So I get that some of you were really confused about what happened with this story. It wasn't on my profile for a while and you were all like, "What?" So not I'm going to tell you what the heck happened. Apparently, the Admins decided it would be a good idea to remove this story. Lately, if you haven't noticed, they've been on a deleting spree and took down almost all of the SYOTs on the site. *shrugs* Oh well, since when do I follow the rules? Admins, if you are reading this, I took out all the parts you were freaking out about and took it down for the first time! Does that make you happy? Sheesh. Anywho, I would have reposted this sooner but they also decided to ban me from posting for a few days. That's just rude. Seriously, I freaked out, broke my friends fork into a million pieces and beat the crap out of my punching bag. But oh well, I'm back and so it Quiet Like the Snow! YAY! So, yes, I will be reposting all of the chapters. And, now, I present to you... the Reapings!
Gleam, Age 17, District 1
I kick my father's feet out from under him and he falls to the ground, my sword at his throat. I grin but his expression is blank. "Well done," he says. I lower my sword and am about to take a step back when he grabs my ankle and yanks my foot. I hit the ground hard, my vision temporarily blurs and my mind goes fuzzy. When I regain my bearings he has my arms pinned to the ground and my own sword at my neck. "You have not won," he hisses. "Until your enemy is dead."
He stands up and, pulling me by the wrist, drags me through our back door into the kitchen. My mother stands at the sink doing the dishes. She waves at us over her shoulder as we pass, not even looking. He leads me down the narrow hallway until he reach a small door on the left wall.
"No…" I breathe, but he doesn't hear me. He never does. He throws the door open and it bangs against the wall, probably leaving a dent there. He shoves me inside the small closet unceremoniously.
"Now stay in there," He growls. "And think about what you did." The door closes behind me and I'm left in the dark. The dark. I begin to shake and press myself up against the coats and jackets. I haven't been in here for years.
This is how my life has always been. I live here in the Victor's Village because of my dad. He won the Hunger Games a while ago and he is determined to make me a Victor as well. He won't accept anything less then perfect. If I make a mistake he locks me in this closet. He says it's to teach me a lesson but I think he just finds it funny to see how scared I am whenever he lets me out.
My Mom doesn't care what he does. Quit frankly the only thing she cares about is that my dad makes enough money so that she can still afford to go into the marketplace and buy as much jewelry as she wants. She's always covered in it. I really think she loves her diamonds more then her daughter.
Anger begins to rise from my fear of the darkness that surrounds me. I don't want it to be anywhere near the dark and my father is forcing me to be immersed in its cold grip. No, today was supposed to be my day. Today is the day I'm volunteering and I'm not going to let anything ruin that. I press myself up against the wall and brace myself up against it. I kick my leg out as hard as I can and the door bursts open. I hear my father shouting from the kitchen and hear his footsteps rapidly approaching. I make a mad dash out of the closet and to my left. I turn right and race up the stairs, to the right and down another hallway until I reach a door at the end of it. I burst through it and lock the door to my bedroom behind me.
I can hear my father banging on the other side and I let out a loud sigh. I lean up against the door and slide down it, until I'm sitting on the ground. I sit there for a little while, trying to regain my composure. Father's pounding on the door, now. I need to do something other then just sit here. I glance around and decide to go with the plans I already had for the day. I'm going to the Reaping and I'm going to volunteer. I go to my closet and pull out a cream colored dress. It's beautiful and shimmers in the light. I pull off my training clothes and slip it on. Dad is still at the door, screaming bloody murder at it like he actually thinks I'm going to open it.
Actually that isn't a bad idea…
I sneak over to the door and place my hand gently on the door handle. One… two… three! I Throw the door open and it hits him. He stumbles backwards and leans against the wall, his nose bleeding and with a very confused expression on his face. Darting back into my room, I grab a pair of black heels and a black hair tie and rush past him before his tiny brain starts working again.
"Sweetheart!" My mother gasps as I push her out of the way when I reach the bottom of the stairs. My father's following me now, but it doesn't matter. I'm already out the door and in a full out sprint. I tear down the street, dodging expensively dressed and perplexed looking District One citizens. I'm fast, and he's just fat. He wouldn't catch me.
I duck into a small flower shop and ask to use their bathroom. A woman shows me to it and once inside I use the mirror to put my wavy golden-brown hair up into a slightly-messy bun. I'm beautiful with silky skin, a slender but well toned figure, and piercing emerald green eyes. My face seems bare, though, and I don't have any makeup. It'll have to do. I slid my black heels on and, making sure my Dad is no where in sight, walk back out into the streets. I go with the flow of people, all heading to the same place: the Reaping.
Raith, Age 17, District 1
Adonis wouldn't let me train today and it makes my blood boil. I have to be as sharp as I can for the Games and I cannot afford to miss a single day of training. Quartz would have said the same thing. But she can't. She's dead.
I sit on the edge of my bed and hold her picture and pretend to caress her face. She was so beautiful and strong. But more then anything she was different. When she beat me that day in the sparring match in front of the entire district, she didn't walk away with her head held high to leave me to wallow in my humiliation. She picked me up and congratulated me on my skill. She insisted that we train together. Years later, when I proposed she agreed. On one condition. That before we got married we were to both emerge as Victors from the Hunger Games. She was older so I let her go first. She made it to the final six. Then she was killed.
I don't care if she's gone; I'm going to keep my end of the bargain. She faced her own Hunger Games and now it's my turn. I'm not afraid. I'm going to be brave like she was. I'm going to make her proud.
