TITLE: Winter on Brimstone Hill
GENRE: YA Contemporary
After a particularly bad snowstorm--which kills off both the power and their livestock--Sarah's two-year-old sister passes away. Her father is angry at himself for her death, and her mother blames him.
Taking another step down the hallway, I see Mom, her back barely visible between the open wood stove and my father.
"This won't change anything," she says.
He tries to push her aside, but she steps between him and the stove.
"Think about what you're doing. This is all we have. In five years, you'll want these. You'll want to remember." She pauses. "I want them."
"There's no room here for things we don't need," he says.
"Like what? What do we have that's extra? The food? Most of it died three days ago. At this rate, we won't even have enough money to buy seeds. My fancy clothes? I haven't had a new pair of pants in three years, Marcin. Three years." He tries to step around her again, but she blocks him. "What else do we have that's extra? Let's see. This wood stove. You know what? We don't even need this. There's too much heat in this god-damned house. Let's get rid of it. What else? Those two light bulbs. We only need one. We can just carry it from room to room. Or better yet, get rid of them altogether. That sounds like a great idea."
My father takes hold of her wrists, and for the first time I see what she's protecting--the shoe box filled with pictures of her history, of us as kids, of Grace.
A hand touches my shoulder, and I jump. Joseph stands behind me, his face pleading.
"Whatever you're trying to say, just say it," my father says. "It'd be nice to have some honesty around here for once."
Mom's practically hysterical. "What else is extra? Hmm, let's think about this for a second. Going to the doctor. That's extra. We don't need that. We certainly don't need to get our daughter's cough checked out. We don't need the extra bills. Isn't that what you said? 'We don't need the extra bills.' Well, I'll tell you what. We don't have them anymore. In fact, we don't have an extra mouth to feed. I bet you like that."
My father's face pulses purple. He twists her arms until the box drops, and finally steps around her.
I grab Joseph's hand hard, so hard that if the hallway weren't shrouded in darkness I'd see our hands purple too.