“Please, Mary. I need but a loaf of bread, for you know I am poor and have many mouths to feed. Could you not spare even a mouthful for my family?”
“Agatha, I can not spare any more myself. The winter is harsher this year than most. You of all people must know this.”
“Yes, dear sister, but I need the food to feed my children. Surely with all of your wealth you can spare a mouthful of bread for each of us. What is a day of hunger to a woman of your status?”
“No, no, and for a final time, no! We have hardly enough food to feed ourselves, Agatha! We do not owe any to you! Leave at once, and stop asking for my charity!”
With that, Agatha stormed off from her sister’s cottage, grumbling to herself all the while. She opens the door, hitting it against the outside of the house, before slamming it back against the house. She trudged down the snowy road, each step sending a chill up her hunger-wracked body. She had given up eating to feed her children, why couldn’t her sister see that?
Her home was a mere twenty minute walk away, each step closer seeming to send another bit of cold up her body. She wanted to get home, but she knew the empty pantry and unburning fireplace would be hardly able to comfort her as she did. The white landscape seemed to shine with the falling snow, each flake an icy reminder of the cold biting at her body. Her stomach growled, and she clutched at it, each step bringing another wave of hunger.
She opened the door gently, its creak announcing her arrival to the children in the home. Her presence was immediately greeted by shouts of joy from her children, each one asking the same question: “Do you have the food?” Each of her five kids ran up to meet her, the stampede of little feet nearly knocking her over. She looked down upon their faces, each one worn with hunger, before sitting down on their dirt covered floor and holding her head in her rough, calloused hands.
“Mother, I’m hungry.”
“Please, Mother, we want the food.”
Agatha looked down upon the starving faces of her children, each one slowly withering away with hunger. Their clothes hung loosely on them, each one’s frame barely large enough to hold the ragged fabrics up. She looked down upon them before sitting down on the floor and beginning to quietly weep into her hands. Small, wet tears ran down her face, the chilling air inside the house freezing some midway down. She wiped the icy liquid off her face, before gazing at all of her children, realising that if they had no food, they would surely die within the week. How was she to feed them, though, when her sister had done nothing to help out a starving family?
Suddenly, she had an idea.
The fireplace crackled, and popped, illuminating Mary’s face with an otherworldly orange glow. The door to her home swung open as the booming voice of her husband announced that he was back from retrieving firewood.
“Hello, Henry,” Mary said, her voice dry and cracked from lack of use.
“Hello, my darling!” her husband called back.
“Could you come here for a minute, Henry?”
“Of course. What seems to be the issue?”
“I’m worried about Agatha, Henry. I refused her a loaf of bread earlier today, and she seemed quite upset about the affair, blubbering about her children,” Mary said, trying to keep her voice firm and stoic.
“Dear, you sound like you may cry. What are you worried about? Last I saw her, Agatha was a plump and healthy lady.”
“Yes, but it’s been months since you two have spoke. She was wire-thin today, and was so pale she could have been dead. I want to go check on her, and perhaps bring a loaf for her and her children.”
“You know we have only enough food to feed ourselves! We may be rich, but this winter has been hard on everyone, Mary. The bad crop, and the unreasonable cold has made a lack of food common, even for people of our wealth!”
“Please, Henry. It is but one loaf. We can spare that, can we not? And even without that, I would like to check on her and her children simply for peace of mind.”
“Fine, but I would like to warm up by the fire before we do.”
With that, the room went silent, save for the popping of the fire.
The fresh snow hushed under Mary’s feet as she walked to Agatha’s, sending waves of goosebumps up her spine. She had never liked the winter, always preferring the scorching heat of summer to the wasteland-like landscape of the season. She sighed, a puff of mist billowing out of her mouth, almost like a ghost, before it dissipated into the frigid air around them. An icy shriek announced another gust of wind, blowing another cloud of snow into her face.
“Mary, Dear, are you sure we had to go all this way,” Henry shouted, his booming voice barely audible over the screaming of the wind.
“Please, Henry. We are but a minute away. Were it not for the blizzard, we could see it in the distance,” Mary said. Henry made no response, and so, unsure if he had heard her, she walked on.
About two minutes later, they arrived at the door to Agatha’s house. Mary gently creaked it open, and was met with an eerie silence in return. She shut the door, and shook herself off, before calling out for her sister.
“Agatha, I have changed my mind. You are welcome to a loaf of bread if you so wish.”
Nothing but silence met her in return, the walls too thin to produce even the slightest echo through the shrieking of the wind outside. The unvarnished wooden floor splintered with each step she took. Did her sister really live like this?
“Agatha?” she called out once more, met with no reply.
Mary looked around, and decided to go upstairs to see if her sister had simply not heard her over the noise the walls were letting in. She began to walk up, each step groaning under her light weight. Her footfalls fell silently, without even a hint of an echo, and as she made it to the top, she shuddered. Not with cold, Not with fear, but with… something she couldn’t quite describe. She walked to the door, and slowly opened it.
What she saw was Agatha lying on the ground, blood and chunks strewn around her. Her stomach was torn to pieces, and her arm was gnawed to the bone. Mary took a step closer, her face pale with shock. Her foot fell in a puddle of blood, soaking the hem of her dress with it. She knelt down, and found a small piece of paper, soaked with blood.
The note simply said "We have eaten".
Written by Derpyspaghetti