TITLE: BETWEEN SLEEP
GENRE: YA Fantasy
I finish coughing up a lung, what’s left of it anyway, and wheeze in the grimy air of the pit we call home, number fifty-nine, Fetter Lane—the wrong side of town.
Phlegm marks the sleeve of my nightshirt, but it don’t matter, I rub it in good to match the crusted dirt already there. I lean over the edge of the bed for my Leaden. Unscrewing the tiny lid of the brown bottle, I lift my head a fraction and drink back a sip of… air. All gone. I drop back into my pillow. I’ll survive till Pa gets more from the Markt. I hope. Disease spreads like an infected wound here, in the stinky armpit of Loredom, not helped by the night air breathing its germs in through the broken window.
I squint through the gloom; Pa’s still asleep, his mound pressed against the grubby wall, lit by the glow of the street lamp spilling in through the scraps of curtains. Even in the dark it’s never too dark to see the insects crawling over the beds. The building would sooner collapse on his head before he woke up, unless that is, Ma Smith’s pea were to strike the window from her shooter down on the street. Only thing what lifts his head off the pillow. Don’t ask me, makes no sense, ’cept for the call of glimmer, not that he makes much. Better than nothing, s'pose.
Wedged beside me lies my ten-year-old sister, Clara; her clay-brown face so peaceful, so still—too still.