Quick write. I spent twenty minutes on this, which is why it sucks.

Written 2012.03.02

The line of people stretched so far back that Em couldn't see the end. She stood in the bitter cold, and clutched her ragged clothing close to her body.

She'd been unsure how long she'd been waiting, only that it felt like days. Her cousin, who was line in front of her, turned around to grab her hand.

"Em, it's your turn," he said, pulling her toward the large bucket they'd been waiting to reach.

For anyone else, the bucket was nothing more than a large waste basket, filled with little paper scraps, yet for them it could determine their lives.

The guards standing next to the bucket put her on edge; she assumed they were there to make sure each person only drew one ticket. Tentatively, she stuck her hand into the basket, taking a small strip of paper. She was quickly nudged away as they person behind her took their turn.

She and her cousin hurried away to where the two of them had been sleeping in the camp, and unfolded their papers.

Em heard her cousin sigh in relief. "One meal and a glass of water," he said with a weak grin. "That should be enough to last the day. I guess we'll just have to wait a little longer for another blanket. Em, what'd you get?"

Em didn't answer, still staring at her paper. It was blank.

Her cousin grabbed her paper and frowned. "Oh, Em… Em, it's okay, we can share my food…"

"No," she said. "No, it's fine; you haven't gotten a meal ticket since Wednesday, I'll be fine for one more day."

She was uncertain, though, whether she'd be able to eat the next day either.

In different circumstances, her cousin would adamantly ignore her, sharing everything he had even if she didn't ask. But this place changed people.

After a little while, her cousin nodded. "Fine," he conceded, "but I'm splitting my water with you."

Em gave him a little smile, and they were silent.

This was their life. Every day, waking up to get a ticket. Every day, hiding them so others wouldn't steal them. Every day, fighting for their survival.

She hated war. She really did.