Chapter 1 - The Morning Begins

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I felt a cold air run over me. My thin wool sheets hardly protected me from the harsh wind travelling around the room, weaving through the floorboards and racing past the curtains. I opened my groggy eyes to a new day: I watched Amelia opening the windows of the third room, my room (along with many others). Sitting up I asked what time it was, Amelia turned to me with her stern yet comforting gaze and checked her pocket watch.
"It's currently 5am," she smiled before going back to opening the windows and putting washing away.

I was always jealous of her watch, the silver mechanical device hung proudly from the inside of her cardigan. It was her 17th birthday gift- she rightfully earned it after helping look after us for so long after having lived here herself for all her life.

But I still had a writhing flame somewhere in my heart. Wishing I could be good enough to deserve that watch, wishing I was good enough to deserve anything.

Finally, before I let my thoughts consume me I flung my leg over the side of the wooden bed and stepped onto the spruce floor. My face scrunched at the cold biting at my feet. I brushed my hair out of my face and felt around my neck, I sighed before patting my bed up and down: I had managed to lose my locket again.

Just then, Tyler jumped up from under the bed waving the locket in his hands.
"TYLER!" I groaned before stomping after him, I had the slightest hope one of the older kids would sort it out just like they used to when I was even younger. But now I was 'old enough to take care of myself' and couldn't rely on these people I called my siblings.
"Tyler I swear to god I'll take your pillow"
Quick enough Tyler returned with my locket, I stared him down as he snuck out of the storage room. I snatched it off of him before returning back to my bed, laying down for what I thought was a mere minute. I had realised that the messing around with Tyler and my inept ability to think straight made it now 5:15. I had five minutes to get downstairs before breakfast began.

Looking into the mirror I saw my ruffled brunette hair, short and cut puffy around my neck along with my mauve purple eyes that I always got strange turns of head for. Followed by my pale skin and freckled cheeks. I picked up my daisy hairpin I kept apon my small box of belongings and stuck it in my hair half heartedly like I always did. I then flattened out the fly away hairs that protruded from the top of my head and turned back to the small rail centered above my bed on the wall that we hung our uniforms from.

Pulling the items down I quickly scrambled up and pulled my socks on, my beige shorts and white shirt also got little decent treatment as I threw them on me. Now that I observed the room properly I saw it was only me and Donovan left. He giggled as I joked about how we always got the scraps. He also had the habit of leaving for breakfast late,
"So. Did ya hear Katie's getting taken up?"
"Wh- she's getting a family?"
"Yeah. Apparently this little out of town couple fell in love with her and took her up."
"That's pleasant," I smiled weakly. Quickly finishing styling my hair and re-adjusting my locket I stood up.
"Hopefully soon enough I can grow a halo and then someone will want me!" I joked.
Don laughed again, "still feel bad for Jake a year back. Remember they said they only wanted him to train him up for arena battles?"
"Yeah, some kids are real stars. I'd feel bad for them getting hunted down for their looks if I wasn't stuck here because I didn't look interesting enough."
Don frowned a bit,
"There are other villager kids here,I'm a regular kid aswell, I don't have any cool tricks or a pretty face you know."
"Yeah. But look at Amelia: best person I've ever met and she's still here. She's 17 Donovan, I love her but I don't wanna end up like her".
Silence took over the room.

Then the morning bell rang,

We both tripped and ran realising that the morning bell had begun: and breakfast had started. I scampered out of our room and attempted to fly down the stairs followed by Don who wasn't so quick on his feet. Who in the hell decided that it was fair for kids on the top floor to get down in such a short span of time: first world problems amirite?

Quickly we made our way into the dining room, there were no seats left: we were made to sit with the other late kids on the boxes at the back of the room, trying to butter bread with no plate while not sitting on an actual seat seemed to be a challenge. I watched the younger kids giggle and kick their feet under the table while some still attempting to use a spoon properly; the little kids always got porridge in the mornings.

My gaze wandered over to everyone else. The mid years, such children just below my age had two bread and often a small bowl of porridge if they got there early. Or if there were even leftovers from the infant's, Tabby, Scooter and Wish scoffed down their small bowls and happily ate their bread and butter.

Then was us, the older kids: but not quite old enough to be completely useful, ever since my 12 birthday I had been left with a single piece of bread in the mornings. I didn't enjoy not being able to grab a small bowl if I got down early, now whether I was early or late I was given the same thing. Maybe that was why I was so careless about getting to the table now on-time (it had become more about grabbing a seat more then anything).

I carefully tried to ration my bread and butter until the bell rang for breakfast to be over: but as usual I ended up giving in to the smell of fresh bread and ate it all like the little savage I was. Sighing I glanced around to see if anyone wanted to talk: Don was still eating and Amelia wasn't to be seen. She was probably washing outside near the pond. Usually I would just get up and doodle on old history book pages until the bell rang but if any elders saw you "being lazy" you were sent to do extra chores before the day even began. I remember once Cassandra (our main cook) telling me 'I should always look for chores and that talking to people would never do any good for me'.

I never understood the woman to be frank.

I simply laid back a bit in hopes that by being in the back I would increase my chances of going unknown. I even dipped my knife in the butter pot every once and a while to make it appear I was still eating. I continued to rest for the next few minutes until the bell rang: I felt my time was well spent. As it was my turn to sell crops today, A task I to be honest didn't enjoy. The outside world didn't do much for me unless I was sitting by a tree and picking acorns: a dream I'd never gotten to follow through with while being stuck in this cycle of work.

Everyone slowly arose while the infant's were assisted off of their chairs by elders: they would be going to the nursery towards the inner village for an education. While I was sent to work: and the mid years were assigned various chores in the house.

The one thing I'd always hated is i was constantly told I'd get used to work: I really hadn't. I wanted to do my house chores so much compared to slaving away in a field. I didn't feel any different to before my birthday, I was still the same and still felt the same. The number didn't change me and yet I was thrown into this new line of work. I simply sighed while reminiscing on how I'd sneak pages out of books in the library and draw on them, remembering feeling doomed when a roommate caught me stealing pages... Only to ask me to draw them! I used to draw everyone and it was fun messing around with ink pots from Elder Sam (of who's office we were forbid from) but we'd sneak in her office anyway. And laugh as we rearranged her letters and forms.

But now I was a big kid, it was my responsibility to console the younger children and make sure they weren't misbehaving, when all I wanted was to be like that again.

I stretched as I left the dining hall and made my way to the door, I usually stood around and spoke for a while but I couldn't be asked today: I'd prefer to get all my harvesting done as quick as possible so I could go to the market and get it all over with quicker. Maybe if I was feeling dangerous enough I could even sneak off to the forest while I was meant to be working and sit with the birds for a while.

I let my mind ponder all the way to the fields next to the orphanage, I headed over to the shed and picked up a standard stone hoe. And a small satchel they kept prepared: sighing I wrapped the satchel around me and made my way to the fields. I started near the end so I'd have an easier chance of escaping at some point, and simply got to work hacking away at wheat stalks and replanting seeds.

Maybe going to the market wasn't going to be such a bad thing after all.

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