Bentley (Ben) Tucker, District 6

I try to muffle the faint sounds of sobbing seeping through my door. While I press the pillow against my ears, I have a small conflict going on inside me. Should I try to sleep in while I can? Or should I go onto the next room and comfort Anglia? She's definitely a sensitive kid who cries just about all the time, but this is her first Reaping. Everybody cries. So I grunt and get out of bed. As I shuffle down the hallway, I see my parents still asleep. Why don't they just comfort Anglia? She's their kid, not mine. Then again, she might as well be. Our parents spend so much time at the factory making hovercraft engines that they are hardly ever home. It's only natural they're sleeping in today because it's the one day they're off work. I open Anglia's door. She's a mess. Her already tiny figure is curled into a little ball at the foot of the bed. Her breath is coming out in short gasps. I help her uncurl and she puts her head on my shoulder. We stay like that for a little. "Don't be scared, rabbit." That's my nickname for her, since she twitches her nose whenever she's nervous. It's actually kind of cute. She stares at me with alarmingly flat eyes. "This little rabbit's headed for the slaughter." She says equally flatly. Just then, it hits me. She's not a little kid anymore. She knows what she's saying. Where is my sweet, sensitive innocent little rabbit? She's been replaced by a young woman who's seen far too much. Well, I know whose fault that is.

I've always alarmed my parents and teachers alike with my opinions on the government. You could always count on me to be voicing my thoughts. Like how they should all rot in prison. Once, during the most recent workers strike, almost eight years ago I might add, I decided to pick up a sign and protest with them. I may have been only ten, but I knew what I was doing. The mayor ordered Peacekeepers to open fire. Except on me, I guess. He personally dragged me home and gave my parents a "serious talk." Later the next day though, when I was walking to school, a man grabbed me and pulled me into a back alley. Apparently, I was just what the rebel force needed. A little kid would help them play the pity card. So he invited me to join and I accepted. Now I know "rebel force" is an understatement. We don't do anything. We can't do anything. So I gave it up because it might land my family in deep trouble. But I'm still waiting for my chance at rebellion.

I stir some tesserae mush in a pot while Anglia swings her feet at the table. Though not the most powerful skill, I'm pretty good at cooking. With no parents around and a little sister who's five years younger, I kind of have to be. As I spoon some into her bowl, my parents come down and join us at the table. It's so quiet I feel like I could explode. If my kids were about to undergo a lottery of death, I don't think I would be quietly sitting at a table spooning porridge in my mouth! So I lash out at my dad. "So, how does daddy feel about his kids getting sent to the death?" My voice drips with sarcasm. My mother puts down her spoon, shocked. "Ben" my father whispers through clenched teeth. I take that as a sign to go. Once in my room I put on a clean pair of tan pants and a collared shirt with just a small hole at the corner. I slip on my worn and ratty dress shoes. Gotta look nice for your death sentence, right? My name is in that bowl thirty-four times. Anglia's is in only twice. I really tried so she wouldn't have to sign up for tesserae. I sit on my bed and think until it's time to leave for the square. I do that sometimes, just thinking on my bed as the hours pass. I have a lot to think about, I guess. I pound down the stairs, where Anglia's waiting at the foot. She tugs my sleeve. "Like my outfit, Benny?" She twirls in a white flowery skirt with a sky blue blouse. Her hair is braided and pulled in a bun. My mother gives a small smile. "Sure I like it, rabbit. But don't call me Benny." With that, I scoop her up and she squeals. She's so small it's nothing. Really, we're about as different as it gets. She has my mother's platinum blonde hair and soft blue eyes, while I have curly brown hair, tan skin, and a figure that's big for an 18 year old, among 17 year olds at my school I'm the tallest. I put her down and we walk. My mother squeezes Anglia's hand, forgetting that she's twelve. Anglia doesn't mind, though. My father puts his hand on my shoulder as I make my way over to my age section. "Be strong for your mother and sister, no matter what happens, right son?" I nod. He's never really acknowledged me like that. Anglia thrusts herself into my arms. I pry her off gently. "Hey, Angie, you just go find your friends, okay? Then we'll go back home and have something good to eat when this is over." She nods and stifles a sob. I watch her figure get smaller and smaller.

No one in my group feels like talking and that's fine by me. It's not like I'm really friends with any of these kids anyway. MY eyes do wander over to the girl's section though. There I spot Bristol. So I guess it's fair to say we're boyfriend and girlfriend and all that, but we've known each other since forever. We were always the two loners, the odd ones out. So it's only natural that we came to like each other. She sees me catching her eye and she gives a sad smile. I think I should mention we share the same views of the Capital. Our district escort whose name I either can't or just don't feel like remembering comes on stage. While everyone else sort of rolls their eyes and some kids even stifle at laugh, most likely because of his acid green suit, I see Bristol giving him a stone cold glare. In her mind, he's completely evil. He finishes his speech on the Dark Days in a monotone, likely why they haven't moved him up to a more "honorable" district, like 2 for instance, where those kids must be obsessed with the idea of suicide or something, because they're all crawling over each other to get a chance to die. Pathetic suicidal lapdogs. Well, now's the moment we've all been waiting for. As he reaches his hand into the bowl you can hear a pin drop. From District 12. My stomach makes its way into its throat. Not Anglia. Not Anglia. Oh, please not Anglia. "Aston Maybach!" I literally let out a sigh of relief as the girl from the 15 year olds makes her way on stage. "And now for our gentleman," that monotonous forgotten-named escort announces. He plunges his hand in again and my stomach once again finds its way into my throat. I clench my fists so hard the knuckles are white. Somehow, I know what's happening the split second before he reads the name. It's my name. He just called my name. I stand, frozen in place. Then, just like that, I start to run. All the other kids make a pathway in front of me out of shock. I'm not running anywhere, but my legs have a mind of their own. As soon as it started, my running stops. I feel a pinch in my arm, then everything goes black.