I watched as the early sunlight hit the ocean, creating a mirage of beautiful, exotic colours. I took in a deep breath, and held it in my chest as I plunged into the cold water. I pumped my arms, pushing and pulling myself as far down as I could go. Controlling the air I still had carefully as I did. My feet touched the sea ground and sent a swirl of dark sand around me. I did this every year. So I would at least remember seeing the sunrise from beneath the oceans surface. Because it was beautiful on land but it was something incredible and otherworldly from here. Eventually I could feel the tall-tale strains from my body, telling me I needed to return to the surface. I kicked back, sending more sand swirling into chaos and left the seas gentle embrace with a splash and pulled myself onto the dock using the rope I'd tied over the edge of it when I was five years old. I ran a hand through my hair and pulled it into a messy tie. The summer sun quickly warmed my skin and I didn't see the point in towelling off before pulling my cloths on. My shirt stuck to my chest but that didn't bother me, it'd be drenched with sweat soon enough anyway. I jogged the familiar three miles easily and opened the door as quietly as possible.
“Dimitri?!”. Stupid old wooden house. Actually, scratch house, it's a shack, one that would've fallen apart long ago if I hadn't found the abandoned hammer and scavenged the beach and sea floor for nails and bits of driftwood.
“Hi dad”. I knew I hadn't spoken with much compassion when I said dad, I wasn't very good with people, especially not him. I heard a crash and after a moments hesitation walked down the tight hallway and entered the main living area. He wasn't hurt, but the roof definitely needed another repair.
“Better not get your name picked I guess” he slurred as his head lolled between the roof and me. Of course he would remind me. And the grin that followed his words just made my gut clench more. He'd be hopeless without me there to clean up his sick and repair this house and make sure he wasn't lying on his back when he passed out. But the idea of me being dragged into the games and dying still amused him. Though who am I to make sense of someone who's never in their right state of mind? Today he seemed to have settled for a few bottles of that disgusting cheap whiskey. But I knew that somewhere in his room was the foul needle that should've given him a disease years ago and the horrid substance he's let himself get addicted too.
I'd be lying if I said I hadn't tried both, But the comedown and the hang over weren't worth it. Maybe that's why he stays in this state perpetually.
“Well, not as if my name isn't going in there lots” I replied, sitting in the other chair across from him. Forty-eight was the exact number of times my name was in there last I counted, and I'd kept counting and recounting just in case I'd made an error. Originally, I had. I'd convinced myself it was in there thirty six times two weeks ago. Dad was nice enough to correct me.
“Well, starts soon” he said, standing up unsteadily and leaning all his weight on a makeshift walk-stick I'd put together a few years ago when it became obvious he'd crash into every wall if I didn't.
“Better get your fancy cloths on” he said with a little laugh. He didn't bother to dress and he never went to the reapings. The peacekeepers allowed it.
“Yeah” I replied as I heard his shuffle leave the room. I headed to my bedroom and looked in the wardrobe. Once a year I put on the whiteish shirt and the brownish trousers and so far, I'd taken them off again in the same room. But if my name was called...I shook my head and got dressed and left the house. Here goes nothing I thought as I approached the crowded square. Feeling the blood pump through my head. I hoped I didn't throw up or faint. Only the youngest kids could do that and not be teased senselessly. As I took my place I glanced around me. I listened with numbed emotions as the lady called out the girls name. I recognised it vaguely, but then you recognised everyone’s name vaguely in this district. She seemed to take a fair few deep breaths before shaky legs approached the stage. When she reached the platform the lady turned to the next bowl of wrapped up names. Forty-eight. But there were others who had more. My chances weren't all that bad.
“Here goes” she said in a calm voice, looking over the crowd with a blue lipsticked smile. Her bright, far-too-curly hair making her seem far too cheerful for this event. She opened the paper and took a long pause. All about the dramatics I guess.
“Dimitri Letov”. I felt my fists clench, felt my throat gulp and my heart begin to race. Why? It was only forty-eight! I could just imagine dad watching the TV screen now, a wide smirk on his face. Now the kid who killed his beloved wife will die. And he'd properly die in a pile of his own vomit. I pushed those thoughts aside, because everyone was watching me expectantly. So I began to walk, amazed I was capable of such a thing at this point in time.