Prine heard the birds chirping outside her window in the distance. It was morning. The morning. In her small room, Prine got up and rustled through some drawers to find something to wear. Every year all the boys and girls looked nice and respectable so Prine decided on a skirt that went to her knees and a white button down that may or may not have been meant for a boy to wear. Either way, it looked a little big on Prine. She didn’t want to dress up for this. This was not an occasion to dress up for. It was the Reaping and her first, nonetheless.
As she made her way out of the tiny house she ran into her uncle. He was either still drunk from the night before or began drinking as soon as he had woken up because the smell reeked from both his clothes and his breath. He grimaced at her and she glared at him. To say the least, they shared a mutual hatred and resentment. Prine’s uncle didn’t want to live with a little kid and she didn’t want to live with a fat bastard who spent all his money on alcohol and only provided a room for Prine. Everything else she had to provide for herself. Needless to say, she had grown up quick.
Prine pushed passed him, almost knocking him over due to his drunken state. He stumbled a bit and she walked out the door and into the village. Other children were making their way to the town square just as she was but they all were crying or nervous with their parents nearby to hold them tight and tell them that they would be ok. Prine looked over at them for a second and wished she had someone with her.
She would never admit it, but Prine was scared.
Prine made her way to the line of girls in her age group, all of which she went to school with. A Peacekeeper asked for her finger and she reluctantly gave it to them. They took a bit of her blood to identify who she was and was herded like cattle into the area assigned for her specific age group. Prine stood by herself in the far corner. She noticed two girls, seemingly best friends or maybe twins, holding each other hands for comfort. With a small groan she rubbed her face, trying to wake up but also trying to pull herself out of reality.
Suddenly, the high-pitched voice of Laurata Jettin rang through the town square. Laurata was District 5’s escort and today she had shown up in a gown that reached the floor made of blue feathers and, of course, a head piece to match. To Prine, she looked like a very ugly bird. “Hello District 5! Today is the day! Isn’t it exciting?” she said as her lengthy fake nails gripped the microphone. “Of course, the Capitol has a gift for us all!” A small film played on the big screens that had been set up for the event. They showed this film every year, explaining the Hunger Games and how they came about, why the Capitol thought it was suitable to send children into a slaughter.
"Yes, today is the day! Now, let’s start with the boys," Laurata said as she placed her freshly manicured fingers into a large bowl filled with names. She picked one and read the name, "Jurian Woodford. Congratulations, where are you, dear?" Everyone directed their attention to the boys, all eyes searching for the boy who’s eyes were wide and filled with tears. Instead, they found a boy who was running in the opposite direction, towards his parents. They hugged him, crying, and the Peacekeepers had to run over and escort Jurian to the stage. He stood, still crying and sobbing. He looked no older than 14.
"And now, the girls," Laurata said with a smile, entirely disregarding the loudly sobbing boy who seemed like he had already given up on winning. She picked out a slip and read the name, "Prine Veridust." For a second, Prine’s vision went black but she stayed standing. Her heart began beating at a dangerous rate and suddenly her eyesight was back again, her heart still racing. All the girls looked at Prine and suddenly all eyes of District 5 were on her as well as multiple cameras. She walked towards the stage, through the crowd of her peers. As she did, she kept looking back almost as if she were searching for a familiar concerned face but there were none.
"There you are, darling," Laurata said as she stepped onto the stage. "Oh yes, you have quite a pretty face, too," she smiled at Prine. Prine could do nothing but blink at her compliment. "Here you are, District 5, your tributes!!!" she said with extra enthusiasm. Prine searched for a concerned face. Just one. Was there anyone out there that felt bad for her or knew her and wished her good luck? She searched and searched and found none. No crying mother who was breaking down in the middle of the crowd. No father with a tear running down his eye, praying for his baby girl. No friend looking up at her with sad eyes. Not even her drunken uncle seemed phased or even surprised when her name was called.
Prine had no one.
With that, music played and Laurata escorted Prine and the crying boy into private rooms where people could come and say their goodbyes and give their well wishes. Prine sat in the room alone for a good ten to fifteen minutes. No one came to see her. The people of District 5 didn’t hate or even dislike Prine, but she hardly interacted with them. She spent her time by herself and trusted no one. Instead of spending the time saying her goodbyes she immediately began thinking of Jurian and how he would be an easy kill since the boy had basically given up his will of life anyway. Prine wondered what he must be saying to his family and friends. What would it be like to say goodbye forever?
Prine was taken by the arm by one of the Peacekeepers and she tugged it away, “I’m capable of walking,” she said with a glare. The Peacekeeper narrowed his eyes and guided her back to Laurata who said goodbye to District 5 with a few waves and kisses and took both Prine and the crying boy onto the train.
As the train made it’s way to the Capitol, Prine watched outside the window.
Prine decided that she, the twelve year old girl from District 5, would win.