This is the final version! I have begun to have this story beta'ed and well they are just about amazing at helping me with this story! toritwilight504, you're the best! Leave reviews and let me know What you think of the improvements!
That's all that I hear.
The sound sends my body into full panic more and I have to ball my hands into fists just to stop them from trembling; my younger siblings can't see how I feel. I have to hide how worried I am. I have to hide the fact I'm scared for myself but most of all, for my siblings. Nothing scares me more than the thought of my younger brothers and sisters going into the arena to battle to the death. I'm scared, and yet I am not alone: the terror, the sound makes people feel throughout the district is just what the Capitol wants. We're their slaves, they control us and we can do nothing.
How horrific, yet funny, that something that could represent the beginning of my journey to death, also happens to be my name.
My name is Siren Leeds. I live in District Four, known as the fishing district across Panem. Today marks my last ever reaping, my last ever time entering the Hunger Games. I've seen countless strangers and even one or two friends get selected at the reaping to go into the Hunger Games and never come home - at least not alive. Here in District 4, we are seen - to a certain degree - as a career district, and many of our people jump at the chance to go into the games and win so they can have all the awards the victor receives each year. However, it's not like that for everyone here. Every parent is terrified for their children, no matter whether they have high chances of winning or not. Everyone is terrified for a sibling, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend and themselves. That's the main reason we try our best to be ready for slaughter, so we can win and come home. It's not our fault we have strengths, we use fishing equipment every day and we are trained in the fishing career from a young age. It's sick, I know, but it happens to be life in my world.
It may sound selfish and self-centered, but I am glad to finally be rid of the constant fears and nightmares constantly created by the mere thought of the games, even when my younger siblings' fears and nightmares are only just appearing.
"Siren, let's get a move on!" I hear my father yell from outside where he is waiting with my siblings. I stand across from the vanity table that I share with my two younger sisters - Kylin and Keery - and take one last look in the mirror. I see the young woman I have become. My hair is now a deep jet black color that sometimes looks blue when the light shines on it. It's much darker and longer now than it once was. The soft hair flows down in waves to the small of my back. My eyes are bright ocean blue, framed by inky eyelashes, my skin is an outstandingly pale white (rare in this district, everyone always thought I was ill) and my blood red lips stand out in shocking contrast against the snowy color. I've filled out nicely according to the male population, with my feminine frame and five foot eight stature. I'm not exotic looking or anything like that, but I am what some people call a 'Classic Beauty' here in the district.
I sigh to myself and turn from my reflection. An unlucky pair of undeserving kids are about to be sent to their deaths, something that I shouldn't be dressing up for, but it's the sick tradition of the Capitol's rules to look attractive so you have a chance to get sponsors in the game.
"You look nice," My dad says as I emerge from the house. I look down, examining my best outfit as I take in his compliment. I try not to blush, but it is difficult as I am incredibly flattered. I'm in my best dress; it has cap sleeves and a fitted bodice with a full skirt. It's a dress my mother made before she died. She was always good at sewing and hemming and she would always make the most beautiful dresses. Nowadays, Dad has to work twice as hard to make up for the money we used to get from Mom making beautiful clothes and selling them to the locals.
I know how much it hurts my father to look straight at me: I'm the spitting image of my late mother, with the same eyes, lips, coloring and body shape. Even our hair is the exact same jet black, thick and wavy.
"Thanks, Dad." I mumble, descending the porch steps.
My family and I begin to make our way to the town square, where the Reapings are held every year. On the way there, we pass by the all-to-familiar stretch of beach that gives way to a beautiful view of the ocean. Looking to possibly catch one last glimpse of it, my eyes spot a well-known figure wading in the water's surf.
"Hey, Papa, can you bring the kids to get signed in? I need to do something." I say, my eyes flickering back and forth from my father to the person who still wades in the water.
Father nods with a sad smile. "Sure, sweetie."
As he herds the rest of my siblings together, I turn and straighten out my black dress. I remember my mother saying it was a "50's era" dress, with a petticoat and all. Pausing to take my heels off at the edge of the sand, I walk across the beach, leaving footprints in the sand, stopping where the tide comes in.
"Hey, boy!" I call out, smiling, overjoyed to see my best friend.
Finnick's head turns instantly, a wide, warm grin plastered across his handsome face. He has the most incredible bronze hair and beautiful emerald colored eyes, that hold and oh so familiar sparkle. He gets out of the water and makes his way to me.
"Hey, girl!" he says, going along with our silly childhood greeting.
As he embraces me, he sighs. "It's good to be home... you wanna walk with me to the square?" Finnick asks, burying his face in my hair. I relax, wrapping my arms around his warm body as he rests his head against my shoulder.
My breath hitches. I nod, at a loss for words, my heart fluttering slightly.
Let's just say, I have some pretty deep feelings for my best friend.
Finally, he releases me and leans down, grabbing his shoes. He then reaches for my small, empty hand, clasping it in his large one and offering me a heartbreakingly beautiful smile.
"What are you doing out here all by yourself, anyway?" I ask, finally finding my voice. Not that I don't enjoy the scenery. It's very peaceful; something that both of us need before heading to the reaping.
"Clearing my head. I just got in last night." he says solemnly. I nod in understanding. He travels a lot; I don't really know why, but I hear the rumors, and I can only guess some of them are true. Neither of us talk about them, as it might damage our friendship, which I definitely could never live with. So, instead of questioning it, I just let it go, and embraced the fact that I get to spend time with him.
