The girl whose name was Lily Droplet was lying on her front, resting on her elbows as she leaned over the edge, the edge being the place where the cobbled yard stopped and the endless drop of the sky began.
It was a miserable sky this morning, an entire ocean of grey, a depthless sea of grey clouds stretching out in all directions below her, swirling sluggishly away into the distance, glimmering as electrical storms flickered beneath its surface, the quiet thunder reaching her on the wind.
"How far down?" she wondered."How far down do you go?"
Maybe if she had something to throw, something to drop into that bottomless sky she could find out. Feeling around, she found nothing, the cobbles all cemented securely into the ground, the dirt around them compacted and hard, the pockets of her raggedy white gown as empty as they ever were. All Lily Droplet had was her spit.
She sat up, and glanced behind her at the house that shadowed over the yard, and checked the crooked windows for any sign of Lady Thricetin. Satisfied that the old woman was nowhere to be seen, Lily held back her hair -which was tangled and as red as fresh blood- and let a glistening strand of her saliva fall over the edge.
Down it went, down, down, and then lost, lost forever with the grey clouds and the lightning that flickered through them, lost in the never ending mists that shrouded the gloomy planet below.
A thrill ran through her. Funny to think that all that was stopping this yard and the crooked building that stood on it from tumbling down into the planet was the four, large gas balloons that were fastened below the house. They were huge, stripy things, bulging out under the yard, so stained and tattered they looked ready to burst, their oil-streaked surfaces covered with stitches and repair patches of every size and shape. They were like the leather footballs Lady Thricetin sometimes let the other kids play with, or like bubbles; four, big, patch-work bubble-shaped gas balloons, attached beneath this house that floated in the sky.
"Bull's eye." thought Lily when her spit hit the one she had been aiming for. She was taking aim again, leaning over the edge as far as she dared, when an all too familiar voice shouted out behind her.
"Lily Droplet!" it snapped, in a strong, cockney London accent. "I do hope you 'aint slobberin' all over my fine sky-orphanage!"
"N-No Miss Thricetin." stammered Lily, pulling herself back and scrambling to her feet, flinching when the woman -who was really too old to be wearing a lace dress but wore one anyway, dark black, with pale ribbons down the back- came to stand by her, striding out across the yard, boots rapping on the stones.
"That's Lady Thricetin to you, yer little devil!" she said, holding Lily by the scruff as she craned her neck to inspect the side of her sky-orphanage. Both of them saw the girl's spit, shining on the nearest gas balloon, and Lily felt the woman's grip tighten on her collar...