I smiled at myself in the mirror, all dressed up. I looked at my moping older brother on the other side of the room. He was sulking, as he always had on Reaping Day, for the past five years, ever since I'd become eligible. Antonio was 21 and had been lucky enough never to have had his name called out.
"Tasha, what if you're chosen this year?" he asked quietly, not wanting the idea to get into Dad's head.
"I won't be. I promise. I will not be chosen. Besides, even if I am, it'll be my chance to get on TV," I said.
"Please don't joke about it, Tash. I don't want you to go. You don't know if you'll be chosen or not, you can't promise you won't."
I sighed. "I know."
I turned around and hugged him. I didn't want to go, I didn't want to leave. Every year, the Capitol put us through hell, making us stand there while they made a tombola out of our lives. It was all fun to them.
Standing in the crowd of people, I began to realise the gravity of the situation. I hadn't been chosen for 4 years. Antonio was blessed, managing to go all nine without hearing his name called out.
I didn't listen as the regular speech was made. I closed my eyes as I heard the spinning of the names. I heard it stop. My heart stopped too. I heard the rustle of paper.
"Tasha Thunders." That was it, that was my name. I was doomed.
I heard Antonio shouting abuse and swearing as I walked forward absent-mindedly. I was numb, unable to speak, unable to stop myself from walking towards that stage.
"May the odds be ever in your favour," I heard all around me.
I heard the names spinning again. This was the end for me. There would be no more parties, no more relationships, no more fun. I was already dead.