This is my first actual fanfic, so try not to judge me too badly.
A Sparked Drowned By Water
I awake to the darkness of my room, the salty, stale scent of dried seawater invading my nose. I try to roll over and fall back asleep, like I do on any other holiday, but then a lightning bolt seems to strike me out of bed. This is different. This is Panem's trademark. The Hunger Games. I leap up like I've been burned by my sheets. The day of the reaping. "Ladies and gentlemen, let the sixty-sixth Hunger Games begin," I mutter, stifling a yawn.
And then I remember the other reason why today is different. Today, exactly seven years ago, when I was nothing but a ten-year-old at the reaping, standing with my grandmother, I received the awful news that my parents had been shot and killed by the Capitol. They were rebels, both of them, and named me Spark. "The spark of rebellion," my mother used to say, tucking a loose strand of my light brown hair behind my ear.
But now they're gone. I only got to keep my name because of the Capitol. "Why should a spark be a problem, in District Four?" asked President Snow, when the issue of my secretly 'rebellious' name was brought up. "She's surrounded by water. We can drown any rebellion." I was supposed to pretend that I didn't hear the last part, but it registered as Snow muttered it under his breath. "Or we can drown her, if she gets out of hand."
I can't let anyone drown me. I vowed that to myself the first day that my grandmother took me in, as my guardian appointed by the Capitol, since the rest of my relatives are rebels. Or, they were, until the Capitol executed them for treason against Panem. I stare into the cracked mirror on my wall. My pale blue eyes stare back at me, disturbingly light against my tan skin. My light brown hair is choppy and hanging short above my shoulders. Spark. I should have been named something darker, since the Career tributes regularly call me Sparky, because I'm not a Career like them, even though I train regularly for the Hunger Games. I would be a Career, but I hate the Capitol.
It's only dawn, so I manage to slip down the creaking stairs, past my grandmother, who is sprawled out in an armchair and fast asleep. I've been watching reaping preparations since I was twelve. Now that I'm seventeen, I've gain a few tactics. I pick up a chunk of driftwood from the street and throw it hard at a window across the Square to divert the Peacekeepers' attention. Sure enough, the ten white-clad figures whip around to find the source of the noise of shattering glass, and I bolt behind them, my bare feet silent on the brick street.
The stage is empty, and the tributes' escort, Miranda Sanrough, is nowhere to be seen, so I mount the steps while the Peacekeepers investigate the broken window. My hand dips into the female's reaping ball, and I pull out three slips. Then my mouth drops open as I read the first one, unfolding it so quickly that my fingers almost tear it, and only the years of tying knots keep me from ripping it in half.
The name is mine. Spark Reviz.
I have no tessera, none. I have my name in the reaping ball six times. What are the odds of that? I drop the paper back in, burying it to the bottom of the thousands of slips. Then I read fistfuls of paper, and they all read the same thing, even when I am far past six slips. I stop counting when I reach somewhere around twenty. The slips read the same thing every time.
Spark Reviz... Spark Reviz... Spark Reviz...
I take a deep breath, running back down the steps. I have to get home, to my grandmother's house. My feet fly as I run past the Peacekeepers again. I unlock the back door of my house, shoving the key back into my pants pocket, crashing up the stairs, and I flop over on my bed, my face buried in the pillow. The musty scent of sweat and salt wafts into my nose as I think.
The Capitol did this. They rigged the drawing so I would be chosen. I try to calm my breathing, pulling the sheet back up over my head, suffocating. They did this. And there is only one reason- my parents. The Capitol needs to eliminate any possible rebels. And since I am a rebel myself, apparently, and am the daughter of rebels, they want to make me a contestant in the Hunger Games. A tribute to the Capitol. I imagine a victory feast for another tribute, one where every citizen of the Capitol drinks my blood from wineglasses and roasts my flesh and seasons it with herbs and spices... because the Capitol has been wanting me dead since the deaths of my parents. So, now that I am far too old to be considered a little girl anymore, they can kill me and act like I am just another unfortunate tribute.
I groan into my pillow as I hear my grandmother's raspy voice. "Spark?" she calls up the stairs, sounding like a piece of metal that has rusted in the rain. "Are you all right?" I hear her as she painstakingly navigates the staircase. With her old age, I'm glad I am young and strong. I am needed more every day. "We need to get you dressed up nice for the reaping, Spark."
I roll over to see her standing over my bed. With a sigh, I stand up, feeling heavy and slow. "I'm fine," I say. She nods and smiles, showing gaps between her teeth. She walks slowly down the stairs as I sit down in the kitchen at the small table. I barely pick at the fish that my grandmother set out for me. My stomach is in knots. I can't eat much, because I know that I will be reaped, no matter what. That I will be a tribute, and that from now on, I have to be not just a tribute, but also a possible victor.
Before my grandmother has a chance to ask what's bothering me, I speak quickly. "Look, Gran, you know that the Capitol wants me dead," I say quietly. Her blue eyes widen. She's so old that I sarcastically asked her one day if she remembered the Dark Days and the foundation of the Hunger Games. "You know that I check the girls' reaping slips on reaping day, right?" She nods. I sigh, about to speak the most difficult part of my story. "Those... those damn Capitol bastards rigged the reaping!" I burst out. My grandmother has never criticized my rude language. "Every girl's slip says my name. Spark Reviz. Spark Reviz." I take a deep breath. "So... don't expect me to make it out of the reaping unless it's by train to the Capitol."
