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Posted on: Jul 11 2018, 05:22 PM
OAK BIRCH, JR.
FOURTEEN | DISTRICT 7 | OAKLEY | HIGHCLIMBER
It was a cold, winter day when you took your first breath. Fresh snow had fallen just as your mother had gone into labor. You were by far the easiest child she had to birth. You were healthy and your incubation went without complication. You were the third child and first son born to your family. Your father was proud of you, so much so that he named you after him. You were Oak Birch, Jr., but you were quickly nicknamed Oakley by your two older sisters. Everyone said you were almost a spitting image of your father. You shared his dark hair and bright blue eyes. The two of you were close from the very first night of your life. Your thunderous cries only ceased when you were in his arms. He would eventually become your hero. You would grow to admire him, but sadly you would not see him in his prime as much as you would have liked.
Your sisters took care of you when you father was hard at work in the dense forests of District 7. While your mother cooked, cleaned, and endured the burden of motherhood while pregnant with new siblings, it was your sisters who you spent the most time with. Family was important to you. You siblings were your best friends, your confidants, and your closest allies. You followed in their footsteps, literally and figuratively, and sometimes you led the way. You convinced them to play with you outside no matter how hot, cold, or stormy it was. You loved to climb trees, pretend sticks were swords, and chaser after squirrels. You were youthful and full of energy. Life was good. Life was fun. But you would soon realize that the world you grew up in was dark, dangerous, and cruel.
The first Game you watched aged you. Pretending sticks were swords were no longer fun after seeing one pierce flesh for real. You realized that it could easily be you on either end of the sword one day. You were not far off from being old enough to be a tribute yourself. The luxury of your youth was running short. The most dreadful era of your life was soon upon you.
You were in despair when your father was injured on the job. His ability to work was stripped from him. Your family's income plummeted. And, for the first time, your path began to diverge from the rest of your siblings. Seeing your father out of work - seeing your idol injured, broken, and depressed - had a profound impact on your life and it happened just as you became old enough to be a tribute. You father was no longer the unbreakable hero you always saw him to be. Your family was struggling to put food on the table. You watched your oldest sister do what she could to help, and you decided to help out any way you could as well. You started by taking out tesserae and trading the goods for medical supplies for your father. You did it in secret. You knew your family would talk you out of it if you let them.
With your father unable to work, you felt the need to step up and provide. You learned from a young age that it was a man's duty to provide for his family. You took it to heart. You dropped out of school and found an under-the-table job climbing trees to harvest tree nuts and trim limbs. The pay was pitiful, and you desired more. Soon you found yourself searching for higher-risk jobs for higher pay. Finding work was hard for you at first. Your youth made workers question your ability. You often had to demonstrate your skill by challenging a crew's fastest climb to a race. More often than not, you were the first to the top of the tree. Loggers and lumberjacks soon found your climbing skills useful. You were light and nimble. You were able to climb trees more easily than your larger adult counterparts. In a short time you became a dedicated highclimber. You climbed the tallest trees, cut their limbs, and cut down the tallest segments. The trees often shook violently after you cut them and you had to hang on for dear life. A fall from the heights you climbed was almost always fatal. It was a risk you were more than willing to take, and many workers were equally willing to pass that risk onto you.
You tried to work in secret because you knew your family would protest, but it did not take them long to find out. Your mother screamed and begged for you to stop. She did not want the same thing to happen to you that happened to your father... or worse. You did not listen to her though. You had pride in your work. You had a sense of honor and duty that you refused to abandon. You continued to hone your skill with the tools of your trade - rope, axes, saws, and steel cable. You were working hard, but you never made enough to fully provide for you family. You were never paid an equal wage for equal work because of your age so you continued to take out tesserae. You refused to let your family go hungry. You refused to allow their quality of life to diminish. You were a brother and a son, but you were also a provider. You were a hard worker, a stubborn boy, and a risk taker. The odds were stacked against you, but you promised yourself that you would never give up. You never wanted to stagnate or give up when times were hard. You would carry your father's name with pride and fight until the very end no matter the circumstance.
May the odds be damned. Oak "Oakley" Birch, Jr. was going to pick up where his father left off and build a better life for himself and his family... or die trying.
TYRUNT | HAYES GRIER
Posted on: Jul 11 2018, 05:28 PM