Juskofskys: A Short Story

1597 Words 7 Pages
Sunlight peeks through the broken window as I wake. The foul scent of poverty immediately greets me as if just waiting to cause me discomfort. I step over mother as quietly as I can, trying not to wake her. She doesn’t have to go to work as early as I, though she has to scavenge food for my brother, Jacob. This will be the third day in a row that we have stale bread for breakfast, but many people lead more difficult lives than us. We could be worse off, like our neighbors, the Juskofskys.They recently immigrated from somewhere in Europe and are still learning how to speak English. They came with no money, no resources, and six children. I have no idea how they manage to stay clothed, fed, and off of the streets.
All eight of the Juskofskys come out of their small tenement at once, the younger children looking effervescent as usual. They are all heading to different factories for work. Even
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It’s not much, with a small living space, and even smaller kitchen. But it’s all we have. I breathe in deep as I think and begin to smell something odd. Reminding me of the thick clouds of exhaust which come from the new-fangled Ford motor cars, speeding down the streets. The people around me must smell it too; they’ve slowed their hands trying to find the source.
Friendly chatter dies down and is replaced with harsh whispers, trying to identify what the source is. It’s thick, burning my throat, and I’ve just identified what it is when someone yells.
I know I shouldn’t panic, but as smoke spreads through the room, the tension levels rise. I follow a swarm of girls to the elevator, knowing that I’ll be left behind. There are too many of us to fit in the small shaft, and it goes down without me. Those of us remaining run to the narrow staircase in the corner. I get to the door first and pull it as hard as I can.
“Open it!” a girl with a thick accent screams to me.
“It’s locked,” I scream back, feeling extremely

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