The crowd is silent as I start to move out of the 19 year old section. The other girls look at me with pity in their eyes. I know why they pity me. It is because I just got out of the reaping age and yet I am being reaped. They don't need to pity me, I don't need their pity.
I hate this feeling. The feeling of having a thousand eyes on you. How the hell am I going to cope in the arena? I get to the concrete steps and start to climb, each step is a step to death.
I get to the side of Merinetta and she is beaming at me, "Hello dear" she says. I don't bother to respond. I will not waste my words on this pathetic woman who is only planning on cheering for my killer when I am murdered on national television. "Right then. District Seven, give it up for your tributes, Oak Chambers and Maple Serena."
Her voice rings through my ears like a tiny bell that I just want to smash. She gets me to shake hands with Oak. As our hands touch I can feel his shaking. I look into his eyes and sigh, this guy isn't going to make it in there. I am then grabbed by my arms by two peacekeepers and they take me into the justice building. I know what's coming up, the goodbyes.
I am put into a room that looks like it has had better days. The wallpaper is peeling and the couches have the stuffing showing. I get a chill down my spine as I think about all the kids who have said goodbye to their family in here and never made it back.
I take a seat on the couch and instantly regret it. The cushion is rock hard and I can feel all the springs inside. "God, couldn't they at least let me say goodbye in comfort" I mutter under my breath.
"You have ten minutes" I hear a deep voice say. I turn and see my dad, Fern and Venia walking in. Venia runs straight at me and I pull her into my arms.
"Don't go" she cries as she latches onto my. It breaks my heart to see her like this. Thanks to the Capitol and their stupid form of entertainment, Venia will have to grow up without an older sister. First mum and now me.
"I have to" I reply as I feel tears roll down my cheeks.
"But I don't want you too. This isn't fair" she cries. It takes all of my strengh to not break down in tears.
"I know, I know" I reply while rocking her back and forth. "But that is life. We have to live through it."
"Will you come back?" she asks as she leans away so I can see her tiny 10 year old face and I take in her features. Her dark brown hair, similar to my own and her grey eyes identical to mine and my real mothers.
"I don't know" I reply. I want to tell her that I will, but I can't promise that. But there is one thing that I can promise, "I will do everything I can do to come back. I promise." She nods and buries her head into my shoulder. I hold her tight until dad takes her from my arms. He kneels down and takes my hands with his free one.
"You can do this Maple" he says, tears forming in his eyes. "I believe in you sweetheart." He leans forward and kisses my cheek, "I love you."
"I love you too dad" I reply as I hug him. I hear him let out a choked sob and it stings my heart. He has cried only twice in his adult life. When mum died and now. He walks away and Fern takes his place with a tear stained face.
"Hello sweetie" she says as she takes my hands. I smile at her, unable to form any words at the moment. "I know that I am not your real mum, and I will never be able to replace her. But, I love you just like my daughter." I look into her brown eyes and feel warm. Mum died giving birth to Venia and it was a year after, that dad and Fern met. She has treated me and Venia just like her own daughters and I treat her just like I did mum.
"I love you too" I whisper, feeling a lump form in my throat. "I will do everything I can to come home" I say to all three of them. They all nod and then a peacekeeper comes to take them away from me forever. I think of gran, she would have wanted to say goodbye, but in her old age she can't even move from the chair.
The next person to come see me is my best friend Ally Thornbrize. Her face is tear stained and we spend five minutes just holding onto each other and crying. Ally and I have been best friends since we started school at the age of 5. I can't imagine my life without her and yet, she will have to live the rest of her's without me.
"I love you Maple" She says, not letting go off me.
"I love you too Ally" I reply. She leans back and takes something from around her neck. I see a glint of silver and can't help but smile. I reach around my neck and pull my own silver necklace out. The charm on the end of both is a broken heart which fit together perfectly. Mine has an 'M' engraved onto it and hers has an 'A' engraved on hers. We got them made when we were 12 and gave them to each other for our first reaping as a good luck charm.
"This will pull you through" she says as she places them together. "Whenever you feel like you can't go on, just look at it and think of home." Ally is a really deep person. The way she talks and the things she says. It is what made us friends in the first place. "Goodbye" she says as she takes my hands and gives them a squeeze.
She is then taken and I am left alone. I know that nobody else will come see me. Sure I have other friends but not major friends, just people I talk to. After waiting for 20 minutes or so, Merinetta comes to collect me. Oak and I are taken in a car to the train station. We sit in silence the whole way, none of us wanting to talk. Well, Merinetta did but after I gave her one glaring look she shut up.
The car pulls up and my vision is filled with flashes. Stupid paparazzi and there dumb camera's. I am pushed forward onto the train and when the doors shut, it feels as if I have been shut away from my home forever. Which is extremely possible.
"Right then, let me go and find Andre. You two make yourself comfortable" Merinetta says as she walks passed us and through a sliding door. I take the view in. Tables full of small cakes and bottles with different coloured alcohol in them. It looks amazing. I may hate the Capitol, but they do know how to decorate and put on a good show.
I walk to a couch which is facing another couch with the glass table between them. I take the window seat and I feel Oak slide onto the seat next to me. We don't talk, we just sit in silence until Andre comes in. He is 38 years old and already has grey showing in his dark hair. His face is worn and his green eyes look tired with bags under them. "Hello" he greets as he takes a seat opposite to us.
"Hi" I reply but Oak doesn't talk.
"Right, well tell me what you can do. What are you good at and what you can improve on" Andre says. He looks at me and I know he wants me to go first.
"Well, I am good with an axe" I reply. I realise that I sounded very much like an afraid little girl. I am 19 for god sakes. When I talk again, I make myself feel more confident, more like my age. "I can throw and axe and hit the same spot every time."
"Good, you can use a weapon. What about you boy?" he asks Oak. The scared little 15 year old beside me takes in a deep breath before answering.
"I too can use an axe" he says a little timidly. "That is all though. I am useless at everything else" he says before shrinking back into himself. I feel sorry for the kid. For him to live, means that I have to die. I am not willing to die, I need to get home for Venia.
"Well, the recaps will be shown in an hour. I suggest you go freshen up in your rooms and then meet me in the television cart" Andre says as he gets up. He nods at both of us before leaving. I soon follow after him and find my room. The room is twice the size of my room back home and has a double bed. I throw myself onto the bed and sigh. I feel tear roll down my cheeks as I let out all the emotion of today.
"I promise Venia" I cry out.