I couldn't sleep.
Every creak of the house seemed louder, scarier. Everything seemed so wrong. This was the norm for the nights before the reaping, usually filled of dreams of me, Thalia, Percee, Adrienne, Chilton, Benjam or Holden being chosen in the reapings.
When I finally see the beginnings of dawn, I get up. I can't stand to be in this stupid, dark house any longer. I get up, put on jeans, combat boots, a tank top and my favorite jacket before I rush out the door.
I don't do anything except walk around, avoiding the square, where the reapings are held. When I see that the sun has risen fully and it must be near 10 o' clock, I go back home. Walking was a bad idea. It gave me too which is the much time to think, which is the opposite of what I wanted to do.
When I get home, I see my mother sitting in the old chair by the door.
"Where have you been?" she demands.
I strip off my jacket and run a hand through my short, spiky hair. "Out. I couldn't stand to be in here any longer. I'm sorry."
She sighs and pulls me into a tight hug. "Don't do that anymore. Ever since your father..."
"I know. I know." I swallow and my mom tells me to get ready. There's hot water waiting for me.
After I scrub myself until I'm pink and I don't smell repulsive anymore, I sit in my room, staring at the outfit my mother has set out for me. It's a black skirt and a white blouse. I hate skirts. I don't want to wear it. But at least it's black and not bright pink, like the ones the girls at my school wear nearly every day.
I sigh. I have to get it over with at some point or another. So I pull on the skirt and blouse and then stare at myself in the mirror. Short, black, spiky hair. Light blue eyes, pale skin. Freckles. I hate my freckles. They make me feel permanently too young, like I'm six instead of sixteen.
There's a bang on my door. It can only be one person.
"Come in, Percee."
My little eight-year-old brother comes in shyly, then smirks at the sight of me.
"Since when do you wear skirts?" he asks me slyly.
I shake my head. "You've just been non-observant, my friend."
"Hey, Juniper do you know where my blue jacket--" My little sister comes in from the hallway, and then pauses when she sees me.
"I know," I say, "I look stupid."
"No," she says, "You look beautiful. You always do."
It's her first year in the reaping.
We all go t the reaping, including Griffin, though he's a year too old, and he stands with my mother. My friends all stand with me in the clump of sixteens from my side of town. My hand finds Holden's. He's solid, like a rock. I know I can trust him if I start to faint.
The Capitol woman is on the stage before I'm really aware of everything.
"Happy Writer Games," she chirps. "And may the odds be ever in your favor."
My breathing is rapid, and I'm hoping that it won't be my friends my family...
And it's not.
My breath leaves me and I begin to faint.