The sun was setting and I was still up in a tree snatching up the remaining velvety sunset like fruits, before the flag went up. I climbed higher so I would see it. I shoved a peach in my pocket hoping no one would catch me. The peacekeepers had a careful eye out for smugglers. For most that is the only way of going to sleep without a grumbly tummy. I plucked a few more peaches before whistling my song and stealthily climbing out of the tree to dump my basket and check out for bed. I picked the peaches out of the basket one by one careful not to bruise them, because i had seen what happened to the children who bruised the fruit. Ended up with a bruised behind. My friend Zaki was one of the few unlucky children to be scolded by the peace keepers. I finished clearing the basket of the soft fruit with the peacekeepers eyes burning holes through me, and headed though the orchard gates.
On my way to the scrubby old shack, I share with my siblings and parents. I am one of the lucky one to be able to come home to a house and family. Most girls my age had parents “taken away”, and siblings either fell to their certain doom or beaten to death. I met up with Zaki who was on his way for his night shift as a sorter. I pondered whether to share the fresh peach with him or my family. Zaki was headed there early hoping to bump into Rue.
“Come on I found something, Rue” Zaki whispered tugging at my arm to come.
I curled her hand around the peach and followed him at a collected sprint. I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw “THE FENCE”. Zaki looked at me as if to say “whats wrong?”. To terrified to speak I obediently walked on.
“Follow me” Zaki whispered very loudly as he sprang up the tree. and crawled out as far as he dared to on a branch, and took a flying leap to just in time grab the branch. It sagged under his weight as he crawled to safety. I took a deep breath before mirroring his silent movements, and crawled down the tree. I followed Zaki through the dense forest until he stopped looking up at a hollowed out voluminous tree. Zaki ducked into the tree and pulled me in so my nose was at his chest.
“This is what you wanted to show me?” I asked looking up into his colorful brown eyes.
“No I just wanted to speak with you before your first reaping day.”Zaki replied pulling my small body into a hug.
I gave him a big toothy grin. He smiled back, chuckling a little.
“As you know, the odds aren’t in either of out favours, but you have more tesserae then me because you feed your whole family… it’s just me who I feed. You have the most tesserae out of the whole district because you have the largest family”
“No you’re just over exaggerating” I lied know I have one of the biggest families and my mother can’t work and 1 of my brothers is to young, and being the oldest child Iam the only one eligible to a tesserae. The whole family know that my her name was going to be pulled out of the glass bowl.
“And if your name does get reaped” continued Zaki “I will help your family in any way I can.”
“Thank-you Zaki!” I say squeezing his waist. When I close my eyes a tear snuck out of my betraying eyes.
Together knowing that Zaki had to go for work soon, we climbed to the top of the hollow and slipped through a hole and sat on a branch. I looked around to comfort myself and uncovered the peach. Zaki and I drool over the peach oozing juice all over my hands as I sliced it in halve careful to not cut my fingers and to not drip the juice on the ground. I handed half to Zaki as he stared at it in amazement, speechless.
“Where did you get this?” He finally spoke in awe
I replied “I smuggled it in my pocket.” Giggling.
On their way back Zaki and I split ways. I crept inside to her spot on the wooden floor beside her sister in the one room shack. I lay their praying that my name would not be called tomorrow. At last after what felt like a century I fell asleep.
The next morning there was a commotion so I slipped outside into the stream to scrape some of the dirt off, not that it mattered because my skin is so dark and freckled it just blends in. I stripped of my ratty dress and wadded in scrubbing my hair, feet and face. I lay there in her underwear letting the warm sun dry my body.
After I was dry I slipped my dress back on and walked in the house my mother guided me towards a cabinet with a missing hinge and mother pulled out a clean yellow, flower patterned dress.
“Wear it with pride, Rue!” mother said with a warm grin.
We walked down to the town square were everyone was gathered I searched the crowd for Zaki, and spotted him in the line to be identified as; Zakithe Kadalul. I was called up to the table by a grouchy looking woman to be checked in and identified. She then herded by the peacekeepers to the pen like area fenced off from the ineligible. She met up with some fellow employees hugging then, kissing their cheeks, wishing them luck. They stood all huddled together at the person on the stage started speaking about the history of North America, about Panem, and the dark days.
“… the hunger games is a reminder of… to keep our country peaceful…”The speaker babbled on the same speech every year, and finally ending with a famous “May the odds be ever in your favor” The tall, pale man standing up at the front who just finished his speech walked over to one of the glass balls and reached in and pulled out a piece of paper which he unfolded with his long perfect nails. His voice boomed around the square. “Rue Stenberg!” I stood there in horror recognizing my name. My name was repeated “Rue Stenberg?”
I walked up to the front and climbed the stairs to the stage.