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The Growing Light in the Darkness

Chapter Text

I wake up to the noise of birds singing and leafs blowing in the wind bringing in the smell of nature to flood my room with its pleasant scent. The sunlight shines in through my bedroom window hitting my closed eyes and forcing me to awaken from my slumber. I try to go back to sleep but the light of the sun prevents me, hiding under the blankets does nothing to help as that light mercilessly cuts through the fabric of my sheet.

Finally, I give up on sleep altogether. With a grunt, I get out and angrily walk over to the window stomping my feet before throwing open the curtains and cursing the sun. I really wanted to lay in too. It's Reaping Day, one of the few days when you can actually lay in, but god almighty had other plans when he invented the sun. At least it's a beautiful day, warm, sun shining, a gentle breeze but it's too bright for me to enjoy a good old lay in this morning.

I'm Lisa Littleton, a sixteen-year-old girl from District Seven. I live at home with my father and mother whose six months pregnant with a baby boy and seems to have her hands glued to her swollen belly. My father is a Victor so my family and I will never have to work a day in our lives and we don't suffer as much as everyone else does. All things considered, I have been fortunate with my life. Where others in the District stave, freeze and struggle to survive I have more food then I can eat, a big house full of warmth and little to worry about. In fact, I have only one worry that bothers me, my evil witch of a mother.

I sigh at the scene outside my window. Looking out the window usual calms me down as the beauty of the forest at sunrise makes me forget all my troubles but today it doesn't. It's reaping day and the fact that I'm awake means I'll get nervous, so the ordinarily beautiful sight that wakes me up decided to curse me today. Fed up with the view I once again storm off this time heading straight to the bathroom where I jump into the shower hoping to wash away my anger at the sun in the warmth of its water. One of the few luxuries we have as a Victor is warm water and it's the only thing I'll ever need to deal with my anger, the water always calms me down when I'm upset even though people think I'm wired form jumping into a lake rather than knocking out whoever insulted me. I can’t stand in the shower for as like but because its Reaping Day and today I am going to be live on TV I decide to get out before I shrivel up.

I get dressed into a simple blue dress my father brought me just for the Reaping and comb my long brown hair before I tuck it behind my back letting the end rest just above my ass. Looking into the mirror, I see my green eyes staring back, and I see something I don't like in them, fear. It ridiculous, fear, I don't fear anything or anybody, but there it is apparently in my eyes. I forget about the so-called fear in my eyes and check the rest of my body for anything that could turn me into the laughing stock of Panem. My breast are stretching the fabric of my dress but show no signs of ripping it much to the disappointment of the boys at school who always tell me that one day my bust will rip open my shirt, my tanned skin loos perfect after the shower. All in all, I look beautiful and are bond to grab everyones attention like always, the most beautiful girl in the world they call me whenever they get the confidence to talk to me. I walk downstairs once I'm happy with my appearance to find my parents already eating breakfast and sit down next to them.

"Morning," I say as I stretch out my limbs over the table.

"Morning it's nearly nine," My mother points out as the Avox my mother bought years ago serves me breakfast. "We have to leave for the Reaping in half an hour."

"Yeah, we were begging to think we'll have drag you down there in your nightgown," My father says with his mouth full of bread and getting a slap from my mother.

"Don't talk with your mouth full," My mother scolds him before turning back to me. "You really do need to get up earlier."

"I did," I tell her copying my father and speaking with my mouth full. "I just spent a least an hour in the shower."

"Well a least you're clean and don't talk with your mouth full," My mother says slapping the back of my wrists. My mother cares more about the appearances then me. "Now stand up so I can see how you look."

"Do I have too?" I moan as I stuff another mouthful into my mouth.

"Yes, now up," My mother says practically ripping my arm out of its socket as she pulls me to my feet. She starts to circle me taking in every inch of my body to make sure I look ok; she will not let me go out if I don't look good and she is sure I won't embarrass her. "You look good now get back to the table and finish your breakfast."

"Yes, mother," I reply as I retake my seat.