Gleam, Age 17, District 1
"Gleam! Gleam!" Oh no. It's my 'best friend' Shimmer. She is so annoying; I swear I want to slap her in the face. But that would make me look bad, wouldn't it? She's too easy to control to just push her away. All I have to do is pull the strings and she'll do anything I want her to. If I tell her to dance then she dances. If I tell her to cry then she cries. It's pathetic that she is so naïve that she doesn't realize my hatred towards her.
"Hi, Shimmer," I smile, turning around and giving her a hug. God, she's so wretchedly small that I feel like I'm going to break her. I wish I could. "How are you?"
"I'm worried," She admits. Her taste in clothing is horrible. She's in an ugly brown dress with brown sandals. And her hair is brown. And so are her eyes. Her skin is incredibly pale and it all looks hideous. I really want to smack her. "You aren't going to actually volunteer for the Games are you? I mean, you'd get hurt!" You have to be kidding me.
"Shimmer," I say, resting me hand on her shoulder. "If you don't want me to volunteer then I won't. You're my best friend, I value your opinions."
"Okay!" She says brightening up. What an idiot. She looks at someone over my shoulder. "Hi, Marius!" Oh good, it's someone I don't completely despise. "Gleam was just saying that she isn't going to volunteer! How great!"
"Really?" He asks walking up and giving me a peck on the cheek. He's my latest boyfriend. Its' nice to have him around, he'll do anything I say. I once got annoyed that he wouldn't stop talking about our relationship, so I sent him to the store to go find Flickerdoodles, which I told him was a type of cereal. He was gone all day, but he finally came back with Caesar Flickerman's personal brand of rare cereal. He searched all over District One to find it. I seriously just made Flickerdoodles up. It would be sweet if I actually cared about him. But caring about people is weakness.
I was about to reply when the District One escort tells us all to get in our designated areas. I don't even have the chance to say goodbye to Marius, which I don't actually care about doing that much anyway, before Shimmer grabs me by the arm and pulls me over to the area for the seventeen year old girls. I hate it when people touch me. As soon as we get there I pull my arm free from her grasp and stand as far away from her as I can… with her still standing right next to me.
First the video, then the girls. Our escort sinks her hand into the slips of paper and pulls one out. She announces a name but I refuse to let myself even hear it. My hand shoots up into the air instead and I scream, "I VOLUNTEER!"
Raith, Age 17, District 1
I glance around me as the video plays. I am friends with no one here. I know none of them. What would be the point? They'd just distract me from my training. Once I become Victor I won't need friends, anyway. I'll have everything I'll ever need in life and friends would just try to feed off my success.
I can see my parents standing in the back with anticipating looks on their faces. I never told them that I'm going to volunteer today but I assume they figured it out. My younger brother, Leo, stands in the section for the fourteen year old boys. He looks so much like me, except he is totally oblivious to the fact that I'm volunteering. In fact, he looks bored.
When it comes time for the girls, a girl in a cream-colored dress practically shrieks that she volunteered. I guess she wanted to be sure that they heard her. She makes her way up to the stage and announces that her name is Gleam Luxton. Luxton… her father was a Victor! Glancing around, I find him in the crowd with a scowl on his face. I can hear the people around me whispering about how mean and cruel he is.
The escort calls out the name of the boy and my hand punches the air. "I volunteer!" I announce, proudly. The escort waves me up to the stage with an unnaturally large smile on her white face.
"What is your name?" She asks. She reminds me of a vampire. I can see my own reflection in her glasses. I'm a bit short for a Career but that doesn't mean I can't fight. Actually, I'm probably one of the best there is. I have platinum blonde hair, deep green eyes and slightly oversized ears. And full lips. Quarts loved my lips. Whenever we were on dates she could sit there and kiss them for hours without stopping.
"Raith Delver," I say. No one looks surprised that I volunteered, except, of course, my brother who doesn't have any brain cells left after all the times he's hit his head on things.
It's happening. I'm finally doing it. I'm finally a tribute in the Hunger Games.
Oplarran, Age 18, District 2
As I walk down the road that leads into the more populated area of District Two the children see my face and step away from me. I scare them and I know it. I'm huge with a face covered in scares. One of them, in fact, goes over my left eye, which I'm blind in. My nose is crocked from all the times it's been broken. I'm huge and tower over most of my district at six feet and six inches. My hair is a matt of curls that hang in my face. To the little kids, I look like a hulking monster, the kind of guy you'd expect to be the evil villain in a story.
But I can't change how I look. Fate decided how I look, not me, so it wasn't my fault. Fate decides everything, you know. Whether your parents meet, what your eyes color is, what side of a coin will land up when you flip it, whether you're chosen for the Hunger Games…
And if I'm to be chosen for the Hunger Games, today is the day that I will be reaped. I don't want to be a tribute. My family couldn't take it. I never knew my father. He was a jerk and decided to leave me and my mother when I was a baby. I live with my mom, my stepdad and my half-sister now. Honestly I think she's the one I care about most. Her name is Sabrie and she's only five years old. She couldn't go on if I was chosen as a tribute.
But I'm not the one who will decide.
Jessamine, Age 18, District 2
I walk alone to the Reaping in a short, ice blue dress and matching heels. My long, dark brown hair is in a high ponytail and my deep green eyes are brought out by my makeup. I'm fair and thin, I won't lie, but not too thin or too fair. I think I look good.
