The Nevsky Wall
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Chapter 16   -  Lost

December 20

Vera knew it all too well: if hunger is the slow ache that drives a person mad, then cold is its anesthetic. The first weakens the body, and the second deadens the will. Together, they form the perfect instruments of death. One death in particular was on her mind that day.

She wore a greatcoat over her lab coat as she made her evening rounds. The hospital wards fell below freezing at night. The children were kept two to a bed for warmth and covered with heavy blankets, like those used for horses. Medicine vials and bedpans froze. She carried an oil lamp from bed to bed, drawing back the covers just enough to see the faces of the children and note their coloring and breathing. Some woke to her touch, frightened by the light or roused from a dark dream. “It’s just me,” she told them softly. “You’re safe, little one. Go back to sleep.”

She walked through the cold, quiet wards, and in the stillness she recalled winter nights as a child, hiding under blankets as voices clashed in another room, hoping in vain that someone would pull back the covers and offer her some small word of comfort.

The long night turned to gray morning. Her shift finally over, she dragged herself down the stairs and across the courtyard to the women’s dormitory. Looking up, she could see the last of the stars overhead. She found someone waiting for her inside the entranceway. Alex stepped from the shadows and took her hand. “I didn’t startle you, did I?” She hadn’t seen him in a week, and he seemed to resemble himself less and less.

“I wasn’t expecting you, that’s all. I’m glad you’re here.” She glanced down the hallway to confirm they were alone.

“Can I come up?” They both knew it was against regulations, but she took him up anyway by the back stairs, careful not to wake the matron. “My roommates are on an opposite shift, so we’ll have the place to ourselves,” she whispered.

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Chapter 16   -  Lost

2 Responses to “Chapter 16”

  1. Nikol says:

    Call me wind because I am abesultoly blown away.

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