They Didn't Break Me

Submitted into Contest #66 in response to: Write about a contest with life or death stakes.... view prompt

59 comments

Adventure

Why did it always have to be me? I’m not special. I don’t live a life of luxury or poverty. I’m not beautiful or ugly. I’m average. Yet still, they chose me. Still, they chose to uproot me from my home, tell me I’ve received a great honor, and shove me in a contest they know I won’t win. Waking up in the morning is the worst part, because I have to be let down again, have to recognize the truth of my situation and embrace it with open arms. After all, I don’t have a choice. It’s either go all in or die an outcast, hated by my country for not being “honorable”. Well, everyone had to get up sometime, and I’d finished my morning mental rant, so I had to get some food.

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I pushed through the weeping trees, watched them sag as if they knew the fate we all had to endure. The monster we all had to face. I pushed by, ran away from their patronizing leaves and their enduring stares. I had more than enough people watching me, especially with an evil twin of myself on the loose trying to kill me. They thought that it would be a pleasant surprise, to be killed by someone that came from inside rather than someone on the outside, but to the competitors, it really only made it worse. The honeyberries glistened in the pale moonlight, teasing me with their sweet wiles, but I knew what happened to those who gave in to the allure of the honeyberries, and if I was going to go in this arena, I wasn’t going to kill myself. Finally, among the sparse bushes and the dead grass, I found some woodleaf. It should get me through the day. You see, the upside of being in the arena was that you were all by yourself. There was absolutely no one but you and your evil twin, and even then, it was only a version of you. Some people might have lost their minds there, but I found it refreshing, if I wasn’t most likely going to die the next day. I devoured the woodleaf, but still felt that the tangy taste couldn’t satisfy my hunger. I would need to find something else. On this synthetic island, there was only one other form of food. Meat. I hadn’t had any since I arrived some 3 weeks ago. Maybe because I knew that if I lit a fire to cook it, I would be hunted down and found. I would just have to overcome my urges and continue down the bluff. The scenery was truly beautiful here, and I would have loved it if I wasn’t constantly worried for my life, but every now and then, I took a moment to appreciate it. The way the sun stretched over the waterfall, the way the dew shone on the grass, and the birds called out… I had truly never seen a more beautiful place. I knew that they were laughing, out there, knowing that I was stuck on a gorgeous island, broadcasted around the world, and running for my life. Which is what I should have been doing right then, so I ran down the hill to the water, hopeful of some algae. Suddenly, I saw her. The only other person on this island. Every one of my evil thoughts embodied. Myself.

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I finally reached the cavern, closed off the entrance, and took a good, long, breath. I couldn’t believe I was so reckless. Out in the open, admiring the beauty of the island. This is why you don’t eat the honeyberries. You don’t want to enjoy their beautiful taste, even if they’re the most abundant source of food on the island. Myself had outrun me, and almost caught me, if I hadn’t taken a path Myself had never thought of. I took off my shirt and dried off my soaking hair, but it didn’t really change anything because my shirt was soaked too. Thank goodness they had never thought to put deadly animals in the water. I wonder why they want us to participate in these things. The people don’t enjoy it, though they pretend they do. All it does is sow fear, fear of being pulled away from everything you love. My mother, she was a strong, independent, woman, one who taught me that nothing is more important than impressions. I hadn’t seen her in so long. I guess that part of me died the day I was sentenced to.

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The sun prodded my eyes open, and I could feel my eyelids struggling to stay closed. No one wants to be awake, because it means leaving dream land, leaving the blissful quietness that is nothing and everything, to face reality. I knew that I had been in this place too long. I didn’t want to prolong my suffering. Suffering is best dealt with or accepted. Why must I continue to fight this elaborate trap that they set for me? I didn’t want to anymore. I was done being their little pawn, just a public display for the aristocrats who wanted to terrorize the people I loved. I was loved, at least, which is more than half the people that come in here can say. Love meant nothing, though, because there was absolutely nothing I could do to let them show it. If I could, just one more time, tell my mom and my sister and brother that I loved them, I could die here. I could fall on Myself’s blade and die. Not giving up, but giving in. I knew what I wanted. I strolled out of the cavern with an open heart, and a blazing, audacious smile on my face, knowing that what I was going to do was the one thing that no one could expect, foresee, or influence. I looked to the sky, pressed my fingers to my lips and blew a kiss. A kiss to everyone around the world that would be chosen after me, and the ones that were forced to watch. A kiss for my family, knowing that they were watching. A kiss for all that listened, a kiss to show the people that put me in here that they had not defeated me. They had not broken me. And then I jumped into the lake, not worrying about my oxygen, not caring, because I had breathed my last, and gone out with a bang.

