Chapter 5: Marina
“Dinnertime! Come to the dining car Marina!” Kellie knocks on my door.
I throw off the blue dress I was wearing for the reaping and sort through the drawers in my room. I pick a soft grey shirt that flows to my thighs and long navy blue pants. I brush my wet hair that smells of sweet shampoo. I’ve never had a shower like that before! There were hundreds of buttons for each setting. The shower we have at home rarely ever has hot water! Before leaving my room, I stare at the girl in the mirror. She’s so young looking, so insecure with her wide light green eyes and wet auburn hair. I really don’t look that fierce. I sigh. If I want to be a competitor in these games I better change my attitude.
There’s more food on one table then I’ve ever had in a day of my life. We always lived in the poorer part of town, where the hard working fisherman and their families live. When my father went out to sea, our family is paid for his services to the capitol, on trading ships exporting goods by sea and up the river. In addition to that, Caleb and I go fishing every weekend for food, as permitted by the Mayor because our father cannot provide a week’s food for us. Frankly, I am so sick of eating fish.
Before anyone gets a word out, Caleb and I start eating the rolls of warm bread and buttery potatoes and perfectly seasoned salads. There’s more too! Beef stew filled with carrots, tiny red potatoes, and onions. Chicken soup with broth that tastes so incredible I can’t believe what I am eating! Caleb and I exchange glances. This is incredible. Mags clears her throat, which draws our attention away from the food for a moment.
“Caleb and Marina Alekson. What are you?” she asks.
“What are we? Excuse me?” Caleb shows his confusion. I nod because I am confused too.
“Well are you lazy? Are you wimps? Are you worthless?” she raises an eyebrow, “Or are you fighters, because fighters play to win.”
I don’t know how to respond. What does one say to that anyway? Caleb speaks up, “I know I’ll fight until the end. I’m not a quitter. I wrestle and swim. I know how to find food. I can use some weapons.” It’s true, everything he said.
“And what about you?” Mags nods towards me.
I don’t want to talk about this. I’m not ready for my whole life to change. In fact, I also don’t want to talk to her. She intimidates me, even if I won’t admit it. “I know how to fish and hunt little. I know what plants to eat,” I say quietly, even though I’m supposed to be confident, “I’m a very fast runner and swimmer. I throw knives…”
“She doesn’t just throw them, she never misses. Ever.” Caleb adds. I blush slightly, which makes me feel stupid.
“Show me,” Mags says gesturing to the sharp black-handled knife beside my food dish.
I pick up the knife hesitantly, and stare around the room for a target. I choose a picture frame in the back of the room, hit it dead on, and send it crashing to the floor. Then I pick up Caleb’s knife and send it flying into a statue’s head, right between the eyes. Mags is staring at me with approval.
“Hmm,” she nods, “Not bad. Maybe we can make victors out of you.” Clearly, Mags doesn’t really know how to mentor a brother and sister. There can only be one victor, and it’s most likely going to be neither of us. Like I said, I need to change my attitude.
Later, we are sent off to bed, but I sneak into Caleb’s room. “You awake?” I say quietly.
“Huh? Mari? What are you doing here?” my brother sits up and turns on the lights.
“I’m scared,” oh I sound no more mature than Grace! But the words are out before I can stop them.
“Me too,” Caleb admits quickly before we are hugging one another so tightly I can’t breathe. At least neither one of us is crying this time. I’m all cried out.
“I had to leave Gwen behind. I love her. I know it sounds silly, but I want to marry her. Well want-ed,” he tells me a little while later.
“It doesn’t sound silly. It sounds sweet.”
“Well it’s not going to happen now.”
“You don’t know that,” I say.
His dark green eyes stare directly into mine, “Yes I do, Marina.”
I return to my room a few minutes later, only to find I can’t fall asleep. I toss and turn, but I can’t seem to turn my mind off tonight. It’s a shame because I could actually use a good sleep. Well, I’ll be in the capitol tomorrow with much bigger things to worry about than lack of sleep, won’t I?
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