It was raining outside. I could hear the raindrops on my bedroom window. Today was the day of the Reaping. I wasn't nervous at all. Ever since I turned 12 and I could have been chosen for the annual Hunger Games, everyday I go running until I feel that my legs can't hold me anymore. Then I start training for my upper body lift waits, do pushups. I can't accept the fact that I may not only die if I get chosen, but my whole family would be watching. Shocking, isn't it?
This morning I felt emptier then ever. I just turned 17 around three months ago, and I feel that my chances of entering the games are escaping from me. It's not like I want to get chosen. But it would be nice to do nothing all day and not have to worry about the consequences. Everyday I have to get up and go to work with my father. He is almost 40 years old and I'm getting worried about him. The fact that we have 3 more mouths to feed my mothers, my younger sister and older brother makes it hard to even think about him gone. We may not be the poorest District in Panem, but it's hard to get up every morning, go fishing and worry that you might either get eaten by a really big fish, or crash somewhere. Sure, we are the best swimmers around, but I get a chill everyday before I even step out the door.
I glance at my brother sleeping calmly on the next bed. He is only 23 and he is already marrying a local girl. It was pure luck that he wasn't chosen to participate in the Hunger Games and not only that, but now he's going to spend the rest of his live with the girl of his dreams. They love each other so much. I only get to see that love when they see each other everyday, or when my father comes back home after I long day at the sea and my mother welcomes him cheerfully. She loves us as well, but they she looks at father I want to find a girl that would look at me the same way. I can only pray for that to happen.
Today is Saturday, so we have to work all day, but since it the day of the Reaping, we only have to work until the ceremony starts. Joy, that we don't have to get wet and greasy from fishing, but also a pity because you get to watch another family lead their children to their deaths, only having about a minute or two for a last goodbye. It's so sad when a 12 year old gets picked and later you just watch it die helplessly, alone, in the dark. No one even volunteers as a tribute in his place. I never could do that. But thinking how brave it must be to volunteer to replace someone only to know you, or 22 other people, might die a week later with only one coming out. But I guess love is what causes us to do so. Maybe what makes my mother look at my father causes us to do insane thing like that. Oh well, it's sad I might never get to find out. At least I don't have to worry she might end up in the Hunger Games and then watch her die, without being able to move a finger and help her. It pains me to even think about it, even though I don't even know her yet.
" Wake up, Will ! Time for a quick breakfast, and then it's time to get to work! " My father stomps on the door and I jump, slightly startled. My brother is grunting lazily, opening his eyes. I was already wide awake, but I guess he is still fighting whether to ignore father and go back to sleep, or accept a day without dinner. Yes, that's how it works. At least in our family you don't work, you don't eat. Aside for mother and my sister, Izzy. It might be easy being a female, but the thought of giving birth to children one day makes me thank the fact that I can't. Thank you, mother nature, for that.
I walk into the kitchen and sit down on out table. We have a small house, but we like it that way. The yard is slightly large, but only since mother grows flowers and we have a few ducks to take care of. The eggs are delicious. After breakfast me, father and Res, my brother, leave the house and go fishing. Today, we're going in deep water, which means we get to use a big boat and might go underwater. But it's unlikely we only dive in the summer when it's warm. It's not so cold outside, the rain makes it look so, but a light drizzle never made us walk away from work. As we set sail and the boat starts moving, everyone just sits back and enjoys the trip. Until we have reached a place where we can drop the net, we can just relax and enjoy we ocean. 'You think too much, Will!' My father keeps telling me. He always says that when we're in the ocean, since I get distracted and watch the ocean. It's so breathtaking, I just can't help it. I feel someone snapping their fingers near my ear and I shook my head quickly. Turning my head and seeing how close one of the fishermen was, I just back and almost slip on of the nets. Everyone laughs and I end up awkwardly giggling along. Why does this happen to me?
