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In a Field of Blue by Liviero Gemma

In a Field of Blue by Liviero Gemma

Author:Liviero, Gemma
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781542009447
Published: 2020-01-31T16:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER 21

We sold the silver candlestick to a peddler for a coin, which kept us from begging for only a day. In the following days, it grew colder, and Helene had stopped smiling at the sky, which meant that I could no longer smile at the sky, either. The world was gray, and I was sad, though I didn’t really understand sad that well since we had been surrounded by sad often, so “happy” was when it didn’t feel right. I had grown suspicious of happy.

We continued to steal, and Helene was too hungry and cold to feel remorse. I stole some leather shoes that were too big, and Helene stole a dress and some slippers and a horse’s blanket, and she said sorry to the horse as she took it. And I stole a cardigan that had been left to catch a sliver of sun on someone’s back lawn, and it was pretty and pale blue with matching buttons. The fine, soft wool felt feathery against my bare arms, and for days I imagined the life of the girl who owned it: where she went and the conversations she had with her mother, but mostly the food she ate and the warm bed she slept in.

Helene and I became efficient at stealing. We would watch someone’s house, and when the man would leave for work, I would sneak to the back of the house while Helene knocked on the front door to ask for food. I would take something to eat: an apple, sometimes a whole pie, or a jar from the pantry. One time I took a jug of milk. If the person answering the door gave Helene something to eat or wear, we would leave some of the food at the front door as a kind of thank-you. If they didn’t, then we would take the lot. We sometimes stole soap to wash ourselves in streams and lakes, and we would enjoy hours reveling in the soapy water. But the weather became too cold, as did the water, and we had to stop washing.

We roamed from village to village without a plan, without a future. We didn’t expect charity.

Then one day, things changed.

We were at a new village down a long stretch of road far enough from a town not to be part of it, and the house was set well back from the road. In the fields behind were rows of fruit trees with pears plump and ready for their winter harvest. Though to get to the trees, we had to walk past the windows on either side of the little farmhouse, which billowed smoke from its chimney. Just the sight of smoke meant that it was most likely warm inside, but our intention was not to go in. We thought that we would come back later at night and pick the fruit but found we couldn’t last all day. We were starving, and without exaggeration, Helene’s ribs had risen out from her chest.

In a pen beside the house were chickens, and in another there were piglets.



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