The ReapingI woke up suddenly, with the smell of sweat stuck in my nostrils. I looked up and saw Helen, my adopted mother. "Willow, are you OK?” I could see her eyes were swollen with tears. It’s today. Reaping day. The day when two innocent kids get taken away from their home and fight to the death. I made my back sit upright and looked at her. “Yeah.” Her eyes widened. She gave me a terrified look with some sort of depression in it. "I know that look. What’s wrong?” By that time, Alan came in, with a face as cold as rock. “Get up, you stubborn ogre.” I sighed, as Helen stared at Alan with anger. He looked at her, drunkenly. I could tell that he had been drinking last night. I looked behind them to see Katniss and Gale, waiting for me. I jumped out of bed and got dressed in my hunting clothes quickly.
“Got to go, see you later.” I raced out of the door before they could say anything.
I looked at Gale, and smiled weakly. He frowned, and asked me if I was alright.
"You sure? Because I was out here for about 10 minutes…"
"Gale, it’s fine. She just slept in.” Katniss answered.
The Everdeen and Hawthorne families have been so kind to me for the past 3 years, I don't know how to thank them anymore. They’re like my second families.
"Well, come on. If we want to catch some food we better get going." Gale said.
So, the three of us started to walk at a slow pace. Barely anyone was ready for today. Luckily, I was, because I wasn’t afraid of anything really. Well, everyone’s afraid of something, but I don’t know my fear yet. Gale's facial expression, however, wasn't scared, but angry. And I don't blame him. I hate the hunger games, I hate the Capitol, and I hate President Snow.
"Bullseye", Katniss declared in a soft tone as she hit one of the birds flying in the air with an arrow.
"Every time" I murmured under my breath. Nobody could beat her in archery. And she taught no one her secret but me. I was actually pretty good at archery, but could never beat her at it. We decided to take a break after managing to catch a bag full of birds and squirrels.
"You guys nervous?" Katniss asks, breaking the silence.
"Kind of." Gale responds with a straight face.
"Nope.” I say blankly
“How could you say that, it’s the hunger games?” Katniss questions.
“What’s there to be scared of?” I reply back, with no emotion.
“President Snow?! Killing innocent kids?! Blood?!”
“Well, I’m not scared.” I say, persistently.
"I brought you girls something," Gale blurts out, breaking the fight. He went to his bag and held out a loaf of bread. It was fresh and calling our mouths to chew unto it.
"Oh my gosh! Is this real?!" Katniss choked out.
"Hopefully.” I say. She grabbed it from his hands and smelt it. Gosh, it had been a while since I saw anything like it. But then again, it reminded me of Peeta Mellark, the bread boy who works down at the bakery. He must be one of the wealthiest people in District 12. His brother, Luke, saved us from starving and even had a beating for it. I've always respected him for that, but I've never met him in person. Probably because he doesn't live in my area.
"Happy hunger games." Gale states.
"How many times has your name gone in?"
"42. Guess the odds aren't exactly in my favour."
"30.” I reply. Gale and I share a look and know what Katniss was going to ask. The question that we’ve all been dreading.
"What about Prim?"
"Her name's been in there once. They're not going to pick her Katniss." Gale replies. I think about it for a second. No, Willow, she won't get picked. Listen to Gale's advice.
"We better head back. It's almost time" I say.
Katniss jumped off the ground and paced herself so that she was ahead of us. Gale offered to wait for me, and I accepted. He pulled me up and we trudged along the grass. I wanted to hold Gale’s hand, but I knew that I couldn’t rely on him when I was alone, so I toughen up and went on.
"Is anyone ok today?" I moaned as we caught up with Katniss. She turned, and sighed. “Come on, let’s go…”
--Two hours later--
"Happy hunger games! And may the odds be ever in your favour!" I hear Effie Trinket state. She was wearing a purple dress with a ridiculous amount of makeup and happiness. “Can we put on the video?” Everyone sighed, as the video started about how the capitol is in control and blah blah blah. I zoned out for about most of it, until Effie finally said, "Ladies first." This was it. I could feel my heart bashing against my skin softly though, as I wasn’t scared just worried who might get picked. I turned towards Gale from the other side of the area. He quickly studied my face and smiled reassuringly.
I felt Katniss' hand tighten around my arm and was about to scream but I stopped her. "Katniss, stop. I've got an idea.", I whisper to her. Her face was covered with fear.
"I volunteer!", I shout loudly. Katniss’ jaw drops.
"Willow, don’t do it!"
I let go of her grip and walk towards the stage. Prim was yelling too. "Willow!"
Gale budged through the crowd and picked up Prim. I looked at him and gave a stern thanks with my eyes. I was then taken by the peacekeepers to the stage and Effie gave me her hand. "Come along, dear. What's your name?" I responded with my name. "Willow Streams." Her hands were soft and delicate, nothing like mine.
“WOW! The first ever District 12 volunteer! How exciting!” she giggles.
"Now for the boys......Luke Mellark."
Mellark. He saved my life. My heart sunk to the bottom of my stomach. I might have to kill him in the arena. But as he was walking his way to the stage, I turned to Gale again, only to realize that he might volunteer. My deep and begging eyes forced his mouth to be silent, as I would not ever forgive him if he volunteered. I watched as Luke was taken to the stage. He peered at me and gave me a sad, yet satisfying smile.
"Our tributes of this year's 74th annual hunger games. Willow Streams and Luke Mellark, let's give them a round of applause!" She said, starting to clap her hands, but slowly died off. Instead, everyone raised three of their fingers in the air, a sign of respect.