Netta was furious. There was no way of hiding it. Her glare was murderous, and her fists were clenched as she stormed out of Lyme's office.
'Idiots!' she cried.
She was eighteen years old, which meant this was her last year in the Reaping, so for her to not get the chance to volunteer was tragic. This meant no more shots at the fame or the fortune. This was it for her. Left to grow old in District 2 without purpose, to be remembered only as one of the many Careers that never made it to the Games.
But, things were different for me.
I sat on the metal bench outside Lyme's office, in the corridor of the Training Building. Year after year, I'd yearned to be in the spot I was now – waiting to see if I'll be volunteering this year. It's almost unheard of for someone my age to be part of the shortlist, but the Victors knew how skilled I was. They've seen me with my throwing knives. Hell, I was better than most of them. And I think they knew it.
'Come in, Clove.' I heard Lyme's voice call.
I stood up, inhaled a deep breath, and entered her office. In front of me was a long desk. Behind it sat a trio of people that I, and the whole of Panem, was familiar with. On the far right was Orlis, a male Victor from ten years ago. His hair was dyed white – a Capitol trend, no doubt – and, like everyone in the building, he had a muscular physique. To the left was a slim, fierce figure – my idol, Enobaria. She had won her Games with the sheer skill I wished to replicate. She took no prisoners – if you saw her, it was already too late, and now she grinned at me, baring the sharp teeth that were once used to rip open another tribute's throat. She was my best odds for being picked. I knew for a fact that she liked me, and she's a pretty persuasive person. The final panel member, who sat in the middle, was, of course, Lyme. Not everyone always liked her, but we all respected her. She'd led Training since the year she won, and no one can really remember a time when she didn't have the final say.
Lyme gestured for me to take a seat, and I did, sitting right in front of the panel. I noticed Enobaria give me a subtle wink, but I didn't respond, too focused on what I wanted Lyme to say.
'Well, we've reviewed your files, Clove.' Lyme began.
'It's a very impressive read.' Orlis chimed in, to which Lyme nodded.
'Indeed it is. However, there are understandably some concerns, predominantly regarding your age.'
Ugh. I'm annoyed they brought this up again. I swear if I were three years older, they'd have selected me without a second thought.
'But, we can't ignore your exceptional ability.' Enobaria said. She then picked up a clipboard, and began to read, 'Average success rate for all areas: 94% - that's pretty incredible. And you aced the knife test. Obviously.'
She smiles at me, a smile that fills me with both fear, because of the knife-like teeth, and confidence, because of the warm glow it omits. But, this was irritating me – everyone in the room knew my scores, including me. Why were they toying with me? I was either going to be in this year's Hunger Games or I wasn't – simple. Why couldn't they just tell me?
'If you don't mind,' I said bitterly, 'I'd appreciate it if you cut to the point.'
Lyme chuckled dryly.
'Well, there's the Clove we know.' Lyme had a way of saying things without any form of strong emotion, so it was tough to tell whether that was meant comically or seriously. 'But, you have a point. Let's stop with the pleasantries. Ultimately, we're debating whether you're going into a fight to the death or not, so it's only fair you know.'
This was what I wanted. It's one of the qualities I liked about Lyme – her ability to read the situation and decide what was best for everyone.
'Okay, well Clove, after many lengthy sessions of discussion and deliberation, we have decided that this year, we would like you to represent District 2 in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.'
I wasn't usually the type of person to get over emotional, but I could just feel the smile spreading across my face. Enobaria reflected my grin, and as I left, I mouthed a thank you to the Victor. The second I had shut the door, I practically leapt for joy. They selected me – fifteen year old me. I beat people two or three years older than me. And on my way out, I saw one of them.
Netta was sat on a bench outside, her head in her hands. When she heard me approach, she lifted up her head and her red eyes filled with fury once more.
'You get it?' she snarled, her voice venomous.
'Yeah.' I reply. 'Obviously. '
I'd never liked Netta – she was so sure of herself. She acted as though everyone was below her – sometimes even the Victors. There was no doubt in her mind that she was going to be volunteering this year, and the look on her face must've been priceless when they told her she wasn't.
'Guess you're gonna feel pretty useless when you watch a fifteen year old volunteer this year.' I said, in a matter-of-fact way.
I'd had so few times to show power over Netta that I was going to milk this moment for all it was worth.
'I mean, imagine if I won! Oh man, that would be embarrassing.' I could see in her eyes that she was ready to burst. 'And I'd have all the fame...and all the fortune. And you? Well, I suppose you'd still have the memories, of being in the same building as Clove, Victor of the 74th Hunger Games.'
Yeah, that ought to have left her about to erupt, so with that I trotted off, Netta fuming. But, who cared what she thought? Because my name was Clove. I was going to be District 2's youngest ever volunteer. And this?
This was my year.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed that :) Please let me know what you think in the reviews, and if you enjoyed my writing style, feel free to check out my other fanfics!