Bored, so very bored. I think as I stare at my endlessly spinning ceiling fan.
“What could I do to cure this endless boredom, clean? No. That’s never gonna happen.” I stop to think and realize that I should be getting as much sleep as I can.
“Today is reaping day…” I whisper as the terror of today starts to seep in. I try sleeping for about 10 minutes before I just give up. I grab my dad’s hunting jacket and slip out the front door. As I start walking to the meadow, I must remind myself to hunt today.
“I have to get something to trade at the hob.” I say as I grab my bow out of an old tree trunk hidden by a bush. The forest is always beautiful in the morning, as I walk sunshine starts to flitter out of the tree’s leaves surrounding me. I laugh, this is what my dad named me after, the morning sunshine in the meadow and the starchy almost potato plants called Katniss.
I take a deep breath when I see a deer, he’s not very big with his antlers still growing in, but he’ll be more than enough to trade at the hob. I’m just about to shoot when leaves crunch behind me and he bolts. I try to hit him as he runs but I just hit a tree.
“What the heck Gale?!” I shout at my best friend, who is standing behind me. “I almost had him!”
“And what are you going to do with a 90-pound buck, Katnip?” He has a point, but I’m not going to tell him that. He came up with that nickname when we first met, I said my name so very quietly that instead of hear Katniss, he heard Katnip. I Hate it, but I can’t hate Gale.
“Sell it.” I say harshly, throwing a handful of leaves at him. He picks a rock from the ground and throws it through the tree and birds scatter, I hit one with my arrow. We both laugh as we go to pick it up.
“Is your mom okay?” He asks knowing how very little my mom would be able to handle if I got sent to the games.
“As well as she can be, before the capitol takes yet another thing from her.” My mom lost my dad in a mining accident and with the number of tesserae I’ve taken, I’m bound to get my name called this year. Tesserae for your family equals your name in the bowl each time you ask for more, me and Gale both do it and this year makes 37 paper slips for me and 48 for Gale.
The sun is almost all the way in the sky now, and I start to walk out of the meadow with the bird I shot. “Come on Gale, I want to get to the hob before I have to leave.” Sometime in the afternoon is when they require the people of District 12 to go to the square for the reaping.
Once we get to the hob, I give the bird to Greasy Sae when I see a shiny pin with a bird on it, It’s a mockingjay. Greasy Sae sees me admiring it and I ask her. “How much for the pin?” I want to give it to my sister, “it’s yours.” She tells me.
I pocket the pin and walk over to where Gale is sitting. I hold my arms out in gesture of a hug. “We’re gonna be okay, Gale.”
I get to my house and see my little sister Prim In a faded blue dress. “Well aren’t you just a pretty picture? Better tuck in that tail little duck,” I say to calm my sister’s nerves as I tuck her shirt back in. It’s her very first reaping, as she is now of age.
“I laid something out for you too, Katniss.” My mom tells me shyly. “Thank you.” I say back to her.
I walk silently to my room, trying to ignore the nerves. My mom has laid out her blue dress, the one she only wore to the fanciest of events. I wash up and put the dress on. My mom is braiding my hair as I talk to Prim. I hand her the pin “Here, as long as you have this, nothing bad will happen to you.”
“Thank you, Katniss.” She whispers to me, the fear audible in her voice. “Hey little duck, it’s gonna be alright” I whisper back as I stroke her hair.
“There, now you look just as pretty as Prim.” My mom tells me as she moves me over to look at the mirror. I do look pretty, I tell myself.
“Come on little duck, we should get going.” I tell my sister as I walk towards the door.
Once we get to the square, me and my sister have to separate. Obviously, that is a no-go for Prim. “Katniss, what are they going to do?” she asks me, panic in her eyes. I grab her shoulders and tell her, “They’re going to prick your finger, it’ll be okay Prim, it’s just a small poke.” I have to push her off into the line before the peacekeepers get involved.
I don’t even look as the lady at the table pricks my finger and stamps my blood on a paper to mark my being alive, I’m much too busy looking for prim. I try to follow her to where the little girls go, but sure enough I’m swept away into a different area.
“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.” A loud squeaky capitol voice says to the crowd. Effie Trinket, the escort and advisor for the District 12 tributes. A video plays on the TVs in the square, to remind us of the war that happened 74 years ago. She said something before the video played but I’m too worried about Prim to focus on what she’s saying.