I rub my brother's ring on my finger. My head aches. Today is always the worst day. Exactly one year ago my older brother, Cameron, was reaped in the Games. He did so well, got so far. He was one of the most feared tributes in the Games, with deadly knife skills and killing five out of twenty-four tributes. He was so close to winning… so close when an arrow went throw his head and his blood stained my TV screen. It's not there anymore but I still see it whenever I turn the TV on.
When we get to the Reaping it's the same as always. The video plays and we all take a nap. When the video shuts off we pretend like we were awake the whole time. Next the District Escort steps up to the glass orb holding the slips of paper. She digs out a single slip of paper and reads off the name.
I think my heart just stopped. At least I know my life just did. I make my way up to the stage and stare coldly at the people of District Two. Why does no one volunteer? Why doesn't someone save me? No one saved Cameron, either.
The boy is chosen and his name is Oplarran Hightom. Weirdest name ever. He races up to the stage and glares down at District Two, daring anyone to make a sound. His eyes are cold and calculating as they dart around in the crowd. No one volunteers. I can't believe that he actually wants to be in these Games.
"I give our tributes Jessamine Mason and Oplarran Hightom!" Lucky us. We are going to the place where nightmares come true.
Oplarran, Age 18, District 2
"Oplarry, you can't go to the place on the TV!" Sabrie cries. I'm in the Justice Building. My mother, in her peacekeeper uniform, sits quietly next to me with my stepfather on her left. Sabrie sit on my lap, her small arms wrapped around me protectively. "You can't go!
"I have to Sabrie," I whisper. "Fate chose me. I have no choice."
Madilynn, Age 13, District 3
"Truth or dare?" I ask Hana. She, Lina and I are in my room in our Reaping outfits, waiting for the time when we are to leave. I'm in a dark blue dress and my wavy dark brown hair is tied up with a blue ribbon.
"Dare!" Hana says with a mischievous grin.
"I dare you…" I pause to think, dramatically rubbing me chin. "To get everything in the fridge and eat it all in one bowl!" Hana's mouth drops open and Lina's eyes widened in shock. We all get to our feet and head into the kitchen. Grabbing a bowl out of the cabinet, I poor everything inside for her from mustard to slices of apples. When it's finally done it looks a lot like mud or at least my cooking.
"I'm not eating that," Hana says glancing at me.
"Come on," I grin. "You have to. Just one bite!" Hana slowly dips her spoon into the muck and brings it to her lips. I ball my fists in excitement and Lina covers her eyes but then thinks better of it and arranges her fingers so that she can see through them. Hana plops the concoction in her mouth and swallows it like it pains her. She looks like she's about to throw up and I die laughing.
Something hard hits me in the head and I look around confused. It was a shoe. Looking in the doorway my father stands there with a pissed-off expression on his face and a beer bottle in his hand.
"It's time to go," He slurs. I hate that man. I hate him with every fiber of my being. He killed my sister, Miranda. He grabbed her by the neck and threw her across the room. She died when she hit the wall. He made my mother leave two years ago. He is the reason my life is a living hell.
None of us move for a moment but I finally lead the way and we push past time. He whacks me upside the head and I pretend to fall over dead, with my tongue hanging out of my mouth. Hana and Lina laugh but Daddy Dearest steps on my arm. I yelp out in pain and shove him off. Rising to my feet I stick my tongue out at him before trotting out of the house with Hana and Lina on my heels.
Thaddeus, Age 16, District 3
Knock three times on the back door of the pharmacy. Say the password. Slid the money under the door. Receive your merchandise and get the hell out of there. Simple and easy. Some may say to easy. I don't care though. I head back to my single-room dirt-floored shack and slam the door closed behind me. I place the paper bag on the table and rummage through its contents until I find what I'm looking for. A grin spreads across my face as I pull out a needle. I stick it straight into my arm and sigh as my body shakes with pleasure. Hey, when did my ceiling turn purple?
Madilynn, Age 13, District 3
We get to the Reaping and file into our sections. Luckily all three of us are in the same area so we can offer moral support for each other. Thaddeus, who reminds me of a younger version of my father in the way that he has a strong chemical dependence, is late and by the looks of it he's high again. It doesn't surprise me one bit. I don't like Thaddeus. He gets on my nerves, not being strong even to even deal with life. At least I persevere. He doesn't even try.
"Madilynn Maria Jackson!"
That wasn't my name, was it? It was. I was just reaped. No. NO! I can't go to the Hunger Games! Lina sees the panic on my face and I can tell she's about to volunteer. I slap my hand across her face and stare into her eyes. Better me then her. The peacekeepers come and rip me from my best friends and push me up onto the stage.
Thaddeus, Age 16, District 3
"Thaddeus Shade!" The talking penguin just said my name. I wonder why. I wave at him with a big smile on my face. He looks so funny! Whoa, the giant puppies are coming! Aw, there's so cute! Hey, there's picking me up! AH! I flick them off when they throw me on to candy stage. Stupid puppies.
That's when I see her. She's gorgeous! The girl named Madilynn has brown hair that cascades past her shoulders and stops halfway down her beautiful back that is left bare by her silky blue dress that clings to her slender figure. Blue angel wings stick out her back where her shoulder blades end. I shake her hand and it feels smooth like heaven. I just shook hands with an angel.
