Title: Jessica vs Elizabeth
“Oh, Lizzie, isn’t it romantic?” Jessica squealed.
Elizabeth gaped at her twin. “They’re expecting us to kill each other.”
“Yes, but we get new clothes and we’re paired with a boy!”
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.
Notes: I am going to post this, unbeta’d as it gets written for NaNoWriMo2017. I will post a clean, edited (hopefully coherent) version when it is finished, but if you want to see the raw, error-laden process of my word-vomit, here it is.
Read Chapters 1 & 2 here.
After her argument with Amy, Elizabeth went directly to her thinking seat, an old pine tree in the Wakefields’ yard. When the twins had been younger, it had been their hideout, but time had marched on, and Jessica never came out there any more. She had outgrown thinking.
Elizabeth pulled her knees up to her chin and wrapped her arms around herself, feeling very frightened. It had taken her by surprise that Amy would be excited about the Hunger Games. Jessica wasn’t really a surprise, but Elizabeth knew her twin, and for the moment Jessica would be caught up in the idea of dresses and sponsors, but once she realised she would have to kill her friends, she would be just as frightened as Elizabeth was feeling now. After all, Jessica had never killed before, no matter what the rumours said.
She saw her mom pull up in her Fiat Spider, and suddenly felt better. There was no way that her parents would stand to see their children enter a death arena.
She leapt from her thinking seat and skipped across the grass to her mother. She opened her mouth to speak, but before she could, Alice dropped a bag of groceries into Elizabeth’s arms.
“Could you put these away and start dinner? I’ve had a terrible day at work, and need to lie down.”
Elizabeth considered pushing for her mother’s attention, but conceded that yes, her mom had a really hard life – sometimes she worked as long as four hours a day – and at least once a week she had to cook dinner, because Elizabeth wasn’t around. It was no wonder she was exhausted.
Elizabeth went into the house and started preparing dinner. Just as she was finishing laying the table, Jessica arrived home.
“Is dinner ready yet?” Jessica asked. “I’m so hungry – although I’m wondering if I should skip it so I look really skinny on camera when I’m picked as a tribute.”
“Oh, Jess, you don’t really want to be picked as tribute, do you?” Elizabeth asked.
“Of course I do! You get put up at Sweet Valley Plaza – the best hotel in Sweet Valley – and given a dress, and hundreds of people watch you on TV! Why wouldn’t I want that?”
“Because you’ll have to kill twenty-three other people to get out of there?” Elizabeth suggested.
Jessica shrugged. “So what? I’ve done it before.”
“Nothing. I mean I’ve thought about it before. I could totally kill someone.” Jessica replied easily.
“Who’s killing who?” Their brother, Steven, appeared in the doorway. Tall and good-looking, he looked like a younger version of their handsome father. He liked basketball and eating. Sometimes Elizabeth wondered if he liked Jessica better than her. She had once found him sniffing Jessica’s dirty cheerleading uniform. When she asked him about it, he said it was something that all big brothers did, but she had never caught him sniffing her clothes. Not even her clean clothes.
“We are going to be killing our fellow students,” Elizabeth said dolefully. “Our friends. All because Lila Fowler saw a terrible movie.”
Steven moved in front of the refrigerator and started throwing handfuls of whatever he could find in there down his gullet. But it wasn’t gross, because he was slender. “‘ot oo yooo meem?” he asked, dribbling bits of ham, cheese, lettuce, lemon and pot-roast leftovers down his chest.
Elizabeth gaped at her brother for a moment, then figured out what he had asked – what do you mean? She was about to respond but Jessica got there first.
Elizabeth couldn’t get a word in edgeways until her father came home. At this point Alice reappeared and served dinner, as if she had made it. Gosh, Elizabeth thought proudly, she really does make being a working mom look easy.
Around the dinner table, the Hunger Games were explained in excited bubbling bursts from Jessica, while their parents nodded thoughtfully.
