Reapings: Districts 4 and 9
District 4 Reapings
"Gastor, where is my toothbrush?"
"Hey, Jayelyn, get over here!"
"Aaralyn, can you make me some lunch?"
UHHH! I can't take it anymore! I have to get out of this house, everyone inside it is insane. Can't they shut up for five minutes? I walk out the door, leaving my family behind. I'm done dealing with them. If I hadn't know them my entire life I wouldn't think it would be possible for six different people to be so incredibly noisy. The only thing worse than their volume is what they are saying.
Everyone in my family is constantly treating me like I'm a little kid. Even though I'm seventeen, they all think of me as some child. They are always telling me to stop training for the games, acting like I'm somehow too young! Are they kidding? I'm as old as Finnick Odair, and he won three years ago!
I escape to my usual spot, the shore which is pretty close to my house. I strip down to my underclothes and dive in. I can spend hours swimming at my beach, its the one place I truly feel at home. I savor every moment of my swim; I don't know when I'll be able to do it again.
Eventually I have to get out though, and head back to my crappy home for the last time. No matter what happens I'll never be back here. Today I will volunteer for the games. If I win then its the Victor's Village for me. If I loose...we'll I won't be back here then either.
After I have showered all of the seawater off my body my sister, Jayelyn, catches me in the hall. "You shouldn't go swimming alone," she begins "There's a really strong rip tide today."
"You know what a great swimmer I am, besides, I may need to swim in some rough waters in the arena." This is not what Jayelyn wants to hear.
"Soooo" Jayelyn starts, "You're actually gonna go through with it?"
"Of course I am!" I yell, irate.
"Aaralyn, you're just a kid."
"NO I'M NOT!" I storm out and I hear her yelling something behind me, but I don't listen. No matter what I do they just don't get it. There is only one option left, one way that they will have no choice to see that I'm not a kid. I will win the Hunger Games.
I find myself back at my beach, to try to get a bit of alone time, but there is a trespasser there. "Hey!" I shout, "What do you think you're doing here?"
The kid who is standing on my beach turns around and says "I'm sorry?"
"You should be." I snarl back.
"No, I was not apologizing, I meant I'm sorry, as in 'What do you mean?' "
"I mean..." I say barely able to control my rage with the intruder "Why are you on my beach?"
"Your beach?" he questions.
"Yes." I say as my nostrils flare, "My beach."
"I'm fairly certain this is a public beach." he responds.
"Dude, what is your problem?" I ask the wired little twerp.
"I don't know what you mean," he says with a blank stare.
"Uh! Why are you so frustrating?" I shout at the boy.
"I imagine it has something to do with the fact that I've been intellectually besting you for the past few minutes."
The nerve of this guy. "Do you know who you're talking to?"
"Yes, you are Aaralyn Twila, seventeen years old, youngest of five"
This takes me back a bit. "How do you know that?" The harshness that was in my voice has been replaced by confusion. This kid knows all these details about me, and I don't even know his name.
"I, unlike most people, remember things, I pay attention."
"Who are you?" I ask.
"My name is Mattaniah Hestra."
This sounds vaguely familiar. I think I may have seen this kid around school, but not often; I think he's a couple years behind me.
"Okay," I start "I think I remember you Matt."
"My name is Mattaniah, are you unable to comprehend that many syllables?"
And there it is. "You know I could beat the crap out of you?" I yell, my anger has returned. Matt just shrugs. It probably wouldn't be the first time someone beat him up, I can tell his nose has been broken before. This just adds to his strange appearance. I wouldn't call him ugly, but he certainly isn't attractive, and it looks like he cuts his own hair. He seems to have a low center of gravity, he is somewhat short and stout.
"Well, you can enjoy this beach for a couple months, while I'm at the games, but when I come back as a victor, I'm buying it and make sure you never step foot here again!"
That angry girl stomps away, now fuming. I never tire of insulting the intelligence of those that train for the games. They should be embarrassed of themselves really. They think that they can just get anything with their strength, they fail to understand what really matters is intelligence. Every year they march away to their deaths, how dumb do you have to be to sign up for something where twenty-three of twenty-four people end up as corpses? Even though the careers have a better chance of winning, there are still five other careers. I don't like those odds.
