Chapter 1: Goodbye Me

Thirty seconds until start, and I felt...well, finished. I was done with life, I give up, take me away. Why was this taking so long? Any sane person would be scared out of their minds by now. Lucky for me, my sanity disappeared as quickly as the sun on reaping day. The heavens had opened when Marriline Silistine had pulled my name out of the reaping ball. Somehow, I wasn't surprised.I'd had a strange feeling all week that my name would come out of that glass bowl. Being that I took 28 tesserae, I had a pretty good chance of getting picked. I wasn't scared or sad. The rain made it feel like those ancient movies, where the protagonist is shocked by a sudden twist in the plot, looks into the stormy skies, and screams as loud as he can. Maybe I could use that to create a diversion in the games. Or, to avenge my death.

The last time I saw my family was after the reaping, when my male counterpart and I were coerced out of the rain and into a small visitation room. My mother said that the angels were crying for me up in the clouds today, and their tears would bring me luck in the weeks to come. I laughed manically at the idea of luck in the Hunger Games. It was literally an oxymoron.

I had given up on any chance of living on the first day of training. I stood no chance against the trained assassins from districts 1 and 2, or the deceptive and cunning district 7 partners. Even the girl from 8 seemed a threat, and she was 4 foot 3. I knew I would be the first to die. I might as well step off my pedestal before the games even start, save them the trouble of running a knife through my chest. Still, something kept me glued to the floor the entire time. Maybe I still had a glint of hope left in my weak body. It surely would die with the rest of me, but I held onto it like a security blanket.

Ten seconds to start. We were ascending, locked in these steel tubes like criminals. I looked at my reflection in the shiny surface, and for a split second imagined my mother looking back at me, our matching blue eyes mirroring each other's fear. Suddenly, a blinding white light circled the top of the tube, erasing the reflection and slowly making its way down the tube until it was filled with the powerful glow..

My eyes adjusted quickly. It barely made a difference. The entire room was white, almost glowing. Twenty-three of us would decorate it's walls in crimson by the time these games were over. It was about 200 feet on all sides, and there were no weapons to be found. In fact, the closest thing to a mechanism of destruction I could see was a butter knife. It looks like this departure may take a while.

My district partner was on my right. His eyes glowed with fear, and his brow was furrowed in concentration. I remembered his name from the reaping because it had such a lovely sound to it. Devican Lavete had become this year's Hunger Heartthrob for the Capitol. His wavy blond hair fell to his shoulders, and his prep team had left it at its dreamy length. His hazel eyes were wide with shock, and I could almost hear the Capitol girls giggling and blowing kisses to their TV screens. He had absolutely no need to worry, I thought. He could probably survive solely on rich, lovesick, teenage sponsors.

I looked down at my clothing for the first time. There had been no mirrors in the waiting room, but my air-headed blue-skinned stylist assured me I looked absolutely gorgeous in her opinion. I was amazed at the fact I could actually hear her through my barrier of thoughts, but now, her comment worried me. How bad did I look? My clothing was as colorless as the room, and I was sure it would soon be drenched in blood. My blood. I had a small label printed on my sleeve in blue ink: R. NADARIA, DIST. 5. Would anyone remember my name this time next year? Would I just be a nameless, faceless tribute in the eyes of the Capitol? I had to fight. If I fought, maybe I would survive. Maybe I would be memorable, special.

I knew my family was watching me on our dusty TV screen. Mom and Dad were praying to the gods of life. Auroris was crying. Jamie was quiet, stoic, invisible. This time last year, I was sitting next to them, imagining what it must be like to stand on a pedestal and await your death. Now, I was here. I wished myself a last goodbye. Hasta la vista, Rindu Nadaria. I hope you had a good life, because this is it now.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Let the 69th annual Hunger Games begin.