I woke this morning to the cracking sunlight through the broken shutters and the bitter wisp of a chilling winter wind. It blew in swiftly and through my red hair. Cocking my angular jaw sideways, peering over a massive shoulder, belonging to my husband, Gale, I saw the door rattling and decided to find a way to force it shut. I slipped out of bed, making sure not to wake Gale and the boys, and tiptoed to the wooden door. It was old and dilapidated, and I knew I would need much stronger rope than what we had. Our simple collection of twine would not nearly be enough to keep the fierce winds in and our door sealed.
Wrapping it as tightly as I could around the inside and outside latches, I tied the tightest knot my hands and strength would allow, and yanked the door shut. The winds battered up against the newly and unfamiliar closed door, but soon the noise became normal and withstand able. I knelt down next to the coals in the family fire pit. They were still remotely hot, and therefore provided somewhat of a source of warmth. A shake in the bed caught my peripheral vision and I turned.
Gale sat up. The sun's brightness had increased and gleamed in on him. I could swear, he was carved, not born. His face was thick set, and not a bit rounded. Gale's cheeks, jaw and neck were strong and muscular. The same was with his shoulders, chest and arms. They were perfect for holding onto and hiding behind. Gale rubbed his eyes and blinked several times. Immediately noticing the chill in the room, he pulled our son, Xhavier, closer to him, as if the seven year old boy was a tiny heater. He cleared his throat and looked at me, his beautiful blue eyes locking me in.
"Well, good morning." Even with the clearing of his throat, the obvious smog from the coal mines had filled his lungs yesterday, and his voice still cracked and creaked like our rickety door. "Morning." My voice wasn't pleasant either, sheepish and weak. A faint cry became louder, and tiny hands sprouted up from a black and brown box. I rose and walked towards the box, reaching in and laying the innocent baby girl against my chest. "And good morning to you too, Melly." Our bed was made of a collection of Gale and mine's old shirts all sewn together, stuffed full of hay, feathers, feed, anything that we didn't absolutely or couldn't absolutely need or use, but I sat against it and laid her between Gale's legs.
She pawed his massive calves. Melrose had been a surprise. Okay, Melrose had been an accident. She was completely unplanned. Gale and I were convinced that we were done, and happy with a nine year old boy, and a seven year old boy. Of course I'd secretly wanted a girl, I really could not do that again. When I realized that we weren't done after all, our children had grown bigger and cost more money. More food for them, bigger clothes, fees, and anything else, plus... whatever this new baby's costs would be. We reused the same sleeping box from when Braddok was an infant, both times. But now, being nine years old, I was deathly afraid the box was going to break in the middle of the night and send the baby tumbling to the floor. Against my native instinct, I trusted Gale when he said that it wouldn't break.
I watched his big and rough hands pick her tiny, soft, pink body up and hold her close up against his neck. She spread her bitty hands on his cheek and looked up into his eyes. Magically, I watched. These were my mornings. My wonderful, beautiful, majestical mornings, until the wonder ended, I faced the fear that one night, my husband might never come home. I faced the fear that another excavation cave would crumble, and he would lie dead. But I'm Kairi. I'm Foxface. And I've faced, terrifyingly, worse than even that.