"Drop the attitude, or you'll be sleeping on the streets again tonight," Mother snaps back and I know from experience she isn't lying, last month she made me sleep in the gutter for three days just because I called her a heartless bitch. It's a true statement, and even to this day, I won't take it back even if my life depended on it.

My father remains silent throughout the meal not making a sound, he may have won the Hunger Games, but he's terrified of my cold-hearted mother. He learned long ago that my mother can't be beaten in an argument or reasoned with, it's her way or the highway in this house. Mother is in complete control in this home, my father isn't allowed to mentor at the games as the other Victors do, and I have to pass a test every time I want to leave the house. If you disobey or don't listen to my mother, then you'll regret it. I have burn marks on my arms from when she burnt me with a red hot poker, a bruise on my stomach from the last beating she gave me and a cough from when she locked me out in the rain for an hour last week. If it weren't for Johanna Mason another Victor who lives next door, I would have frozen to death in that shower. Johanna took me in and allowed me to take a bath, gave me a change of clothes and a hot cup of tea which warms my body right up. We hardly spoke at all during this meeting, but Johanna did smile when I thanked her for everything she had done.

"Come on its time to go," Mother says as we finish breakfast. "Now then follow me and don't do anything to embarrass our family."

"Yes dear," Father replies getting to his feet.

"Yes, Mum," I reply falling in behind my father using him as a shield against my mother.

I follow my mother and father out the door, both of my parents join hands just before exiting the house giving the illusion of a happy marriage which I know to be ruled by fear. They lead me out into the warmth of the day, the sun is now high above the horizon, and the temperature has increased, it's still not boiling hot, but without the cool breeze which is thankfully still here, it would be very uncomfortable to walk around in the heat. The sky is crystal blue without a fluffy white cloud in sight that can shield everyone from the unrelenting warmth of the sun. You can see men walking around topless which I can't help but stare at, one good thing about the heat is that I can see some strong men topless flexing their large muscles. Unfortunately, my mother catches me staring resulting in her slapping me so hard around the ear that I can hear ringing; she was careful to do so when no one was looking and would catch her hitting me. Everyone sees her as a kind nice lady but my father and I know the truth, she's a cold, heartless bitch that can manipulate everyone and bend them to her will.

We carry on walking with the ringing slowly dying down as we walk through the district. Large trees are everywhere here providing the only source of shade for most days. Mother in all her wisdom refuses to let us walk under their branches and insist that we follow the road where there is absolutely no protection from the sun. At least there is other stuff to look at here other than the topless men even though it's so tempting to look. Birds hop from branches to branches singing their songs, squirrels run in front of us making my mother squeal which I quietly laugh at fearing the punishment that I'll receive if caught and capitol hovercrafts fly in the sky above, there's always a few circling the district but never as many as on Reaping Day.

When we reach the town square it's already overcrowded with children, they shake and cry as they wait. My eyes are drawn to a group of three twelve-year-olds huddled together and crying their eyes out, they are scared stiff, and this must be horrible for them, their first Reaping. I can remember being so afraid at my first Reaping I made myself sick; I can still feel the pain in my check from the slap my mother gave me because of that illness.
On the stage, I can see Johanna and Blight sat on the stage already when my father joins them the Victor trio is complete. The mayor sits down near them behind a podium with our districts escort sat next to him. No one on the stage seems to be having a good time apart from our escort who looks like she's having the time of her life. Johanna and Blight just sit there talking to each other. The mayor stares at his feet, and our escort takes a good look all around her noting each camera position and my father I see his eyes never let me out of their sight.

I line up where I'm meant to when I reach the front of the line I get my finger cut and have to watch my blood fill a section of an old book that's in poor condition. Once my blood has hit the paper the women behind the desk scans it to confirm who I say I am, once she's happy I am me she lets me go and join the other girls my age. I stand with the other sixteen-year-old girls, but I don’t say a word to them. I haven’t got many friends as my mother won't allow me to, other girls can see how my mother really is and fear her. Thanks a lot, mum I've become a loner because of you.
We stand in the town square under the scorching heat of the sun. The breeze has disappeared and just standing still in this heat is enough to make everyone sweat. Finally, after the weather and wait have become almost unbearable, the mayor stands up and delivers his mandatory speech, I don't pay attention to any of it and only start when I see our escort take the stage. She is called Lena; I don't know her last name, she has long green hair that almost hits the floor and is wearing a forest green dress and high heeled shoes most likely to stay within the lumber theme our district always has during the games.

