Fifty-Sixth Choosing

Fifty-Sixth Choosing

A Chapter by Mary Greenwell

Chapter One

“Where are you going?” My little sister, Elizabeth, asked me the morning of the choosing. Every five years our country would choose two people from every state that would go and fight against the other states. We would be sent into an abandoned part of the world and then we would fight each other and nature in order to be the last standing. There was a rule put into place long ago that it was possible for both a boy and girl to live but they would both have to be the last of their gender to win and then they would have had to be able to fight nature, hunger, and thirst to stay alive until there was only one person of the other gender left. There had never been two that won because the government always made sure that whichever gender got down to one first… that victor would die in some unfortunate ‘natural’ occurrence. Everybody knew that there was interference from the government but we lived in fear of going back to the old days and so we dealt with the rules and the interferences after all we only had to be scared once every five years.

“I’m going to meet Austin.” I told her smiling. She hugged me tight and I sighed tightening my arms. Our parents had died when she was one and ever since I had been taking care of the two of us with only the help of my best friend Austin.

“What about this afternoon?” She asked.

“We’ll be back in town before the choosing.” I promised her.

“Bree?” She whispered and I looked down worriedly at her voice.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“What if you get chosen?”

“Don’t worry.” I promised her, “Even if I was chosen… I would come back.” I promised but I knew it was a lie. I was half-starved and my only good quality was that I knew enough about hunting, gathering, and farming to keep both of us alive. Of course I had always given Elizabeth more than she needed to keep her healthy and that was why I didn’t eat enough.

“Promise me.” She interrupted my thoughts.

“Promise you what?”

“Promise me that you’ll come back to me.”

“I promise you will never be alone.” I said instead but it seemed to soothe her. “Now come with me and you can spend the day in the woods with me and Austin.” I took her hand and led her into the town square where Austin was already waiting for me. Last time the choosing had happened she’d been too young to understand but now she was eight and I was seventeen and she would be watching while I stood with all of the other girls twelve to twenty-one waiting to see if I would be the one chosen.

“She’s scared.” Austin commented when we were in the woods. Elizabeth was running ahead of us but it was obvious that she was just trying to distract herself.

“I know.” I sighed, “I don’t know what to do Austin.” I whispered.

“Stick to our promise and then if one of us is chosen whoever it is will just have to come back.” He promised and I nodded. He pulled me to a stop though and wrapped his arms around me. “I love you, Brenin.” He promised like he always did and I just shook my head. I would never fall in love but he didn’t believe me.

“Austin.” I whispered.

“I know but… you will fall in love one day Bree. Even if it’s not with me.” He added and then just started walking again.

“Austin?” I questioned pulling him to a stop Elizabeth had stopped to play in the lake anyway. “Who else could I possibly ever fall in love with? I don’t spend any time with anybody but you and Elizabeth.”

“Things change, Bree. One day she will be old enough for you to have a life outside of the two of us.” He told me and I sighed just leaning into him. We all got up a few hours later and headed to the square.

“Welcome to the Fifty-Sixth Choosing!” Our mayor yelled and I looked at the other girls. I noticed some that had lost their parents when Elizabeth and I had and others that I’d been in class with until the year before. At sixteen school ended and we were expected to make it on our own. “… We will start the drawing now.” The mayor’s voice brought me back, “As usual we will let the ladies go first.” He continued and the other girls all locked hands. Austin looked over and shook his head when he saw me refusing like usual to touch other people. I hadn’t let anybody touch me but Elizabeth for five years after my parents had died and then one day I’d let him hold me after a crop failure and ever since he’d been able to hold me. I watched him as he walked over to me and took my hand before joining the line of girls letting me be connected but also not connected the way he knew I wanted to stay.

“And now…” The mayor started, “Our girl Choosing is…” His face showed his surprise but then he said, “Brenin Lee Paylor.” Austin’s hand tightened but I could only listen to Elizabeth’s screams. “Do we have a volunteer to take over for Brenin?” The mayor asked and as usual everybody stayed silent. “Then we will move to the boys.” Austin pulled away and walked back over to where he was supposed to be as I walked to the stage. “The boy will be…” He trailed off but then his fear came as he said, “Derek.” Nobody needed the last name. This was the mayor’s son. His youngest son. His 21 year old son. “Will anybody…?” He couldn’t finish and I watched as Austin walked up to the mike.

“No.” I begged him and knew that I’d said it loud enough for everybody to hear. “I need you to stay here.” Everybody turned to Elizabeth and suddenly there were tears everywhere but he walked back and kept going until he had Elizabeth in his arms. “Thank you.” I mouthed and he nodded but I could see the hurt in his eyes and knew when we had time alone for our goodbyes he would be yelling at me. I didn’t care though I needed him to be with Elizabeth I didn’t trust anybody else to take care of her.

“Will anybody take Derek’s place?” The Mayor’s oldest son asked. None of the brother’s would be allowed since they were too old and everybody knew that I had just sentenced the Mayor’s son to die by refusing to let Austin come take care of me.

“I will.” A guy that would have been 21 the next day spoke up. His name was Eli and I had seen him with Austin a few times. “I will take his place.” He promised walking up to the stage. I hadn’t ever spoken to the guy but he stood right beside me.

“Our Fifty-Sixth Choosing Candidates!!” The son yelled and I could tell he was happier now that his brother was safe. The guards came and collected Eli and me leading us straight to the train. Our families would be allowed on the train within the next hour or so in order to say goodbye and then we would leave for whatever country had been chosen for the Choosing.

“You have guests.” A guard told me after I’d been sitting alone for a while. I nodded and Elizabeth ran in with Austin behind her.

“You’ll come back.” Elizabeth ordered.

“You won’t be alone.” I repeated holding her close. She clung to me crying and as usual I held in my tears knowing that I would lose the fight as soon as she was gone.

“Here.” Austin whispered handing me something but I opened the necklace to find a picture of the three of us together in the woods.

“Thank you.” I whispered.

“I thought it might inspire you to try harder.” He told me.

“Thank you for everything, Austin.” I promised reaching for him and he kissed my head.

“We must leave. The Choosing took longer than we’d expected.” The guard told me walking in.

“Be good.” I told Elizabeth, “And Lizy?” I asked and she looked through her teary eyes at me, “You will stay with Austin until I come back and do what he says.”

“But you’ll come back?” She forced again and I realized that she was suddenly understanding that I hadn’t truly promised her that I’d come back.

“You have Austin now.” I whispered as the guard pulled them away but I watched Austin take her in his arms and carry her away letting her cry. I felt a tear fall but then forced it back remembering that cameras would tape me everywhere but when I was showering and so crying would have to wait until then.

© 2013 Mary Greenwell

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register

Share This
Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on March 10, 2013
Last Updated on March 10, 2013


Mary Greenwell
Mary Greenwell

Bloomfield, KY

I love to write and read. I am in college right now and so I don't get to write as often as I like but I still enjoy it. more..

Flashbacks Flashbacks

A Chapter by Mary Greenwell