“I don’t want to be involved!” Elizabeth burst out at the first hint of silence.
Everyone stared at her, shocked by her vehemence and volume.
“I don’t!” she said again. “Dad, do I have to be involved? I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t want anyone else to kill anyone. You’re a lawyer, can’t you find a way out of this?”
Ned shook his head. “I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but the law doesn’t work like that – a lawyer doesn’t have expertise in all aspects of law, and I’m a real estate lawyer.”
Elizabeth knitted her brows in confusion. “But weren’t you doing litigation when you were working for that chocolate company that had their recipe stolen?”
“No, that would come under the discipline of ‘intellectual property’,” Ned explained.
“So you do both that and real estate?” Elizabeth asked.
“No, I do whatever the plot requires, and the plot requires me to be of no help whatsoever. Honestly, it might’ve been easier to just send me away on a business trip instead of writing this dinner. It’s almost like the ghostwriter has a personal beef with how I practice law.”
“Oh.” Elizabeth sagged back in her chair. “Well, I’ll find someone else to help me. I’m going to write to the President of the United States!”
Alice nodded. “That’s not a bad idea, you’re white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and middle class. He might actually care about you. But I don’t think you’ll get a response in time, Elizabeth, the tributes are being picked tomorrow.” She turned to Ned. “I got a letter from the school today, but Jessica was so excited to tell us, I didn’t want to spoil it for her – it’s nice to see Jessica excited about something that happened at school.”
“I can’t wait!” Jessica exclaimed. “I’m going to be picked – and even if I’m not, I’m going to volunteer as tribute, just like Katniss – oh, Mom, could you braid my hair like hers? I want to look just like her – only blonder and skinnier – for the Reaping.”
“At least one of our twins is enthusiastic about this new project,” Ned said.
“How can you want us to be enthusiastic about it? We’re going to have to kill people!” Elizabeth shouted. Why weren’t her parents supporting her? They always supported her. Usually it was Jessica they disagreed with.
Her mom and dad exchanged a look and Ned answered. “Well, having you children has been a lot more work than we were expecting – and to be honest, you’re quite expensive, what with Steven’s appetite, Jessica’s clothes and schemes and Elizabeth’s constant quest for books. The Hunger Games gives us an opportunity to thin the herd a little. It’ll be interesting to see who survives.”
Alice wiped her mouth. “You know what? I’m actually going to call George Fowler now and ask if he would consider putting Steven’s name in the Reaping. I know he’s a high school student, but he’s so stupid it’s probably kinder to pit him against middle schoolers than kids his own age.”
In response, Steven started licking his plate.
After a few minutes, Alice came back looking disappointed. “I’m afraid it’s not going to happen. George and Hank plan to run a Sweet Valley High Hunger Games next month, so we’ll just have to wait until then.”
Jessica beamed. “Oh wow, I’m going to be an only child!”
“Jessica!” Elizabeth exclaimed.
“What? We both know I’m going to kill everyone out there, including you – and when it comes to Sweet Valley High, Steven will probably starve to death in the first ten minutes.” She turned to her mother. “Can I paint Elizabeth’s room purple and have it as a Unicorn meeting room?”
Alice smiled proudly. “We’ll see.”
Over in the expensive part of town, Lila was in her father’s office. “The thing is, Daddy, I’ve been thinking.” She paused to give him a winning smile, the one that usually got her whatever she wanted. “I don’t think I want to go into the arena. I would much rather watch the games.”
Her father leaned forward and steepled his fingers together. “This is an interesting time to decide to back out of this venture.”
“I’m not backing out,” she assured him. “I just want my name out of the pot. Wouldn’t it be much better if I was outside, giving TV interviews about how my friends are doing? The Unicorns are so pretty and special, they’re bound to be picked.”
Mr Fowler shook his head. “I’m afraid I can’t be seen giving you special treatment, Lila. The name of every single student at Sweet Valley Middle School will be going into the draw.”