I wonder what it's like in the other districts, where people don't volunteer. How would that feel, to live in fear? Every reaping day wondering if you or someone you love would be sent to die. I'm glad I don't need to worry about that, even if I was reaped, some meathead would jump up and take my place.
Now that I think about it, the reaping must be getting close, what a waste of time that will be. I get up, dusting the sand off my clothes and start heading to the town square for the reapings.
I take my place in the fifteen year old sections, and it isn't too long till things get underway. "Welcome everyone," the escort begins "To the reapings for the sixty-eighth annual Hunger Games." I yawn, what is the point of dragging us all out here? "Lets begin with the girls, shall we?" The escort smiles and crooks her head to the side, she looks and acts so weird, all that capitol nonsense. "Our female tribute is..." She reaches in and grabs a slip, "Abigail Murray!"
The escort asks for volunteers, and of course Aaralyn Twila metaphorically signs her own death certificate. "Oooh this is exciting," the escort says half laughing. I roll my eyes. "And without further delay our male tribute." She actually does delay a bit while reaching into the bowl. "Our male tribute is Mattaniah Hestra" For a moment I'm paralyzed with fear, but I'm reawakened when she asks for my volunteer. That's right, I'll be saved by some idiot, any moment now.
No one speaks up. What is going on, why isn't anyone volunteering? People always volunteer in 4. "Really? No one?" the escort asks in disbelief.
I look around, but none of the other potential tributes will look me in the eye. Oh...I get it. I'm not particularly liked, but then, geniuses are rarely appreciated in their own time. So no one wants to take my place, just because they don't like me? How petty can these insignificant morons be?
Fine, I make sure that my face registers no emotion whatsoever as I stoically stroll to the stage. When I arrive, the escort introduces me and Aaralyn, and tells us to shake hands. Aaralyn has some sadistic smile plastered on her face.
"What?" I say defensively.
She leans in close and whispers in my ear, "Looks like you won't be enjoying my beach after all."
District 9 Reapings
"Beef or chicken?"
I pay the lunch lady and grab my chicken, a cup of fruit and some milk and head for the table where my friends are sitting. I take my seat, between Finnabe, and my best friend Marsh. On Marsh's other side is Chager, and beyond her is the only guy in our group, Frook.
"What kinda fruit you got there?" Marsh asks me.
"Lets see," I say looking inside my cup, "Apple and pear slices." I begin to poke my chicken with my fork. "Wonder what part of the chicken this is made of." The school isn't exactly known for providing the healthiest lunches here in District 9.
"At least it is some from a chicken," I hear Chager chime in, "This beef certainly didn't come from a cow, it could be wild dog for all I know." This makes me smile bit. We finish up our fruits and various mystery meats, and the bell tells us it time for the next class. Frook and I have Math together, we find some seats in the middle of the class together. On the way, I take a look out the window at the sky; I don't like the look of it, dark clouds have rolled in.
Our teacher, Mr. Takai tells us to open to page 58, and that we will be continuing talking about fractions today. This makes the class groan, but I really don't mind fractions. Then again I don't mind anything in school really. Its a lot better than after school, when I have to go to work.
"Can anyone tell me what fourteen over twenty one reduces down to?" I consider raising my hand, as the answer is pretty easy, but I've already given three answers, and don't want to be a know-it-all. The boy directly in front of me, Iman, raises his hand and Mr. Embrasal indicates for him to speak.
"No, I'm sorry that is incorrect, can anyone else give me the answer? Yes, Kal?" he says calling on another student. But I don't hear if Kal knows that its two-thirds, because the boy to my left spits at the back of Iman's head.
"Nice one idiot!" The boy whispers. I spin to my left and stare at the spitter. It seems that Mr. Takai has failed to notice what has happened, and is now writing something on the chalkboard.
"Leave him alone," I say with a bit of venom.
"Or what, you'll tell on me?" he sneers.
"No, I'll knock your teeth out." I say while cracking my knuckles. This shocks the boy a bit, and he leaves Iman alone. Too many people see me as the sweet nice girl, the one who does the appropriate thing. But if a piece of scum like that picks on some poor kid, I'll defend him...even if he is an idiot. Maybe I'm tired of being seen as "The good girl."