“Ah! Don’t you just love that? Anyway, welcome ladies and gentlemen, to the 74th annual Hunger Games.” I take a deep breath trying to calm my nerves, and I find Gale in the crowd. I give him a look of worry and he mouths “It’s going to be ok.”.
“Now as always, ladies first,” Effie pips at us. She walks over to the bowl with the lady’s names in it and all I can think is, don’t let Prim get picked. She swirls the paper slips around in the glass bowl and delicately picks one up. She walks back over to the microphone and opens the paper.
Panic, Fear, Worry. All of these emotions are running through me as I see my sister nervously walk up to the podium. Don’t let her get picked! I remind myself. I rush out of the crowd and scream, “I volunteer, I volunteer as tribute!” as I get shoved back by peacekeepers, they let me go, realizing what I said.
I silently walk up to the podium, whispers all around me. My sister grabs onto me and won’t let go until Gale grabs her. “Katniss, no!” she shouts at me as I continue to walk, my head held high. Effie holds her hand out as I walk up the stairs. She walks me over to the mic.
“Say your name dearie.” She squeaks at me. “Katniss Everdeen.”
“Well I’d bet that was your sister then.” She tells the crowd and me. “Yes, it was.” I manage to get out.
“Well then! Shall we move on the boys?” She walks over to the boy’s bowl and I know for sure Gale’s name is going to be said. She bounces back over to the microphone.
“Peeta Mellark.” She squeaks out. I know that name. He was the boy who threw burnt bread at me in the rain when I was starving, if he hadn’t done that I wouldn’t be here. He walks nervously up the stairs, no one volunteered for him.
“Okay, now greet each other please.” Effie pips at us. We shake hands and I make sure to give him a look that shows I recognize him. He doesn’t say anything.
“Ladies and gentlemen! Your District 12 tributes! And the very first volunteer from District 12! Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark!” We look at each other before we’re whisked away into the building. We each get 5 minutes with the people who come to visit us.
The first people that come to visit me are my mother and Prim. “Katniss don’t go!” she shouts as she grabs onto me. “I have to Prim, I don’t have a choice.” I glare at my mother. “Then take this with you,” She hands me the mockingjay pin I gave her, “So you’ll be safe, you can win this right?” she pleads with me. I take the pin and tell her, “I promise.”
I stand up and walk over to my mom and grab her shoulders, “You can’t zone out this time! Prim needs you! Gale will take care of food, but you need to be there for her!” I can’t risk Prim starving. “you can’t leave her alone!”
My times up, the peacekeepers come to take them out. “Katniss!” Prim shouts. “I promise! I promise Prim!” I shout knowing I won’t be able to keep that promise. They leave and Gale comes in, I shove myself in his arms telling myself not to cry.
“Don’t let them starve Gale, don’t let them go hungry please!” I plead with him, though knowing he was going to do that from the start. “I’ll keep them safe okay? Just don’t die on me out there!” That makes two people counting on me to win this thing. Who knows? Maybe I can.
He leaves but our time isn’t up, I walk over to grab the door but go back a look at the pin in my hands. I have to win, for Prim. The peacekeepers walk in to escort me to my train. Peeta and Effie are already there.
“Well then dearies, are we ready to go?” Effie asks us. I take one last look at my home, and step onto the train.
The train is fancy, silver all around, platters of food and drinks. I want so badly to eat everything I see but I try to gain some self-control, I do eat a cookie and this brownie-looking treat. Peeta on the other hand, had a hard time not eating everything. I’m pretty sure he tried every single thing.
Peeta sits down rubbing he stomach, clearly satisfied with himself, when a drunk man, who I assume is our mentor, stumbles in. Peeta jumps to his feet eager to meet him, but our ‘‘mentor’’ just waves him off. Peeta is persistent though.
“Haymitch Abernathy? I’m Peeta Mellark, I’ve watched you mentor other tributes, are you here to tell us how to win The Hunger Games?” Haymitch just glares at him, which I assume is his way of saying “no.” Peeta keeps trying to talk to him but I decide I should just try to get some sleep.
I do manage to get some sleep, after tossing and turning for about an hour and a half. I stay in bed for as long as I can or at least until Effie starts banging on my door trying to get me to come to breakfast. The meal is delicious, eggs, bacon, and toast and jam. All are things that are impossible to get back home except of course the toast, but most can’t afford it. Peeta continues to try to talk to Haymitch when Haymitch gets upset.
