Beware the Children

Alabaster has planned for this moment her entire life...soon, she thinks, she will be a District 1 Tribute, and soon after that she'll be a Victor. It should be simple for someone so strong and ruthless to win...but there are surprises waiting for her in the 57th Hunger Games.


4. All Eyes On Me

As we approach the Square, the crowd parts for us.  Anyone in line to be registered as present steps back to let us pass, falling into a cluster behind us.  It's only to be expected.  We're saving their asses, after all.  A little respect is due.  

It's all a bit of a blur, after that.  I make sure to look calm and collected.  Not bored, that makes me look too arrogant.  People will think I make mistakes, that I'll get sloppy in the Arena.  Not too uninterested, they'll think I'm stuck-up.  Dahlia Quill wobbles around onstage in shoes that, like mine, are silver. So I chose more wisely than I thought.  She's new to this and fumbles a little with the paper, almost dropping it when she draws the slip.  The crowd titters and she makes a joke about wearing the wrong gloves, holding them up for a moment and winking at the camera.  Her gloves are slick and covered in tiny mirrors that match the reflective ribbons wrapped around her hair.  I hope she's better at handling our schedules than she is at choosing gloves.The name is read aloud and it isn't anyone we know.  Guess no one gets treated fancy tonight.  Well, except Dazzle in her mini-skirt.  I saw a few boys looking more than once.  Dahlia waits a few moments, politely leaving a moment of silence for the interruption that everyone knows is coming.  I wonder what they would do if, just one year, no one volunteered.  That would be pretty funny, watching some poor kid sweat as they realize they're going to the Games after all?  It would almost be worth it.  Almost.

Up goes my hand and my face appears on the giant screens scattered around the stage.  All eyes are on me.  Everything feels right.  Everything is as it should be.  

"I volunteer as tribute."

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