Growing up in District Four, I have always been close to the water. Touching it, walking in it, drinking it; it was always close by. My mother and father were fishhook makers, so anyone could always find me sitting on my porch, looking out at the ocean, and twirling a fishhook between my fingers.
My family was always happy. We'd always eat meals together, walk to school together, went absolutely everywhere together. Well, until the 31st Hunger Games.
I was eight, not old enough to be in the Reaping, but I could watch my brother and sister, who were so many years older than me. Bereda Trinket walked over to the girl's bowl first, pulling out the one name I always hoped I'd never hear: My sister's.
She went in, and she came out, but we never saw her again. First, the Capitol told us she was going through special everyday therapy for the trauma she experienced from the Games, but then we got the last letter, telling us that she was to stay in the Capitol for "classified business." My family was never the same after that. But even then, my brother would take my baby brother and I to the ocean, and we'd stare out, never speaking, never having to.
On the day of the Reaping of the 38th annual Hunger Games, my older brother sat next to me and held my hand, rubbing it gently.
"You're gonna come back," he whispered, "Whether it be from the Square or from the Games, you're coming back." My brother was trying to comfort me, but deep down inside, I knew he was reassuring himself that he wouldn't lose another sister.
I put my arm around his shoulder, kissed his cheek, leaned into his ear, and murmured, "Oh, I'm coming back. But not without a fight." I felt the smirk grow on his face before I got up and went to get dressed.
Having long, black hair has benefits. First of all, I could do whatever I wanted with it. For today, I made a rose bun, which was taught to me many years ago by my grandmother. After that, I slipped into a long blue and white dress that I had saved up to buy. For the Reaping, everyone was required to wear blue or white.
As I was leaving, I picked my little brother up and gave him a kiss. Then, I walked over to my parents, who sat at the kitchen table, a picture of my sister in their hands. I leaned down and kissed each of their cheeks. "Don't worry, I'm comin' back." Then, I left for the Square.
My parents never came to the Square for any Reaping, so only my brothers would be there. As I walked down, I caught up with a couple of friends from school and we all walked together in silence. My finger got pricked and I made my way into line. Looking at all the little kids ahead of me, I almost cried. They were so young.
After everyone was ready, Bereda Trinket walked onto the stage. "Welcome, boys and girls, to the Reaping of the 38th Hunger Games! But, before we begin, we have a showing from our beloved President Snow!" She looked behind her as a video came on, the same video every year.
Once the video was over, Bereda walked back to the microphone. "Now, like every year, ladies first!" She slowed walked over to the bowl on our side, taking her precious time with heels at least four inches tall.
She stuck her hand in, fishing around for a few seconds. Then, there was a slip in her fingers and she walked back over.
Carefully opening the slip. Clearing her throat.
"Felicity Noore!" Echoed through the Square. Many heads turned to the front of the Square. And then, she came out, slowly, on crutches. You could see her limp, her legs that would never heal, that she was born with.
No. No, she can't go in. A battle went on in my head as I stepped out of my place in line, Peacekeepers immediately coming on me. No, I'm gonna say it.
"I volunteer!" I screamed, and the Peacekeepers immediately let go of me. Then, I calmed down a little. "I volunteer as tribute for Felicity Noore!" I yelled a little softer.
Then, the Peacekeepers escorted me up to the stage, Bereda grabbing my hand and leading me to my standing spot. "What's your name dear?"
I leaned over to the microphone. "Greita Fenster."
She nodded. "Do you know Felicity Noore?"
"No, I do not."
Bereda nodded again and announced, "And now for the men!" She slowly walked over and picked the first name on top. Carefully, she opened it.
"Zan Underfeld!" Heads turned to the back of the boy's section, and it hit me. I knew who Zan was.
Slowly, Peacekeepers escorted him up to the stage and put him on the opposite side of Bereda.
"Lovely! Well, may the odds be ever in your favor!" She stepped back, making room for us to shake hands. I reached out first, his rather large hand cocooning mine. Then, we were escorted to where we'd say our goodbyes.