This is a story all about Rue, from her reaping to whenever I decide to end. This is just the first chapter, so the others will come in a different post. Ooh, and I get to use the little wiggly things I used in the Land of Shadow! ^.^ Three of them! ~~~ ^.^ okay, for real now.
Rue reached up and grabbed the branch as a breeze blew it in her direction. Smiling, she swung herself up. Cherry petals settled in her hair as they fell from the higher limbs, the ones she had decided not to climb to for risk of being seen. A mockingjay perched just in front of her face. Rue smiled, recognizing it as the one she had sand with last week – the one with the clipped tail, whom she had named Trill. She whistled her four note melody. Trill instantly took it up. Rue switched her voice so they were harmonizing. Suddenly Trill stopped singing and flew away, giving a warning cry. Rue looked up to see a hovercraft flying by. She ducked down into the cherry blossoms as it passed.
“They’re already here?” she thought. “But the reaping isn’t until one.” She sighed. Everyone in her family was still asleep, but Rue has snuck out to get some singing in, since she had the day off of work. Not that she could have slept if she wanted to, though. At twelve, Rue had been assigned to put her name in the reaping pool for the first time, and then, because she had so many siblings, she had put her name in for tesserae seven times. But large families were common in Eleven, and so every twelve year old – even the mayor’s son – had gone in more than once. This was what Rue had to tell herself over and over as the agonizing day progressed. She reached into her satchel and took out the small scone she had baked from tesserae grain and the blueberries left over from her last payment day. Whistling Trill back overl she began to eat it. “Hey,” she said with her mouth full. “I’ve gotta go get ready for the reaping, okay, Trill?” She fed him a crumb and stroked his feathers. “But I’ll be back tomorrow.” She finished her scone, dusted off the crumbs, and climbed out of the tree. Humming softly to herself, she crossed the orchard and headed into town. Her family lived five blocks down from the Justice Building, so she wouldn’t have far to go for the reaping. Rue’s neighbor was sitting on her doorstep knitting while her grandchildren played at her feet. One, a girl in Rue’s class named Amar, looked up.
“Hey, Rue,” she said. “Getting ready for reaping?”
“I’m heading home now,” Rue replied. “What are you wearing?”
“Grandmother told me I should wear the dress I had on for graduation last year, but I don’t know if it will fit.” She shrugged. “Anyway, good luck, Rue. How many times is your name in?”
“Eight,” Rue said. “You?”
“Six.” Amar forced a smile. “So no big deal for either of us, right? I mean, some of the older girls are in about twenty times. It could be anyone.”
“Right,” Rue said, returning the smile with one that was equally false. She didn’t want to lose anyone in her district. It was unthinkable to know that someone she knew – someone she had seen on the streets, and in the orchards – would be leaving, probably never to come back. “See you at one, Amar.” With that, she headed into her house.
Rue’s mother fixed the necklace around her throat. “There,” she said. “What do you think?”
Rue studied herself in the mirror. She liked the dress, a strapless blue satin the color of her favorite berries. The woven grass necklace was pretty too, with the wooden flower charm. “I like it,” she said, slipping on her sandals. She squared her bare shoulders and forced a smile. Her mother placed a hand on each shoulder.
“It’s not gonna be you, baby,” she whispered. “You’re not even in there ten times. It’s only your first year.”
Rue nodded, her eyes filled with tears.
“Let’s get this afternoon over with, and then we can have the chicken I made for reaping dinner,” her mother said. Rue laughed amidst her tears and embraced her mother.
“I love you,” she whispered.
“I love you too, my little mockingjay.” Her mother kissed the top of her head. “Come on, let’s go let everyone see what a beautiful daughter I’ve got.”
They rejoined the rest of the family in the living room. Rue’s little sister Dee jumped up at the sight of her. “You look like a princess!” she said. Rue smiled. Her father came over and brushed a kiss on her brow.
“You ready, mockingjay?” he asked.
“That’s my girl.” He kissed her again. “Let’s go.”
The family turned and headed out the door. Dee took Rue’s hand, the other clutched in her mother’s, and they walked to the square. Already hundreds of teenagers were lining up in two rows before the reaping balls. A woman with neon red skin and nails that were shaped liked knives stood on the stage, along with the mayor of District Eleven and the two mentors, Chaff for the male and Seeder for the female. Rue hugged each member of her family and went to stand with the twelve year olds.
At one o’clock the bell chimed out to announce reaping, and the woman played a movie about Panem’s past. It spoke of how the Hunger Games had come to be, in punishment of the District’s uprising. Then the mayor gave the customary speech saying that the Hunger Games were a time of repentance and thanks. The people of District Eleven stood as empty lies fell on unwavering ears. The games were wrong, and they knew it.
“Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor,” the woman growled. She reached into the male’s bowl and drew a slip of paper. “Thresh Exousia.”
Rue drew in her breath as an eighteen year old boy mounted the stage. He stood staring out at the audience as the woman asked if there were any volunteers. He was so powerful, so strong. Rue had no doubt that he could win if he tried. And, of course, he would be.
“And now for the girl,” said the woman. Rue took a deep breath as those sharp nails drew a piece of paper out a slip of paper. “Rue Vanya.”
Rue realized a scream had just come out of her mouth. A hand caught her arm, setting her back on her feet. “Come on up,” the woman said. Rue slowly walked up to the stage and took her place beside Thresh. She looked out into the audience to see her mother was sobbing hysterically in her husband’s arms as the woman asked for volunteers. A silence fell on the people of District Eleven as they looked at the two children they were sending, potentially to the slaughter. At that moment, a mockinjay flew in, perched on a building, and sang Rue’s four note song. A mockingjay with a clipped tail. The woman applauded to cover the sound, but it was too late. Everyone in Panem would have heard. And then Rue thought about how the Capitol hated mockinjays, and how it was almost as though Trill was coming to say goodbye.
And then the woman was leading her into a room where she wiuld say goodbyes.