The Hunger Games-Death

I never get a rest. People die every day, there’s no stopping them. They can’t tell their bodies to not shut down for one more day so I can have a day off. It doesn’t work like that. I travel the world collecting the dead to bring to the next destination. I have seen every tragic event from the World Wars to the creating of a new country, Panem. It gets lonely sometimes. Never meeting new people and having someone to talk to. The only time you meet someone is when you collect them. I guess I do get to know some of the people before they pass. But they never get to know me, so it’s a one-sided friendship. Two people did stick with me all of these years from World War II. One was a book thief. The other had hair that remained the color of lemons forever. But, this story isn’t about them. This story is about the girl on fire.
Each and every year, in the country of Panem, is what is known as the Hunger Games. The rules are simple. Each of the twelve districts within Panem must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be placed in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins.
For me, this means a busy time of year. You would think that after the wars, I would be used to this sort of thing. Twenty-four compared to thousands a week isn’t that difficult. And it’s not. But it’s a shame when the young have to die young, especially to entertain the Capitol of Panem.
This year is different. Instead of wandering Earth like I normally do, looking for the next death, I decided to watch the reaping. I went to District 12 to start. Majority of the deaths from Panem come from here. They aren’t the fittest, most are too weak from hunger to do much. They have to work in the mines which can be a dangerous place.
I arrive just in time for the reaping, which takes place in the town square, a shame since it’s the only decent place in the district. The speeches were ending, which is a good thing since nobody likes it when people talk too long. Fresh from the Capitol with her white grin, pinkish hair, and spring green suit, Effie Trinket trots to the podium in between two glass balls, one for the boys and the other for the girls, on the makeshift stage in front of the Justice Building.
“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!” She talks for a bit about what an honor it is to be there and then it is time for the reaping. As usual ladies are first. Effie pulls out a piece of paper from the glass ball with the girls’ names in it and reads it in a clear voice, “Primrose Everdeen!”
I know that last name from somewhere. Oh, wait, it belonged to Mr. Everdeen. He died in a mining accident five years ago. This little girl must be one of his daughters.
A twelve-year-old girl walks with stiff steps towards the stage. She shouldn’t worry; her   time has not come yet. Suddenly, a strangled cry erupts from the crowd. “Prim!” It came from a sixteen-year-old girl. She rushes towards the stage and pushes Prim behind her and gasps, “I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!”
There is some confusion on stage. There hasn’t been a volunteer in District 12 in decades and the protocol has become rusty. It takes them a while to figure out what to do and eventually, Prim is being carried off to her mother and the sixteen-year-old is walking up on stage.
“Well, bravo!” gushes Effie. “That’s the spirit of the Games! What’s your name?”
“Katniss Everdeen.” Ah, the other daughter.
“I bet my buttons that was your sister. Don’t want her to steal all the glory, do we? Come on, everybody! Let’s give a big round of applause to our newest tribute!” trill Effie.
Silence follows. Not one person claps. It is the boldest form of dissent they can manage. It says that they do not agree. They do not condone. All of it is wrong.
Then something happens. At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to Katniss. It is an old and rarely used gesture of District 12; I have seen it at the occasional funeral. It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love.
This is my cue to leave. I will see majority of them soon to carry them out. Prim will come a year after them. But I won’t see Katniss for a while. After everyone she loves is gone, then I will visit her.
The question is, what color will everything be at that moment when I come for you? What will the sky be saying? For vast majority of District 12, the sky was gray. Ash filled the sky as bombs rain down on the town. For Prim, it was cloudy with parachutes littering the ground. And as for Katniss, her story is still being written.