Lila gave another hundred megawatt smile. “So the odds are ever in my favour – nobody would notice if my name didn’t go in.”
He shook his head. “I’m afraid not, Lila. Time and time again I indulge your every whim, and you never learn the value of money. So this time you’re not getting your own way. You will see this through – after all, you wanted it so badly.”
“But, Daddy, I don’t want to sleep overnight in the arena!” She pouted. “It’ll be dark and dirty. And I’ll have to dress like everyone else.”
“Well, sweetheart, if you do get picked, you’re just going to have to find a way to kill everyone quickly, aren’t you?”
Before she climbed into bed that night, Elizabeth silently padded down the hall to Jessica’s bedroom, where she found her twin halfway out of the window, wearing one of their mother’s sexy satin nightslips.
“Jess, what are you doing?” Elizabeth gasped.
Jessica rolled her eyes. “What does it look like I’m doing? I’m sneaking out to see Mr Nydick to see how I can guarantee a place in the Hunger Games.”
“Oh, Jess,” Elizabeth said in a thick voice, with tears welling behind her eyes. “Jess, no. Please don’t. I don’t want you in that arena.”
Jessica glared at her twin. “Why can’t you ever support me? I really want to do this! You’re just jealous that nobody will care about you when I’m on TV all the time, and you’re just my boring sister who didn’t go through the Hunger Games! Well, I’ll show you! I’m going to be the first name picked tomorrow! And then I’m going to kill everyone else and be famous forever!”
With that, she hopped out of the window, leaving behind her heartbroken twin.
For the first time since school began, Jessica hopped out of bed early on a school day. She spent extra time on her appearance, braiding her hair just like Katniss’ – and weaving in some purple ribbons, just to make it extra special – a little makeup, and a carefully chosen reaping outfit.
She teamed a black mini-skirt with hot pink tights, and threw on an oversized purple t-shirt. She frowned at herself in the mirror. Last night this had been the perfect outfit, but today, in the bright sunshine, it was lacking. As she scanned the room for the finishing touch, she spotted a bundle of sheer scarves from her Melody Powers phase. She plaited them together and made a wispy kind of belt, with fluttering ends that made her look dramatic. She nodded approvingly, but it still needed something else. Finally she took a purple eyeliner and carefully wrote the word “TRIBUTE” along her jawline on the right side.
Pleased with the final look, Jessica headed downstairs for breakfast. She struck a pose in the doorway and waited for her family to notice her. When they finally did, Steven gave a hoot of laughter. Her parents and Elizabeth were all trying to hide their smiles.
Jessica glared at him. “What are you laughing at? I look terrific.”
Elizabeth walked up to her. “Jess, did you write ‘Tribute’ in the mirror?”
“Yes, isn’t it neat?”
“It’s backwards. Remember? Things are opposite in the mirror?” Elizabeth said in a soft voice.
“It’s not backward, I read it perfectly in the mirror!” Jessica said. She had even checked the spelling on a handout from Patman-Fowler.
After a little convincing, Jessica was taken upstairs so that Elizabeth could re-write the word Tribute before she got to school and they set off. Elizabeth spent the walk badmouthing the Hunger Games, nothing could dim Jessica’s excitement. After getting back from Mr Nydick’s house – he very much appreciated the extra effort she had made by stealing her mother’s nightslip – Jessica had replayed her favourite scenes from the movie in her mind, replacing Katniss with herself, and Peeta with Bruce Patman. Or sometimes Johnny Buck. Or Kent Kellerman. Or Donny Diamond. There were so many good-looking boys to choose from, and in her mind, they all wanted to die for her.
She couldn’t wait to experience that for real.
She ignored Elizabeth’s grumbles, and once they reached the school, she peeled away from her twin to join the Unicorns by the fountain. “Isn’t it exciting?” she asked as she reached them.