“Would you just stop?!” He shouts at Peeta. I think, is this really our mentor? because at this point, I have no faith that he is going to even try to keep me or Peeta alive. Peeta starts arguing with him and after a while I get fed up and slam a knife between Haymitch’s fingers.
“Congratulations sweetheart, you just killed a tablecloth.” He tells me sarcastically. “Pass me the jam will ya?” He asks me after he pulls the knife out of the table. I pass him the jam.
“Are you planning to give us tips? Or are you just gonna throw us in there and tell us good luck?” I ask, glaring at him.
“…” Silence from Haymitch. He either is thinking or realizes that I’m right.
“Yes, I have a plan, not that you’re gonna last very long though.” Oh! So that’s it! He doesn’t think we’re capable on winning because District 12 has only won once, Haymitch’s game.
“And what makes you think we don’t have the ability to win?” I ask him.
“Because, sweetheart no one other than me, has managed to win. People from our District just aren’t strong enough.”
“This isn’t really about strength, it’s about outsmarting the other tributes.” Peeta chimes in. Finally! I think, someone says something that makes sense!
“Peeta’s right, if we use our skills, we can outsmart the other tributes in the arena, no matter how strong they are.” I add to what Peeta said. Haymitch pauses for a second to process what we just said.
“You know, You guys may be on to something here.” He takes another bite of his toast. “But for me to be able to help you guys out in the arena, I need to know what skills you have” I really don’t want Peeta to know my skills, he could use that information in the arena to kill me.
“Katniss is an incredible shot with a bow.” Peeta blurts out. “I’ve seen it! Everything she shoots, she shoots straight through the eye.” I never thought that the baker shared that game with his family, I thought he just enjoyed it alone.
“Yeah? Well, I’ve seen Peeta throw 90-pound flour bags or his shoulder easily!”
“What good is knowing how to throw flour gonna do me in the arena?” He has a point there, but I won’t let him think bad about himself.
“You’re really strong, Peeta, you could win.” That was a lie and both of us know that, but he still smiles.
Haymitch clears his voice to try to clear the gloomy air.
“So!” he takes another bite of his toast. “Peeta is strong and Katniss can shoot.” He stops to finish chewing. “That doesn’t matter you guys aren’t going to last 3 hours with water, medicine, and food. Those things come from sponsors, so you guys need to focus on getting sponsors.” So be pretty, no that won’t work.
“And how do you expect me to do that?” I spit back at Haymitch. “I’m not exactly the most lovable person!” As we pull up into the station to the capitol, Peeta gets up and starts waving at the crowd waiting for us.
“Like that, sweetheart, just be nice and friendly and we’ll do everything else for you” I believe he is talking about the stylists for the games that once just sent our tributes out naked and covered in coal dust one year.
The second we get into the tribute center, I am rushed into what almost looks like a hospital but very gray. I am stripped of my clothes, shoved into a blue nightgown, and sat down on a cold metal bed. I am then stripped of any body hair for the next three hours or so.
“Almost done sugar.” The capitol stylist speaks to me in a soft British accent, she is not as squeaky as Effie. As they rip off the very las bit of my arm hair, I see a man walk over to me. He has a dark skin tone and soft gold eyeshadow on his eyelids. He does not look fake like the other stylists that have been plucking me raw over the last three hours.
“Cinna,” he says in a soft voice, no accent at all. He holds his hand out to me in greeting. “Katniss” I say my voice dry because I hadn’t used it in a while. “I’m your stylist for the games, Katniss” I don’t believe this man is going to send me and Peeta out naked.
He leads me out of the cold, metal room, and into a soft white room. “Why is every single room in this building so cold?” I ask crossing my arms over my chest. Cinna just laughs. “That is the first time that a tribute has asked me that question, although you are my first tribute.”
“You haven’t done this before?” I ask, “no but I’ve always loved fashion.” So, I might actually look good and not just be covered in coal dust. I think a few hours pass of me just talking to Cinna before I’m escorted to my quarters and fed the most amazing meal I’ve ever had. It’s the least I could do, to gain a few pounds before I starve in the arena.
“You know, when my mom came to visit me before we left, she said ‘District 12 might actually have a winner this year’.” Peeta tells us ever so quietly. “That’s good that she believes in you” he shakes his head ever so slowly.
“She wasn’t talking about me Katniss.”