November 05, 2020 23:57

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59 comments

Mira Caplan
19:45 Nov 06, 2020

Ok...I just gotta say, this was insanely amazing. Like, seriously. Wow. I was a bit confused about why people did this, but otherwise, I LOVED it. I saw Hunger Games in there with the whole arena, and it even reminded me of Rey from Star Wars with the whole evil twin thing when she saw the mirror version of herself. (Please teach me how to write like that.) Again, wow.

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22:59 Nov 06, 2020

Thank you so much! I was trying to do kind of like 1984 dystopian with the Myself and the they, I'm so glad that it worked out!

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Mira Caplan
23:17 Nov 06, 2020

It definitely did! (:

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Mariam Michalak
02:42 Nov 10, 2020

This is a really great story. I'd suggest breaking it up a bit, because some readers (like myself) struggle keeping with the right lines when it's all pushed together. Also, a few switches in tense are there ("I pushed through the weeping trees, watched them sag" should be "watching" for better tense), but overall the story was amazing! Loved the Hunger Games reference, and the twist about it being all the evil from your mind. Definitely a great story to invoke the imagination.

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12:48 Nov 10, 2020

Thank you! I will definitely try to edit it more, bc this was kind of rushed, but I am really happy that you liked it.

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B. W.
21:00 Nov 08, 2020

10/10.

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Niveeidha Palani
03:33 Nov 12, 2020

Hi Luke, this was probably the best story I read today. Just one thing, I found it pretty difficult to read as your paragraphs were clumped up. Instead of four paragraphs, how about eight or ten? It would be easier to read, and would probably attract the reader more. ;)

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12:25 Nov 12, 2020

Yeah i did this in one day and didn't edit, so I will definitely next time. See, i did it on my other story after I submitted. Thanks so much!

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Niveeidha Palani
06:12 Nov 13, 2020

Ah, okay. No problem, glad to help. :)

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Laiba M
00:09 Nov 11, 2020

I really love the story! Great job, Luke! The only thing I'd recommend is to break up the paragraphs a bit more, it adds more 'dimension' to the visual aesthetic of the story, and is easier to read :)~ I like the descriptions a lot!

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00:43 Nov 11, 2020

Thank you!

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Laiba M
01:54 Nov 11, 2020

No problem!!

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Megan Sutherland
18:00 Nov 12, 2020

Loved this, Luke! I'm gonna upvote you a bit! Your Reedsy Friend, Megan

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18:52 Nov 12, 2020

Thanks so much! Do you want me to do the same?

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Megan Sutherland
23:18 Nov 12, 2020

Sure, if you want! Thanks!

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Hey Luke...if you don't mind...would you help me with the points? Thank you!

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Sapphire 🌼
19:03 Dec 01, 2020

Hi LitLover! (can I call you Luke?) So I finally found you XD. Anyways, I love reading people's first stories compared to their other stories, and I loved this! it's great for a first story! The descriptiveness is just...Voilà! Loved it! -Sapphire

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19:06 Dec 01, 2020

Yeah Totally!! Thank you so much!! I really enjoyed this as my first story, it was fun to write! Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!!

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15:03 Mar 01, 2021

Your first story is better than my first. I am impressed. When was this?

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15:03 Mar 01, 2021

Lollllllll that's so sweet!!! This was in like September...

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15:06 Mar 01, 2021

Oh.

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15:11 Mar 01, 2021

:DDDDDDDDDDDDDD

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Mira Caplan
22:08 Dec 22, 2020

OK....this has only got 19 comments, so...new covo thread!!!!!!!!

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22:14 Dec 22, 2020

Ha I know so little!!!

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Mira Caplan
22:34 Dec 22, 2020

XDDD especially compared to others

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22:40 Dec 22, 2020

Lol yeah my 365 one

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Mira Caplan
22:48 Dec 22, 2020

MHm. I'm showing my mom Korean singers, and she doesn't like Sohyang

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22:51 Dec 22, 2020

WHAT???????????? SACRILEGIOUS!!!!!!!!

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Jasey Lovegood
00:57 Dec 29, 2020

Hello Luke! 1. Thanks for the follow 2. Kate told me to check out some of your stories, and so, here I am! I really enjoyed this story, I think the imagery and description were wonderful, and like others have said, I liked the HG reference. Can't wait to read the rest of your stories! :D

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12:41 Dec 29, 2020

Omg thanks!!!! Thx for upvoting me too, I'll pay you back now.

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Misti Davidson
14:02 Mar 22, 2021

hey rhea

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14:04 Mar 22, 2021

heehee

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