"Come on now, sunny boy! Just because you look like your mother doesn't mean you can act like her!" Laughs the fishermen and carelessly walks away from me, leaving everyone to hold back a laugh again. That is true. Res has my fathers wavy red hair, while I look like my mother curly and black as the ocean on a stormy night hair. That's how my father says, even though it looks black to me. Both Res and Izzy look like father I guess I'm the only one who looks like a woman. Ha-ha.
"Pass me that net, will ya?" Res calls out to me as try to get up and not get tangles up in the equipment. When I'm already on my feet, I pass him the net gently, once again afraid I might get either stuck in it, or get him stuck. He calmly grasps it and throws it in the ocean. Res is always so calm, while I just try my best not to make a foul of myself ! No wonder a woman picked him and not me. I'm not saying I'm not strong seeing the Hunger Games every year on the TV, I can easily say I might win, if I push myself hard enough to try. But I just can't seem to show my family I'm not weak. They see me train and calmly watch as someone dies, without even flinching while Izzy runs in the other room. She is just a child, but I've always been calm about that. I just hope if I get picked I won't freak out like I usually do when there's a storm and we're still in the middle of the day and not yet ready to go home.
The day passes by quickly and I can already see the boat heading back to shore, ready to say goodbye to close people and watch as another family gets its heartbroken and another child head directly into the eye of the storm, as my father would say.
I change my wet and greasy fishing clothes into a simple shirt and jeans and calmly start walking to the square where they usually pick the tributes. I can hear my own heart, beating wildly in my chest. I can't do this. I can't do this. I feel myself slow down and I feel the sudden urge to jump into on the nets and die with the fish. Sadly, I can breathe. Then the sea? Seems easier than to go along with this. What if I can't make it? What if I get picked and have to kill an innocent child? I always curse at the people, who kill a 12 year old, but I never thought that they had to do this. They want to live. I want to too. So I lift up my chin and quickly catch up with my family. Everyone one of my family members seem calm. I guess it's because I'm the only one in trouble. Res is 23, Izzy is 8. I'm the only one of us, who can actually die in this. That makes me feel like one of those lobsters, who are separated from the others. I remember my father saying once a lobster finds its mate, they stick together no matter what. He calls my mother his lobster. I feel alone now. The whole world is dead and I'm the lobster, who has caught the net.
Res noticed my pale face and lets the others move along while he walks next to me. "It's okay Will. They didn't pick me, they might not even pick you." He taps me on the shoulder gently, but I still feel like I just swallowed a gallon of salt water. And if you don't know, drinking sea water is worst than being dehydrated. Res keeps his gaze on me, then smiles. I frown, feeling a bit offended. Is this funny to you?! He grins as he notices my face. "I know you feel Will. I went through this, you know. But it will all be over. Besides, the girls are first so, even if you do get picked, maybe someone will volunteer. Everybody loves you in here, even Uls said so!" Uls is what he calls Ullary, his fiance. Well, if everybody loves me let's hope they don't send me to die.
We were so busy that we didn't even notice the mayor talking. As we walk back to mother and father, I can feel my palms sweat. He's right, the girls are first. I can see the previous winner from out District Arnold Tarsen. He won a few years back at the age of 16. I don't really remember how he won, I was just a kid, but I can see now that he is about 28 close to thirty and lives all alone. Kind of sad, but he didn't have any siblings, and his parents
I don't really know about them. No one has one while he was a mentor, but he looks quiet perky for a man who's seen a lot of kids die. Oh well, I guess he's an optimist. I see him talk, but all I hear is 'Will Nerver, Will Nerver, Will Nerver
You are the male tribute!' and every time he opens up his mouth again, I can see everything turning darker and darker. Just as I'm about to black out, he stops talking and the sky turns blue again. Damn it, I was this close! I can see him cover his green eyes with his hand and sight disappointedly. Wow, the first time I see him a bit worried. I see Lena Becker, our escort, go up the podium and tap the microphone with her pale hands, her bright purple fingernails shinning. Humph, stunning. Once again, all I hear is my name, with a few stops to take a breath and again, like a bird Will Nerver, Will Nerver, Will Nerver. Just shut up lady, or at least speak more so I can faint! Once again, lost hope. I find it funny to give myself these little tasks either make Arnold speak more and make Lena shut up.
