This book is dedicated to all those who died during the Holocaust, Especially those whose stories go untold

. May this never happen again.

Table of Contents Prologue………………………………………………Page 3 Chapter one…………………………………………Page 13 Chapter two………………………………………….Page 22 Chapter three………………………………………..Page 29 Chapter four………………………………………….Page 34 Chapter five…………………………………………..Page 42 Chapter six…………………………………………….Page 48 Chapter seven………………………………………..Page 56 Chapter eight…………………………………………Page 61 Chapter nine………………………………………….Page 65 Chapter ten…………………………………………...Page 74 Chapter eleven……………………………………..Page 84 Chapter twelve……………………………………..Page 94 Chapter thirteen…………………………………….Page 105 Chapter fourteen…………………………………...Page 128 Chapter fifteen………………………………………Page 133 Chapter sixteen……………………………………..Page 147 Chapter seventeen ………………………………..Page 162 Chapter Eighteen…………………………………..Page 172 Epilogue: Summer of 1960………………………...Page 182

Prologue “Mother why are we running?” I ask. “Not now sweetheart. I‟ll explain later.” She answers. We run up the streets of Rome, the wonderful cobblestone streets. I love how old Rome is. The houses are old, the shops are old, even the books in the library are old. The smell of tea wafts through the air and mingles with the smells of freshly baked bread. The bread I am carrying is still warm and burns the skin on my hands. There is definitely something wrong. Mother never runs, never keeps secrets and most of all she never runs down cobblestone streets. Ever. She once caught me running down the street from Trinette‟s house and spent a week telling me how one day I was going to fall and hurt myself. She was always a bit over protective. Seeing her run down the cobblestone streets is a definite sign of something being wrong. My sister, Martha, runs outside to help us with the groceries and notices that something is definitely wrong. “What is it mother?” she asks. “Run.” My mother gasps. “What?” she asks.

“RUN! Both of you!” she shouts. “But mother, we can‟t just leave you here.” “Nicci, Martha, I love you two very much. Please, just run. Remember I will always love you.” “Nicci, you run. I will meet up with you at the train station.” Martha says to me. “Are you sure?” I ask. “Run Nicci!” mother shouts. I run as fast as I can toward the general direction of the train station. There is nothing left to do. I run as fast as my little feet can take me. Whenever I hear voices I hide wherever I can. I race down the street and finally arrive at the train station. “Please sir. I have no money but I need a ticket to somewhere.” I say. “Where exactly?” he asks. I say the name of the first place that pops into my head. “London, England.” I say to him. “Well I can take you to the border of France but England is across the ocean.” “Oh, okay. I‟ll go to France.” “Are you going with the Kindertransport?”

“I don‟t know sir.” “Are you under eighteen?” “I‟m eight years old, sir.” “That counts.” “So where am I going?” “To the border of France and then over to England by boat.” “That works for me.” “So this train is going to take you to Berlin okay? From Berlin you will be put on the Kindertransport train and sent to England. Got it?” “Yes sir.” “The train leaves in an hour. You best be ready.” I hold up the only two things in my hand, my mother‟s purse and my suitcase. “I am already ready.” “Well I guess you can board then.” “Okay.” He checks my passport and lets me on the train. “Have a nice day.” “You too.”

The train takes me to Berlin just as expected but when I arrive the Kindertransport train is not there. “Sir, where can I find the Kindertransport train?” I ask to a man with a soldier‟s uniform. “Right this way miss.” He says as he points at a train. “Thank you sir.” I step on the train and find myself surrounded by other children. About a hundred children are seated around me waving out the windows towards people who must be their parents. I sit down in the back of the train, alone. The train rolls off. I wonder why my mother sent me away. I wonder if Martha is okay. I wonder if Trinette is okay. Trinette hasn‟t been at school lately. I haven‟t seen her for almost a year. I used to play with her after school. Our parents were friends so I‟ve known her since she was a baby. Sometimes I helped my mother babysit her while her parents were away. I wonder if she was sent on Kindertransport too. Maybe she was. Maybe she is safe from whatever it is that mom was running from. I stare blankly at the wall. I take out my mother‟s purse and open it. I have never known what she keeps in it; she never let me touch it. I decide that she wouldn‟t mind and that technically this is an emergency.

