Chapter 3: Saying Good-Bye
My mom woke me up early in the morning for the Reaping. I hopped out of bed, and went downstairs for breakfast before I got dressed. At the breakfast table, everyone was quiet except for Lucy. She just kept babbling on about the book mom had read last night. My parents had made my favorite breakfast food, an english muffin sandwich with eggs, ham, and cheese on it. "That was really good, dad!" I said as I wiped my mouth on my napkin. "Thanks." He mumbled. Why were they so worried? I had only two slips. TWO slips out of thousands. I sighed and excused myself up to my room.
I quickly pulled on my white cotton dress that mom had picked out last night. It floated just above my knees and was suprisingly comfortable. Next, I put my hair back into my usual ponytail with a curve. I wore it like that everyday, why not today? Then I opened the box with my grandma's headband in it. I carefully slid it into place, as my mom came into my room to look at me. She sighed, "You look so grown up." I rolled my eyes but she didn't see. "Thanks, mom." I said sarcastically. We sat there in an awkward silence until my dad called up, "Time to go!" As we walked to the square, Lucy skipped ahead of us singing some ridiculous song. I checked myself in and got into line with the other 13-year olds. I chatted with them until the Reaping started. A couple of minutes later, everyone got quiet as our Games escort, Jessie Jenkins, got up on the stage with her gaudy purple dress on. "Welcome, welcome!" She said in a very high voice. "Welcome to the Reaping of the 72nd annual Hunger Games! Let's do ladies first!" She said. She went over to the crystal ball that held all the girls' names. Please don't be me, Please don't be me, Please don't be me. I thought. Her purple-nailed hand wavered over the top of the girls' names, then dug down deep for a slip. She took it over to the microphone and announced the name. "Syminara Lombardi!" She said.
The only thing I could hear was my parents crying and Lucy asking if I had won anything and why I was going up there. I had won death. I thought. I was picked out among the 13-year olds and escorted up to the stage by the Peacekeepers. While I stood up there I saw my parents, looking white-faced, holding Lucy and telling her what happen. I came back to reality just as Jessie Jenkins was putting her hand into the boys' crystal ball. She pulled out a slip and read in a high clear voice, "Aspen Niger!" Oh no, oh no. I thought. This can't be happening, this can't be happening. Aspen came up looking like he was going to throw up all over his nice white shirt. He looked over at me and his face seemed to be saying. I can't kill you! I nodded as if understanding as Jessie said, "Any volunteers?" Then I heard a shout from the boys' section saying, "I VOLUNTEER!" A relieved Aspen was taken down by Peacekeepers and a somewhat muscular boy with dark brown hair and blue eyes came up. Jessie asked what his name was and he said into the microphone, "Josh Hawkins." That name was familiar, but I didn't know him. Then Jessie said, "Splendid! Well District Six, I give you your tributes, Syminara Lombardi and Josh Hawkins!" She then clapped, but to my suprise nobody else did. Then something quite incredible happened, everyone in the crowd raised their hands and waved good-bye to us. I almost cried, but I remembered everything from now on would effect how I placed in the games. But I did smile.
The Peacekeepers ushered us into the Justice Building and my family came into my room. Lucy was crying now, because even though she was seven, she understood everything now. They hugged me tightly and Lucy said, "Sym will you be back?" I really tried not to cry as I said, "I will try as hard as I can, Lucy." My parents obviously knew I wouldn't be coming back, but they still humored Lucy saying, "Sym will come back, Lucy. She'll come back." My mom and dad hugged me again and my mom said, 'Sym will you take grandma's headband, the one you have on now, to the games as your token? Please?" How could I say no? "Yes mom, I will." I said. Then the Peacekeepers were ushering them out as another visitor came in. I was a little suprised to see Aspen. "I'm sorry, Sym." He said. Even though we didn't have anything romantic going on, he hugged me. I was suprised at first, but then hugged him back fiercly. As he pulled away he said, "District Six will finally have a victor this year." Then the Peacekeepers took him out and another suprising visitor came, Tristan. "I should have volunteered." He said. "No, you shouldn't have." I said. "You need to get through school." Also the idea of kinda overweight Tristan going into the arena was not helping my mood. "Tristan look at me." I said as he looked up. "I may not be there to help you, but you will get through without me, okay. You're a smart kid Tristan, you can do this. Alright?" He hugged me as he said, "Alright. But I know you'll come home." That was a laugh, but I didn't say anything as the Peacekeepers led him away.
Before I had time to do anything else, me and Josh were being escorted to the train that would take us to the Capital. Camera lights flashed into our faces and I smiled a confident smile, still remembering that every action effected what sponsers I got. Josh, on the other hand, had an emotionless mask on, allowing nobody to see what he was feeling. Once on board, I sat on one of the comfy seats while the train whooshed by leaving District Six, and my life, behind.