Waiting Room

As in room for waiting. My last installment on this quick little repost jaunt 🙂 Hope you (mostly Jessie 😉 ) enjoyed!

I feel heavy. Sticky. Like I have restlessly slept all night and not dreamed.

I have been in bed too long. I panic when I see a square of light from the window on my blankets. I’m late at the fields, they will punish me for sure. I’m about to jump out of bed and run to the fields without thinking, when I see my brother, still at home as well, in his best, and only, white buttoned shirt. The shirt used to be our father’s, and it hangs off of his body, which is strong but underfed, like all the workers.

My panic starts fresh, but even more strong – It’s reaping day.

“Cleora, get up.” My brother says when he sees me awake. I nod and get dressed quickly in the only dress we have, an old yellow thing with a long tear down the side seam that I have patched.

Matteus and I live alone in a small apartment. Our parents and little brother died in a house fire 6 years 11 months and 24 days ago. Reaping day always makes me think of them.

I eat a small loaf of bread with Matteus and then he hugs me, just holds me until we know we have to go to the square or risk being beaten. He is 22, so is safe from the reaping and has been for some time. I am 17, and am not safe at all. My name is in the reaping 12 times. Not very much, but more than makes me feel “safe”.

Matteus wraps his arm around my shoulders and we walk to the square, following the crowd. I know he is thinking the worst, preparing himself for it, just in case. That way he can be even happier if I’m not reaped. I don’t think at all.

At the entrance to the square we have our finger pricked and scanned and Matteus is pulled away from me. I keep my head down and shuffle to the area roped off for the 17 year olds, trying desperately to blend in, to not be noticed, to not be chosen.

The mentors for our district, a heavy set man named Juvio and a wasted old woman named Minara, sit with stoically on the stage with the strange capitol escort, a man with pale pink hair and dark facial tattoos that I have never seen before. He chatters at Mayor Perrier who has a strained smile on her face.

I breath deeply as the anthem of Panem plays and Mayor Perrier reads the history of Panem.

Finally the capitol escort stands.

“Hello district eleven!” He said with a voice surprisingly deep for someone so flamboyant. “My name is Cimilio Rannin, it is such a pleasure to be here! I can’t wait to take two lucky tributes on an adventure back to the capitol with me! Enough blabbing, to the reaping! Ladies first!” He swirls his arm deep into the giant bowl.

Only twelve Cleora. You will be fine. I think.

“Okay,” Cimilio says, painstakingly opening the folded slip of paper. “Cleora Oyer.”

I don’t move. I don’t breath. I don’t walk up to the stage like I know I should. I can’t. All of Panem will see me. In my horrid ripped dress and my chopped hair and my malnourished body. They will see me and know I can’t win. I know I can’t win. But I have to try.

Title Borrowed From: Mark Hahn Photography

 

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