A/N: SYOT, here we go : )
District Five girl- Sparkella Munez, 12
I woke up. My legs were cramped so I stretched them out a bit, peering out into District Five. People rushed about their busy schedules, talking on their phones and nodding. Lights on buildings flashed, and I heard small electronic buzzes.
"Morning," I said to myself. "Good morning, Sparkella."
I had long forgotten my last name. My parents died in a freak accident ten years ago, and since that happens a lot here, the children's homes were full- all seven of them. I was forced to live by our only water source, the Blue Bay River, in a ratty old cardboard box. I live under the bridge, and I have almost no money saved up. I did odd jobs such as polishing shoes or stacking items on grocery store shelves, but I happened to go through a growth spurt about a year ago and then my clothes would not fit and I looked absolutely ridiculous.
Then a month ago I found out that I was twelve years old by City Hall.
Normally this would be news that would make me smile and cheer. But not today. Today would be the day I've been waiting for since then- I could be Reaped for the Hunger Games. And I'm scared.
I finger-combed through my whitish-blond hair and spread the tiniest bit of raspberry juice across my lips. I wouldn't waste; the berries that grew under the bridge were going fast. Soon they would be down to only about a bushel, and I couldn't last the winter with that many only.
In a way, I guess, I was hoping to get Reaped and get out of this place I call home- under a bridge, in a small raspberry thicket, in a ratty old box. But in another way, I was glad to be fortunate enough to have food, shelter, and water. I was better off than some.
The night before the Reaping, yesterday, I had a dinner of grain and raspberries- tesserae, however gross, was my lifesaver. River water was my drink, and I coughed it up twice before it stayed down.
Then I went around the city, looting the trash bins and Dumpsters for food or anything useful. My only possessions of this world besides the ones I listed before were a grey sweater that a kind woman gave to me, which she was going to donate to the orphanage, ratty jeans with multiple stains, sturdy boots missing laces and the soles worn off, a cracked old phone I had tried to make work, a pair of flannel pants with the knees worn off, a blanket made of old socks, some perfume (only some drops left, though) in a cracked bottle, some old bushel boxes, three old and yellowed library books that reek of garbage, and a pad of paper with a very leaky pen that writes sometimes in blue, other times in black. My food, stored in bushel boxes, are two bushels of tesserae, one bushel of berries, and one bushel of assorted things- orange peels, cold and wet noodles, half-rotten apples, and hardtack and things of that nature. To most, trash. To me, treasure.
Scavenging around Five is not something I do often due to the high crime rate in the alleys. Once I was nearly beaten up by some gang until I hid inside a barrel and they could not find me. Another time some creepy man offered me candy, which I took, but found that on the inside there was a razor blade.
I slunk along the dimly lit streets, where few walked. All were talking on their cellular phones, all were clad in business wear. It seems like nobody is concerned about the Reaping tomorrow, I noted. Maybe I have the date wrong. But nope, one check inside a phone store at the calendar app told me that it is indeed tomorrow.
I scavenged through trashcans, finding mostly spoiled food or old wires but sometimes coming up with treasure- a half-eaten banana, a cooked potato that must have dropped on the ground, a small lid full of some powdery tan stuff that looks like what they call foundation. I put it all into my bushel and kept looking. By the end of the night, around three in the morning without any violence, I had come up in addition, an oven mitt that is too burned for any use, meat gristle, and the best treasure of all:
An old dress.
The dress was sleeveless, just a bit big for me. It was cream colored with lacy black trim. I saw plainly why it was thrown out: the back was torn out, creating the image of a backless dress. I swallowed, sizing up the damage. It was already done, no need to try and fix it. But if I did wear it to the Reaping tomorrow, what would people think? A scrawny young girl, an albino with the palest skin ever, a greasy-haired lassie? In a backless, gorgeous dress?
I decided to take the chance.
I look around for a person to walk up when it hits me: I am chosen. I will die. I am going to be sent to my death. And Munez must be my last name.
I stumble up to the stage, and a couple of girls giggle at my dress. I blush profusely, lowering my eyes.
My last time of seeing my district, and I am laughed at.