Boris Axelman – 16 Years Old

District 7 Male

Stinging cold water stabs into my skin as I start to clean the dishes.

My senses kick in instantly, flinching the moment the water comes in contact with my hands. It burns like hell funnily enough, but I quickly just shake it off and try to ignore it as I start cleaning the plates stacked next to me.

The water pours heavily onto the dishes as I quickly submerge the plates in foamy soap and scrub away with the sponge. Bits and pieces of meat and mashed potatoes from last night's meal slowly disintegrate from the plate, fading away into nothing until the dish is pristine white. They sparkle and glisten in the sun's light that enters through our home windows, making me squint before putting the plates under the sink water to wash away the soap. Once the soap and studs are gone, I put the plate on a dish rack to dry and start the process all over again.

It's strangely satisfying to watch the filth disappear from the plates and glasses as I scrub away. It somehow makes me content knowing that I'm the reason it goes away, like an all-powerful emperor ridding the land of all wicked and evil until only peace remains. Sure, the water burns thanks to how cold it is, but all task comes with danger and pain, right? Why not do it and come out with bruises and scrapes, knowing you still accomplished something great.

Technically I don't have to do this since it's Kelsi's job, but sitting around in the house all day waiting for the reaping to happen is a boring chore for me to do on its own. Besides, someone's got to clean the dishes, don't want to reuse dirty plates and potentially get sick or something. Even though the water is freezing right now, It doesn't bother since I'm pretty much used to the feeling of numb fingers and aching hands.

That's the cost of hard work, and it shows at least once you're done with it. For me, every day is about work, that's all it is anymore. Work from the morning, all the way until dusk, then we go to sleep and do it all over again the next day. Even during holidays where workers like me aren't sent into the woods to chop down trees, there is always work to do at home. Wash the dishes, do the laundry, clean the house, prepare dinner, the essentials that every household has to accommodate.

Sure it's boring as hell, but at least you're doing something about a situation instead of sitting around wasting away.

If only today we were working in the forest. It would sure help take my mind off the games better then dishes could. It's hard to really think that I have only two years left after this if I'm not chosen today, which would be a miracle thanks to the stupid tessera I have to take every year. I think at least I have twenty slips, or maybe thirty.

Whatever the case is, my odds aren't looking so good this year.

My hands instinctively read for another plate once I'm done cleaning Pine's most used glass that she drinks from when I quickly find that there's nothing else for me to wash. So much for cleaning the dishes, now what am I supposed to do?

Shaking my head, I grab the dish towel and clean my hands before looking around for something to do. The house is clean neat and tidy for the most part, and I know that dinner is already taken care of for tonight with the reaping and all. Dad is out, probably shopping for some the ingredients we need tonight for our feast, so can't go shopping either.

The laundry is being done by both Pine and mom outside, they've been at it for a while now making sure everything is washed nice and good. They probably have everything under control since they've been washing laundry forever, but maybe I could help and pass the time chatting with them.

Agreeing with the plan, I grab my coat and head into the backyard.

The second my foot lands on the grass outside, I start shivering before I can even stop myself. It's way too cold to be doing anything right now, but I see both my mother and sister washing away with two tubs of water near them. The clothesline is filled with wet clothes that blow in the breeze. They seem like they're almost about done now.

I step over to them to see their faces. Pine's eyes are seeped in concentration as she dips one of Martin's shirts into the tub full of soap and detergent. She seems quiet as she does this, not even noticing me as she continues with the process.

My mother, on the other hand, notices me approaching instantly, somehow sensing my presence before I even have a chance to speak.

"No Boris," she says calmly, "we don't need any help at the moment. We're almost done now anyway."

It's funny how my mom works sometimes, knowing exactly what people are going to say before she even has to speak to them. She's special like that, knowing all of our wants and needs to understand what we're going to say before we even say it.

"You sure?" I ask, "I can still help."

Pine chuckles as she dips Kelsi's skirt into the soapy tub.

"We really don't need you cracking the whip while we do this," she says, "besides, don't you have the reaping to worry about-"

Before Pine can finish, mom gives her a simple look to tell her to stop talking. I know what she was trying to say though before mom cut her off. Me taking tessera for four years now, and being sixteen doesn't really make this year's reaping look so well for me.

