Maria chattered continuously throughout the process of her doing my hair and make up, about how excited that she was now a stylist for the games, how excited she was to see her designs actually in motion. I have to say that our costumes were much more clever than what we usually see. The usual stylist for district 7 has been the same for around forty years and they are always trees. This will be a breath of fresh air to the audience. Hopefully.
My costume is made completely of paper of different, types, textures and colours. The whole outfit is made out of paper aside from a pair of brown leather lace up boots. The costume is more or less a dress, made from stiff paper for the bodice and a tissue paper skirt. I am wearing a cape, and the paper drapes almost like fabric. Then there is the 'Pièce de résistance ' as Maria put it, is a headdress, meticulously folded into flowers and birds in bright greens and pinks. It's quite amazing to think that someone sat for hours folding and folding this thing together.
We meet up with Lucifer and his stylist, Silvius. Lucifer is dressed in a similar paper costume, we have matching capes and boots except he is without a shirt. It doesn't look like his pants are made out of paper but I could be wrong. His headdress is adorned with tiny trees and mountains.
Maria smiles eagerly at both of us.
"Make sure you wow the crowd! Channel all their energy! Smile big!"
I take a look at the other tributes as they load us onto a chariot harnessed to two large chestnut coloured Clydesdales. The district one tributes are covered head to toe in glittering gemstones. District one is always a fan favorite. I like the district three costumes, covered in leather and goggles with real working gears in their costumes. Among the other tributes there all different costumes; gladiators, cowboys, waterfall looking outfits, farmers, and coal miners, two of them.
The district twelve boys is there, dressed in a headlamp and overalls, looking sullen. They did catch him, but I wonder at what price. The parade has already started as I can hear the music and the roar of the crowd. Our chariot lurches forward and we roll out onto the city streets. I put on my best charming smile and make an effort to try to draw the attention towards us.
The anthem blares in my ears and the crowd is deafening but we got a pretty good cheer when we rolled out. This year's favorite seems to be district four though, the male tribute is exceptionally handsome and he shows it off incredibly well already. His mentor will most definitely be Finnick Odair, the heartthrob victor of district four. We roll into the city square where President Snow gives a short speech and congratulates us. How this is a reason for congratulations I wouldn't know. I dislike President Snow about as much as the next district resident.
Soren praises us on a job well done where as Johanna tells us, "We could have been worse." It's not often Johanna compliments us.
We eat another delectable meal of roast beef and steamed vegetables, with a lemon pudding and meringues for dessert all together and then we retire for the night. I barely sleep again. Too many thoughts cloud my mind as well as the loud crowds of people in the city streets whooping and cheering into the late hours. I can't even begin to understand how they can be so excited about this. Training starts and ten o'clock tomorrow morning, this is where everyone gets a first look of all the tributes; we're all sized up and judged. Not just by the observing game makers but from the fellow tributes. They'll figure out the weak and strong.
I remember how I told Johanna that my talent is climbing trees but now I realize the arena could be anything. There is no grantee that there will be trees in the arena. Over the years the arenas have been a staggering number of things in real locations or fabricated. I remember quite a few; an abandoned city, the archipelago, the bayou, an old fashioned suburbs, a savanna, vast cornfields, a deserted airport, a cave; the list goes on and on. There hasn't once been a repeated arena. For all I know the games this year could be in a canyon, and I'll be as good as dead unless I find a fitting weapon, but even then.
"Good morning! Good morning! Its time to get up!!" Soren is saying as he knocks on my door.
I groan and will myself out of the bed. Clothes have already been layer out for me. I don't even know when someone had been in my room. It must be my training uniform. It's made of sleek, tight fitting athletic fabric. A black zipper t-shirt accented with silver and red. My district number is displayed on the sleeves and back. Tight matching pants and combat boots complete the outfit. It's quite comfortable actually. I put my hair up in a messy bun, which is easiest and most comfortable hairstyle.
I make my way to the dining room and load myself up with scrambled eggs and toast. Lucifer, Soren and Johanna are already there. Lucifer is in an identical outfit to mine and his fiery red hair is in disarray. There are dark circles underneath his blue eyes. He looks like he slept even less than me.
"Any tips you can give us, Johanna?" I ask
She shrugs; her hands clasped around a mug of coffee "Nothing that your supervisor wont be able to tell you. Just make sure you don't go all out showing off, the time for that is during the individual sessions. "
Lucifer and I nod, taking in her information.
" Also, don't try and play the weakling game, the tributes will see right through that, they know I'm your mentor."
This is true, Johanna won her games pretending to be weak and fooling the tributes. Soren claps his hands together.
"Alright you two! It's almost ten, and its good to get to the training center a little early, so off you go! Do your best!" He gives us thumbs up.
We ride down the elevator, down, down to the training center.
"So what are you going to do when you get there?" Lucifer asks me.
"I want to do lots of survival training but I think I'm going to try the knives."
Knives seem like the best bet for me, they're light and portable, and they are not foreign items to me as opposed to a sword or a bow and arrow. Survival training is important too. I've seen plenty of tributes over the years not only die from being killed by others but the harsh elements that arena holds. My strategy is to stay alive first kill second.
"How about you?"
"Agility training." He says curtly.
This makes sense that he'd want to do this first, Lucifer, lets say, is not the most graceful person I know. Our conversation is forced and he seems stressed out.
We step into the vast training area. It's lined with all sorts of stations and weapons, rope ladders and obstacle courses. A few tributes are already here, both tributes from four, two, one and the boy from ten. Of course the careers are already here, eager to show off their skills.
I decided earlier that I am certainly not setting out to make friends, but honestly, I don't want any allies either. The reason for that is I don't want to make any connections with anyone and then have them die, or me having to kill them. I don't even want Lucifer as an ally, its too hard and too painful. I'm flying solo in these games. My goal while I'm here though, is to remember every single tribute's name.
It's ten o'clock now, and all the tributes have arrived. We all stand around our supervisor when I realize the boy from district twelve is not here.