Two days without sleep had not improved Marcelina’s mood, but as it was already horrid she thought no one might notice. In three months it would be Dosia’s birthday and she’d sworn to her daughter they would have a new home by her birthday. They’d been holed up in the ruins of a small town for three days. Jory’s leg prosthesis had been repaired one too many times and they couldn’t get much farther with it.

Everyone was tired, no one was getting enough sleep, and winter crept closer every day. She knew she should sleep, but with every drop of her eyelids she had a fresh nightmare waiting for her. It was easier to stay awake. This morning she’d left early so she could claim to have slept at some point. Jory would know she lied, but Dosia hadn’t quite caught on yet to her mama’s tricks.

There was a chill in the air as the stars began to disappear fully. To the east, as she hovered a safe distance from their hideout, she watched the sun begin to send the night away. Despite her exhaustion, she flew higher. At just the right spot she could almost see the sun claw its way from the ground. Once, she’d flown high enough to imagine she could see the curve of the ground. She’d also almost died so had not repeated the trip. Jory had been equal parts furious and terrified.

Caught off guard by the wind she was pushed backwards. Marcelina cursed, thankful for no little ears, and righted herself. Per a very tired husband’s request she was only supposed to be up here to scout for incoming trouble. So, she let the sun rise on its own and steal away the stars, and began to fly a perimeter.

“Oh, fuck, fuck, fuck.”

Marcelina dropped down faster than anticipated. If she’d been less tired she’d have avoided the downdraft. As the ground hit her, unfairly as she’d never done anything to it, she bit back all of her dziadzio’s swear words. She could feel a cut on her on her cheek and new bruises would soon form over old ones.

Limping across the broken ground she thought she heard footsteps the whole way. It was likely sleep deprivation induced paranoia. She was familiar with that from her time as a conscript.

“Wake up,” Marcelina hissed as she slipped inside their temporary home.

There was no need. They were already awake and packed. Good. Because they surely didn’t have a lot of time.

“Marcelina,” Jory began before he saw her face. “Baby! What did you do?” He limped across to her and she shook off his attempts to clean her up.

“No time. We have to go.”


“Shush, terror.”

“Marcelina, sit down.”

“I’m fine.”

“Mama, your leg!”

What was wrong with her leg? Marcelina looked down. When had that happened?            

“It doesn’t matter.” Although she couldn’t stop staring at the piece of white bone sticking through her pants. The landing had been rougher than she’d thought.

“People coming.” The warning was the last thing she said before her vision finished narrowing down to nothing and she crumpled to the floor.