The door to the flat was slightly ajar and Emily approached cautiously, shielding Ben. Her heart hammered uncomfortably in her chest, she could have sworn she had locked the door when she had left. This wouldn’t be the first time there had a been a break-in, a few months back she had returned to find the door wide open and all their reserve water drained. They had taken the last of the food too, she had to steal a can of baked beans to feed Ben. She didn’t eat for three days until she could afford to replace some of the stolen goods.
Even with the open door, the air inside was oppressively hot, her hands were sweating, she walked quietly into the lounge, she could hear someone in the bedroom, she was too exhausted from the heat and disappointment of the day to run. Whatever fate awaited her, she decided to face it.
‘Who’s in there?’
A crash signalled something had been knocked over, and Emily heard footsteps creaking on the old floor.
She reasoned there was probably only one of them, ‘Whoever it is, we have nothing to steal! We have no reserves so please, just leave!’
‘You are so dramatic Em, its only me.’ Lily walked out of the bedroom, her long hair was messy, and she was sliding the strap of her slinky ivory dress over her shoulder.
‘Jesus Lily, you scared me! You left the door open by the way, God knows who could have come in here.’ Emily slid Ben into the highchair at the table and handed him the last shrivelled apple from the bowl.
‘Relax, you look like shit by the way.’ Lily said taking in Emily’s sweaty, red face, her hair was plastered to her forehead, she flashed a grin that Emily didn’t return.
Emily often wondered how they could be related. Although two years older, Lily had a real lightness about her, she was a classic beauty, having inherited their mother’s dark mane and emerald eyes. She was also the charming one, she could sell ice in winter, not that there was any winter any more, not since the last big freeze almost fifty years ago. Climate change had made sure of that. Emily, in contrast, had received her father’s slightly brittle blonde hair and bottle blue eyes, she was much more serious than Lily, she was the one who made sure they had enough water to last the week, rationing out the exact portions, while Lily snuck extra for her and Ben, it was no wonder Ben liked her more.
They were interrupted by a tall man walking out of the bedroom, adjusting his shirt. He looked fairly young, not quite attractive but there was something mischievous in his eyes that made up for it. He winked at Lily and left through the open front door.
‘Oh, so that’s why you couldn’t watch Ben! For God’s sake Lily, if I didn’t have him with me. I could have bribed someone into giving me the papers.’
‘Well someone has to fund our trip, don’t they! They don’t accept smiles for train tickets if you haven’t heard, and what do you mean you didn’t get your papers?’
Emily pushed her hair back off her still sweaty forehead, ‘They pulled me out of the line. I didn’t even make it to the front desk,’ she buried her head in her hands and took a deep breath, struggling to hold back the hot tears that threatened to spill, ‘What are we going to do?’
Lily sat down at the table, concern coloured her face, ‘Shit, I really thought you’d get them. It doesn’t matter, we leave tomorrow anyway, you saw the letter. If we stay, we’ll be dead along with the rest of them. ‘We’ll have to find another way,’ Lily reached out and placed her hand over Emily’s, ‘We’ll be Okay Em, we always are.’
Go to Chapter 3
Copyright © 2019 Katy Moran
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This is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and situations within its pages and places or persons, living or dead, is unintentional and coincidental.