The 64th Hunger Games

Alandra Trevena is scared of nothing but one thing: getting reaped for the Hunger Games. She's 14 years old and lives in District 10. Her dad is the mayor of the district, what makes that her family has more money than the rest of the people who live there. She spends every day with her boyfriend, Fenton Livingstone. He is three years older than her, 17, and he's really strong. He'll protect her to anything. But then they both get reaped for the Hunger Games. Can he still protect her?

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1. Two years earlier.

I woke up because the sun was shining trough the open curtains. I blinked my eyes to focus and looked around my room. On the other side was my sister's bed and she wasn't there. I listened carefully and yes, I could hear her downstairs. In fact, I could here her talking to someone, which was odd, because it couldn't be later than 9 am. And since school hasn't started yet, I lived with my sister at her farm, but besides us, there doesn't live anyone else. I went downstairs because I was to curious. In the kitchen I found my sister and I was right, she was talking to someone. A man, a bit older than her, I guess. They didn't notice me. That didn't matter, now I had the time to inspect the mysterious man.

He had curly black hair, big dark brown eyes, a straight jaw and small lips. His skin was a little tanned by the sun. He was gorgeous, for an adult. I knew my sister would think he was gorgeous. Speaking of my sister, I glanced at her. She was like an older version of myself. We had the same brown curls and the same bright green eyes. The only difference, except that she was a lot taller than me, was the length of our hair. Hers was long, it fell down to the middle of her back, mine was short, it just came to my shoulders. My sister was beautiful too, like the man, but in another way. Everyone who'd see her, would think she's beautiful. She was 19, 7 years older than me, and every boy in the district liked her. I just knew it. In contrast to her, the only thing you could say about me was that I was cute. I was a little girl, smaller than the average girls in my school, thin and not special at all. I was a pale reflection of that miracle of a sister I had. But I did like her though. She was my favourite person in the world. She was kind and she always treated me well. That's why I came to live with her during holiday. But I envied her. 

Then suddenly, someone said my name: "Alandra, you're awake." I blinked my eyes in confusion and looked at my sister. "Yes Candace, I am." "How are you feeling, little girl?" she asked, a bit worried. I didn't understand why she was worried. "I'm fine, why do you ask?" I asked her. She gave the man an even more worried look and then she said: "Because it is Reaping day today."

 

I remembered one time we went for school to the farm of mister Jeff. He has the largest cowfarm in whole District 10. I think I was 7 years old back then. We were supposed to investigate the cows and to learn how to milk them. But my friend Daniella, who never liked school, asked me to go to the bull, at the back of the stable. There was one bull at the farm and it was known for its aggression. Daniella was always the kind of girl who acts tough, but has a small heart. So she wanted to prove herself and she climbed over the fence that was meant to keep the bull from the cows. I told her not to do it. That she was going to get hurt. But she didn't want to listen to me. From the moment the bull saw my friend, he ran over to her. Daniella started screaming, because of course, she was scared. But I wasn't. Without hesitating, I went inside the cage and ran to her. I pushed her aside and took her place, just when the bull arrived...

I could've been killed that day. My parents were scared, my sister cried a lot and Daniella didn't do anything reckless since. I survived. And the moment I saw that bull right in the eye, I wasn't afraid. Not even a little. I'm never afraid. Except for one thing.

The Reaping.

 

I couldn't say a word. Candace walked over to me and wrapped her arms around me, trying to comfort me. I was 12 years old, it was my first Reaping this year. I began to shake, tears running down my face. "Candace, I don't wanna be picked!" "It's okay," she whispered. "Your name is only in there once. You're not going to be picked. I promise." I wouldn't believe her. Of course I could be picked, although the odds were in my favour. Since I was only 12, my name was only one time in that bowl and since my father was the mayor, I didn't need to put my name in more times for extra food; we had enough at home. But still, there was nothing I was more afraid of then the Hunger Games. I didn't want to go to the Capitol, to get ready to die.

When I was calmed down, my sister introduced me to the man. I almost forgot about him. "Alandra, I want you to meet Jason Campbell. He's a friend of mine. He works at the buthcher's in the centre of the district," Candace told me. The man, Jason, pulled out his hand and I shook it. My eyes, still wet from the crying, met his and they looked concerned, although he didn't know me. "Hello, Alandra. Don't be afraid, girl. You're gonna be fine," he said. Still I couldn't believe it. My sister looked at her watch and coughed. "Baby, you have to get ready. We're leaving in an hour. I'll make your breakfast." I nodded and went back to the bedroom. I could here Jason say: "Poor girl."