Tanner, Age 17, District 4
I weave my way through the crowd of people, snatching wallets here and there and occasionally a piece of jewelry or two. The Reaping day is always the best day for me. It's when the big money comes out. Everyone has to attend and people want to look their best today so they carry money around to make their friends think they have more then they do and they wear their most expensive jewelry. The idiots.
No one ever suspects me and they never will, the tall, fit, tan and handsome boy with messy black hair and kind blue eyes. People in this District judge by appearances, it's always been like that and it always will be. So in their eyes I'll always be a god, no matter what I do.
I'm not a bad person, even though I do bad things. I don't do it because I'm a kleptomaniac like I know some people do; I do it because I have to. If I don't then my little brother, Joey, my little sister, Liena, and I will all starve. I cannot let that happen. I meet up with Liena and Joey on the side of the road. I pull my score out of my pocket and hand them to Liena who places them in an empty purse. Normally during the Reaping she would slip away and go trade while Joey and I pray that our names don't get picked. But not this year. This year she turns twelve and she'll be in the lottery just as we are.
Vencitiy, Age 17, District 4
I arrive at the Reaping early and watch as the District Four citizens file in. The people of the district are the most attractive of all the districts, yes, but I'm the most attractive of District Four. Thinking of this, I check myself in my hand mirror. My dark chocolate brown hair is parted to the right and frames my face perfectly, bringing out my misty grey eyes that are flecked with white. I'm in a golden dress with a strip of flowers on my right side that looks like they are falling to the ground. It brings out my curves and shows off my slender body. I have dainty features and delicates hands. I'm beautiful.
How many times am I in the bowl this year? Oh, yes, twelve. I signed up for tesserae once every year. I want to be in the Games. I want it badly. My parents have forbidden me from volunteering but if I get reaped then that's a different story.
All my dreams just came true.
Tanner, Age 17, District 4
A girl named Vencitiy gets reaped and she jumps up and down in excitement. It makes me sick. She practically flies up to the stage and snatches the slip of paper out of the District Escort's hands. She kisses it and waves it triumphantly in the air. No one volunteers for her, of course, because if they did they probably wouldn't make it to the Games.
Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. I make my way up to the stage as Liena bursts into tears. I pass Joey, whose mouth hangs open in shock. I step up onto the stage and shake hands with that witch, Vencitiy. She is smiling and batting her eyes like a whore. I suppose she is one but I hope she makes it out anyway. I hope I make it out.
Elias, Age 18, District 5
Today is going to be a horrible day. Every day is a horrible day, but the Reaping is always the worst. Everyone is all sad and people are really freaking annoying when they're sad because then they cry and they have snot dripping out of their nose and it's just gross.
And when I get Reaped I know I was right. Today is a horrible day.
Ramona, Age 16, District 5
Eli gets reaped. I like to think we were at least acquaintances. See how I use past tense? Eli is dead. There is no way that he can survive the Hunger Games with his lanky body, dark hair and sea green eyes. But I only have a second to mourn his passing before the unspeakable happens.
I hear a few awwww's from the older people as I make my way to the stage. I'm small for my age and look younger then I am. I know how sweet and innocent I look. I'm not. I get up on stage and spurt out curse words. That put them in their place. Actually they look angry. Good. I shake hands with Eli who looked absolutely pissed and we are herded into the Justice Building.
Elias, Age 18, District 5
"Oh my baby!" Mom yelps, rushing over to me and hugging me so tightly I worry that my bones will crack. It would be just my luck. My mother pulls back and looks me straight in the eyes. "Sweet, you can't worry. You are going to get out of this. And when you do you will have a wonderful life. Don't worry, Eli. You can't worry…" She trails off and bursts into tears.
"Good luck, kid," My father says, resting his hand on my shoulder and giving me a meaningful stare that tells me he means it. He ruffles my hair before leading my mother out of the room. My sister remains, sitting silently next to me, her face expressionless but her fists clenches so tightly that her knuckles have turned white.
"Vailea?" I ask tentatively. She slowly turns her head to look at me. Tears are pooled up in her eyes and her body is shaking. "Vailea, if you want to cry that I won't hold it against you, I promise."
"I know," She nods. "I just don't want my mascara to run." Of course. She gives me one final hug before going. My best friend, Calder comes in next and he offers up words of advice but I don't really hear him. Like everything else, my life has just been taken away from me.
Peregrine, Age 18, District 6
I stare blankly at my reflection in the mirror. I'm so small and tiny with raven hair and olive skin. I'm in a pair of black pants and a loose fitting grey shirt. The chances of me being Reaped are a thousand to seven, so the chance that I will be chosen is almost impossible, therefore it would be pointless to get dressed up. There is no expression in my face, but the most startling part of my appearance is my eyes. They are large and bright blue, such a light shade of it that they almost appear white.
I walk slightly distanced from my father and my brother to the Reaping. People in their best clothes stand before the Justice Building where our District Escort, dressed in a bright pink dress that makes my eyes hurt, stands smiling and waving to the citizen of District Six.
As she pulls out the slip of paper I'm struck with a brilliant idea. All my life I have never felt anything. I have no emotions, no love and no hate. I'm like a robot, inhuman and calculating. I want to feel something more then anything else. That's why I volunteer.
And for a moment I feel something. Something twinges deep inside me and my heart skips a beat. Anxiety. But as soon at it is here it is gone. I'm just a shell as I make my way up to the stage and lazily watch the shocked faces of my District change and contort. Some of them even smile. They all call me Poker Face. They're happy to see the district robot go. They don't want me around. No one does. Not even my own family. My father is embarrassed by me and my brother hates my guts.
