"Hollie! Hollie! Hollie, wake up! You'll be late for the reaping!" my mum called out, flicking the lights on and off in my room. I groaned and buried my face in my lilac-scented pillow. "HOLLIE GWENDOLYN AUSTIN! WAKE UP!" my mum screamed. I shot up straight in bed and looked at the time. Dammit! I'd be late! I hopped out of bed and dressed in the light yellow dress Mum sat out for me. I smiled. It used to be my older sister Hana's before she outgrew the reaping. Now she was married with a 12 year old names Delia. It was her first year in the reaping, and Hana was worried she'd get reaped. I slipped on my black flats, pulled my raven hair into a braid, pulled on the silver bracelet I had gotten for my birthday, and walked out the door to find Hana, Delia, Cora, Felix, and Mum waiting. They didn't say anything, just took off to the Square where the names would be chosen. It was sick. They throw us into an arena to fight to the death for freaking entertainment. That was their idea of fun. Like I said, it was sick. We arrived at the square and got in line to get our fingers pricked. After that, I bent down and looked at my two siblings and niece. "Listen guys. When it's over, I'll find you and take you home, okay?" They all nodded and we took our places, me with the 15 year olds , Cora and Felix with the 13 year olds, and Delia with the 12 year olds. The District 3 representative,
Tallulah Trinket, stepped up onto the stage. Her hair was bright purple, as well as the rest of her outfit. "Welcome! Welcome! Happy Hunger Games and may the odds be ever in your favor! Now, before we begin, we have a very special film brought to you all the way from the Capitol!" she squealed happily. The video played and I tuned it out - I'd seen it 14 times before. I didn't really need to see it again. Tallulah sighed at the end . "I just love that! Now, it is time to pick two courageous young men and women to compete in the 74th Hunger Games! As usual, ladies first." She walked over to the girls' bowl and plucked a name from it, taking her time walking back to the microphone. "Delia Evans." A gasp of horror escaped my mouth. No. "No!" I shouted, trying to get to Delia. "No! I VOLUNTEER! I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!" Tallulah smiled. "Well, it looks like we have a volunteer. Come up to the stage sweetie, don't be shy." I walked up to the stage. What had I done? I just volunteer for the Hunger Games! "Now, what's your name?" Tallulah asked me, holding the microphone to my mouth. "Hollie Austin," I whispered. "Now, for the boys!" Tallulah walked over to the boys' bowl and grabbed a piece of paper. "Felix Austin." No. No, this couldn't be happening. Not Felix. Then a shout came from the crowd. "I volunteer as tribute!" I looked and saw a boy about my age with spiky dark red hair walking up to the stage. It was all I could do to not hug him. He just saved Felix. I don't think Tallulah's smile could have gotten any wider, she was grinning like the Cheshire Cat, for God's sake! "What's your name?" she asked the boy. He looked into the crowd. "Ross Griffin." Still grinning, Tallulah commanded us to shake hands. We obeyed. Ross's hand was big and warm compared to my cold, tiny one. We walked back into the Justice Building for good-byes. The door opened and Hana, Delia, Felix, Cora, and my mum burst in. Hana immediately swept me up in a bone-crushing hug. "Oh my God, Hollie, thank you so much. You saved Delia." I hugged her back, trying to keep the tears in. She let go and Delia hugged me next. "Hollie, thank you." I just nodded. "Please, will you try to win? Please, try to come back. You can use a bow." I smiled at her. "Of course I'll try." She hugged me once more before Felix and Cora ran up and gripped me so tight, I thought I'd die before the Games. Felix looked so relieved and I was happy Ross had volunteered for him. I wouldn't have been able to kill him. Cora started sobbing into my dress. I pulled her back by the shoulders and looked her in the eye. "Cora, don't cry, okay? I'll come back, I promise." She just nodded before my mum pushed them away and hugged me. I hugged her back, on the verge of crying. She looked at me. "Hollie, listen. You are amazing with a bow and arrow. You will win these Games. Come back to us, okay?" I nodded. She hugged me on last time before leaving with the others. As soon as they left, my best friend Leah ran in and hugged me. "Oh my God, Hollie! You have to come out!" I nodded again. "You're my only friend. My best one too. Please come back for me."
"I will, Leah, I will." She smiled at me and left, there must be more visitors. I didn't know who, though. The door opened and Jared, Hana's husband walked in. Come to think of it, I hadn't seen him at the reaping. He must have been working. He cleared his throat. "Hollie. I just heard what happened. Thank you, for volunteering for Delia. It means a lot." I smiled. "It's no problem. She's my niece, of course I'll volunteer for her." He smiled briefly at me and left. Two Peacekeepers came in to get me. I followed them out to the train, searching for a glimpse of my family, anything, so I would remember them forever. I saw them, waving good-bye sadly. I waved back, then left the window and sat down next to Ross. Tallulah smiled at us. "I'll just go find Beetee and Wiress." She walked out and left me and Ross alone. I looked at him curiously. "Why did you do it? Volunteer for my brother?" I asked. He shrugged. "I don't know. He just seemed too young, not able to defend himself. At least I'd stand a chance. Besides, I didn't think your family would be able to handle it." I smiled at him. "Well, thank you. It means a lot to us." He just nodded in acknowledgement as Tallulah walked in with Beetee and Wiress.