there. I find this odd, considering that I will be boarding a train with her on it in an hour's time. What could she possibly say to me now that can't wait until that time.
She starts without delay as soon as the peacekeepers leave the room. "Ariella, as soon as we board that train, I am not only your mentor, but Undin's as well. Therefore, I must say something now that I can not once we are on board – do not be afraid to kill Undin. He is naïve, but strong. He is only your team mate as long as you need him to be, then he is your enemy. There is a fine line between taking risks and being stupid. And I'd rather not be the mentor of a stupid tribute, got it?"
"Got it," I said. I was used to this edgy side of Blythe. I had seen her around school before her Games, as she was only a single grade older than I was, and I knew she hadn't always been like this. The arena had changed her.
I struggled to find a word to describe her new persona. Crazy was too strong, but intense was too loose. Direct seemed to touch it, but didn't really wrap around the part that had come out of the arena with her, that part that wasn't there before. It was like she left a little of herself inside, and took a little bit of the arena with her; a little chip on her shoulder.
My father came in next. I hadn't heard the door open, but I turned to face him when it closed. His face was emotionless, but I could see the moist trails the tears had left on his sun-bleached face. It killed me to know that I was choosing to inflict this on him. My only consolation was that I would return home to him.
We didn't speak much. I told him what I wanted done with some of myself as soon as I died, like my pearl necklace. I wanted him to give it to Blythe and tell her thank you. And if Undin were to return and I didn't, I wanted him to give him the shark tooth I had found on the beach. I said this all casually. I was sure I was returning.
By the time I finished saying all this, he had started crying again, silently so as not to disturb me. It was at that moment the peacekeepers came in and escorted him from the room. The last image of my father I would carry with me into the arena was of him crying.
I had only one more visitor – Viktor. He didn't say anything beyond, "You'll need a token in the arena, something to remind you whats waiting for you back home." With that, he handed me a small box and walked out the door.
I looked in the box and found a small hair clip made from beautiful peals, ten of them, all the same perfect size. I immediately put it in my hair.
I waited out the rest of the hour, then Undin and I were escorted to a car waiting behind the Justice building. Undin wasn't crying, but he rejected all attempts at conversation. I wondered what was going on inside of his head… then I figured out that I didn't care. He was probably thinking about how he was going to win the games...
If he had wondered what I was thinking about at that point, it would have been something like 'Yeah, good luck with that…'