Even if I did get selected, I don't think I would mind too much. As long as everyone else in my family is safe, I would be okay going to a slaughterhouse filled with fear induced children.

"We're fine Boris," mom says, "how about you check in on Martin instead."

Something to think about other than the reaping, good.

"Okay," I say, "I guess I'll let you guys back at it then."

"Will do sheriff," Pine says.

"See you soon Boris," mom replies, "we're almost done anyway."

I nod to mom and quickly go inside. It's not much warmer when I close the doors, but I can certainly feel the difference around me. Everything feels so much better in this tiny house of ours, even if it is a bit small.

It's a quick trip to Martin's room, and I can already tell before opening the door that he's sleeping. His snoring is so loud it could practically wake up a bear from hibernation. What I am surprised by is that he's sleeping on my bed instead of his own. Since our family is a bit bigger then my parents anticipated, we ended up having to share a lot of our rooms to make things work. So I got bunked with Martin, which isn't too bad. Sure he's annoying sometimes, but it's not awful sharing a room with him.

Usually, Martin would throw a huge fit if he ever caught me in his bed, but I don't tend to mine when he sleeps in my bed. It's just a bed, so it doesn't really matter. Since Martin's asleep, and there's no one else to talk to, I guess there's nothing to do but count down the clock until the reaping finally arrives.

I haven't really thought about it all too much. Shouldn't I be terrified right now being the oldest? I think I have at least twenty or thirty slips. Shouldn't I be crying and shivering as the clock ticks by until we have to go to the square?

Surprisingly, I'm not worried. I don't know if it's because I want to appear strong or something, but I'm not nervous about this year. Even if I got picked it wouldn't be so bad. I would just try my best and do whatever it took to win. It could almost be considered easy if the right set of tributes were weaker then me. I think I could take on a career, maybe even two. If I was sent in, I would actually have fairly balanced odds.

So I don't worry, and instead, sit on a chair at my desk and let the reaping drift from my mind.

Willow Jensten - 18 Years Old

District 7 Female

The market place is quieter than usual.

It isn't that surprising since today is the reaping and people usually don't go out during it, but it still looks quite odd to see the main square empty. There are a few stragglers here and there, but they're so silent that I sometimes forget that they're present anyway. They all seem to be shopping for things, like clothes, food, medication, the usual as always before disaster strikes today.

If you exclude all the "mutes" in the area, technically it's just me out here. I'm supposed to be buying some bread from the bakery today, with what little money we have anyway. Mom says it's for a treat to celebrate another year of living like it's a special accomplishment to avoid starving to death. It kind of is in a way, especially since today is my final year for the reaping.

When mom asked me if I could go and buy the bread, I took the request in a heartbeat without glancing an eye. Sure, it was kind of cold, and it had rained the night before, but I was really determined to get out of the house and do something other than sitting around and wait for the reaping to start. No point in sitting around all day and not accomplishing anything, especially if that time could've been used to somehow benefit you.

Even if this certain activity doesn't benefit me though, it's still nice to go out and do something.

It's a bit of a walk through the muddy streets, but the bakery soon comes in sight. It has a very small infrastructure, but I guess that's part of their style to attract more customers. No one's there now though as I can tell looking through the window, so no one's there to see me enter the shop. The bell chimes cheerily above, which almost prompts me to roll my eyes in annoyance hearing it.

At the counter of this small bakery lies a woman, who I'm assuming is in her mid-sixties. She appears to be checking something off her clipboard that she holds. She doesn't notice me because of this, so I start to ring the bell loudly on the counter to get her attention.

"Excuse me," I say.

The lady shoots her head up in confusion before seeing me, probably shocked that someone actually came in.

"Oh! Customers!" the lady says happily, "pleasure to meet you."

She lends out a hand and I shake it just a bit before getting back to business.

"I just want some bread please," I say.

"I'm sure you do with that hungry faces of yours!" she says smiling, "coming right up."

The lady then quickly vanishes behind a curtain leading to what I guess is the kitchen.

