Many apologies for the late post–pretend it’s still Thursday–here is Thimble’s first chapter!
Name: Thimble Trickson
Chapter 1 – Drown
They call me Thimble. Maybe it’s because I’m small. Maybe it’s because I’m quick. I make more uniforms than anyone else on my floor. Maybe that’s why they make me do more work. I spend more time at the factory than I do at home, but I don’t get paid very much. I’m only 14. They don’t have to give me full wages.
My mother has worked at the factory for 27 years. Her eyes are still as sharp as when she was a child, but they’ve lost their sparkle. She looks much older than she did five years ago when Father died. Now she doesn’t smile anymore. But she tells me one day things will be better. One day we will be free.
“Thimble!” Mother cries out. I see her through the crowd. I catch her worried eyes through the bodies. We’re surrounded by stomping, talking, whispering. Everyone is fearful. Nobody is quiet. I stop where I am and wait for Mother to catch up. We both wear white. White is what you wear at weddings. But today two children will be selected to die.
Last year was my first Reaping. I was so scared, my pounding chest woke me up in the middle of the night, and I thought I was having a heart attack. I couldn’t sleep. Every time I shut my eyes I saw Thorn–the boy from District 8 the year before, get stabbed through with a double edged blade by a Career from District 1. Blood spurted everywhere. This is what the Hunger Games is, killing and dying. Everywhere I look there is death.
All the factories are closed for The Reaping. School is cancelled. The people from The Capitol come and talk to use like they’re doing us a favour, like we want this. But we don’t. We hate them, just like we hate the Peacekeepers, whose uniforms we have to make every day. Tina Lesgarbes, the Mayor, is speaking into the microphone now, trying to quiet the crowd. There are many of us, spilling out over the town square and down the street past the houses and into the backyards. The sun shines dimly; even it is afraid to show its face.
“Citizens of District 8, please welcome Kiran Hutch!”
Nobody claps for the tall, twig-like man who ascends the platform. His hair is dyed silver, as if he is trying to look like a robot. What he really looks like is an middle aged man with a poor sense of style. Or a poor stylist.
“Ahem,” he says, clearing his voice into the microphone. It sounds like he has phlegm in his throat. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he says. “You are a noble people for a noble game. And you will fight with heart and valour. Today we will band together. Today we will make our mark on the world.”
I frown. If Hutch’s going for the robot look, he’s definitely aiming for a smooth-oiled speech. But it’s not working. I see people rolling their eyes. The Hunger Games is anything but noble. it’s a cowardly act of cruelty from The Capitol. It’s murder.
“Let us begin the days affair with a quick recap of the glory of former days,” Hutch says, and then we are forced to watch the same video as last year, and the year before, about the ‘glory’ of The Hunger Games. We watch Threadbare, our fifteen-year-old male tribute from two decades ago, sew a raft of leaves and twigs together and sail to victory. He was the last remaining tribute in the flood that the Gamemakers tortured the tributes with that year. Threadbare commit suicide two months after he was crowned victor–the video doesn’t show that part.
“And now, to the good part,” Hutch says when it’s over. he snickers to himself and dips his hand into the brimming bowl. “Girls,” he says, nodding. And then he opens the piece of paper he has selected and reads.
Not me, not me, not me, not me–If I think the word over and over enough, maybe it will come true. A bead of sweat trickles down between my shoulder blade. Mother squeezes my hand.
I have never drowned before; but I’ve heard what it feels like. Your lungs scream for air. Even in ice cold water, you feel like you’re burning alive. You thrash and tear at the water. And then your eyes glazes over, and the life ebbs out of you as your spirit fades away. That is when the water claims you. And then you float to the surface, after it is too late.
I am drowning now.
Mother is gasping. She’s trying not to cry. My heart is pounding again. I think it’s going to pop right out of my chest. My sweaty hands are shaking. And before I know it, my feet are moving. The crowd parts in front of me. Annie Xander, from school, lowers her eyes when they meet mine. Jose Alvarez, whose brother was killed in last year’s Hunger Games, pats me on the shoulder as I go by. I don’t feel anything. I am on fire. I am burning inside.
“Thimble!” Hutch claps a hand on my back as I step up onto the platform. I don’t know how my legs are still supporting me. I feel like I’m about to fall down. “You’re a brave one, aren’t you,” he says.
I never noticed how large his eyes are.
“You’re going to make us proud; I can just see it,” he says, then chuckles as he turns to the crowd. “How about a round of applause for Thimble!”
The crowd is full of eyes. Eyes flooded with pity. Eyes beaming with relief. There is a second of silence. Clap for me? What, so they can send me off with a joyful noise to my death? Like this is a celebration? It might as well be a cemetery.
Without thinking, I grab the microphone from Hutch. “Don’t clap for me,” I snap. “Spit on the ground. Spit at the Capitol. We came from the ground, from the dust, and dirt, and when I come back to this district, I might be in the ground. The Capitol can kill me, but they can’t make me clap. We’re not their puppets; we’re people. We are free.”
And then I see something flash through their eyes, for the quickest second–hope. And I can’t hear the chaos in my head. I can’t hear the sobs building up in my throat. All I can hear is spit hitting the ground, and the silence that’s more thunderous than a sea of applause.