Versailles (Historical Fiction Comp.)

My entry for the 'Historical Fiction' competition. I haven't done a comp. before but I hope you like it anyway.
Set in Germany, after the first world war when officials are forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles or face Invasion, Klara sees the effect on her country and wants to do something about it. Will she succeed when she breaks the rules?

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4. Bread

Early Morning sunlight streamed in the window as my sister pulled the curtains open, waking me.

"Mother wants us to go and get some bread from the bakery" Lilli announced. "She's not feeling very well"

All traces of sleep left me and I ran to my mother's room. She was lying on the bed, coughing with a damp cloth in a bowl of water beside her. I gently mopped her forehead and she smiled weakly at me

"Klara, get the bread" she half-whispered. "Lilli hasn't been in here- make sure she doesn't enter and look after her while I'm bed-ridden"

"I promise" I said confidently, but inside I was terrified. I could tell my mother was really ill. Then I shook the feeling out of myself. She would be fine. She had to be fine.

"Lilli!" I yelled as I ran out of the bedroom "Hurry before the bread at the bakery is all gone!"

"Here!" she answered at the bottom of the stairs "But you can't go in your nightie, Klara"

I was still in what I wore to bed. I ran back into my bedroom to quickly change, grabbing the first dress and pair of socks I saw. I didn't bother to clean my teeth, I could do that when I got back and my morning breath never seemed to be that bad. I slipped on a pair of shoes and was out the door within minutes.

My stomach rumbled as we ran through the streets, but I had no food, only money to buy the bread, I saw children playing outside in the streets, but they were far from happy. "I'm hungry" a little girl moaned and the rest of her friends were quick to add their agreement. Rain poured down, splattering off windows on the reddish-brown brick houses. Very few were painted, those that were had very old paint that was clearly peeling off, especially around the edges of windows or doors. No one had even a hint of a smile on their faces; expressions reflected in the weather. Their faces were looking down at the puddle-ridden ground. Children disappeared inside but some others had no choice.

As expected, there was a large crowd around the bakery with people desperate to buy food before the supply ran out. If it weren't for Lilli and mother I would have gone without and left an extra loaf for a needy family. But my mother was ill, and Lilli also needed to eat. The crowd in front of me slowly thinned, while more people joined behind.

I was two or three places in line when the last loaf was about to be sold.

"Please!" words erupted from my mouth almost before I could think. The man in front of the queue turned to look at me.

"My mother is ill. Can you not help her?"

Muttering spread through the crowd as I faltered, tears in my eyes; I could tell many people were shocked at my outburst. But the man must have seen the desperation in my eyes and felt pity because he took the loaf of bread and handed it to me.

"Thank you" I gasped, shoving all the money I had taken into his hands. I knew it was beyond the price of a loaf of bread even now but all my thoughts were focused on getting the food back to my mother.

"Come Lilli, we must get this back to her" I hugged it to my chest and made my way out of the shop. I heard the man gasp as he realised exactly how much I'd given him.

 My sister followed me as we ran home again despite being already slightly out of breath. I didn't stop to catch my breath or calm my thumping heartbeat, I tore the bread in half and tossed the rest to Lilli "Have that. I'm going to talk to mum so don't interrupt us" I gasped out before I was up the stairs and in her room.

My mum was sleeping, but I gently shook her awake. She needed to eat. Her eyes flickered open and lit up at the sight of half a loaf of bread. Any other time it would seem ridiculous. But not now.

She sat up slightly and ate hungrily whilst I mopped her forehead again. She looked much better after eating, and I told her to sleep. I left the room and was confronted by Lilli  holding a piece of bread for me to take

"You need to eat to, Klara. Don't think I haven't noticed you've taken half the bread to mother and given me the other half!"

Sighing, I took the bread from her. The bread wasn't freshly baked and was even slightly stale but it smelled so enticing I took a small nibble and then wolfed it down. I hadn't realised how hungry I was. I had eaten a small amount of meat for lunch yesterday, choosing to give the rest to Lilli, pretending I wasn't hungry. Mother hadn't eaten anything at all.

Most families probably weren't doing any better.

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