I've tried to smile before. I stood in front of a mirror and tried to force my face to take on the shape that I should have easily been able to conform to. I couldn't do it. I physically could not smile. I think there may be something wrong with the muscles in my face that is keeping me from smiling… or making any other expression.
But that doesn't matter. The Hunger Games will fix me. I'd rather feel pain then nothing at all and that is all the Hunger Games brings. Pain. I want it. I need it. If I don't feel something I will probably just drop dead.
Eclipse, Age 17, District 6
The Peregrine girl volunteers. Hm… maybe she'll finally feel something? I can only hope so for her sake. I couldn't imagine living without emotions, it would be almost impossible. I couldn't imagine going into the Hunger Games, either. It's the greatest injustice I have ever heard of in my life.
Well, I guess I'll be able to imagine it now. I decide to put on a good show, at least. I smile charmingly for the audience as I make my way up to the stage. I've been told a thousand times how beautiful my smile is. I'm not full of myself; I'm just saying that's what people have told me. I can see my father shaking his head in the audience with his arms crossed while my mother tries desperately to break free from the grip of the peacekeepers to reach me. My best friend, Alien Huang, is in total and utter shock and can't do anything other then blink and breath.
When I see my parents in the Justice Building they are the same. My mother tries to convince me to run away and to escape no matter what the cost, but I tell her that would be illegal and, more importantly, impossible. My father just kind of stands there. Finally he tells me to make him proud and he and my mother leave.
I hope that I make them proud.
Ivy, Age 17, District 7
I sit quietly on the bench in our garden a book cradled in my arms. It's ages old but Alice in Wonderland has always been my favorite since I read it for the first time when I was a little girl. Over the years I've read it twelve times. This time will be the thirteenth.
I'm in simple blue dress with matching flats. My mother's silver necklace hangs around my neck, a sky blue jewel hanging from it. My wavy brown hair is up in a side ponytail, as it usually is and my blue eyes dart over the words printed out over the pages of the book.
Suddenly, my eyes are covered by something and I grab at the hands, clawing at them and trying to get them to release me. They do and I leapt to my feet and twirl around, ready to face my attacker. I sigh a breath of relief when I see it's just my boyfriend, Heath.
"Gosh, Ivy," He chuckles, rubbing his hand. He looks up at me with his entrapping brown eyes. "Anxious much?"
"A little," I mutter, sliding my bookmark into Alice in Wonderland to keep my spot. I walk back over to the bench and sit down, letting the book rest on my lap. Heat sits down next to me and puts his arm around me. I lean into him, resting my head on his shoulder. "I'm just worried about the Reaping, that's all."
Heath and I have been friends since we were little. When we were younger we'd go with my dad to the lumber yard and have duels with our wooden swords. We'd play tag amongst the trees and pretend to be defending the district from dragons and evil queens. But that was before my father died. It seems like ages ago now. I was so vulnerable after his death and the only person who stood by me the entire time no matter what was Heath. We only started dating a few months ago but I've never felt this way about anyone.
"IVY!" Amber wails, throwing open the back door to the house and running to me clutching her arm. There's a three inch cut on it and it's bleeding badly. Tears race down her face and her twin sister, Anna, stands at her side worriedly, clutching her own arm as if it hurts her as well.
"What happen?" I ask, kneeling down so that I'm eye level with her.
"We were playing with the wooden swords," She sobs. "And it cut me!"
"How'd that happen?" Heath asked. "They never cut us."
"I don't know…" I admit. I offer Amber an encouraging smile and carry her into the house. "How about we get that fixed up?" I sit her on the kitchen counter. Going to the sink I run cool water over the washcloth and clean the wound. I dry it with another towel and generously apply a coat of medicine. I dress the wound with a bandage and instruct her to be more careful next time.
You see, my mother—who is out running errands—and I earn money for our family by being healers. Two of the best healers in District Seven actually. Whenever someone is hurt they are brought to us. It not only puts food on the table but it gives me a sense of achievement, a feeling that I'm actually making this distorted world a better place.
Heath comes back in holding one of the wooden swords. The edge is sharper then it should be and there is blood on it. I walk over and slowly examine it. Someone made the sides sharp. I look at Anna and Amber suspiciously. "Who sharpened the swords?" The both instantly point at each other and I face palm.
"You two shouldn't have done that," Heath says calmly. "They are dull for a reason, and that reason is so that you don't hurt each other. You two got lucky, the injury could have been much worse." They lower their heads and I feel bad for my little sisters. They're only seven after all.
"It's okay," I say, taking the swords by the hilt. "These are getting old anyway. They'll make good firewood."
I toss them into the fire and watch as my childhood memories burn to ash. Heath stands at my side and holds my hand the whole time. A tear falls down my face and he brushes it away. "Come on," He whispers. "We have to go."
We make our way through District Seven to the Justice Building and watch the boring video. I hate this video. They try so hard to feed us lies and I know that some people believe them. But not me. I'm not so easily bought. I know this country is disturbed and doomed. It will only be a matter of time before it crumbles in front of our eyes, like the Roman Empire or Ancient Egypt.
The video ends and I watch as our District Escort steps up to the glass orb. She pulls out a slip of paper and reads it to the audience. Turns out that that one little slip of paper in a thousand had my name on it.
I make my way up to the stage in a trance. I move without thinking, my body no longer under my control. I shake hands with the escort and look blankly at the crowd. It's weird to live in a world where your entire life can be ruined by a slip of paper.