"Happy Hunger Games, may the odds be ever in your favor," Lena says with a big happy smile as she reaches the podium. "Welcome everyone and now let's get on with it, ladies first." She hovers her hand over a glass bowl filled with the name of every girl between the age of twelve to eighteen in the district before diving her hand deep into the bowl. "Lisa Littleton"

My heart stops. Did she just call my name? She can't have done; there's no way I'll ever be reaped for the games. There has to be some mistake. Looking around and finding everyone's eyes on me and looking up at the massive screen to see my face on it confirms my worst nightmare, I'm going to the games. This has to be a dream, yes it has to be, and in a minute I'll wake up to find mother standing angrily over me. But this feels too real, the Peacekeepers grabbing hold of my arms and dragging me to the stag feels too real, the pain from their tight grip feels too real, and the saddened look on my father's face looks too real. This is not a dream or nightmare; it's my own real-life nightmare.

Before I know it I'm on the stage standing next to Lena who's smiling a smile so big it doesn't seem possible. Blight and Johanna stare at me in silence, both of them know me and I guess they are upset that I'm going to the games as they did. My father looks like he's about to cry and is shaking so much I'm surprised that I can't feel it on the stage. My mother looks happy that my name being called, she's smiling and laughing at the front of the crowd of people watching the reaping. Lena walks over to me and places her hand on my shoulder, but it's clear she doesn't want it there.

"Ladies and gentlemen I give you Lisa Littleton the female Tribute from District Seven," Lena says before quickly removing her hand from my shoulder, a small smile grows on her face as if she's happy not to be touching me. "Now on to the men." Her hand quickly dives deep into an identical glass bowl full of the boy's name, seconds later she's pulling out a piece of paper. "Karl Rodwell"

I sigh in relief, I know it's wrong of me to do so, but I'm glad that I don't know the boy going into the area with me. The boy mounts the stage and stands next to me. He's taller than me which I can't complain about as he does a good job protecting me from the sun. Karl has big strong arms like everyone from the district as our work requires a lot of manual labor, his skin is the same dark tanned as everyone else, his hair is short and black, his eyes a dark green and there's a significant scare from a burn on his left cheek. I watch his fingers fidget nervously and small sweat drops form on his skin, too many to be from the heat alone, he's nervous and just as scared as I am. By the time I turn back to the crowd, I notice for the first time that the national anthem is playing and nearly over. Once the song has finished Peacekeepers escort both me and Karl inside the Justice Building where we will have a chance to say goodbye to our friends and families. Most likely seeing them for the last time.

"Lisa I'm so proud of you," My mother almost sings sounding as if she is glad to see me go as she walks towards me. "If you win, then we'll be twice as rich, and my reputation will be twice as good, so you better win this." That's just like my mother, all she cares about is herself and if I win then the money I'll receive will never reach my pocket. "Listen to your father, Johanna, and Blight," She tells me, and I look at her to see her opening the door to leave with a huge smile on her face. "That way you're sure to win."

With that my mother walks out, father doesn't come in to see me which doesn't surprise me as I'll be seeing him right up to the day I'll enter the area. After about an hour Lena collected me and took me straight to the train station, Karl looks like he's been crying and I wouldn't have been surprised if he had visitors for the entire hour I waited. It must be nice to be him, family, friends and hopefully not a selfish, cold-hearted bitch for a mother. When we arrive at the train station, it's swarming with photographers who nearly blind me with the flashes from their cameras as I make my way onto the train. I would have disappeared into the train, but Lena stops me and forces me to turn round so the cameras can take my photo and finish of blinding me. Once that's done we step back and the doors close, as soon as they are shut the train speeds off at a breathtaking rate but you hardly feel it. I wish this train were slower, that way at least I’ll have longer to live.