The Nevsky Wall
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Chapter 9   -  First Snow

October 2

Marina stopped to read the notice tacked to the news board at her building. It had just been posted and superseded the two notices beneath it:

BY EXPRESS ORDER : STATE DEFENSE COMMITTEE AND D.V.PAVLOV, COMMISSAR OF TRADE

The daily bread ration for registered citizens of Leningrad shall be set at 300g for factory workers and essential personnel, 200g for office workers, and 150g for dependents and those children under the age of twelve. The monthly meat ration shall be set at 1200g per person. The monthly ration for fats shall be set at 500g per person. All figures are subject to availability of supply. Those suspected of theft or counterfeiting of ration cards will be fully prosecuted under Article 58.

She had a daily routine. She left the apartment well before sunrise and spent several hours waiting in line for bread. It was important to arrive early because the shops had a limited supply – she’d learned this the hard way. She had three ration cards, which she kept in a special pocket inside her coat, just like the one she’d sewn into Vasha’s vest a few months earlier. As a fireman, Viktor fell into the ‘essential personnel’ category, and she and Vasha were counted as dependents. This new daily ration for the three of them amounted to less than half a loaf of bread – or what was currently passing for bread. With Viktor able to get a hot lunch at the firehouse most days, it was just enough to keep them alive.

Even before the destruction of the food warehouses, the commercial stores had been closed. Marina heard that the ‘special stores’, those catering to the Party elite, were still in operation, but it could have been a rumor. The truth was that money, paper notes, no longer had any value. A wheelbarrow full of rubles couldn’t buy a potato. Some items, like jewelry or furs, retained a small percentage of their value in trade on the black market, but that was fading fast. The new forms of currency were the basics, the things people really needed – canned food, cigarettes, medicine, and vodka – and there was a lively marketplace if you knew where to look.

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Chapter 9   -  First Snow

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