“Oh, Jessica, I love your outfit!” Ellen gushed. “And you’ve written something on your face!”
“Tuh–rib–oo-t,” Janet said slowly. “Oh, Tribute! That is wonderful, Jess.”
Jessica preened at the praise from the president of the Unicorns. Then frowned as she added, “I think I’m going to do the same. Lend me your pencil, Jessica.”
Within minutes, every single Unicorn had the word “Tribute” written in purple along their jawlines. Jessica was furious. Now no-one would know how she started an amazing trend.
It only got worse. By the time they were called into the Reaping assembly, almost everyone had the word written on their face. Jessica saw Amy Sutton and Julie Porter walk past, both following the trend, and overheard, “It’s so nice of Sandra Ferris to share these cool tips with us. She’s such a trendsetter.”
Jessica balled her fists so hard that her knuckles cracked. She took a deep breath and vowed to kill Sandra in the arena. She imagined herself knocking Sandra down in the faculty parking lot and bouncing her skull against the asphalt until the shock sent her hair frizzy again.
She glanced around the assembly hall. Not long now. On the stage was a table with two glass bowls, one contained blue slips of paper, the other pink. Mr Patman and Mr Fowler sat on the stage, looking very interested in the proceedings. To the side of them sat Madame André, Jessica’s ballet teacher.
Jessica twisted her fingers together and tried to think positively – she imagined that every single pink slip of paper had the name Jessica Wakefield written on it.
Mr Nydick approached the microphone, and Jessica bounced in anticipation. Beside her, Lila was white as a sheet and breathing hard. She must be just as excited as me! Jessica thought.
“Good morning, potential tributes!” Mr Nydick called out and the hall erupted in cheers and whoops. He looked rather surprised to have received such a warm response. Jessica let out her own yell of joy. Lila groaned.
“I know you’re keen to find out who the tributes will be, so allow me to introduce Madame André to announce the female tributes, and Mr Davis to announce the boys!”
“Madame André?” Lila repeated faintly. “What’s your ballet teacher doing here? It doesn’t make sense.”
Jessica shrugged. Why not? Madame André was a wonderful teacher – well, she’d been wonderful as soon as she noticed Jessica’s talent – so why shouldn’t she announce the tributes?
“The districts will be assigned in order that the names are picked,” Mr Nydick explained. “So the first two will be district 1, and so forth.”
Mr Davis and Madame André took their places, and Madame André reached for a slip, but Mr Davis got there first and grabbed the microphone. “It seems only right that we start with the men, since they’re the ones who are probably going to win, because girls are smaller, weaker and deserve to be paid less!” This time the excited cheering only came from half the audience. “So, for District 1, our first tribute is… TODD WILKINS!”
Todd? Her sister’s sort-of boyfriend? She could definitely kill him if she had to. She was still a bit sore about the time he chose Elizabeth over her. Even if he was really boring, it still stung to be unwanted, when she was the better twin.
Madame André picked out a slip and read it to herself before speaking. “And the female tribute for District 1 will be… Elizabeth Wakefield!”
Todd and Elizabeth made their way to the stage and stood awkwardly in the background.
How had this happened? How on earth could this happen? Jessica had demanded that she be the first girl picked – and she’d had to sit on Mr Nydick’s knee and read him a bedtime story, referring to him exclusively as “Nydee-wydee”, while complimenting his beard, to ensure that. It was just like Elizabeth to steal her thunder like this.
“I’ll kill her,” Jessica muttered.
The next couple of names to be called were Ken Matthews and Amy Sutton and Jessica couldn’t believe it, being upstaged by tomboy-Amy and her short sort-of boyfriend.
My name will come out soon, she told herself. To her side, Lila seemed to be muttering, “So far, so good,” over and over.
