It wasn't always this way. There was a time, long ago, when I had parents, two of them, and a home. It was an amiable one, too, with real glass in the windows and a room all on my own. But that was then.

Now is different. I live in a new home, with a couple called John and Sally. They mean well, I suppose, though I refuse to call them my family. They are John and Sally, the kind people I live with, and no more.

My brother Tom is away again, at sea on the trade ship The Wayfair. The job pays well, but I never see him. Now it has been fourteen months and three days he has been away, and I cannot bear it any longer. He promised it would be not a year, that he'd be back before winter, before my eleventh birthday. And he is not here. He said that he would bring back a fine silk dress for me from Kirot, where they are known for their textiles. And I am still in tattered wool. He promised. And he lied.

Though I am upset with him now, it will not last long. My anger will fade and he will be my brother once more. I suppose he has missed his birthday, too. He would have been sixteen in October.