I find her wallet with money inside, a bottle of water and a picture of dad. Her tin of mints and a pair of her reading glasses are at the very bottom of the bag. I wonder why she never let me see it. I sit patiently, waiting for the lady that walks around handing people food. She hands me a small plate with some chicken, a small slice of bread, a glass of water as well as a cookie. I begin to eat the chicken in small bites and after about half an hour eat the bread too. I gulp down the water and refill the glass with some water from the bottle in my mother‟s purse. Once I am done I quickly eat the cookie and the lady comes back around to take my plate. I sit around until the lady comes back holding something in her hands. “I think you dropped this.” She says to me, holding out my stuffed bear. “Thank you, miss.” I say to her. “You‟re welcome.” She walks away and I hear the heels of her shoes go click-clack on the wooden floor of the train. I remember walking down the streets and into a store with my mother to buy bread, pasta and pastries from the store only a week ago. I remember the distinctive click-clack of her shoes as she walked.

Once I tried to wear her high heeled shoes. They were far too big but they still made that same click-clack sound. I feel home sick. I miss my mom and sister. I never really knew my dad. He died during the Great War only three months before I was born. It‟s quite sad really. On father‟s day at school I am always the only person in my class who does not bring my dad with me. I try to stay happy but sometimes I don‟t even go to school because I‟m so sad. It makes me mad that all these people are starting wars. What is the use of wars anyways? No one likes war. It‟s really stupid. People die when they still have long lives to live. Men leave their children fatherless. War has no use. It‟s just there. I guess that‟s what happens when the government gets mad or something. It‟s like when little kids lose their temper. Sometimes wars start just because people are power thirsty, like Napoleon Bonaparte. He just wanted to take over the whole continent pretty much. But notice what happened to him, he was destroyed. All the countries went back the way they were supposed to and eventually the world went back to normal. The only problem is that when wars happen it leaves countries really poor. If a country spends a lot of money on war their economy goes down, Kind of like what happened in the United States of America after World War Two. They

lost so much money that their country went into a depression. The great depression meant that people lost money which meant that companies died and people lost their jobs which means that even more people lost money. It‟s a cycle. So to keep that from happening again they should probably stop all this war nonsense in total. If we end wars we end hundreds of problems, or at least that‟s my perspective of it. I also find it quite stupid for countries to spend so much money on things like this. Why don‟t we just let two countries fight it out until someone loses? Why do we have to get involved? I know it sounds pretty not good of me to say that but there is nothing else to say. My mind starts racing. The woman comes back to talk to me. “Thinking about something?” she asks. “Oh, yeah.” I answer. “Good. I was once told to keep my mind off of the things that hurt me most and onto better things.” “Really?” “Yep. So what were you thinking about?” “Wars. Wars are stupid right?” “I think so. Why do you say that?”

“Because it just makes people poor and lease people against each other.” “I guess that‟s a good way to think about it. So what are you going to do to help?” “Help with what?” “Stop wars of course.” “I don‟t know. I can‟t stop wars.” “Anyone can stop wars.” “Really?” “Yup.” “How?” “Simply by getting people involved.” “How do I do that?” “By telling your friends. They will tell their friends and it will keep going.” “Cool.” “So what about wars were you thinking about?” “Napoleon Bonaparte, the Great War. You know my daddy fought in the Great War!” “Really! What did he do?” “Shot guns.”

“No, I mean what was his job?” “I don‟t know.” “You don‟t know?” “No I don‟t.” “Why is that?” “He died.” “Aww that‟s too bad.” “Yeah.” “How old were you.” “Zero.” “What?” “I wasn‟t born yet. He died three months before I was born.” “I‟m sorry.” “Its okay. Its not your fault.” “My daddy fought in the war too.” “Really?” “Yup. He was a fighter pilot.” “Did he come back?” “Yeah.”

“How old are you?” “Excuse me?” “How old are you?” “Twenty five. Why?” “You look like my sister.” “Oh. I have to go. Were already here.” I step off the train and wander around. I end up losing my group but a nice man in a red military outfit finds me and puts me on a train. Then I am plunged into total darkness and I am scared.

Chapter 1 “Why do the Nazis spare me?” I asked a young boy who was behind me in line. He shivered and said nothing. “Why were we children sent here and not our parents?” I asked him as his stared into the nothingness in front of us. I was still wondering what the Nazis would want with me. The boy shook his head and sobbed. He opened his mouth as if to say something but then quickly shut it as the Nazi officer came close. He stood there paralyzed with fear of the tall Nazi soldier in front of him. He began shivering again. The soldier walked away nervously as if he knew something bad were about to happen. As soon as the soldier was out of sight the boy turned to me. “I have heard that many horrible things happen in this place.” He whispered. Then he glanced at the door as if to make sure that the soldier would not return. “Most people do not come out alive.” He said to me, this time a little louder. I wondered what they would do to me. Then as if reading my thoughts the boy said “The tortures are awful. They poison people and submerge them in ice water. They do these things to see how long it takes before people die so that they may apply it in the War.” I was about to ask him about the War but the soldier had returned.