Next came Patrick Morris and Lois Waller (a fatty? A fatty before Jessica?); then Dylan McKay and Sandra Ferris (Jessica clenched her fists so hard she drew blood); Jim Sturbridge and Belinda Layton (at last, a Unicorn); Tom McKay and Brooke Dennis; then Dennis Cookman and Grace Oliver (another Unicorn); Denny Jacobson and Janet Howell (oh, Jessica would never hear the end of this if so many Unicorns got in but she didn’t); Winston Egbert and Ellen Riteman (that at least amused her – Ellen had suffered so much teasing for the marriage project that partnered her with Winston, but now they were sharing a district too!); Peter DeHaven and Kimberley Haver (another Unicorn, and another nerd – at least Jessica could save face, she might be late to be drawn, but she’d avoided the nerds).
The stage was filling up with tributes, some pale and panicky, like Elizabeth, Todd and Patrick, but most looked pleased to be chosen.
By the time the penultimate names were drawn Jessica was nearly frantic. How could so many names be drawn and hers had not come up? “It’s not fair,” she hissed to Lila. “Mr Nydick promised me I’d be the first name drawn!”
“Be reasonable, Jess, how is he supposed to rig it? Two completely different people are picking the names. And besides, be grateful – you don’t really want to go in there, do you? I know I don’t.”
“You don’t?” Jessica was confused. “But it was your idea.”
“I know, I just wanted to watch, I didn’t realise I’d be in the Reaping too,” Lila said, looking faint.
Jessica rolled her eyes. Lila was so weird. There would be nothing cooler than killing a bunch of people live on TV.
“And the male tribute for District 11 will be…” Mr Davis beamed in pleasure. “Bruce Patman!”
A gasp rippled through the hall, and all faces turned to look at Mr Patman to see whether he would object to his son being in the games, but the only reaction he gave was a small accepting nod, as if he was surprised, but not entirely unpleasantly, by the turn of events.
“That’s a good sign,” Lila whispered. “What are the odds….”
Madame André then announced the District 11 female tribute. “Lila Fowler.”
Lila swooned against Jessica, mumbling, “It can’t be, it just can’t….”
Jessica shook her off in irritation. “Oh, see, you got picked. I swear, if my name doesn’t come out for District 12, I’m going to volunteer.”
“Volunteer now,” Lila said. “I’ll give you all my allowance for a year if you volunteer for me.”
Jessica frowned, not sure what angle Lila was playing, but refusing to fall for it. “Get up on stage, your dad’s looking for you.”
Mr Fowler was indeed scanning the crowd for his daughter, and he looked relieved when Lila finally got to her feet and walked to the stage. She took her place next to Bruce, who looked equally pale and worried.
Mr Davis and Madame André each drew a slip, but clearly the excitement got to Mr Davis, who tore the slip from Madame André’s fingers, and cheerfully announced, “And the tributes from District 12 will be… Rick Hunter and Jessica Wakefield.”
Jessica leapt to her feet and squealed, “Oh thank you! I’m going to be the best tribute ever!”
Madame André glared at Mr Davis, and stepped forward. “May the odds be ever in your favour.”
“Don’t worry,” Jessica assured her. “They are.”
|1||Elizabeth Wakefield||Todd Wilkins|
|2||Amy Sutton||Ken Matthews|
|3||Lois Waller||Patrick Morris|
|4||Sandra Ferris||Dylan McKay|
|5||Belinda Layton||Jim Sturbridge|
|6||Brooke Dennis||Tom McKay|
|7||Grace Oliver||Dennis Cookman|
|8||Janet Howell||Denny Jacobson|
|9||Ellen Riteman||Winston Egbert|
|10||Kimberley Haver||Peter DeHaven|
|11||Lila Fowler||Bruce Patman|
|12||Jessica Wakefield||Rick Hunter|
End Notes: Once again, these tributes need your sponsorship. Do you have any questions for any of the tributes when we get to the interview stage? Rosey has already sponsored two tributes, so unless you want hers to hack through your favourites, do the right thing. 🙂