It had been moths since I had gotten a glance of Clove. After the short embrace we had before we had been ripped apart by the peace keepers and instructors, I hadn't seen her for a long time. Once, a little while after that I, thought I saw her brown hair and short, thin figure passing through a crowd. I called her name but it either wasn't her or she didn't hear me. Today I knew I'd be seeing her again, but not under good circumstances. Today was The Reaping. Everyone believes that in District 2 we WANT to be in the games, that we've been training for this and want to show off our skills. In reality, we're all terrified. No one wants to be sent away to kill to a cruel game of kill or be killed.
I was being forced to wear a blue button up shirt with a collar that itched. I was wearing formal khakis and my tousled blond hair had been smoothed back with a lot of gel. I had been sprayed with a strong cologne that smelled horrible to me. They made me brush my teeth for a ridiculous amount of time. I wondered what Clove looked like. She was beautiful without being scrubbed clean and put in fancy clothes. However, I could only imagine how lovely she looked in her dress, with her hair done up. I was day dreaming about her when I was smacked by the instructor.
"Quit dreaming, boy. We've got to go to the reaping!"
I felt beads of sweat form on my forehead. I gulped and followed him down the hallway. The Reaping was held in a big stadium where we stood in neat lines after being checked in. I felt my palms grow extra sweating. Suddenly I felt dizzy and uncomfortable. I wanted to sit down. I wanted to take off my tight dress shoes and itchy shirt. I wanted to be back in the valley with Clove, but I had to keep walking, so I did. As soon as I entered the stadium and searched the crowd for Clove. I scanned the room for her soft brown hair and skinny frame, but I couldn't find her. I wasn't going to the give up though. I craned my neck as far as I could but I couldn't see her! Then, just as I was being pushed to my spot by my instructorI saw her. I only saw her back but I knew it was her. The sleek brown hair, skinny waist and short figure seemed to glow in the light and I KNEW that it was Clove. I wanted to run up to her but I was shoved into my row and told to stand still as everyone else filed in. I knew that if I looked for Clove again I would be punished. The punishment meant my name being slipped the bowl of names one more time. So I stood their, feeling like the stomach was tied in knots.
Then a lady dressed in crazy clothes with an extravagant hair do stepped onto the stage.
"Hello District 2! Are you excited?" She didn't wait for an answer before going on. "Now, here's a video all the way from the Capitol!"
She showed a video explaining the rules of The Hunger Games and how our history got us here blah blah blah. Then, it was time for the reaping.
"Happy Hunger Games! Now, for the girls!" The lady stuck her had into the bowl. She floated it around for a few second before grasping one slip of paper. She pulled it out and opened the small envelope. Then she announced the girl's name. When she said it I felt my head pounding so hard I thought it would explode. I waned to scream but I knew I had to control myself. I might not be able to get words out anyways. The name was Clove.
Before I had time to even start to process that Clove was going to the Hunger Games the name of the boy tribute was announced. It was a twelve year old boy that I had barely ever talked to, but he trained at the academy. I knew he had four brothers, but none of them volunteered. That was when the crazy thoughts came. As the young boy walked up to the stage nervously all I could think about was how Clove was going to die alone and I would never be able to see her again... unless I volunteered. I had to think fast. I felt like my mind was about to explode as the boy got closer to Clove, and Clove stared at me from the stage, a mixture of fear, dread, and loss of hope displayed on her face. Desperate to be with Clove again, I made the rash decision to step out of line.
"I volunteer as tribute!" I cried out. "I volunteer!"
An audible gasp arose from the crowd. I could read the expression on everyone's face. They were all wondering why I'd volunteer for a boy I didn't know. Clove stared at me form the stage. Her face so twisted with emotion it was almost unreadable. She was sad, and mad and me for volunteering, but at the same time she was relieved and hopeful.
"Cato!" A familiar voice cried out form the crowd. I turned to see my mother staring at me from the back of the crowd. My father was holding her tight. She was sobbing and my father was trying hard not too. I had forgotten about them. I had only been thinking about Clove, not about how my parents had been praying that my name wasn't called, and then I volunteered for a random boy. I'm sorry I mouthed at them, hoping that they understood. I should have thought more carefully. I would never see them again now. I blew a kiss and mouthed I love you and I'm so, so sorry!
"Do we have a volunteer?" The lady asked, dragging me back into the harsh reality.
I slowly walked up to the stage, my eyes fixed on Clove, who looked like she was going to cry for so many reasons. She wouldn't though. I knew Clove was too strong for that, or at least she pretended to be. As I was walking the young boy that had been chosen ran up and hugged me. He was still shaking with fright.
"Thank you!" he whispered to me, squeezing me tightly. He was crying, but trying to hide it. He was attempting to be strong, but as he let go of me and walked off I could see tears in his eyes and dark wet spot on his pants that he was trying to hide with his hands. I I had saved this boy's life. A twelve year old that cried and wet himself when chosen as tribute would never win the games. Despite everything that was happening, despite knowing that I'd let down my family and would now definitely die, at least I had could be with Clove and at least I had saved this kid's life.
As I stepped onto the stage the lady that had pulled the names positioned me in the right spot.
"What's your name, boy?" she asked.
I stated my name, making sure my voice didn't waver. Now was not the time to sound weak.
"Was that boy your family? Or perhaps a close friend?" She asked.
I looked over at Clove. "No"
The crowd was silent.
"Now, shake hands you too," The lady told Clove and me, after an awkward silence.
Clove and I stared at each other, knowing what we were supposed to do. We were supposed to walk up to each other and shake each other's hand respectively, but we both had other ideas. At that moment it seemed like time had slowed down and we were the only two people in that big stadium. We ran to each other and Clove jumped into my arms. She tackled me with a bear hug and wrapped her legs around my waist. She wrapped her arms around my neck and buried her face in my shoulder. I almost fell over, but I managed not to. She smelled just like she always did and her embrace was all I needed to melt my anxiety away. We held onto each other for a long time until the lady cleared her throat. We separated, smiling at each other sadly.
"I'm assuming you two know each other?" The lady asked with a small laugh.
We both nodded and the crowd was forced to clap for us. Once we were off stage I went in for another hug and Clove slapped me on the face.
"How dare you?" Clove asked me angrily. "How dare you volunteer? Now we're either both going to die or one of us will have to live without the other, you idiot! You know that both of us won't make it out of here alive."
"I know, but if I hadn't volunteered I would have probably never seen you again. You're strong, but the odds of you beating 23 other people are slim and I couldn't lose you. If you're going to die I am too," I said strongly, "I love you, Clove." I said, my voice softening.
"I love you too, you idiot," she said and wrapped her arms around me once more.