Nellie McFay

Whoosh, Thud!  If I hadn't of ducked the shoe might've cost me a black eye. Of course, that would not have been the first. I hugged the loaf of bread to my body like I would my own child and darted out of the door before someone's temper could cause any such damage.

"Thief!" the storekeeper cried, turning just about every head. But I didn't stay to meet their gaze--I had learned better than that. Rather I leaped up onto a passing carriage and let the sudden breeze run its warning fingers through my red hair, tangaling it all the more. As I expected, people began to pursue my ride. I glanced back at them smugly before locking my eyes on an upcoming balcony.

The driver, just barely realizing the reason he was recieving so much attention, clutched his hat and swatted angrily at me, but not before I stretched both arms and leaped up onto the bottom of my target. The carriage rode away from my dangling feet and I lost no time in scrambling the rest of the way up.

"Get back here!" someone shouted from below. I ignored them, convinced I had outwitted them yet again--but I was wrong. The solid figure I bumped  into confirmed that fact 

"What are you doing up here, streetrat?" He wasn't far from my age, but that stern voice and accusing eyes intimidated me just as much as someone's twice my size would. Startled, I backpedaled into the balcony. "Did you steal that? Why you dirty little thief!"  He grabbed at my edible treasure, but I held it away from his reach. Leaning closer and digging his fingernails hard into my wrist to keep me from escaping, he lunged at it again but I, on pure impulse, slapped him hard across the face, releasing his painful grip.

We stared at each other in shock before his expression melted into cold fury and I decided it was about time I high-tailed it out of here. Shouldering past him and ignoring his fine clothing which I envied, I climbed on top of the railing and from there to the roof.

***

"Nellie?" my mother's weak voice echoed through our empty home.

"I'm here Mother," I called, making my way across the once-carpeted floor. Ever since Don, my father, and Benjamin, my brother, had been drafted into the war and my mother had come down with disease, me and my younger siblings had been left impoverished with lack of income. We already sold most of our belongings, but that had only gotten us through a few months. I hated robbing, but what else was I to do as the eldest?

"Thank you dear," she gasped as I split half of the loaf into four pieces--one for her, one for Susie, one for William, and one for me. We would save the other half for tomorrow's meal.

I nibbled my portion and rubbed the small scratches in my hand caused from the snooty young man. Letting my eyes make their way around our slumping home and my family's dirt and tear stained faces, my jaw clenched.

I couldn't live this way. I wouldn't live this way. Not for long at least.

The End

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