Role Reversal

Chapter 1

I wake up, screaming. My sister, Katniss is stroking my hair. "Shhhh. It was just a dream," she says softly, as she strokes my hair. "Go back to sleep."

"Can you sing first?" I ask softly. The dream about the Hunger Games is still clearly replaying in my mind. I was running through a huge patch of trees. Last year's victor was chasing me. He had a knife. He was catching up! And that's when I woke up, screaming.

"Sure, Prim," Katniss says softly. We start singing my favorite song together. Katniss taught me the song when I was only a little girl. I find it so comforting whenever I have a dream about neing reaped for the Games.

"I have to go now. To get breakfast," Katniss tells me. "Get some more sleep. I'll be back soon, in time to help you get ready." She gives me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek before leaving.

I turn over in the bed I share with Katniss. I can't go back to sleep. Not knowing I might have another nightmare. Instead, I watch my cat, Buttercup, lazily licking her paw. As silly as it sounds, I sometimes wish I was a cat. Cats don't have to worry about being reaped for the Hunger Games. All they have to worry about is whether or not they can sneak up on a mouse without being seen.

I stare at Buttercup for what seems like hours. I don't want to wake my mother up, because she is always in a catatonic state on Reaping Day. After losing her husband, my daddy, she went inro a catatonic state. She isn't like that all the time anymore, but she still slips back into it sometimes. Especially on Reaping Day, when she has a chance of losing one of her children. If I wake her up nowm she'll start thinking about the upconing event.

I lie there in bed, waiting for Katniss to return. When I hear the door open, I quietly climb out of bed to greet her. In her arms, she holds two rabbits, some bread, a bag that I know contains money, and something else.

"What's that?" I ask as I walk over to her. In her outstretched hand, she holds a small pin. It has a bird that I recognize as a mockingjay across the center of the pin.

"For you. To keep you safe," she says to me. "Come on now, I'll help you get ready." We walk into the bedroom. My mother is sitting on her bed, brushing her hair. "Oh. Good morning, girls," she says in a soft, nervous voice.

"Good morning, Mother," my sister says. "I have breakfast that I'll go cook now. After breakfast, I'll help Prim get ready."

A little while later, my family is seated, eating a silent breakfast. We all are thinking of the same thing-the reaping. When breakfast is over, Katniss offers to help me get ready. We go into the bedroom, where my mother has laid out our clothing for the day. Katniss has a pretty blue dress, and mine is white.

"Come here, Prim. I'll do the buttons on your dress," Katniss says. "I'll do your hair too." I sit in an old, wooden chair while Katniss puts my hair into two braids. The whole time, I'm shaking, and I can feel Katniss shaking too. I can't be picked. I just can't. I wouldn't have the ability to survive.

A few minutes later, I'm dressed, and so is Katniss. Mother walks into the bedroom. "You girls look beautiful," she saus, as she softly strokes my hair. "Come on now. It's time to go."

We walk silently to the town square. I grab Katniss' hand, and she gives me a hug. "It's ok, Prim. Your name's only in there once. You won't get picked."

"But what if I do?" I ask. "Then what? You know I won't survive? I'm not good with weapons like you." "If you get picked, which won't happen, then I'll take your place," my sister says. "So you have nothing to worry about."

We make it to the town square. My mother goes to stand with the other parents, while Katniss and I head over to check in. I gasp when I see that the Peacekeepers are doing finger pricks. I stop moving forward.

"No..." I whimper. "Prim, look at me. It's all right. It's only a finger prick. They're doing it so they can know who you are." Katniss says to me. "Now go on. I'll meet you at the end of the line."

I move through the line, endure the (painful) finger prick, and meet up with Katniss. A few minutes later, everyone is checked in, and the District 12 sponser from the Capitol, Effie Trinket, climbs up onto the makeshift stage set up outside the Justice Building.

"Welcome, District 12!" Effie says cheerfully. I can't get past her ridiculous pink ensemble. A pink dress, pink shoes, pink accessories, pink hair, and even pink-tinted skin make her look clueless and innocent, although she's the one who draws to see who is going to die.

She introduces herself, plays a video on Panem's history, and talks about how today is a big, big day. I don't listen for two reasons. One, we hear this every year. I could recite it in my sleep. And two, I'm worried. This is my first year I have a chance of going in. I'm twelve this year, and tributes have to be between 12 and 18. I'm so scared. If I'm picked, I'll never survive. Katniss would volunteer for me. But I couldn't let her do that. She's good with weapons, but she's not as good as the Careers.

I gasp. She's drawing. She's drawing for the female tributw. I close my eyes, praying it won't be me. With all the worrying about being picked, I never Expect to hear the name that is announced next.

Effie picks a slip from the round glass ball, unfolds it, and reads aloud,

"Katniss Everdeen!"