Chloe froze. Nobody rang their doorbell. No-one. Not ever. So who was this? Was it the landlady, coming to evict them? She was sure she had paid Sue the rent for the next four months. There was no way it was her, was there?
“I’m sorry Craig, but your wife has Osteomalacia. She may need a break, Alaska is not the best place for sunlight, now, is it?”
A girl sat outside the doctor’s surgery, and her eyes widened in shock. Her mother couldn’t have that big word disease, could she? This couldn’t be happening. She was only ten years old, what could she have done to deserve this? Her dad had only just lost his job, and now her mum was going to die. She didn’t know what was happening, she just knew they would never be able to afford her mother’s medicine, or a trip abroad, or that food the doctor was recommending. She didn’t know. She didn’t know.
She didn’t know. As she walked to the door she didn’t know what was happening, or what she had done to deserve this. She didn’t know.
Her hand shuddered as she went forward to turn the doorknob- partly because it was cold, partly because she was scared- but when she opened it she heaved a sigh of relief. It wasn’t Sue. It was a young woman, in her mid-twenties, with scraggly blond hair that had frozen to her head in the subzero temperature. Her jacket was ripped and her clothes were caked in mud, and her shoes had more holes than her gran’s crocheted teddy bear, but the fact that it wasn’t Sue cancelled out the effects of the woman’s appearance.
“My name’s Sarah Hardy, and I really need somewhere to sit down.” her voice was rough and hoarse, but through what was obviously a bad cold, Chloe could hear a trace of a British accent.
“Chloe Wilson. And you can come in, you’ll freeze out there.” she may have been broke, but Chloe wasn’t heartless. “So, how did you get like,” she stopped, hoping not to offend her “this?” Sarah could see her looking at her attire, slightly perturbed.
“I, um, long story.”
“We’ve got time.”
“You can’t just eat so we don’t need to pay for your medicine!”
“I would if you could get a job to get food!”
Chloe closed the door quietly and went to her room, trying to ignore her parents’ voices, but still they continued. She lay, curled up on her bed, her fingers in her ears and her pillow in between her elbows. She lay, hoping for a better day tomorrow.
It took Sarah nearly twenty minutes to explain how she had been kidnapped, and how she had seen her fourteen year old brother for a brief moment before she ran away from the men who had taken her.
“Whoa.” Chloe felt stupid for taking pity on herself, while this girl had been through it all and was still humble. “We’ll help you.”
“Don’t worry.” Sarah said, but Chloe couldn’t help it, “I just needed somewhere to sit.”
The sun hit Chloe’s face and woke her up immediately, its warm light urging her to leave her bed, telling her that this would be a better day, a brighter day, a happier day.
She opened the door and crept down the stairs, trying her hardest to pretend the loud sobs she could hear were tears of laughter, that what she was fearing hadn’t happened.
“Mom, what happened?” she asked, but she already knew what her mother was going to say.
“Your dad’s left, dear. We just thought it would be better.”
But Chloe knew her mother didn’t think it would be better. She wanted to pretend it was all a dream. Mom would be gone in less than a month if she didn’t find money to pay for her medicine. She didn’t want to believe it. She couldn’t believe it. She wouldn’t believe it.
But she had to.
“Thanks for the bread, Chloe.” Chloe had given Sarah an old jacket of her mother’s and her dad’s old boots before she had forced her to let her leave.
“Any time.” she wished that there was more she could do. “And if I see your brother, I’ll try my best to find you.”
“I’ll make sure you can.”