Our escort steps up to the glass orb and pulls out another name, the name of the male tribute. Just as she says this, gallons of rotten milk rains on her head and coats her from head to foot in the chucky substance. I look up to see the devilish smile of a young boy disappear in the rafters above the stage.
Walley, Age 14, District 7
"Come on guys," I shout to my friends. "Push with your legs!" Even with four of us we struggle to lift the vat of rotten milk. I'm not entirely sure how he got it but apparently Orlando knows a guy. Just as the escort announces the name the milk rains on her head. I laugh so hard I almost pee myself. Everyone looks up but I think the only one who sees me is the female tribute… um… what was her name again? Oh yeah, Ivy.
I duck back over the railing just in time to see the peacekeepers grabbing Orlando, Terrill and Nate who were all on the other side of the vat. My buds were just busted. I'm the leader of our group. I know a good captain goes down with the ship. Good thing I'm not a good captain. I immediately roll the barrel straight at the peacekeepers. It knocks them over and confuses them long enough for me to duck past them without getting apprehended. I race down the stairs and onto the stage. They are right on my tail. I race past Ivy and their hands are inches away from my shoulder when I reach the microphone.
I know what will happen if they catch me again. I've ruffled their feathers to many times, and to them this is crossing a line. What on earth was I thinking? If they catch me now it's off to Avox Town, population me. It's not a pretty place this time of year. I guess that's why I do it.
"I volunteer!" I yell into the microphone, practically making everyone deaf. The peacekeepers stop in their tracks. They can't touch me now. I'm golden. Or dead. Probably both.
Aunt Risa and Uncle Sigmund come to say goodbye to me. Uncle Sig is in his wheelchair and Auntie (as I like to call her 'cause she hates it) is fuming. Not at the peacekeepers or the Capitol, but, as usual, at me for being such an 'idiotic hooligan'. Terrill, Orlando and Nate don't come in and I can only assume the worst. When I am finally alone I pray for them. God knows they'll need all the help they can get.
Sterling, Age 17, District 8
I tuck in my black tie and examine my appearance in the mirror. I'm tall and thin with pale skin and sparkling green eyes. In my tuxedo I look ravishing. I smooth back my light brown hair and check my perfect teeth for any broccoli, which I had for breakfast. There's nothing there, so I grab my lint roller and run it all over myself, double checking myself to make sure there is no hair left on me.
The process of getting ready takes about an hour and by the time Mother and I am walking out the door it's almost noon. Mother holds a pink parasol over her head to protect her delicate skin from the sun but I do not, since this would make me look very girly. Instead, I applied several coats of SPF 100 before we left the house.
Mother and I walk down the street that houses the richest in District Eight. It's a small street. When we finally reach the end of it I scowl as I step onto the dirt roads of District Eight. I hate stepping on the bare ground. We pass many commoners on the way and they glare at us resentfully. I smile and wave at them, as does Mother. This is the rule for us. No matter how much you hate someone if you see them you must smile and wave.
My name shall be in the Reaping ball six times today so there is no point in hoping and praying and whatnot. As usual, two scummy tributes will be picked and when no one volunteers, much to their dismay, they will be sent off to face their doom. I just shrug it off every year. After all, it's just two less pieces of dirt on my shoes.
Velvet, Age 16, District 8
"There was once a princess named Velvet," My little sister, Satin, says as she organizes the shelves in our fabric shop. I stand at the counter counting the money in the cash register. Of course, my sister made the name of the princess be Velvet. "With hair as black as night and skin as white as snow."
"Raven," I mutter, untucking my hair from behind my ear so that it'll hang in my dark brown eyes.
"What was that?" Satin asks, looking up from her work.
"Raven," I reply. "My hair isn't black, it's raven."
"Oh," Satin says. She changes her words. "There was once a princess named Velvet with hair as raven as black and skin as white as snow." I sigh. Satin is only ten but she should probably be smarter then that by now.
Today is a bad day for me. I mean, come on, it always is. A few years ago my best friend was sent into the arena. She didn't come back. I cut almost all of my hair off and died it raven, like hers was. Now it barely reaches my shoulders and its bangs cover my right eye. I wear my friends silver locket around my neck. She wore it as her token in her Games. When she was killed by the winning tribute he ripped it from around her neck. When he came on tour he saw me with her family and gave it to me.
But that was back from when we were in District Ten. We hopped the border, you could say, and snuck into District Eight. Back in Ten I used to hunt illegally in the surrounding forests. That's the only thing I was ever good at, hunting. But now that my parents own a fabric store and I don't need to hunt for survival it is forbidden.
"Hey," Silk, my older brother says, coming in with my younger sister, Cashmere, at his side. He's carrying two huge boxes while Cashmere wheels in a cart piled high with smaller boxes of silk and cotton fabrics. "Chin up, kid," He forces my chin up with his hand and I shove him away. He sighs as I look out the window, lost in my memories.
Sterling, Age 17, District 8
We watch that stupid video at the Reaping as we do every year. The boy next to me almost slaps me for complaining so much but I can't help it. This video is stupid and boring and I don't want to watch it. I mean, think of all the other more important things I could be doing with my time, like brushing up on my fencing skills or having tea with my book club.
As the video plays on I take the time to go over myself one more time with the lint roller and kick the dirt off of my dress shoes. Dirt disgusts me. I look up as the district escort chooses the female tribute.