Gran sighs. "Spark," she says gently, her withered hand touching my face. I jerk away, raising my hand to slap her, but then I remember exactly who I'm talking to and lower my arm. "This is a Career district. There ought to be a volunteer."
"No, there won't," I snap rudely, staring at the floor and scuffing my heel against the floor. "The Careers hate me. You know that. They call me Sparky and think that I'm a rebel. And you know that they're practically polishing the Capitol's floors for them, the Careers love President Snow so much. They - hate - me." I shiver, despite the warm sea air, when I picture who my male partner could be. "And they have a reason to hate me."
Gran sighs again, louder this time, shoving my plate toward me. "Eat," she says. "You need to keep up your strength. And don't try denying that you're strong. I've never seen anyone stronger, except maybe a few Careers." I scowl across the table at her as she pulls up a chair, and she laughs, almost sounding like a little girl. I eat with my fingers as usual, picking out the fish bones and eating the flesh. It isn't very filling, but Gran's right that I need to keep my strength up. "Spark, you know that you'd be the victor."
"The Gamemakers would have it out for me the minute I step into the arena," I say tonelessly, tossing the fish bones left over from my breakfast out the window for the birds to pick at. I set the chipped plate in the washing bucket and start to walk up the stairs, but Gran stops me.
"If you're going to be a tribute, at least look nice for the reaping," she says. I twist my face up in a scowl again, and she grins, reminding me again of a mischievous young girl. "Oh, come on." After minutes of me complaining and her picking out a dress for me and doing my hair, I stand looking in the mirror again, an expression of disbelief reflected on my face. My hair is brushed smooth and perfect, in a simple braid down my back, and I am wearing a short, strapless, light-blue dress that brings out the colors in my eyes. It is cut very low in the front, showing off my bare arms and half of my chest, and the dress comes down to halfway between my hips and knees. I look... strong. Strong, a bit sexy even, poised to kill.
"I look like a slut," I say, but I'm laughing despite myself. I have never thought of myself as pretty or ugly, just strong. But the muscles in my body actually make me look beautiful, though a bit slutty, like I said. But Gran only smiles at me, tears in her eyes.
"You'll always make me proud, Spark," she says, tucking a loose strand of my hair behind my ear. Just like my mother did. I blink away the tears in my eyes. "And you're beautiful. Who says rebellion can't be beautiful?" My father would always call me his beautiful little girl. "How's my beautiful?" he'd ask, when I was a small child. I would squeal in happiness and let him hug me. Then he'd kiss my mother and say, "Of course, I've got my other beautiful here, too." I bite my lip. I can't cry now, not when I look so beautiful and feel so strange inside.
The clock tower in the Square is chiming nine in the morning, the time of District 4's reaping. Gran and I walk out to the square, her in an old gray dress with a lacy white collar. We separate when I have to go off with the other seventeen-year-olds. Immediately, I am noticed. Usually, I can manage to blend into the crowd, but when I am around Career tributes and dressed provocatively on reaping days, I am noticed easily.
"Hey," someone says, a Career. "It's Sparky. Look at sexy Sparky." He whistles under his breath, and a Career girl giggles stupidly from behind him. "Look at Sexy -I mean Sparky." By now, a crowd of Careers has grown around me. Some are laughing. I glare at them. "Hey, Sparky, after the reaping, want to meet me in the alley behind the Justice Building? It's pretty dark back there." He grins. I'm silently fuming, trying to think of a response, when Miranda Sanrough climbs the steps of the stage.
She's wearing bright yellow, with six-inch high heels to match, along with neon green makeup that makes her look like she's been rolling around in florescent grass. "Welcome!" she trills happily. "I'm so happy to be here in this beautiful sea district!" She gestures to someone sitting in a chair next to her, and my heart skips a beat, and I know what she'll say even before she speaks. "This is Finnick Odair, one of our mentors. The newest victor, but who says we can't have two District Four victors in consecutive years!" she chirps optimistically. Finnick is younger than me, only fifteen, his first year of mentoring. He has beautiful green eyes that entrap me instantly, and deeply tanned bronze skin. "And Mags, our other mentor!" Mags is old and withered, like Gran. She looks almost shriveled, covered in wrinkles and using a cane.
"Now..." Miranda Sanrough says ecstatically, almost hysterically elated. "Now, it's time to read the Treaty of Treason!" She grins, like this is the big event of the day. I almost yawn loudly, but then I catch myself. After that, it will be the time for the tributes to be drawn. And I will be in front of the nation without doubt.
Mayor Samuelson begins to rattle off the Treaty of Treason, which I find boring. I close my eyes, listening to the familiar words being read off the official document. As the treaty reaches the end of the gruesome account and official words, I open my eyes again, taking a deep breath. I wipe my sweaty palms on my dress, trying not to look worthy of the mocking nickname Sexy Sparky that the Careers have given me. No, I just want to be strong, not beautiful, although that could be an advantage when I am trying to get sponsors in the preparation for the Games.
Miranda expertly maneuvers on her high heels over to the glass reaping balls. "Now that that's over with," she sings out musically as a bird, "time to draw... our female tribute!"
Let me die now, I think. Damn it, I have to be a tribute. The Capitol rigged this... I'm going to die... But then the thought hits me, as I sink into despair, as Miranda Sanrough fishes around dramatically in the girls' reaping ball with her heavily ringed fingers.
If I'm such a rebel, why don't I die as a rebel? I'll die anyway. So why not die knowing that I might make an impact on my nation?
Just as I think this, I look up at the stage to hear my name ring out through the salty District 4 air.