After I washed myself -with only a bucked of cold water, since there was no shower-, I searched for something nice to wear. I forgot to bring a dress when I came to my sister, but maybe she had something that suited me. In the attic I found a box with clothes. There was one dress I liked; a light brown one, made of silk. It looked like grain in the sunlight. It was to big, but I made it smaller with a belt I also found in the box. The dress fell to my knees. I looked in the broken mirror. I looked cute, as I always did. Nothing special. I combed my hair with my sister's old comb and after that I put it into a ponytail. Then I went downstairs.

Candace gave me a slice of bread and some chicken to eat. I knew the chicken was fresh, she kept them. But I thought she got the bread from the market. Normally, the people in District 10 didn't grow grain, that was District 9's responsibility. But there was one man (I didn't know his name) who did grow grain, and he selled it to the baker. No one minds, because we like the bread he makes from it. Although the food tasted very well, I couldn't enjoy of it. I kept thinking about what would happen in an hour. Who's names would get drawn from the bowls with strokes. My hands began to shake again and I tried to stop them, but I failed. What would I do if it was me who had to go to the Hunger Games? It was something I didn't want to think of, but it kept running through my mind.

Jason stayed with us until we needed to go to the square. That was the place were the Reaping would be. I took my sister's hand while we walked down the fields and the meadows. The way to the square was quite long, Candace's farm was the one that was the furthest away from everything. I tried to concentrate on the cows. They were so calm, eating their grass. Free from worries. I wished I could be one of them.

Finally we arrived at the centre of the district. We dropped Jason at the butcher's; although he was to old to participate in the Hunger Games, he was required to come to the Reaping as well. He told us he had to get himself ready and that he would meet us at the square. Candace and I continued our walk and we came to our house, or my house actually, because Candace had her own farm. We were at the mayor's house. We went to the back and walked through the backdoor. Before I knew it, my mother wrapped her arms around me. Although she didn't want me to notice, I knew she was crying. She was just as scared as I was. My father, mayor Trevena, came into the kitchen and he gave me a hug as well, but without tears. He's always been the strong one in my family. In that way I'm just like him.

Then it was time to go to the square and register. Everyone had to be there on Reaping day, otherwise they could put you in prison. I walked between my parents, clinging their hands, looking around to the other kids going to the square. They looked just as scared as I felt. My parents and my sister accompanied me to the place where I had to register, they gave me a hug and then the went to the side where the rest of the adults were. I shuffled to the rope-made "cage" for the 12-year-olds. There I found Daniella. "Oh Alandra, how are you?" she shrieked from a distance, with a forced smile on her face. Of course she had to act cool, but I knew she was scared too. "I'm scared," I told her, honest as I was. I took her hand and we waited silently for the Reaping to begin. I looked around to see my family. They stood still, watching to the stage, a frown on their faces. Next to Candace stood Jason, the butcher. He held her hand, whispering words to comfort her. I knew there was something between them. It was something in the way my sister looked at him...

"Welcome, folks! Happy Hunger Games!" someone screamed enthusiastically through the microphone. I looked at the stage, trying to catch my breath. A young woman, she couldn't be older then Candace, stood in the middle of it. She had long, very long pink hair (it fell to her hips), she wore a purple dress that was so tight I thought it would crack any moment and her makeup was so weird I didn't know how to describe it. The only thing I did know was that I had never seen her before. "My name is Crystal Blinkers, your new escort. It's my first year and I'm very excited!" she giggled. She took a step backwards and my father walked over to the mike. I didn't even noticed he left my mother and sister alone. He started his story about the Treaty of the Treason and the Dark Days, in which District 13 has been destroyed. We all knew it, he tells us the story every year. I couldn't concentrate me though. I could only keep staring at the bowl of glass on the stage, in which the names of the girls were. After I-don't-know-how-long my father gave the word back to Crystal and went to his seat at the left side of the stage. Crystal hopped to the microphone and said: "Let's choose our female tribute first!" She walked to the first bowl and picked theatrical one stroke. I squeesed Daniella's hand and I couldn't remember how to breath. Every sense screamed "Alandra Trevena, Alandra Trevena, ALANDRA TREVENA!". But when Crystal read the name out loud, I immediately felt relief. It wasn't me. "Eleonora Dickens! Come here, darling!" I searched the crowd, looking for the girl. She stepped out of the group of 18-year-olds, eyes wide open. I felt sorry for her though. But I was so happy it wasn't me, I could laugh out loud, but I thought that would be inappropriate. Daniella and I let go our hands and massaged them. She was just as reliefed as I was. The girl, Eleonora, climbed up the stage. She looked pretty calm, although that had to be an illusion.

