That Day

This is my entry for the Two Weeks In Panem-- Hunger Games competition. It is The Reaping scene.

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1. That Day

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My finger was pierced and pressed onto a sheet of white paper, already stained by other people's blood. I winced and stared at my finger, watching as more blood started to appear on my fingertip. It stung momentarily, but the pain stopped as my finger began to become soaked with blood that poured out of a small dot. It must have been deeper than I thought to cause that much blood.

''Next,'' said the woman bluntly.

I stepped aside and watched as she did the same thing to the boy standing behind me, with the same little machine. I had never seen it before. I didn't know what it was called, or anything really. In previous years they had just stabbed me with a small pin and left me. I wondered how many diseases that thing carried. It was used on everyone. The exact same one, never washed, cleaned or replaced. Just that one. Was I going to be infected or something?

Although it worried me a bit, it wasn't the reason I was panicking. It was time for The Reaping. The choosing of the competitors from District 12. There was one male and female chosen. Chosen for what?

To compete in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games was the most brutal and bloodthirsty event of the year. There were twenty four competitors chosen, a male and a female to represent each of the twelve districts. Each of the competitors had to kill everyone else chosen. It didn't matter how. Just as long as they survived. If they were the last one standing, they were crowned the winner of the Hunger Games.

I peered down at my dress. It was a pale blue, but not the nice kind. The boring kind. My hair was in several braids that tangled over each other.I didn't grab anyone's attention, but I wasn't supposed to. Every other girl from District 12 was dressed the same as me as well. I checked my reflection in every musty, old window that I walked past, to make sure I looked presentable. You couldn't look as terrible as we usually did for an event like this.

As I stared at the people around me, slowly shuffling towards the waiting area, I noticed that I wasn't the only one who wanted to look nice and neat for an occasion such as this. I never saw the point in it, though. If you get chosen, the chances of your survival are one in twenty-four. You don't need to be prettied up just to die.

I stood in line while everyone else began to gather around me in neat lines. None of us wanted to hear our names called out. We all wanted to live life, even if it was just here in our dusty, decomposing district.

Eventually, everyone was gathered and a woman walked onstage in a puffy, bright pink dress. Her face was so coated in makeup that it was white, the only hint of colour being in her bright pink lips and eye-shadow that had been piled on a little too much, yet partially hidden behind massively long lashes. Even for me, a girl that looks the same every day of every week, she looked absolutely ridiculous.

She started a long and tedious speech about the annual festivities, and Hunger Games and what an honour it would be to be chosen and all that sort of nonsense. I wanted my mother more than ever. My mother was killed three years ago. She was chosen to be in the Hunger Games when I was twelve. I have lived with my grandmother ever since, and she is so frail and old that I was always the one doing any work for my brothers and myself, given that I was the oldest.

"Ladies first,'' said the grotesque-looking woman, smiling a pearly white smile.

Fake, I clarified to myself, and watched as she slipped her gloved hand inside a glass cylinder. I released a breath I didn't know I was holding as I looked around and saw dozens more girls staring ahead. What were the chances of it being me? "Soracha Coleblank!"

My heart stopped. My name had just been called. It was as if the world had stopped spinning. I was to compete in the Hunger Games. I was going to die. I wasn't skilled with weapons of any sort. There was no way I was going to survive. I was only fifteen. I was going to be against people twice my age and three times as tough, smart and skilled. I was never going to live to see my red locks turn grey, or my freckles fade out, or anything of the sort.

I felt a million pairs of eyes on me.

The district wasn't that small, but it was small enough for people to know everyone's names. Everyone knew the name Soracha Coleblank. Everyone knew who the name belonged to. Everyone knew me.

I could think of someone much better than me! Two people, actually. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. Katniss was so unbelievably skilled with an arrow, and she was good at hiding. Peeta was good at hiding too, and he could haul a hundred pounds over his shoulder, and if he threw it at a target, he would still make a good and perfect shot.

Katniss was directly in front of me. She turned around and smiled sympathetically. It was a nice gesture, but I didn't want sympathy. What I wanted was to get myself out of this mess.

"Congratulations," the woman smiled brightly, as if the thought of my death just made her day. "And now for the boys...."

I looked towards my best friend, Ezekyal, and crossed my fingers for him. I didn't know if I wanted him to be chosen or not. The chances of his death were exactly the same as mine, but I didn't want to go through this with a stranger that I had never met before.

"Zydenel Scharvin!" I turned to face Zydenel, who I recognised as a nineteen year old boy who walked past my house every day. He looked more distraught than frightened. I understood why. He was like the leader of his family. His mother was sick and we had no medicine for her. His father was killed in the Hunger Games alongside my mother. He had a fourteen year brother and a nine year old sister. He couldn't look after them if he was dead. Zydenel turned to face me tears welling in his eyes and marking his dusty cheeks. He gave me a small smile and turned back to face the front.

Then I realised that I was faced with the same situation as he was. I was the one that provided money and food for my family. I was their only hope of survival.

There was only one way I could keep them alive, and that was to win the Hunger Games.

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