"Ladies first!" She calls out and I can feel my heart beat as fast as a train. Oh God, can't I just black out?! Her hand moves and I can feel the pressure. Whoever she picks might end up to be my future ally in the Hunger Games. As she lifts up the small piece of paper, I see all the faces of the girls I know flash before my eyes. "Soroya Adler!" That's it. I'm dead.
A girl, just a few inches shorter than me, walks up on the stage. Who is she? Why have I not seen her before? Her long ebony colored hair covers up her face as she glances at the crowd quickly and keeps her gaze on a boy near by. I don't want to turn my head away to see who it is she's breathtaking! That curly hair suits her pale skin, as well as those sea green eyes, perfectly. I can see her nod slightly and turn her head to the cameras again. She doesn't seem scared or in the mood to run away. It's like she takes this as just another stroll across the shore. I can't stop starring at her. I get so distracted, I can barely hear Lena call out my name and glance around the crown. Oh God no. No, no, no, no
My legs move, but all I can see is darkness. I feel myself go up the stairs and stand next to Soroya. God, I might have to kill her ! This
beautiful creature! I can't do that! I can see once again and that's when I notice the faces of my family my mother is holding back a waterfall of tears, but she can't crack for my sister, who now is pulling and crying to be let go. I wish I could go hug her and tell her it's going to be okay. But I can't. I don't like to lie. Res is also trying his best to keep a straight face, but I can see a small tear from the corner of his eye. Father just looks
aw full. Like someone had shot me. Well, the same difference. Even better, at least getting shot would spare me the trouble of having to fight with her! On the other hand, she doesn't look so strong. It's her look that scares me she isn't serious, she isn't scared. She isn't trying to hide for freaked out she is like me ! She seems calm. She is accepting all of this and.. welcoming it. Why would she do that, does she want to die? That's when I wonder who was that boy she nodded at. Was he her brother, friend, boyfriend? The thought of her with someone else makes me want to scream. So I get that out of my head. Lena keeps talking and talking. When it's time to shake hands, I can feel her strong grip and her warmth. Okay, I guess she might be a bit of a tread, considering how gentle I'm trying to be. Her green eyes are locked onto mine. And all I can read from them is 'It's okay. Calm down.' I feel like she is calling that out to me. When I let her hand go, I can feel that in her touch. She's trying to pass her calmness onto me. Well, she seems like she has plenty of it, while I'm just bursting with fear, now, aren't I ?! The Peacekeepers led us to the capitol building, leading me to a room. I sit down, trying to calm my heart and control my breathing. I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack. Much more prettier than the death scene I might get in the games ! I hear the door and I see my mother burst in and hug me as thigh as she can. Usually, I would make a joke about her trying to chock me, but now I respond with an even tighter hug. I'm going to miss her. I can feel her tears on my shoulder. My father and brother join in the hug. Only Izzy sniffs angrily in the corner. Once mother lets me go, I knee down to Izzy and hug her tightly. I want to cry as hard as she, but I have to stay strong. At least while the cameras are near by. Remembering that we don't time, I look at her and smile sadly. "You take care of them, okay? Don't let anything bad happen to them. I'm counting on you." She just nods quickly, and I can feel she is about to start sobbing, bursting out in tears. Once she does, I know I won't have the heart to let her go. I turn to Res, give him a tight hug and smile. "I'm just sad I won't be around to be an uncle!" He giggles a little, then I can see him barely holding on. "Take care dad. Please just
Remember I love you and
I just wish I could have found what you and mom have." I had to say it. I just had to. Mother hugs me again and father joins us. As the Peacekeepers enter and pull them away from me, I'm left to quietly hold back my sadness and excitement at the same time I want to see her! I want to find out who that boy was. I'm wondering if she would tell me, even though we just met.
As we walk out and head for the station, I can feel my heart stop. It beats so fast and suddenly it stopped. I know it didn't stop literally, but it calms down. As we enter, I take one last breath of home and think
I might not even come back to see it again.