SOMETHING WARM NUDGED my cheek. With a groan, I rolled over.
“Teague,” a whisper and a hiccup. Adeline.
I rolled back over, rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and sat up. “Aye?”
Staring at her bare toes, she sniffled. Her eyes were rimmed with red. “When will Mother come back?”
Tears filled my eyes and I swallowed hard. “Come here, Addie.”
She curled up onto my lap, twining her arms around my neck and laying her head against my shoulder. “When will Mother and Father come home?”
“They aren’t coming home,” I whispered, wrapping my arms around her. “They died, Addie. The plague took them far away.”
Adeline let go of my neck and pulled back, staring into my eyes. Her lip quivered. “Can we go too?”
“Someday.” I stroked her hair.
“I want t’ go now,” she insisted.
I swallowed hard again. “We can’t go now.”
She hid her face against my neck and started to cry. I didn’t know what to do, so I just let her cry. I rubbed her back. After a while, she quieted. Her tears turned to hiccups, then to an occasional sniffle, then she fell asleep.
I eased her out of my arms and onto my pallet, then remained sitting next to her until I was sure she wasn’t going to wake up. I couldn’t go back to sleep. Besides, the dim, pre-dawn light was easing into sunrise. Father and Mother had always been up before dawn, preparing for the day. I had to imitate them now.
Crossing the small room and stepping around Matthias’ and Katriels’ pallets, I reached the water bucket. Empty. I picked it up and tiptoed out the door. Outside, the air still held a slight chill, but the sun would soon burn it off.
One of the village elders stopped me before I reached the well. “Teague.”
I turned. “Aye, sir?”
He put his hand on my shoulder. “In two days’ time, we will hold a meeting t’ determine what is best for you and your siblings. I’m so sorry about your parents.”
I stared down into my empty bucket, then up at him. “Please, don’t separate us.”
“None of you will leave Dunn, if that is what you are concerned about.”
“No sir, not that. Please don’t split us up among different families. We need t’ stay together. I promised Father.”
He sighed. “I can’t make any promises, but we’ll see.”
I nodded my thanks. “May I go now? I need t’ get back.”
“Aye, you may.”
Making my way to the well, I tried not to feel afraid. He said he couldn’t make any promises. What would happen if we were split up? Aye, we’d still be in the same village, but who would Adeline run to in the middle of the night? She wouldn’t want one of our neighbors. She would want family.
- from Chapter 1 of Plague of Darkness
Plague of Darkness is undergoing yet another revision, and this scene is entirely new, not having come into existence until the 10th or 11th draft.
I am so excited about finishing it!