Her words kind of ticks me off considering I look very much healthy and not at all bare-boned, but I don't take much thought to it. Knowing she won't back here for a while considering her age, I decided to sit down at one of the booths they set up and stare out the window.

It's quite gloomy outside, which makes a lot of district seven look miserable and dark. Not surprising considering today is the infamous reaping day that everyone is dreading, so it makes sense that with this bad weather would come a bad event.

In my honest opinion though, I really don't care anymore about how awful and brutal the games are. Being an eighteen-year-old can do that to you in the outer districts, where the reapings might be considered a death sentence. To a twelve-year-old child, it's the most terrifying thing to go through, but to a teenager like myself, you eventually just don't really care about the reaping.

If it wasn't for my little sister Nymeria, I wouldn't have had much to worry about this year other then to get through my last reaping. However, the world doesn't work like that. It's quite sad to be honest, knowing her first time going through this event will be my last. I'll support her of course since we're sisters, but she's already freaking out at home about it, and mom's doing all she can to calm her down

I wish I could help her a little bit more, even if It is doing something as simple as getting bread for all of us, but it seems like no matter what I do, Nymeria is always on edge. Ever since last year when she turned twelve, she's been acting this way. Constantly worried, waking from nightmares all the time. It's not hard to believe, but she really is terrified of the idea of her being reaped.

I don't blame her really, but I still wish she wouldn't be so horrified by the idea of the games.

"Your order!" a woman calls.

The woman's voice quickly brings me back to my senses, and I hurry over to the counter to see what she had propped up for me.

Behind the counter, the woman holds an almost perfect looking loaf of goldish brown bread, radiating with warmth. My stomach growls at the sight of it, and the soothing smell coming from the kitchen behind the counter doesn't make it any easier to not think of devouring the bread.

I shake my head though and quickly stare back at the lady in order to not give in to any temptations of eating the delicious looking food that the woman holds.

"How much is it?" I ask.

The lady quickly tells me the price, and I just as quickly pay her what she needs so I can grab the bread. When I pick it up, I feel the bread carefully. It was radiating with heat and smelled amazing. It certainly would be occupied when we all ate it at home.

I thank the lady and walk out of the bakery, walking through the muddy streets of district seven once again.

It's quiet outside as I walk. All the people I saw from earlier are either gone or just starting to leave the stores with their bought items. Other then that, there's not much to look at as I make my way home unless I want to count the number of trees that line the street again.

Still though, I walk silently and keep my thoughts reserved as I make my way home. I actually make it quite far before I catch sight of the justice building.

There it stands, tall and proud surrounded by dominating trees that enclose the space. It seems so peaceful there, and yet I cringe just watching peacekeepers set it up. I want to walk on, but I can't stop staring at the scene in front of me.

I can just imagine everyone that will be packed around here in the next few hours. Families weeping, siblings crying, maybe friends shedding a few tears. Once that reaping starts, someone's like is going to end.

Luckily for me, whoever gets picked today won't be any of my concern. Even if someone does die, all I know is that once today is done, I no longer have to worry about those stupid reapings anymore.

Boris Axelman – 16 Years Old

District 7 Male

My hands feel sore.

I flex and move my fingers from time to time in an attempt to get rid of the discomforting feeling, but nothing I do seems to work. They continue to throb in irritation, which is starting to annoy me. It's already bad enough to be at the reaping, but having to stand there while my hand's ache is just as frustrating as hearing the mayor deliver his speech again.

Thankfully, the reapings themselves are almost over. The longest past is to wait to see if everyone is checked in and present during the time of the event, but this year it didn't take very long until everyone showed up. After that, it's a fairly quite short process, the mayor gives a speech, escort introduces themselves and picks out the slips, anthem blares, and boom the reaping is done.

"Should be easy enough," as my sister usually says.

Unfortunately, in the real world, nothing comes easy, as is the same case with this reaping. The mayor takes a little longer to finish with what should be a one-minute speech as he starts to add personal details about how excited he is for the games, and the victors take a while to get settled since one of them starts to complain about their wet seat. In fact, it's really only the escort who seems to be keeping up with the pace of the event, as he quickly gets through his welcome speech to make up for the lost time.