"Great!" said Crystal smiling. "And now, for the boys." She hopped to the second bowl. I was so reliefed I had to force myself to concentrate; I wanted to know who would be our boy tribute. Although it never could be me, I was still a little nervous for the boys from my age. Crystal's hand disappeared in the bowl of strokes and she chose one of them. When she was back at the microphone, she said, loud and clear: "Fenton Livingstone!" I knew that name. I stood on tiptoe to see where he was. It took me 5 minutes before I could find him. He looked exactly the same as I remembered him. He was quite tall, for a boy of his age. I thought he was like two or three years older than me. I had seen him multiple times in school. Fenton Livingstone. The boy every girl of my year talked about. He had black hair, the color of the coal from District 12. It was tousled, just like other days, he didn't even took the time to stroke it backwards or something for the Reaping. He was mysterious and attractive. And now he was going to die.

But than, when he was slowly walking towards the stage (he didn't even looked scared, although his face looked a bit stressed), someone screamed: "Stop!" Everyone looked in the direction from where the voice came. Another boy, I thought he'd be 18 years old, stepped forward. He looked just the same as Fenton. Only his hair was different, it was much shorter. "What's happening?" Crystal asked, gasping for air. She didn't know what was going on. Neither did I. "I volunteer," the boy said loudly, walking to his brother. I could hear them talking. "Go back to Mother," the older one said severely, looking his kid brother in the eye. Fenton, who's face I couldn't see, since he's back was turned to me, just shook his head. "Go back to Mother," his brother repeated and than he walked towards the stage. Fenton didn't move.

Crystal was confused. It was her first year and she had to handle with a volunteer. Now I was thinking about it, we didn't had a volunteer in 12 years, maybe more. I never knew one. Crystal coughed, while the boy took his place next to her and next to Eleonora. He looked very calm, no, he looked angry. He had a frown between his eyebrows. "Oh well," Crystal whispered, but we could all hear her, since she was still talking through the microphone. "So, what is your name, young man?" "My name is Erik Livingstone," the boy said firmly. His voice sounded even deeper through the mike. "So, that was your brother, wasn't he?" Crystal asked, her eyes shimmering. She refound her enthusiasm. Erik just nodded. "Okay, folks! Let's give our tributes a warm applause!" Crystal began clapping and we did as well. I was confused and paralyzed. I couldn't take my eyes of the boy in the middle of the path to the stage, hanging shoulders, staring at his older brother. I wondered what he was thinking about. The anthem played and Crystal took our tributes into the Justice Building behind the stage. Than the crowd started going home. 

Daniella hugged me. "I'm so glad it wasn't one of us," she said, hardly above a whisper. I closed my eyes. "Me too," I whispered, but I kept thinking about Eleonora and Erik. What would happen with them? Would one of them return? Or would they both die? We had 2 living victors, who'd be both mentors in this year's Games. I thought we had 5 victors, but three of them already died of old age. Would we have a new victor this year? I didn't even know what our tributes were capable of. Before I knew it, my parents and sister were with me, hugging and kissing me, and telling me how happy the were that I wasn't chosen. I just nodded, I was still in shock. The first thing I said was: "Candace, where is your boyfriend?" referring to Jason. She just smiled at me, a smile full of relief. Soon, we were in the kitchen of my home. My mother had bought a cake to celebrate that I didn't had to go to the Hunger Games. It was delicious, and it didn't take long before I was on my way with my sister to her farm. I would live there until the Games were over, than school started again. We were forced to watch everything live, that's why we didn't have to go to school yet. When we arrived, Candace said she was going to refresh herself. "Is it okay for you if I go to play in the fields?" I asked. Behind Candace's farm, were enormous fields and meadows. I always went there to play, but now I wanted to think. I didn't know why, but I couldn't stop thinking about what happened at the square this afternoon. And I didn't know why, but it had something to do with the boy. Candace's smile turned into a frown. "Are you okay, darling? It's over now," she said, probably thinking I was still scared. I just nodded and without another word, I went to the fields.

