Rats in a Tank- Chapter one

I'm not sure what woke me up. Perhaps it was the pots and pans clanging in the kitchen. But that was usual. It happened every morning. So I figured it must have been my sister’s breathing in the bed next to me. That must have been it. She was always the first one awake, so the fact that she was still there this morning must have caught me off guard.

I’m a very light sleeper, so if just one thing is out of place, it sends negative signals to my brain and wakes me up. It really ticks me off most of the time, but I guess if my older brother was dying in the other room I could save him or something. Not like that would ever happen.

I sighed and rolled over onto my stomach, kicking my blanket down onto the floor. It was mid July and it was I’m not sure what it was that woke me up. Perhaps it was the clashing of the pots and pans in just so hot on our tiny apartment all of the time. We couldn’t afford an a/c like all the wealthy people, however many few there were.

Our home consisted of a small living room, a small kitchen, and two bedrooms. My mother had her own room with the baby, me and my younger sister, Avenly shared this one, and my older brother Derek claimed the couch in the living room. We had to use the bathroom and the washing room in the lobby, and half the time our electricity or hot water didn’t work. But this was normal. All the other apartments in the city were like this too. Everyone lived in apartments. No one had a house of their own any more. My mother said that when she was a little girl people lived in their own homes. With lots of electricity and water and an oven and a microwave and all those things that only the mayor owns. I wish I lived back then. But things aren’t like that now.

The government says that now too many people exist. I believe it. They used up every lot of extra land they could get their hands on to build a new apartment for all the people moving in. We have to be very careful our canned food. We only get twenty cans a month. Nothing’s fresh from the farms. I don’t even know if farms really exist. If they do they defiantly don’t exist in Wyoming, which is my home state. Never left Wyoming. Probably never will. It takes you almost an hour to drive three blocks because the roads are so busy. So we just walk everywhere. I can’t walk out of Wyoming.

I sighed and finally sat up, deciding I couldn’t sleep in any more. It was just too hot, and I wasn’t used to Avenly being in here. She was laying sprawled across her mattress trying to kick off her thin sheet but it was tangled around her legs like she had been tossing and turning all night. Her white blond hair was in a cobweb of a mess across her pillow and her breathing was heavy. I instantly felt worried.  I got up and walked over as quietly as I could,, but the floor creaked with every step.

“Av?” I asked, my morning voice croaking as I tried to get it working for the day. She didn’t answer. I walked in front of her and pushed her shoulder a little.

“Hey, Av? You feeling okay?” 

Her eyes cracked open a little and she looked at me with a feverish look as if I were just in her dreams.

“Sean…” she breathed. “Can you tell mom that I can’t go to school today?”

“Sure thing Av, do you want anything?”

“Some cold water.” She swallowed. “Really, really cold.”

“I’ll try to do that.” I nodded, pushing her bangs from her face and I got up, leaving the room to go into the kitchen where my mother was standing over the stove stirring a pot of oatmeal and milk. This looked to be the last of the canned oatmeal. We were down to nine cans and we still had two weeks left before the end of the month. I sure hoped we didn’t go hungry again.

“Morning Sean.  You’re up early.” She greeted quietly so as not to wake up the baby.

“Yeah. I think Av caught the fever again.” I said. I probably shouldn’t have started the conversation out that way, she instantly looked worried sick like she would have a panic attack. We couldn’t afford medicine, especially near the end of the month when money for water and heat for the stove was so tight.

“Is it bad?” she asked.

“I dunno. She asked for some cold water. Do we have any?”

“No, the fridge won’t work until we make the payments next month. Tap water is as cold as we can get her…”

“Do you think the neighbors have any?”

“Sean, I feel bad taking their cold water.”

“But Av is sick….” I gave sighed sitting down at the table. “She won’t be going to school today.”

“No. Let’s hope she can sleep it off.” Mother sighed, filling a mug of tap water. “Bring this to her. Water is water, it should help her anyway.” I nodded and did as she said. Av couldn’t have anything major… we wouldn’t be able to afford to help her. And money was the least of our worries. All I wanted right now was for there to be enough food. Maybe if there were just less people, things would be so much easier. We could all live better, eat better. But America was just so full. I was pretty sure we were right up there with India now. And everyone knew it was only a matter of time before the government cracked. And this Tank of rats would be emptied out for good.


The End

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