Velvet is honestly one of the prettiest poor girls I've ever seen. Or at least that's what I think as she makes her way through the crowd in a tight, green, woodsy tank top and a pair of black jeans. However, when she reaches the stage I realize she's barefoot and it turns me off. What kind of a savage could prance around in the dirt without shoes? Revolting.
"Sterling Sniveley!" I gap up at the District Escort. That can't be right. Surely there is another Sterling Sniveley who she is speaking of. I glance around waiting for this other Sterling to emerge from the crowd but find that all eyes are trained on me. I can't move even though I want to. Finally the peacekeepers come and carry me up to the stage. They throw me onto it and I almost fall over.
There has to be a mistake. Someone must have accidentally entered my name sixty times instead of six and that renders this invalid. I demand a recount! I demand it! But as I shake hands with Velvet I know that I'm wrong. There is nothing wrong with the Reaping. I am a tribute in the Hunger Games and there is no escaping that.
Roshan, Age 13, District 9
I slid through the undergrowth on silent feet and allow my mind to go blank. I'm in hunter mode. I hear movement in the forest around me and my eyes snap open. I slowly turn my head so that I'm facing the source of the noise: a rabbit. Taking careful aim I let the arrow fly. It goes straight through the rabbit's eye. A perfect shot.
I make my way over to the dead rabbit's body and pick it up by its back leg. My black hair is up in a high ponytail and my milk chocolate skin is scared from all of my years hunting and I have a few blackheads scattered across my face. I poke it with my finger to make sure it's completely gone before shoving it roughly in my hunting bag. I make my way back to District Nine and climb with ease over the fence. Of course it isn't electrified, it never is. I make my way into my house where my family is bustling around getting ready for the Reaping. I pull my catch out of my hunting back and toss it into the sink.
Stanley, my four year old little brother, tugs on my pants with his little fists. He's in a miniature tuxedo and it's the cutest thing I've ever seen. I hoist him up onto the nearest bed and tickle his bare feet.
"Hey monkey feet," I say as he laughs uncontrollably. "How you doin' today?"
"I'm good," He smiles when I stop.
"You're good?" I ask. He nods. "Hey, me too. I caught us a rabbit." He claps. "I know, it's very exciting."
"Where are we going today?" He asks. "Why are we all dressed up?"
"Well…" I hesitate. "We are going to the Reaping."
"What's that?" He asks.
"It's when they chose one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts to go and compete in the Hunger Games," I explain. "The show that we have to watch on TV every year, where the teenagers fight each other."
"Oh…" He trails off and gets a sad look in his eyes. I ruffle his hair and go get dressed myself. I try to get Mom to just let me wear my hunting clothes but she tells me to go put on my yellow sundress. I hate this dress. Yellow is such an obnoxious color, it practically screams 'look at me, I'm hideous!' If I could slap the color yellow then I would.
We finally head to the Reaping in our clothes. Stanley walks by my side, holding my hand. When we reach the District square, I pass him off to Mom and take my place amongst the other thirteen year old girls.
As I make my way up to the stage I can hear Stanley crying. Why did I explain what the Reaping is to him this morning? What was I thinking? Now he's going to be sad and scared for me.
"Hunter Putnar!" I know Hunter from school. He's in a pair of skinny jeans and an athletic shirt. Also, he's tall and thin with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. The poor guy's parents left him to take care of his little sister, Michelle, on his own.
I once saw him when I was in the woods. He hunts, too, and I once saw him the forest. I was stalking a deer and was hiding behind a boulder when all of a sudden a wolf leapt out and killed the deer with a single bite. Hunter ran up and cut the deer in half with his knife. He took one half and the wolf took the other. That was a weird day.
The guy has anger issues and as he walks up to the stage he looks like he's about to freaking murder somebody. I can see him counting under his breath as he shakes my hand. Who counts after they get Reaped? Now that's just odd.
Sky, Age 15, District 10
I sit in front of my shabby dresser, checking myself once more before I head out to the Reaping. I'm in a plain, off the shoulder white dress and a pair of white sandals. My long blonde hair reaches my waist and my pale skin slightly shines in the dim lamplight. My amber eyes glow and reflect the world around me.
Walking out of my room, I head into Camilla's room. I find her sitting in front of her own dresser, silent tears racing down her face and a photograph of our family in her hands. I walk up behind her and place my hands on her shoulders.
"I know," I whisper. "I miss them, too."
When I was eight Camilla and I were playing outside. It seemed like a normal day, slightly overcast with the sun peeking out at us from behind the clouds. We were playing hide and seek, me counting her hiding. It was almost at ten when I smelled the smoke wafting towards us from the house. I turned around to find my house ablaze with the rest of my family inside. Camilla and I ran towards the flames but a man grabbed us from behind and pulled us away. I don't like to think about the details of what happened after that, but in the end I was molested and Camilla was severely injured. We escaped but our lives had been forever ruined.
Ryden, Age 18, District 10
I cannot express how glad I am that I don't have to work today. The Reaping, although a curse to others, is a blessing to me. On days of the Reaping I don't have to go to the slaughterhouse. I hate working there, the conditions are cruel and unforgiving and the way they treat the animals is emotionally scarring. I never want to go back there but I know that if I want my family to be fed then I have to.
"Ryden," My little sister, Molly, says. She's fifteen and I'm so proud of her. She looks so much like me, being tall with dirty blonde hair and blue eyes just like I am. I'm in black trousers and a white button up shirt while Molly is in a blue sundress that matches the color of her eyes. "We have to leave. The Reaping is going to start soon."
