Disclaimer: If I owned the Hunger Games we all know it would center around District 3!
A/N: Yes, I have a habit of starting a story when I'm stuck on others which yes is what happened! Thanks to PK9 for the story "The Flaw in the Plan" that gave me the idea for this one!
I woke up to the sound of Mom fixing the old toaster. Dad had it ever since he moved into the house and it was on its last leg when he married Mom, but she insists on keeping the nearly rusted piece of metal going. Her habit of using things until they fall apart and then using them some more came from growing up in the poor side of the district. She had to take out tesserae for her three siblings after their parents died in a factory accident. "Hon?" Dad's voice wafted up the staircase. "Maybe we should cook oatmeal or something else. I don't know if you can fix it this time" She said something that I didn't catch. More rattling of metal and the creak as the lever of the toaster indicated Mom had indeed fixed it. I chuckle knowing that Mom probably gave Dad her, 'I told you so.' smirk.
"Galileo!" Dad called up the stairs. I groaned. Sleeping in time is officially up. "Galileo!" He called again before climbing the stairs slowly. At nearly fifty years of age, he was starting to slow down a bit.
"Coming, Dad!" I called sitting up. He clomped back down the stairs. If we lived in an apartment, the whole building would probably hear him clomping around, but we're one of the few families living in a house. Having parents that are in the inventor class has its perks. One of the perks is that I inherited their smart genes.
Looking around my room, I gaze at bookshelves that Dad and I built when I was twelve take up two walls. My books from the engineering academy nearly take up one shelf. The other shelf has recreational books including books from the ancient astrophysicist Stephen Hawking and of course, a biography of Galileo, my namesake. Random robotics and circuitry projects from the Academy are also stacked on the shelves. As with every Reaping Day, I looked around the room slowly to recommit it to memory. The Inventor class is usually safer than the Factory class, but the last two years, at least one tribute has come from the Inventors. I dressed in a light blue button down shirt and black slacks. I felt naked without a pocket protector so I stuck one in my breast pocket of my shirt.
"My twins!" Mom laughed when I came into the dining room. I looked and Dad was wearing a very similar shade of blue as me, black slacks, and his pocket protector bulged with pens and a calculator. Mom wrapped me in a hug before cupping my face in her hands and kissing my cheeks. I looked into her large eyes and smiled.
"Morning, Mom." Mom wiped her hands on her apron over her simple maroon dress before going into the kitchen to bring out our breakfast. She had her salt and pepper dark brown hair pulled back into a bun. She came back with a tray with three breakfast plates loaded with cinnamon-sugar toast, scrambled eggs, and canned fruit. Even though we could afford fresh fruit, Mom and Dad would rather spend money on books and equipment for inventing rather than food. However, I am grateful that I get three balanced meals every single day.
Mom hummed a tune to herself as she ate. She has certain songs she hums when she gets nervous, and my friends point out that I have taken to humming them before tests. The song I heard is one of them. "Mom," I reached out and hold one of her hands. "I love you." She smiled and I felt her smaller frailer hand wrap around mine. I know. We ate in silence. Usually table conversations consisted of their inventions and my school projects, or something one of us read in the Panem National Engineering Journal. However, all of us were too nervous to talk. Dad and I also knew Mom has a habit of going mute until the reapings are over, so we didn't push conversation much until then.
Dad did the dishes as Mom took an opportunity to fuss over me. She ushered me into the bathroom upstairs and got a comb wet to re-comb my hair. After she fixed my collar for the third time, I was finally presentable enough to go back downstairs. At age seventeen, I have dressed myself for five reapings, but Mom insisted on fussing. It was her way of saying 'I love you' in case today was goodbye. "He looks handsome, hon." Dad said as we make our way out the door. "Come here, son." Dad wrapped me in a hug and kissed my cheeks. "I'm proud of you, my boy."
"I love you too, Dad." I said smiling. Dad adjusted his glasses and cleared his throat.
"Best not be late." He said simply. He took Mom's hand and we walked to the Square in the center of the district. Walking along the streets, I saw other friends from the Academy. As the factories were not belching out soot this morning, a bit more sunlight illuminated the scene of the entire district streaming toward the center of town. We were to witness the yearly reminder that we are in the cruel clutches of the Capitol and there is no escape unless we want the future generation punished even more than it is now. Mom and Dad left me to line up with the other teens as they go off to another section of the square.
"Hey, Leo!" My friend Cord said ruffling my hair.
"CORD!" I yelped.
"Aw, did your mommy comb your hair today?" He joked.
"Yeah. As a matter of fact she did." I quipped back as people around us chuckled. Cord and I were in the Academy and we studied at each other's houses. His dad was an inventor and his mother was a primary school math teacher.
"So, how's that invention of hers coming?" Cord asked.
"Good. She has a few electrical kinks that she's been working with Dad on." I explained. We were discussing her machine before our two other friends shushed us.
"There goes Derek." Cord said quietly as Derek, another kid in our class took a deep breath and held it. Even for District Three, the kid was pale, so his face immediately began to redden. He had been doing this every year since we were all in the Reapings. Cord moved behind him just in case Derek's body decided he had held his breath too long and would respond by introducing his head to the ground.
"Galileo Tesla!" Vanesia our escort screeched. I gasped along with the seventeen year olds. Move, Leo, Move! I couldn't let myself get dragged onto the stage by the Peacekeepers. My parents didn't need that humiliation. I squared my shoulders and walked up to the stage, my head held high. I heard a thud and realized that Cord was in so much shock, he neglected to catch Derek who had indeed fainted. The only other sound came from the soot crunching under my feet as I climbed the stairs to the stage. I found a window in a distant building to focus on. I didn't want to try and find my friends' faces in the crowd or look at my parents' faces. "Emma Tungsten." Vanesia screeched. A girl with stringy shoulder length black hair, nearly greyish skin and a dark brown frayed dress came to the stage. She hugged her ragged black sweater around her emaciated body. She was obviously from the Factory class. I gently shook her hand fearful that even my ordinary grip would crush it. "Ladies and Gentelmen, I give you the District Three tributes for the Seventy-Fourth Hunger Games!"