Of course I wasn't scared anymore. Like she said, it was over. But I had this feeling, I couldn't name it, but I knew I couldn't let go of it. I walked through the long grass, it came to my hips. It tikled me. As I went further into the field, the Reaping repeated itself in my head. My fear when Crystal chose one of the strokes from the girl-bowl. Relief that followed when it turned out to be Eleonora and not me. Fenton's name. His brother who volunteered for him. The image of the tall boy, standing there quietly, with his tousled hair. I couldn't even imagine what a rough time he had to go through now. And just when I realized that, I heard a strange sound. Something I'd never heard in the fields before. Someone was crying.

I searched for the person, and I found him a couple of meters in front of me. He sat down on the ground and almost disappeared in the grass. Fenton Livingstone. And than I knew what the feeling was I felt. I felt bad for him, compassion. I felt it from the first moment I saw him at the Reaping. I didn't want him to die, and now I didn't want to see him cry. I had never seen him cry, no one ever had. Fenton Livingstone didn't cry. But there he was, tears running down his face, sobbing. What now?

Silent as I was, I walked over to him. He didn't notice me. I knelt beside him and I startled him. He gave me an angry look. "I'm sorry," I said quickly. "I didn't mean to scare you, I..." "What are you doing here?" he snarled at me, wiping his tears. That was the first time I saw his eyes. His light blue eyes, as bright as the sky on a summerday. I hadn't seen anything more beautiful than that. It gave me a warm feeling, almost electric. "Never mind," he grumbled. "Just go away." But instead of leaving him, I knelt beside him, only half a meter away. "Are...are you OK?" I whispered. I didn't want him to be mad at me, so I went closer carefully. He sighed. "It..it's my brother. He..." Fenton stuttered, and he bursted into tears again. He gasped and hiccuped irregularly. I wanted to touch him, but I didn't know if he would like it or not. But the angry look in his eyes had disappeared, the only thing I could see was sadness, and even pain. "It was me, they chose me, and now he has to die for me!" he shrieked. "Ssst," I tried to comfort him. I was already sitting right next to him, I could feel his warmth, although our arms didn't touch yet. "Your brother is strong. I know that, I knew it since the first time I saw him. And you are strong too." He didn't answer, so I continued. "He loves you, Fenton, he loves you very much." He stopped crying, and I felt a little beter. Apparently my words helped.

After minutes of silence, he asked me: "How do you know my name?" I smiled and turned red. "Everyone does." "Really?" He seemed to be surprised. It was nice to see him a bit happier, although I knew he didn't feel happy at all. "So what's your name?" he asked. "Alandra Trevena," I answered, voice barely above a whisper. "Thank you, Alandra," he said, almost smiling. And that was the moment our hands touched for the first time. 

Fenton and I spent the following days together, watching his brother in the Hunger Games. He only wanted to watch them with me, not with his friends, not even with his family. Everytime it was too much for him, he took my hand and looked away, fighting against tears. Erik did well: from the moment the gong sounded, he ran for the Cornucopia in the middle of a wide area of sand. The only shelter there was, came from some kind of woods, consisting of withered trees, but when Erik grabbed a sword, he ran for the woods. He didn't kill anyone the first day, and he was still alive. But the second day, he got into a fight with the Careers, the tributes of District 1, 2 and 4. There were 5 of them; the girl from 4 already died in the bloodbath at the Cornucopia. The fight was horrible. Erik got stabbed and I thought he was going to die. Fenton couldn't take it any longer. He turned away from the screen, bursting out into tears. He loved his brother so much, Erik was his favourite person in the world. I kept watching, for him, so one of us would know how it ended. But suddenly, 3 of the Careers fell down on the sand. Dead. And Erik didn't do anything. Scared as hell, the remaining Careers fled. Erik, still dying, didn't know what happened and neither did I. Apparently, the tributes were killed by toxic insects, too small to see. Erik fled as well, with the little strength he had left. "He's alive," I said, turning towards my new friend. Fenton slowly looked at me, his eyes red. He glanced to the screen, seeing his brother sitting behind a tree, hardly breathing. But he was alive. Fenton sighed in relief and he made me promise not to tell anyone he had to cry that much. "I promise," I whispered, looking in his enchanting blue eyes. On the third day, Erik received some medicines to heal his wounds. The Capitol made magic things, so he was in top form again in only 4 hours. He also closed an alliance with the girl and the boy from 12 and together they went to search Eleonora. But that night, her face appeared in the sky. She was dead.

