GENRE: Young Adult Historical
Jan woke to the dim blue light before dawn. He lay, gazing at the just-visible ceiling, remembering the day before.
It was when he turned over and pulled the covers tight that he sensed it; the sense of something wrong. He could smell it, feel it; heavy and prickling like a rough wool blanket.
But not warm.
Fumbling back the covers, he scrambled out of bed and grabbed for his slippers, scared without knowing why.
Soft footsteps tapped outside the door. The knob turned, and his mother entered, her face hidden in the shadows. He smelled the faint scent of coffee as she came toward him, put her arms around him, kissed his cheek. "Happy birthday, Jan."
She hadn't held him like that since he was eight years old. Then her touch had been all he needed to drive away the nightmare.
Now it only made him more afraid.
He pushed her away. "Mum. What's wrong?"
"I'm sorry." Her voice wobbled. "I don't think we can have your party."
"What is it? What happened?"
Her whisper shivered through the air. "The Germans have invaded. Crossed the border at Maastricht and are coming into the country. Our army is fighting them..." He heard her swallow. "Come on, sweetheart. We can't do anything. We...let's eat breakfast. I made pancakes..."
Only half-hearing her words, he yanked open his wardrobe, wriggled into trousers, pulled a
shirt over his head.