Fallen from Grace (Hunger Games)

68th Hunger Games

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1. District 8 Reaping

    Something feels off . . . she couldn’t quite understand what it is but she felt as if something was going to go wrong today . . .

    Reaping Day . . . the most dreaded day of the year. A pageant that throws in tributes in a large arena to fight to the death for fame and glory. At least, for the Career districts it was for fame and glory. For outside districts like District 8 say it as the worst month of the year to sacrifice their children. 

    Emily took in deep breaths as she nervously looked around her classmates and coworkers. They shared the exact look her wide green eyes . . . fear . . . anxiety . . . nausea . . . some even appeared numb to the core. The redhead swallowed the lump caught in her throat and looked up at the Justice Building in front of her when the muffled tap from the microphone broke through the quite murmurs of potential tributes.

    The burgundy haired District Eight escort had a giant grin from ear to ear as he stared at the timid children gathered before him in that all too bleak district that was in desperate need of color. "Hellooooo everybody!" he waved. "I’m very excited for this year, I can just tell it’s going to be a good year,” he said and tapped his hands against the podium in some rhythm everyone but him was unfamiliar with. 

    Emily looked around the boy’s eighteen-year-old section for Liam’s familiar voice. His expression was as hard as a rock and she could see he was biting down to keep himself from appearing weak, something he often did when he was scared. After all, it was his last year to be reaped and he was home free. But that wasn’t the only thing he was scared about. He reminded Emily time and time again that he was also scared that she would be reaped too. They’ve been best friends for year, of course he didn’t want to lose his one friend. 

    Liam’s blue eyes finally pried away from the Dark Days video and glanced over at Emily. She couldn’t help but feel utter relief when his eyes fell on her, Liam was her rock and Emily was his anchor to reality. It was ridiculous how relaxed they felt whenever they were around each other . . .

    “And now, for the ladies,” the escort broke their attention and turned back to the worst part of the reaping. He walked toward the girls’ bowl and shoved his silver manicured hand in and quickly picked a small piece of paper. Emily took in a deep breath as she watched the man walk back to the microphone. She swore that it took an hour for him to the microphone, maybe it was the fear and anxiety that slowed down time for her. Maybe he did it on purpose to intensify the atmosphere . . .

    The man read the name when he opened his mouth and announced: “Emily Horwitz!”

    And then the whole world shattered into a million pieces . . .

    Her heart beat rapidly against her chest, her breathing became shallow and short, she felt utterly dizzy and was just seconds away from losing her footing, and she felt like she was about to empty her stomach. No . . . no, it’s a mistake . . . I must have heard wrong . . .

    “Emily? Are you out there?”

    Emily blinked a couple times and whipped her head around toward Liam and found that he had completely abandoned the hard as a rock expression and was replaced with a look of devastation instead. No . . . no, don’t look at me like that . . . it can’t be . . .—

    “Emily Horwitz?” he called again. The redhead cringed and slowly turned back toward the escort. Everyone was looking at her and breaking a path for her. “There you are,” he began with a relieved sigh. 

    She looked around at everyone around her as she took small steps toward the stage and clasped her hands together to keep her from scratching herself nervously. Lost cause, already dead, no way she would last the first day . . . those were the looks she could see on everyone’s face. Her feet dragged against the ground the closer she came to the stairs, and the closer she got the dizzier she became. 

    Oh no . . . she wasn’t going to make it . . .

    Emily was just at the top of the stairs when she completely blacked out and collapsed.

***** 

    “Em . . . Em . . . we don’t have much time . . .”

    She slowly opened her eyes and her eyes adjusted to her friends, Cece and Harmony staring down at her. “Please tell me that was a terrible nightmare . . .” she muttered.

    Her eyes went to Harmony when she saw how red and puffy her eyes were, she then began to sob and hugged Emily close to her. “Why does it have to be you . . .?” she cried. 

    Exactly . . . Why did it have to be her . . .?

    “I’m going to die . . .” she said quietly. “Oh my god, I’m going to die . . .” the redhead’s voice cracked and hugged Harmony back. Her body trembled in Harmony’s arms as she embraced her tightly in hopes that she would never have to go to the Capitol or the arena.

    “You’ll be okay . . . you’ll be okay . . .” Cece mumbled and placed her head on Emily’s shoulder.

    Emily shook her head at her. "Who are we kidding? I'm least likely to survive the bloodbath when the Games start."

    "No, no Em. You're fast. You're strong—"

    "But I don't know how to handle a weapon—"

    "Then learn!" Harmony exclaimed and looked up at her. "They're going to train you. Find a weapon that'll help you. And when the Games start, find one and use it!" she shook Emily.

    Emily could only nod and hugged Harmony and Cece. "Thank you for everything guys . . ." Emily said quietly.

    Harmony nodded and pat her head. "You'll be okay . . .," she sniffled. “Don’t say goodbye. We’ll see you after you win . . .” she choked as her body shivered. 

    No you won’t . . . Emily thought to herself and broke into tears. Harmony kept on crying and Cece tried to hold it in together with difficulty. The Peacekeepers took both her friends away and Emily was alone again. She cried silently during her time alone while her district partner said his goodbyes to his friends and/or family. Once the time was over, the Peacekeepers came to fetch her and Emily sluggishly walked out of her space and out into the main room.

    When she looked up to see her district partner, her puffy eyes widened at the sight of Liam with a grim and depressed look in his eyes.

    “Emily—”

    “You were reaped!?” she shrieked. Liam then looked away from her and ran his hand through his hair. Emily kept her eyes on him as they both walked out toward the car when she came up close to him and saw that he was completely avoiding eye contact with her. “Oh my god . . . Liam . . . you didn’t . . .”

    He blinked a couple times and looked down at her.

    “You didn’t volunteer did you . . .?”

    “What was I suppose to do, Emily?” she muttered. “I couldn’t just sit there and let someone else go in there with you . . .”

    “You’re so stupid . . .” she shook her head and slipped in the car. What was he thinking!? Volunteering himself in the Games with her!? They both couldn’t come out together, he knew that! He had this year and he was done, why would he make this dumb decision!? Emily looked back at him and narrowed her eyes at him while he kept his eyes away from her. “You could have gone home . . .”

    “It’s not home if I come back there without you . . .?” he said. “I can’t sit still when my best friend is forced in the Games . . .” Emily pursed her lips, shook her head, and looked away from him and out the window. 

    Stupid . . .

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