Okay, just to clarify: this is one of three. Me and a friend came up with the idea while we were playing capture the flag in a PE lesson at school and it sort of developed from there, with a third friend falling into the mix and contributing even more ideas. The three of us each picked a district and we'll be writing about the same Games, but from the POV of three different tributes:
District 2- Bubbubboo - She's a little further ahead than me because she started sooner, but it's definitely worth a look at if you get chance. She also writes shorter chapters than me, so it shouldn't take you too long to catch up if you want to :D
District 7- EnglishGleek- Okay, this one hasn't actually been started yet, so don't go searching for it. But it'll be awesome when it has- she's been bouncing ideas off of me and they're all really awesome.
District 8- Me!- Yeah, you must've already clicked on this one if you're reading this, so... Hi? Reviews are awesome, just throwing that notion out there...
Disclaimer: I don't own the Hunger Games or any places, ideas, characters or themes you may recognise from it. But my OCs are all mine.
The ribbon factory is still shut, which is both a curse and a blessing. A blessing because it means I don't have to go to work after school, and a curse because of the circumstances in which it was temporarily closed for. I just pity the poor soul who has found themselves forced to pick bits of human hair and flesh out of the machinery.
My brother, Jute, doesn't work at the ribbon factory like Mum and me. No, he works at the same fabric dyeing place that Dad does. I've never been inside the large shed of a building, only ever peered round the door for a brief moment, but even so I know that they don't have the enormous machines we've got at the ribbon factory.
I'd be able to hear the whirring, so loud it's deafening. Indeed, if people in District 8 are fortunate enough to live into old age, they are often hard of hearing thanks to the sound of the factories in which they'd have worked in more or less from the moment they could walk.
Instead, I hear the slosh of the dye as garments are dunked into it, and the low murmur of chatter amongst colleagues. They can afford to chatter quietly amongst themselves; they don't have to yell over the top of an already unbearably loud sound.
The bell rings, signalling the end of the working day, and I make sure to step to one side so as to avoid being trampled by the rush of workers eager to escape from the warehouse behind me and get home to their families.
My lanky older brother spots me before Dad does and grabs his wrist, dragging him through the crowd towards me.
"Hey, Cal," Jute says, reaching out to tug on one of the two braids I tied my hair up into this morning.
I scowl at him; he knows I hate it when he does that. "Hello."
"Don't start fighting, you two," Dad says warningly. "I still have to walk home with the pair of you, and I don't want to find myself caught up in the middle of one of your arguments."
"Again," Jute adds, smiling goofily to make me laugh. It works.
"Alright, Daddy," I promise, lacing my fingers around his hand and smiling sweetly. "We won't, for your sake."
We get home to find Samite, the boy in my class at school who lives in the house next to ours, sitting on the doorstep. Our scraggly cat, Russell, who must be positively ancient in cat years, is curled up on his lap.
"Sammy," Jute teases as we approach. "You're house is number eight. This is six, remember?"
Sammy smiles good-naturedly. "Sorry." He apologises. "I just saw Russell here and decided to give him a cuddle. I didn't realise he'd fall asleep on me."
I find myself laughing at how uncomfortable our neighbour looks. "Yeah, he'll do that."
Letting go of Dad's hand, I head over to the doorstep and kneel down beside Sammy and Russell. Reaching out a hand, I stroke the mangy cat between the ears. He wakes up lazily and turns his head to face me, clearly upset about having his nap interrupted.
"Come on, Russell," I say, scooping him up and cradling him against my chest as I rise back up onto my feet. "Sammy has to get home."
"Indeed he does." Sammy confirms, standing and trying to smack the grey and brown fur off of trousers. "My mum is going to kill me."
"Good luck." I offer as he heads past me. I hear the sentiment echoed by my brother as Sammy sets off for his own house, number eight.
Sitting on my bottom bunk, I prise the hair ties out of my hair and run my hands through the soft brown waves in an attempt remove any trace of the braids they'd been in all day.
"Calico," A voice rumbles, low and menacing.
I know what's coming. I scream and dive under my blanket just in time for my brother to enter. Whilst I can't see him through my blanket, I can hear his footsteps as he approaches. The creaky floorboard groans under his weight.
"Hmm," He says aloud, pretending to sound thoughtful. "Where could she be? She couldn't possibly be… Here!" As he says the last word, he wrenches the blanket off of me and throws it to the ground.
I quickly sit up. "Don't, Jute. Please don't."
But it's too late. Before I have chance to run away, he's started to tickle me. I can't help but laugh, which frustrates me to no end because it only makes my already feeble attempt to fend him off even more useless.
"Stop it!" I manage to force out through my laughter. "Stop it!"
"Only if you feed Russell tomorrow morning," My brother continues to tickle me.
I take a moment to think about it, though that in itself is difficult when I'm still kicking uselessly at my brother, who is probably about twice the size of me. "Fine,"
"Thanks." Just like that, Jute stops tickling me and climbs up into his own bunk above mine. "Night, Cal,"
"Night, Jute." I grumble, getting out of bed so that I can pick my blanket up off of the floor.
The piece of fabric and I topple back onto my old, rickety bottom bunk together. Wrapping the threadbare blanket around myself, it doesn't take me long to fall asleep.
Reaping Day is also both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it's a holiday, which means I don't find myself so bored that I end up helping Mum with the washing because there's literally nothing else to do, as has been the case since the ribbon factory incident about two weeks ago. A curse because it's Reaping Day, which is pretty self explanatory. Today, two of us will be setting off for the Hunger Games, and they almost definitely won't be coming back.
What makes it worse this year is the cryptic Quarter Quell reading that the president gave about a week ago: "In order that the districts remember that even their most valuable possessions are second to their loyalty to the Capitol, the 100th Annual Hunger Games will require tributes to protect a token of their choosing. If this token is lost, destroyed, stolen or otherwise misplaced, and is not recovered by nightfall, they will perish by morning."
It doesn't sound very pleasant, even by Hunger Games standards.
After breakfast, rather than let me braid my own hair, Mum tells me to sit in a chair. This is more or less a custom that the two of us have every Reaping Day. She'll fetch her special scarlet ribbon from where she keeps it, beneath her pillow, and tie my hair up into two bunches.
"It's lucky ribbon," She tells me as she works. This message, again, is something she makes sure to deliver every year. "So long as you have it, nothing bad will happen to you or anyone you love."
It's worked so far; I've never been Reaped, have I? And Jute is nineteen, so he won't even be in the lottery this year. He used to wear a length of the scarlet ribbon round his wrist each year, and it certainly seems to have helped him. And that's why I believe in the scarlet ribbon's so-called 'luck' unwaveringly.