My first memory was of sitting on the warm sand and feeling the cool rain begin to drench me. Staring out at the ocean and watching the moon rise. I remember my first time out on the ocean with my father and the last time. I was only 5 but I remember looking out on the ocean, seeing him swim to shore, then suddenly he wasn't there anymore. My mother started screaming and my brother Steven started running out into the water. None of it made any sense to me. My other brother, Caleb, who was eight at the time, came to me and scooped me into a big hug and kept whispering to me that everything would be okay. We waited. When I looked up again all that was left was blood. They were both gone. My oldest brother and my dad. I never went out on the ocean again. The very though terrified me.
As time went on I learned to deal with my father's death. But nothing was really the same. He and I had been inseparable. You'd think with five older boys my dad would be perfectly happy, that I, the youngest girl, would be over looked, but instead I was treasured. While my dad and the boys would play together, I never saw him look at them the way he looked at me and I knew that as long as I lived I would never find someone to love me like that again.
I think this is where it began. The pain was too much. I knew I should feel something and yet...I felt nothing but an insatiable emptiness. Nothingness. Sometimes I could swear I heard him down by the docks or checking in on me at night, just like he used to, but he was never there. It was just me.
I first learned about the Reaping when I was seven. I had, of course, been to them before but I never knew what they meant. I and my four brothers Eric 17, the twins West and James 13, and Caleb who would turn ten the day after the Reaping. We went to the square and Eric and the twins separated themselves from us. The mayor, a pompous, middle-aged man with white hair and an always dirty beard spoke, then the Capitol spokesperson came up. She said one of the girl's names. I didn't know her. Then she called another name. My mother screamed and hugged Caleb and I close. The name the Capitol person had called was Eric Cresta.
I watched as Eric mounted the stage. He was so strong, he always had been, but for the first time I saw tears in his eyes. Despite that he held his head high and looked more powerful than ever. The next few moments I can't remember clearly, all I can recall is my mother sobbing hysterically and Caleb holding tightly to my hand. Suddenly a big burly guy pushes his way through the crowd. A shade of relief passes over Eric's face and my mother collapses into the arms of a bystander.
That night after my mother and the twins have gone to bed I sneak into Eric and Caleb's room. Eric is sitting up by the window, the light of the moon making his eyes shine even more. As I walk in I hear him say to Caleb,
"What if it was me? Where would I be now?" As I close the door they both turn to look at me.