Meanwhile, Fenton and I spent the whole time together, getting to know each other. He was surprised I was only 12 years old. "You seem a lot older, you know," he said, when we were sitting in the fields of grass. I looked at him, not understanding. "I'm smaller than all the other girls of my age," I said, thinking of Daniella, who was like 6 inches taller than me. "Well, but you talk like a girl of my age," he told me. He even smiled a little. And I found out who Fenton Livingstone really was. Not the popular kid who didn't care for anything, who had many friends and girlfriends, who was always so confident. Instead, he did care. For his family, especially his brother. And he cared for me, he said. I blushed. Fenton also told me he didn't consider the boys he hung out with as his real friends. "They are cool, they really are," he once said. "But they don't really know me. They're not like you, Alandra." I blushed again. And he even entrusted me that he never had a real girlfriend. "They all think I have one. Not true. I only kissed a girl once in my whole life." And once again, I blushed, because I had never kissed a boy. The most surprising thing, I guess, was that (I found out on my own) he was actually a little shy. He didn't like himself as I thought he did. But he was determined. "Determined to protect those I love," he whispered weakly, and I knew he thought he failed. 

It took one week for me to realize I felt more for my friend than only friendship. Everytime we were together, even during these rough times, he made me smile. He was the most beautiful person I had ever seen. He was like an angel to me. His dark hair and amazing eyes gave me a weird feeling, warm and new. Butterflies flew through my stomach every time I saw him. And every time he wasn't with me, I had this unknown desire, some new kind of thirst for him. I wanted to hold him tight, feeling his warmth. I even dreamed about him. My heart began to beat faster, only because I thought about him.

Then, the unthinkable happened. It was the fourth day of the second week of the Games. There were only 5 tributes left. They even had interviewed Fenton and his family, asking questions about Erik. Fenton was so happy, he actually believed his brother would return home soon. But he didn't. The last remaining Career, the boy from 1, ran into him, somewhere in the woods in the dessert. Erik had lost his sword -although he hadn't even used it very much-, so he was unarmed. He ran for his life, but the Career-boy was faster. He stabbed him, in his back. Erik screamed, a scream full of pain. He fell on the sand, and there he died.

Fenton was broken. He didn't talk for two weeks. He didn't cry either. He hadn't the strength to cry, I thought. He just remained silent. He didn't even speak to me. I left him alone, I allowed him his time and space. But I missed him. I was mourning for Erik too, of course. The day of his funeral, after the Capitol sended his body back, it rained. It never rains in District 10. But that day it did. And it made the funeral even more beautiful. In a way a funeral could be beautiful. It was more moving than Eleonora's was. Maybe because Erik was some kind of family for me, because of my friendship with Fenton. I couldn't keep my eyes of the 15 years old boy, with his tousled hair and bright blue eyes, who weren't red at all. Even today he couldn't cry.

When the ceremony was over, I couldn't take it any longer. I left my family, walked towards him and pulled him with me, in one of the alleyways that came out on the square. Than we were alone, and he still didn't say a thing. "Fenton," I whispered. I couldn't think of anything to say. I just looked at him, while the rain kept pouring over me. I was cold and wet, and I started crying. He just stood there, watching me. Suddenly, the words came tumbeling out of my mouth. "Fenton, I know you're sad. I am too. It's rude of me to be so selfish now, but I miss you. I hate it when you don't talk to me, and I don't want you to be away from me. I... I..." I sighed, tears running down my face. "I think I'm in love with you."

My vision was blurred by the raindrops and my tears, but I still could see him watching me. He looked me right in the eye, still without saying anything. His face was emotionless, except for the grief. The only thing I could think of was: "He doesn't love me!" I stared at the ground, ashamed. I wanted to run away, so I turned away from him. But surprisely he took my hand and pulled me back, close to him. Without saying one word, he gently pressed his lips against mine. My heart skipped a beat. Warmth flowed through my veins, although it  was still raining. I closed my eyes, enjoying my first kiss, full of passion and love and underneath that, the pain we both felt for the death of Erik. I was 12 years old and I got my first kiss, from the boy I knew best. He pulled back, which I didn't want. He wrapped his arms around me and hold me even closer than he did before. "I love you," were the first words he said in weeks.

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