"I'm coming," I say, walking past her and ruffling her hair in the process.
We walk to the Reaping in silence, aware that our parents would already be there. Whenever the Reaping comes around everyone is feeling a little extra generous, so my parents go to the town square early and ask for money from those a little more fortunate then us. It sounds sad and a little pathetic, I know, but we do what we have to do to survive.
"Good luck," I say to Molly, kissing her on the forehead before sliding in amongst my age group. I say hello to everyone and exchange words as we wait for the ceremony to start. I'm pretty popular for a poor kid; I know everyone and everyone knows me. I'm even acquaintances with the bitter Sky Kressent, the girl who'll bite your head off if you even say her name. Everyone knows what happened to her and her sister. I feel so bad for her and so does everyone else. And she hates us for it. She doesn't want our pity and that much is obvious, that's why I don't let her know I have any for her. Okay, so she may still dislike me but she hates everyone else.
When the Reaping ends and they pull her name out of the bowl I can't believe my own ears. Sky just got reaped. The girl who has had more bad things happen to her in her life now only has a one out of twenty four chance of surviving. That's about when they pull my name out of the bowl. Looks like we're both going to need some good luck from now on.
Abrielle, Age 14, District 11
"Abby!" My friend, Alexi, calls to me as I head out of my house. She bounds up and gives me a huge bear hug almost tackling me to the ground.
"Alexi!" I squeak. She releases me.
"Guess what today is!" She prompts.
"The Reaping," I guess. She shakes her head eagerly. "Your birthday?" She nods and bounces up and down. I pull a small box out from behind my back and hand it to her. She opens it and finds a silver chain with a gorgeous blue gem on it. "Happy birthday."
"Oh, Abby," She squeals. "I love it!" She gives me another huge hug and we head off down the road. "Did you hear what happened to Gemma?"
"No," I admit. "What?"
"Todd hit her!"
"What?" I gasp. "Why would he do that, he's her boyfriend?" Right then Gemma walks up with a small smile. Alexi was right; there is a huge bruise on her shoulder. It's such a shame, too. She's in a short-sleeved dress, leaving the wound completely bare and open for the world to see. Me, I'm in a white long-sleeved dress and white one inch high heels. My golden hair cascades down my back and my blue eyes sparkle in the sun light.
"Hi, Abby," Gemma says quietly, walking beside me.
"Hey, Gemma," I reply. "What's up?"
"Not much," She says simply, gazing off in a random direction. She doesn't look very good today. I don't think she slept at all. She turns to Alexi. "Happy birthday."
"Thanks," Alexi murmurs. We walk to the Reaping in an awkward silence.
Dillon, Age 14, District 11
I swing my age once more and watch as the tree falls to the ground and hits it with a loud thump. Normally I would chop off small parts of it and take them back one by one but I don't have time for that today, I need to get to the Reaping.
On my way back into the district I stop to wash my face off in a stream. I study my reflection in it. I'm tall and muscular with curly brown hair and dark brown eyes. My hands are tough and callused, and my nails are grimy and torn from all the times I bite them without noticing.
Heading into the district, I walk down the dirt road towards the Justice Building. I can see Abrielle and her friends a little ways ahead of me. Abrielle goes to my school; she's one of the popular girls. She's nice, though, and is a real people person. If I had to describe her I'd simply say she's a social butterfly.
"Hey, Dillon," Sandy says, padding up beside me. She's one of my best friends but she definitely isn't my girlfriend. I'm pretty incapable of thinking of her that way. We walk to the Reaping together and split up only when we arrive. I file in with the other fourteen year old boys and wait as the District Escort pulls the name of the female tribute out of the glass orb.
"Abrielle Maddox!" I watch as Abrielle makes her way up to the stage. Her friends break down into tears. A few tears of her own fall from her eyes. "Dillon Cartel!" That was my name. That was my name! I step up onto the stage and shake hands with Abrielle. Someone wake us from this nightmare.
Dream, Age 16, District 12
When was the last time you got lost in the forest for an entire week? It's harder to survive then you'd think. And then you get attacked by a fox that leaves a scar on your forehead. It isn't really fun. That's what happened to me when I was younger and it's why I have the scar on my face. I don't mind it, though; I think it just makes me unique.
"Hey, Dream," my best friend, Ady says, poking her head into my room. Interesting story: my best friend is marrying my brother in a few months. That is going to be a really weird day for me. I close the book I was reading about edible plants and look up at her with a slight smile. I'm rather small for my age with dark brown almond-shaped eyes and long, wavy ebony hair. I'm in a pale pink off the shoulder dress that flows to my knees. "You ready to go?"
"Yeah," I nod. "Let's go." I stand up and we walk quietly out of the house side by side.
Taylor, Age 14, District 12
I stand at the Reaping rubbing my father's lucky ring. Maybe it will give me some good luck here. I'm Hispanic on my mother's side so I have a slightly dark complexion along with dark brown hair and light brown eyes. I whisper back and forth with my best friend Erin as the video plays.
They call the name of a girl named Dream and I can't help but notice how pretty she is. Then they call my name. I swallow nervously and stroll up to the stage. I shake hands with Dream and I can feel her trembling. I mindless wonder if I'm trembling as we're herded into the Justice Building. I cast a glance over my shoulder and look at the people of District Twelve for what might be the last time.