I sighed as I went around picking up glasses and tankards wiping my little rag along the tables where the ale had spilt, I kept my eyes on the wooden floor and tables and off the girls stood in there dresses leaning on the stairwell in the corner, I felt the eyes of the barkeep glued to me as he watched me.
I heard the bell ring on the door but I thought little off it and continued my work till someone shoved my back almost tipping me over
"Watch it kid" he snapped as he headed over to the girls
"Alaki!" My barkeep warned
"Sorry sir," I said to him
"No hard done by kid" he laughs as he grabbed at some poor girl taking her upstairs
"Go on head home Alaki," the barkeep said so I finished my work and handed him all the glasses getting my bag and went out to the foggy cobbled streets. I groaned putting my arms across my chest to try and avoid the cold but the damp air made that impossible, I could hear the noise from the pubs and houses I tried not to smell the sweet scents from people's homes it just made my stomach rumble and grumble slowly going through town
"Evening Alaki" I heard a voice smile I looked over and saw the familiar yellow dress half torn and broken, her red hair a plaited mess from being on her back Most of the day
"Evening Luci" I smiled to her "how's business?"
"Pretty slow... Never much catch in the fog" she says
"I suppose not" I laughed
"Here, while I have you," she says handing me a couple of glass bottles
"Thanks, Luci" I smiled getting her a coin and handing it to her open palm before I headed off, soon enough I got to the alley heading down getting my key and unlocking the door to the cold dark little house.
I shut the door locking it up again and lighting a candle or two with my last match before it burnt my finger I hurried to the left room opening the little door I headed over to the crib and lit a candle just as I did someone started crying so I smiled be gently lifting little Astrix out his crib giving him a little cuddle which silenced his cries so I put him down tucking him tight oh no... One, two- where's Kiki!
"Oh no, oh no, oh no," I said unlocking the door and rushing out into the foggy streets "Kiki! Kiki!" I shouted as I ran thought the paths and alleys I ran for what felt like forever till I stopped to get my breath
"Alaki?" A voice asked I turned to see a window opening it was Mrs Linley who lived a few blocks away "I found this little one trying to steal my laundry" she says handing me little Kiki
"Oh thank god, I was so worried about you," I told her but she just giggled sucking on her fingers "thank you, I don't know how she keeps getting out"
"You know... Isn't right young boy like you raising those babies" she says "you haven't the time with work and all... Should really give them in"
"I'm doing fine taking care of them" I snapped "sorry I just... I know my mum wouldn't want us all to be separated" I said hitching Kiki up on my hip "thanks again for finding her" I smiled before heading home putting her in the cot with her brothers Astrix and Markus, once I got the bottles sorted I got them all out sitting in there chairs "sorry guys, as this is all we've got we going to have to ration a bit," I sighed knowing this isn't going to be enough not for Tonight let alone the week so I feed them each as much of the milk from Luci as I could possibly spare, Luci is a whore and has been as long as I can remember but she got pregnant not to long ago and... Unfortunately lost it. And since what happened to my mother she agreed to give as much milk as she could for them at least till they get a bit bigger. But since it is all we have they get some milk a day and the rest is having to be bread soaked in water but I tried to keep it as fair as I could between the three. As they were having their food I got the last few biscuits they were so stale they were hard to chew and a few had rat and mouse bites in the sides but if it's good enough for the rats I suppose it will do for me.
I was just about to set them to bed when the door knocked
"Who is it?" I said in a panic
"Open up Alaki it's just me" the sweet voice replies I quickly opened it shutting it again behind her
"You scared me" I blushed
"How?" She giggled pulling off her black hood revealing her pretty purple dress
"I thought you might be a debtor or something"
"You worry too much" she laughs going off to the bedroom I smiled sitting back on the chair as she got sorted out "look what I managed to sneak home?" She smiled putting two apples in the table
"What would I do without you Eliza" I smiled giving her the biggest hug I could manage
"Be dead probably" she giggled pushing me away and getting a knife from the kitchen "this one today, this one tomorrow?" she says putting the other apple away and cutting this one into five equal prices three of which she diced up and gave to the kids and we shared the other two even if I could have swan she gave me a little more then she had
"How was work?" I asked trying to take tiny bites to make my apple last
"Fine, long day," she says "how was work?"
"Okay, herb didn't pay me again"
"I'll talk to him on my way out tomorrow," she says
"No please Eliza, it's okay we can make it work"
"Alaki... We can only stretch my two pounds a week so far" she says "if he's not going to pay you, you may as we get another job" she says taking the triplets to bed
"Knowhere will take me, nowhere but the factories... And I can't risk it in the factories. I couldn't have the risk of not coming home" I explain
"I could always..." She says as she came back fiddling with her dress "take up some extra work? In the evenings"
"Eliza no," I told her holding her hands "no, it hasn't come to that... We'll be okay,"
"If you're sure, come on bed you have work tomorrow Mr," she says "and you best not be home late tomorrow, it's bath night" she warns so I smiled and headed to the bedroom clothes scattered everywhere the window boarded shut, the old half-broken bed tucked into the wall with a thousand blankets I got sorted and tucked into bed the bed as cold as everywhere else, as Eliza came in not long after having locked up the house and blew out the candles, she undid her long brown hair and slipped off her dress and corset revealing her curves I looked away best I could as she climbed into bed "goodnight Alaki"
"Goodnight Eliza," I told her pulling her close she was a little warmer than me but not much, she drifted to sleep quickly nuzzling close to me as she slept her skin slight shivering so I gave her as much blanket as I could spare to try and keep her warm.
I suppose I should explain.
A long time ago, things where simple.
My father used to run the cobblers in the town with my mother helping out where she could until I came along, and even then things were okay if a little stretched sometimes... Until my siblings came, my mother passed away in childbirth but they were able to save all three triplets, but not too long after my father ran off with some whore girl.
I tried keeping us afloat best I could but we were drowning... And then Eliza. I had known her quite a while meeting in the shop and such like but I found her one night while I was walking home from work tucked in an alley in the rain, she had run off from her abusive father and uncle but had nowhere else to go. And ever since we have lived together we share a bed but mostly for warmth and for the fact we couldn't afford a new bed so this was my parent's bed together both of us working is just enough for the bills and for food but it means using every last penny.
I hated having to live this way but I refuse to let her go out and get an evening job, the things people do to those girls I couldn't bear the thought of Eliza doing that, Even if we could use the money.
I hated how people looked at us the assume we are living in sin even if I've never touched Eliza like that...well intentionally. They look at us even worse if we go out with the triplets people think that we live in sin with three bastard children even if most around here know that isn't true