Chapter One

District 5, one of the largest districts. We have a vast amount of power plants that cover the horizon and fill the air with smoke. We've all gotten used to it by now, the pollution, the smell. It actually never fazed me, now that I think of it. I've always had a liking for the smell, but I don't tell too many people that because my mom said it's a little weird. But I know a few other kids at school who like it too, so it cant be that weird, can it? I guess it just reminds me of home.

I'm an only child. I live in a working family; both my mom and my dad go to work every morning and return every night. My mom is an equipment manager at one power plant while my dad is a geologist at a lab nearby. People tell me I'm rich, which is an outright lie. I wouldn't say that I'm rich, but I wouldn't say I'm poor, either. We're middle class: we have an average house, average clothes, and average jobs, average anything you could think of. The only thing is that everyone I go to school with has less money; their parents don't have the best jobs. I am thankful though, even if the poor aren't really that poor. The "poor" in District 5 still have houses and are able to remain clothed, which isn't as bad as the "poor" in Districts 11 or 12.

I wake up early on a Saturday morning. My mom is talking to Annie downstairs and my dad is making coffee. Annie is my best friend. We're neighbors, the same age, the same IQ, it's crazy. People who don't know us well usually regard us as twins, which is funny because we look nothing alike; we just act the same. She has dark, brunette hair while I have dirty blonde hair. We have the same body type, though: we're both about 5'7", give or take an inch, and we're both thin. Not stick thin like starving people, but average thin, a very fit tone. There, another "average" thing to add to my list.

I sit up in my bed and watch my dad walk into my room and give me a mug of coffee. He wishes me luck and kisses me on the forehead and then leaves, lab coat on, briefcase in hand. My father and I were never that close. No past anger or anything, we just never got to bond as I grew up like a normal father and daughter. He was always at the lab for crazy hours everyday. He always came home at least 3 hours later than my mother, and some nights, he would come home after we were all asleep, and then he would wake up in the morning for work while we were still sleeping. I never understood the job of a geologist, maybe to keep up with the ever-changing Capitol?

After my dad leaves, Annie comes skipping in, her hair in two braids that dance around on her shoulders.

"Who's ready for some Hunger Games!?" she sings sarcastically.

"Yeah, yeah, may the odds be ever in your favor, uhuh." I moan back to her. I roll on my side to hide the sunlight my face. I hate waking up.

Annie helps me choose a small outfit to go to the Justice Building in. A light blue dress with no sleeves, a thin brown belt with a silver buckle to go with it. I wear dark leather shoes and put my hair in identical braids so we match. We joke about how we are a package, if one of us is reaped, the other would have to go up with them. But the thing is, none of us can really be reaped. The odds are in our favor, technically, because there are more people who needed tesserae and have their name in so many times because they need the extra food. Annie and I are both better off than most people.

We walk down the steps and go into the kitchen. My mother stands there looking at us, with tears in her eyes. She is always very over-dramatic on reaping days.

"Mom, why are you crying, I'm gonna be fine!" But, my mom can't take it. She begins weeping and hugging me. Then she pulls Annie in for the hug. I'm sixteen; I have been in the reaping for four years now. So what is that? My name in a glass bowl only four times? Out of hundreds of names in there, there is no way I will be chosen. It is just impossible.