"I won't waste the details on this particular event since it's always the same," the escort says, "so how about we just start calling the names."

While the escort shuffles through the slips in the bowl, I peer over to the girl's section to catch sight of Pine. Even though she's only fourteen, she's taken tesserae so many times that she practically has thirty slips already. I'm definitely worse in terms of slips as well, I think I have at least sixty, but I still can't help but worry for her.

The escort keeps shifting through slips until he eventually finds the one he looks for. I don't even have time to worry if it's Pine or not because he quickly opens the slips and calls out the name.

"Willow Jentsen is our lucky winner!" he says.

I can hear someone's screams in the background, possibly her sister or mom when the girl was called. As for me, relief floods through my body after hearing those words, knowing that Pine is safe, even if it is for only another year. As long as she's not picked I'm okay with whoever else has to get sent.

The girl in question is eighteen, and she seems really pissed off at where she is right now. She walks down the lane toward the stage without much fear, and when the escort tries to talk to her, she just ignores him and stares into the crowd.

She seems resilient at least, but that can only get you so far in a horror show as the hunger games.

"Now it's time for our boy tribute!" the escort says.

His hands dig into the bowl without hesitation and quickly pull out a slip before anyone can really process what had happened. All of the boys around me hold their breath as they watch him unfold it. It's like a horror movie watching him straighten out the wrinkled paper, like a knife about to plunge into a head for the fatal blow.

The escort smiles for a moment before telling us who is on the slip.

"Boris Axelman!" he calls.

There is a shot of panic that goes through my heart, which quickly vanishes and is replaced with bitter anger. This is one of those moments when someone should be screaming, those moments where the child reaped cries and tries to run away. It's always this moment that kids in district seven have nightmares about every day.

For me though? My mouth stays glued shut.

Before the peacekeepers come to collect me like they usually do with reaped kids, I step out of my section and walk towards the stage. I watch the huge cameras planted on stage follow me as I walk, wanting to see some type of reaction escape from me. In response, I just shrug to show everyone watching that I don't really care. There really isn't much time to think about anything that happened until my feet land on the final steps leading to the stage and take their place alongside Willow.

The escort does one of those shiny fake smiles to act like he's excited and addresses himself to the crowd to introduce us.

I just mute out everything he says, because right now, i'm just trying to figure out what my strategy should be from now on. It's almost funny, just a few seconds ago I was calculating how long Willow would last in the arena, and now I'm practically in the same boat as her. Was this what it was like for other tributes as well? How many times have tributes sized up other children's chances before being selected themselves? Did they feel shocked? Angry? Perhaps even happiness?

Whatever the case may be, right now I'm in the same place as so many of those past tributes before me. Soon I'll be shipped off onto a train, eventually ally and fight in an arena with twenty-three other tributes who's thirst for going home are just as great as mine, and probably die a horrible death like thousands of others before me.

My chances are certainly slim, but I don't plan on dying anytime soon. I have a home to get back to, and no one is going to stop me.

Willow Jentsen – 18 Years Old

District 7 Female

Cold light raindrops drip onto my nose, sending shivers tingling down my spine whenever one lands on my skin.

It's been drizzling all day, giving district seven a sort of gloomy look to it. Fitting considering today is the reaping and everyone is on edge right now at the square. I don't really blame them, as waiting to see who's selected for the games is an agonizing wait, especially since the rain is creating mud under most of our boots.

I still remember the dread I felt coming into the square where everyone was mostly gathered. Nymeria, being twelve, needed help being calmed down by my mom and me. Her eyes were full of tears and worry that I couldn't help but feel fear for her. But as I settled into my spot with the rest of the eighteen-year-olds, I couldn't help but worry about my situation as well.

What if I'm picked? I'm eighteen so it's fairly possible, but how could it be me? The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to storm out of the reaping, go home and slip In between my bedsheets, but instead, I have to wait out here in the cold until that reality actually happens. You'd think the mayor or the capitol would schedule the reaping on a day that isn't so chilly and cold, but I guess they decided to have fun with their little slaves this year.

