My eyes open to see my little room, with the rickety windows and doors, the bare wooden floor and the faded attempt of paint on the walls. It's light blue, my favourite colour. Seven o'clock is early, but I have work to do. The room is empty, and so is her bed. Why she isn't here, I'm not sure, she is never up before seven. Why would she be gone? Then it hit me. Reaping day is here again.
Every year, the kids of the districts get punished for what our ancestors did. The rebellion was so long ago, why couldn't they just leave us alone? Any thought of uprising has been crushed out of us, but their games. The Hunger Games.
Every year a boy and girl is ripped from their homes and families and taken to die in the Games. Well, they say everyone has a chance, but against Capitol mutts and Careers who have trained for the Games, do we have any chance? But my thoughts are best left in my head. Who knows what trouble I could get into?
So I get up and do what I must, accept the rules and try to get along with my life. I go downstairs to see my sister just finishing off her small breakfast of bread, and oh! We have butter. A rare treat.
Reaping day. It's meant to be a holiday for us all, a special day, but really it's a day of fear. All the parents are scared it's their last day with a child. Any child between 12-18 is scared they will be taken away. Any child under that age is either scared to loose a sibling, or, if they're lucky, don't know what the Games are at all.
So I sit and enjoy my breakfast and nod a greeting to my identical twin sister, Grace. We have the same brown hair and height, 5' 2. Our eyes are a little different, mine have flecks of green, whereas hers are just brown.
We sit in silence for a few minutes nibbling our bread and butter until she is done. She then disappears into her room. I sit there alone, in silence, and wish that mum and dad could be here. I know that they had to work but… I don't know, I just wish I could see them before I go. But they will both be at the reaping, everyone has to be there. It's nice to know they will be there.
Once I finish my breakfast, I clear the table. I turn to see Grace, already dressed for the reaping.
She is wearing a light blue dress that ruffles out at her hips and stops just below her knees. She has on her white flats, and has her hair done up in a neat bun. The quality of the clothes are poor, but it's all we can afford. Our dresses are identical, just like we are. But it is the standard dress around the district. District 7, the district of lumber.
'I'm going to see David,' Grace says 'See you at the reaping, Joy.'
I roll my eyes, 'Yeah, alright. Good luck.' I say.
'See you after the show' she says, and with that, leaves.
I sigh, going to see her stupid boyfriend. He is such a tool. Yeah he is kind of cute and strong, but most guys have big arms from working with an axe all the time. I guess I will never know what she sees in him.
I get back to my chores. Sweeping, dusting, general cleaning. It's fine with me, this leaves the cooking tonight to Grace.
Once done, I go back upstairs to my room. I see Grace has left the place a mess again. I will clean it when I get back, I promise myself. Right now, I just can't find the energy.
I take out my blue dress, too. It's identical to Grace's. Most girls will have a dress like this. So I slip it on, and leave my long hair down-I don't want to be exactly the same as Grace-and slip on my own white flats.
I leave the house. Could it be my last time? Will I ever see it again? Will Grace? No I can't think that, our names are not even in there that often. I know plenty of kids with many more slips in the bowl. Maybe that's why mum and dad work so much.
It takes me about around 15 minutes to get to the town square where the reaping will be placed. I use to think it was nice before I knew what the reaping was. Now it's just a big pen where they capitol has their pick to slaughter in the Games.
I line up to be registered and signed in. They need to know everyone is present. When I get to the front, a peacekeeper pricks my finger and takes a blood sample to identify me with. Now I don't leave until there are two less people in District 7. I just hope it's no one I know.
Once I'm in, I walk to the 15 year old female section. Judging by what is happening on the stage, the reaping will start soon.
Our Mayor is sitting in one of the three seats. He has a short round body, round glasses and facial hair that look like whiskers. His thinning brown hair is now starting to go grey.
The man next to him is our escort. He is very tall and thin. He wears a red suit. His trousers stop at his ankles. When is this fashion? He has spiky red hair and red eyes. I guess red is the 'in' thing in the Capitol. The short fat man and tall thin man next to each other look something comical.
The seat next to him is our only victor. He is young himself, only about 20. He has short brown hair, too, and big muscles. He won around 4 years ago. He managed this by forming an alliance that lasted to the final 5, when they split. By the next day, all that was left was him and the brute from 2. It was lucky he had an axe to fight with. Otherwise, he might be in a wooden box right now instead.
Up comes the Escort, who introduces himself.
'I'm Crimson Fire,' he starts. Yeah right, because that's your real name I thought.
'Now it's time to start this year's reaping!' he almost shouts, and waits for applause. He gets none. But he goes on unfazed.
'But first, it's time for the Treaty of Treason!' he says with a big smile, 'Read to you by your very own Mayor Pan.' So up the Mayor waddles. I don't need to listen to this, so I just switch off.
I'm brought back to reality by someone's hand in mine. It's Grace. She looks scared. I give her hand a squeeze and smile at her. I couldn't bear it if Grace was chosen.
Now the Mayor has finished, and up comes 'Crimson' with a fake smile plastered across his face. Well, I hope it was fake. Who could take joy from this?
'Let's get this show on the road!' he says in the annoying Capitol voice. Wow, I think, today is making me really grumpy.
'Ladies first!' I gulp. He walks over to the female bowl and plunges his hand inside.
The Games start as soon as your name is drawn.
He carries a slip to the middle of the stage and calls out this year's female tribute.
'Joy Green!' he calls, like he just surprised someone with a gift. This was the wrong kind of surprise.
I stand there, shocked, feeling nothing. Suddenly Grace screams, and it kicks me into action. I pry my hand from hers and slowly walk up to the stage. I look around to see only stares.
The boys look with pity, and the girls with relief.
I mount the stage and try to keep strong.
Just because we haven't been placed in the arena doesn't mean the Games haven't begun.
I don't even register the boy next to me. The boy. My new enemy.
'I give you, District 7's tributes for the 17th Hunger Games!' Crimson squeals.
Just like that, my life has been destroyed, and I'm torn from my life. Maybe forever. The Games have begun.