Engaging and Imaginative!
This easily grabbed my attention from the very start, and I read it all in one sitting. You quickly established Marlia as a strong and consistent character, which lent itself well to your use of first person POV.
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There are times when first person can be a bit jarring, and clash with the tone of the story, and I'm glad to say I felt none of that in your piece.
While Marlia was solid, there were a few moments where I wished some of your supporting characters were equally fleshed out. It's clear Marlia has strong relationships with her family, friends, and the village as a whole, but as a reader I didn't feel as though the emotional connections were as defined as they could have been. I really wanted to feel the shock, sadness, and even acceptance that all took place during and after The Picking.
The world you've built was extremely interesting, and with each new chapter I looked forward to the bits and pieces that you continued to reveal. I particularly enjoyed your use of the idea that history and civilization will continue to repeat itself, and how it was tied into the tradition of The Picking. When I started reading, I wasn't aware that this was a contest entry, and so I became pleasantly surprised by the seamless transition from what I had thought to be a subtle fantasy setting, to what could easily be a futuristic version of our own world.
There were a few grammar/punctuation and phrasing issues that threw me off, but nothing major enough to ruin the story's flow as a whole. Overall, this was really well done!