I look to my right and it seems my heroics have made an impression on Frook, based on the look on his face. He give me a smile and says "That was a really good thing you did." He leans over patting my hand reassuringly, and his hand lingers for just a second. I don't really mind. Suddenly the smile disappears from his face, and his face is bright red. He looks back to the front of the class and does not make eye contact with me again for the rest of class.
I wonder sometimes about that boy. I think that, maybe, there is something more than just friendship between us. Every once in awhile there seems to be some sign, like there was today. They are always just little things, a long glance, a kind word, never enough for me to tell if it's anything more than my imagination.
Marsh has, for like a year, told me that she thinks Frook will ask me out, but I'm not so sure that is gonna happen. Maybe I should be the one to make the first move? Its just like when I threatened to knock that bully's teeth out, it might be time to stop being this little follower of the rules. Maybe I need to stop listening to what everybody else wants me to be, and take control of my life.
"Hey Mom, I'm home," I say as I throw my jacket on an armchair near the doorway.
"Honey," she responds "Please don't leave your jacket laying around, thats why I bought that coat rack."
"Why you bought it? I wasn't aware you paid for it," I say with a hint of cynicism. She ignores my last remark and instead crosses over and picks up the jacket herself, hanging it on the rack. She smoothes out the creases on my jacket and asks me if I bought anything in town today.
"No," is all I say.
"Oh you don't have to be so frugal, we have so much money nowadays." I scowl at this, but try not to sound angry when I ask if my sister Della is home. "No, I think she went out with some friends."
"Okay," I reply before heading to my room. I fall flat on my bed, and take a look out the window, there is moisture on it. It must have started drizzling in the past couple minutes. Well, we are used to rain in 9. My eyes are heavy now, and think I fall into that place between sleep and waking. In my semi-slumber I'm eleven again, poor again. I'm transported back to a time before my sister made her breakthrough, that discovery which made my family so much money.
"Hey," I hear her voice and I'm fully awake again. My sister has her hand on her shoulder. I look up at her and smile, but the frown on her face snaps me back to the real world. Right, I'm not eleven anymore, I'm sixteen, today is the day of the reaping, and I can hear the pitter patter of rain hitting my window.
By the time I'm at the town square, its a downpour. I wade through the sea of umbrellas in my section until I find Clay.
"Hey Evander," he greets me. "Why did I have to become best friends with you, the only guy who can manage to make me look short in our whole grade?" Its true, Clay is pretty tall for a sixteen year old, at 5'10", while I on the other hand am tall for anybody, I'm 6'1".
"That joke was funny the first time you told it, but after the ninetieth time, not so much." I reply. I look to the stage and see that they have covered it with some sort of tarp. All of the electronically equipment has been sealed with the exact waterproof covering my sister invented.
The speakers come on and I hear, "Hello everyone, lets have a round of applause as we get this reaping underway." Everyone awkwardly tries to clap while not dropping their umbrellas. Except me of course, since I am neither holding an umbrella nor attempting to clap. "Alright, it's time to begin! Ladies first!" The escort crosses to the female reaping bowl and takes out a name. I have small panic attack as I worry that my and Clay's best friend Zadi will be reaped. It happened to one of Della's friends not too long ago. It let out a sigh of relief as the name drawn is Kasha Seen. Zadi is safe, "And Evander Ebrithil is our male tribute!" but I'm not.
For the first time I can remember Clay is speechless. I give him a small nod, letting him know I'll be okay, even though I won't. As I walk to the stage, I have the sudden realization that this may be the last time I ever will feel rain. I take off my hood and let the hot rain hit my face.
By the time I reach the staged I'm drenched. The escort makes a joke about this trying to get me to crack a smile. When this doesn't work, she tries another. After the third joke, she gives up and has me shake the hand of the girl. I suddenly feel an incredible pang of guilt as I look into this girls eyes. I was so happy to have heard her name called in place of my friend. Am I any better than the Capitol? As long as those going into the games are some anonymous child, and not someone I care about, it doesn't matter weather or not they die. Maybe I deserve this.