The only emotion Donta had really been able to manage since saying his goodbyes to his family after the reaping was shock; How could this even have happened to him? He was only twelve. His five older sisters had refused to let him take out a single tessarae, so his name was only entered in the reaping once. Yet here he was, standing in a large gymnasium surrounded by 23 older kids so they could all learn fun new ways to kill each other. The odds clearly were not in Donta’s favor.
However, as the small boy looked around the training center at the various weapons and saw all the older tributes up close, he finally registered a new emotion: crippling fear. There was a 99.99% chance that Donta would be dead within a week. The 12 year old was the youngest, smallest, and most likely the weakest contestant in the Games. The only things he knew how to do were identify plants and climb trees, and unless the arena was a giant replica of the orchards of District 11, these skills would be of virtually no use to him. Heck, even if the arena WAS a replica of the orchards, he still wouldn’t be very useful. Maybe he could just find a nice tree to hide in at the beginning of the games and wait for the others to kill each other-oh gosh. Donta began to tremble as it sunk in that he was really, truly going to be a part of these games. He was going to have to watch people die. HE was going to die. No. He wasn’t. If he gave up hope now, Donta knew there would be no chance at all he would get home to his mother and sisters. He had promised them he would try his best, and even though it was obvious they all knew it was useless, he would keep his promise.
Donta took a deep breath-it would do no good to start crying in the middle of training-and forced himself to walk over to a station, making sure to avoid those with weapons or careers. He found himself at the edible plants station, which suited Donta just fine. Yes, he already knew quite a bit about plants and it was important for him to learn something new while he was here, but there had to be plenty of plants he didn’t already know about. Plus, this plant station reminded him ever so slightly of home. The home he would never see again.
Donta quickly pushed that thought to the back of his mind, but the thought of home made Donta realize just how alone he was here. He didn’t have his sisters to protect him (not that that had worked out very well), and there was no way anybody would ever want to team up with a puny, useless twelve year old. His district partner had been Donta's only hope, but he had never even spoken the the girl before the reaping, so he didn't even have a friendly face here with him. But maybe that was for the best? The young boy let out a small sigh before timidly introducing himself to the instructor and pointing out the various plants he could already identify. As he did so, Donta felt a very small bit of his confidence returning; maybe he wasn’t so useless after all. Unfortunately, he chose that moment to catch sight of an extremely violent career impaling a dummy, and quickly turned his attention back to his plants wondering once again how he had ended up here.