It's even twice as sickening when you realize just how long the mayor is taking with that stupid speech, which is usually done in about fifty seconds or so in other districts at least. Then the victors take there sweet ass time before sitting down because "water" is on one of their chairs for some reason.

When the escort finally comes out, I'm almost ready to collapse in relief, and it seems the escort wants to weep as well with how long everything took. I'm actually curious to know how the other districts reaping went. Did they go on for as long as this? Hopefully, so we don't look completely out of place when the recaps come on.

"Hello everyone," the escort calls, "I'm Leo, you're escort this year, and I'm very excited to introduce to you all the ninetieth hunger games!"

Everyone stays silent, causing Leo to squirm a bit up at the microphone.

"I won't waste the details on this particular event since it's always the same," the escort says, "so how about we just start calling the names."

Leo steps up and sticks his hand in the bowl to pick out a name. I watch carefully as he shifts and moves away some of the slips until he grabs something and pulls it out. Whoever's name is in that slip isn't going to be happy this year.

He unfolds the note and calls out the name.

"Willow Jentsen is our lucky winner!" he says.

I hear someone scream loudly in the background, and it's honestly hard to tell if it came from my sister's mouth or my own mouth. My heart beats rapidly, and I feel like I'm about to fall over and slam into the ground.

They actually picked me. I'm going into the games…

Wait! I can't be acting like this now. One sign of weakness and I'm done for. I have to show that I'm a capable tribute. I have to show everyone I'm not afraid, or else I'm never going to make it into the games.

Putting on a tough face, I walk out of my section and climb up onto the stage, which doesn't take long since the eighteen-year-old section is right at the front of the entire square. I ascend the steps and take my place next to the escort who smiles cheerfully at me. His stupid smile is almost enough to make me want to punch him, but I resist the urge and just try and block out the screams and shots from my sister.

"Now it's time for our boy tribute!" Leo says happily.

Leo then promptly digs his hand into the bowl and shuffles around a bit until he finds a slip he likes. This gives me enough time to consider thousands of potential district partners I might have. If the boy is younger than me, he would be completely useless in the games but be useful in getting me more sponsors. If he's stronger, then we could be allies and I can make him act as my shield. Sure it sounds inhumane to use someone like that, but anything to stay alive and not deal with these stupid games.

The escort pulls out a slip after a few seconds of searching, quickly opening it up and reading the name aloud.

"Boris Axelman!" he calls.

I look over toward the boy's side to see who my partner is going to be. From the commotion that's coming from the sixteen-year-old section, it seems as if this year's lucky winner is that age, and probably forgettable in every way. He comes walking out after a few seconds, shrugging to himself as if he's not walking into a complete death trap. "Like a lamb to the slaughter" as my mom used to say, only this time I'm one of the lambs as well this year.

He takes his place beside me and the mayor goes through with his speech. While he does this, I look over to my new "ally" to study him. All he wears is a neat brown polo shirt with some jeans that don't look too horribly made. He seems normal for the most part, but the games can change anyone in a heartbeat. I guess I'll just have to wait and see before I can somehow use him.

When the mayor is finished, the anthem starts to play and we all stand as the music starts to fill our ears. I can't help but stare at the crowd with bitter anger, seeing the eighteen-year-olds all sighing with relief and happiness. They all are safe forever now, no longer having to worry about the games. Now at least two children will get to die in their place, two children who don't have a chance.

Well, they have another thing coming. I'm not the strongest, or fastest, or even smartest person I know, but I'm going to win this thing. I'm going to get in there and destroy whatever competition I come across and make sure I get rid of it hard.

Sure, I don't know what I'm heading into at all. But I know for a fact is that there's no way I'm dying in there.

No way…

Since my birthday is coming up, I decided to be productive and work on this chapter which took a long time to finish. I'm mostly happy with how it turned out, but I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Thank you 2017tnt for Boris and santiago . poncini 20 for Willow. I hope I wrote them well enough in this chapter, and can't wait to write more about them.

Next up on our second pair of twins in this story from district eight! Hopefully, I can get it done soon and not bore you all with another two months with no updates.

Take Care