We continue to walk to the square, a comfortable silence settling over the both of us. As we walk, I keep stealing glances at him, only to discover him doing the same to me. We both smile; I blush whenever we glance at each other simultaneously. This is the exact same thing that we've done every year on Reaping Day.
Unfortunately, we arrive at the square too quickly for my taste. Finnick lets go of my hand, kisses my forehead, and walks to the stage to take his place. This is my last year. I am finally going to be free, and never risk being reaped again - that is, if I make it through this one.
But what chance is there really of me being reaped? I've made it through so many years; why not this one?
I wince as a Capitol worker pricks me with some Capitol device to take my blood. Damn thing hurts every time. I walk to my section , looking for my siblings at the same time. Jonnick and Firenze are in their section, both looking terrified of what is to come. I frown with concern and look around once more. My siblings don't deserve this life. No one does. I remember how it was when I was younger, like them. I had night terrors, panic attacks, everything.
Except, like every singly child in Panem knows, this monster under the bed is very much real.
No one deserves to go through this living hell. My siblings catch sight of me so I mouth, "It's okay" in their direction, trying to comfort and reassure them in any way I can, today of all days. They both nod and continue to look forward. I continue walking and see my two sisters, but they don't even glance at me. They are looking straight ahead, probably praying in their minds to not be reaped. I sigh heavily.
Girls in District four never really liked me much. Mom used to say it was jealousy, but I never understood why. We all have to go through this same annual day of fear and loss. We both are getting stripped of our misery today, our fears of getting picked dimming. Why would anyone be jealous of anyone nowadays, other than teens in love?
I continue my journey to my section. As soon as I find a spot, I am brought out of my thoughts. My attention is caught by the gaudily dressed bimbo hanging all over my best friend on the stage. I grit my teeth as Finn catches my stare. Tears pool in my eyes as I see him kiss her, my heart literally being ripped and shredded to pieces. I've had a crush on Finn for a while now, but I guess that all of the emotion from the Reaping Day has caught up to me, making me more jealous than I would be. She lets go of him and makes her way to the middle of the stage where the silver microphone stands.
"Welcome, welcome, everyone, to the 74th Annual Hunger Games Reaping!" she screeches. "And may the odds be ever in your favor!"
I roll my eyes, wanting to be over with it already. This is not a celebration. More like a funeral, except the coffins hold live bodies instead. I hate the Capitol for doing this to me, my family, Finnick, everyone! I hate that I can't do anything, I just have to take it and put up what they do to us. I can't voice my thoughts, even in my own home, in case it leads me to trouble with the peacekeepers!
"Ladies first!" she says, stumbling over to the bowl that holds all the girl names. She sticks her hand into the bowl, my heart gets stuck in my throat, my nervousness reaches new, vertiginous heights. "Please, not me" is my only thought, that I chant over and over in my head.
"Drumroll please..." she says, smiling sickly; just that comment makes me want to punch her. Her hand flutters around the bowl and snatches a piece of paper from it. She makes her way back to the microphone; the only sound anyone can hear is the sound of her heels hitting the ground. She finally opens the small white folded piece of paper and clears her throat.
Silence rings throughout the whole square. A shout is heard, a cry of pain. I wonder who it could be, before I realize that cry of pain came from me. My heart sinks, my eyes immediately search for Finn. He's almost as pale as I am, his head shaking in denial. I finally look at my sister and Keery just stares at me like I should know what to do.
"NO!" I scream, rushing away from the barriers. Peacekeepers start to swarm towards me.
"What do you mean, 'no'? Step back, girl. Unless you wish to volunteer, I suggest that you get back in line," the bimbo says in a condescending tone that really pisses me off.
I look over to Finn and mouth, "I'm sorry," squaring my shoulders and walking up to the stage in front of her. "I volunteer as tribute"
She smiles excitedly, and I know why: I am the first female volunteer in five years. The publicity will be incredible.
Nobody cheers, not that there is anything to cheer about. My name wasn't called; I was saved, but fate likes to go against me, and know that I would never let my family member die when I could easily go.
"Come, come , deary," she coos, motioning for me to climb the stairs. As I do so, I keep my eyes on Finnick. His hands are crushing the armrests on the chair, his knuckles turning white from the strain. I reach the top step, keeping a cool expression on my face.
"Your name, beautiful?" The woman presses, shoving the microphone in my face.
"Siren Leeds," I whisper into it. My eyes finally land on my family. All of them have tears streaming down their cheeks. What breaks my heart even more is my father. He is having to be held back by other parents down there. He's screaming my name in agony. I close my eyes, letting the tears finally fall. I can't look at him like that. My mind and vision are a complete blur as she walks over to the male tributes' bowl.
The name leaves her mouth. My heart hammers, my vision swims, I glance over at Finnick. He's running to me. Why?
And then everything goes black.
My head reels as I feel my body being picked up. I pray I heard wrong, that the name I heard was not the male tribute, that someone volunteered to go in his place.
I bet the Capitol got a kick out of my fainting, not to mention I just put a big ass target on my back.
I feel myself being lowered onto a couch.
"Do you think she's ok?" I hear Finnick murmur close to my head.
"Is this because of me?" A small voice says sadly.
At the sound of the tiny voice, my eyes snap open. I immediately shoot up, coming face to face with my district partner in the games, the entire reason I fainted in the first place. I have to swallow the bile that threatens to rise.
"Please tell me this isn't happening" I mutter as I sit up.
"Sissy..." he mumbles, petting my head softly.
I'm entering the Arena with my baby brother.
Twenty- four are going in, only one can come out.
It has to be him.