“Quiet!” the man shouted in a fierce tone. “Keep walking!” another shouted as he pushed us forward. We walked through the door to a small stingy room. A man gave us each a tag and sent us through separate doors. The boy gave me a weak smile as a soldier pushed him through the door to my left. My tag read „Muskel Ersatz Prüfung‟ which must have something to do with muscles by what I knew, that couldn‟t be good. I wondered what horrible things were in store for me. I knew that it would be bad but as I entered the room I saw it was much worse. The room smelt like dead bodies. People slept on dirty, blood drenched floors. Some screamed in pain others just sat there looking miserable. It was a sad sight. Young children stared at me as if thinking about how lucky I was to still be whole and healthy. Mothers held their babies as if they thought they might never see them again. Sadly it was true. Those babies had no chance at life. Either they would be killed or they would be used for testing. I was put in a corner on the left side of the room. I sat next to a young girl about five years old. She sat there crying. “What‟s wrong little girl?” I asked her. I knew it was a stupid question though. “My mommy ran away” she whispered. “She said she would be back for me but she never came.”

I tried to think of something comforting to say to her but I couldn‟t think of anything. I noticed that she didn‟t have any legs. “What did they do to your legs?” I asked her. “Oh,” she said, as if she had just noticed that they weren‟t there. “They had to amputate them since they took my muscles.” Then the little girl burst into tears. I felt guilty for asking such a stupid question especially since it brought her so much pain. “I‟m sorry” I whispered. “It‟s not your fault,” she shouted “It the Nazis fault!” “They took my mommy and killed my daddy! They did this to me!” she shouted. I tried to get her to calm down so the soldiers wouldn‟t hurt her but it was too late. They picked her up and shouted at her “Have you not suffered enough? Must you feel the wrath of the Nazis once again?” As they dragged her to the next room she shouted “Curse the Nazis! May they‟re work be in vain!” She put up a fight but it was not enough. Her screaming faded as she was put in the next room. When night came I could not sleep. I just sat there wondering what had happened to the little girl. Had she been killed? I wondered if I would ever see her again. I wondered if she would survive whatever was in store for her.

The next day I was inspected. They checked my height and weight. They checked my muscles. They’re probably going to amputate my arms and legs like they did to that little girl… I thought. It hurt to think that it may have been my fault the little girl was put to more torture. What was worse is that the thought stuck with me all day. The guilt was eating me on the inside. There was no sign of the young girl for the next few days. The people in our bunker thought she was dead and of course they blamed me. But to me it seemed that the loss of people should natural for them. Hundreds of people died anyways. The little girl was just one more. The next day three Nazis soldiers walked into the room and looked around then they pointed at me and a few other children. “Kommen heir!” one of the soldiers said. I did not understand him but I realized that since all the other children were scrambling over to the soldiers that it must mean „come here.‟ We all followed the soldier as he walked out of the room into another one. One of the other children turned to me and grinned. The poor little boy thought he was getting out. But he had no chance of leaving since I knew the Nazis weren‟t nice enough to just let twenty kids go free. There was simply no chance.

Then a beautiful woman with blonde curly hair came out and asked “Who wants to see their mother?” Then a roar of laughter broke out as all the children became excited. I was the only one who wasn‟t so happy. Why would the Nazis be generous enough to simply send us to our parents? We were put on a train with many other children. It was an amazing ride. We were fed milk and chocolate and food I hadn‟t eaten since I arrived at the concentration camp. Maybe there really was hope for us. Maybe I was wrong to think there wasn‟t. Maybe, just maybe, we might get out alive and be able to see our parents. Maybe the Nazi woman was telling the truth. I sat in one of the bunks on the train. Next to me sat a Slavic boy. He was about my age. He was tall with majestic brown, curly, hair and bright, large eyes. As we spoke I realized that both he and I were from the same region of Italy. Just speaking of his home, back in Italy, made him cry. I was blinking back tears myself. “I remember how mama and I used to walk down to the village to pick up bread every morning,” he said, blinking back tears, “and how by the time we were home we had eaten it.” “I remember the grapes we planted in the back yard” I said “and how we had to shoo away the birds before they ate the whole crop.” “I wonder if life will continue this way after the war.” I said to him.

“Maybe” he said “I‟m just glad I get to see mama and papa.” “I agree” I said as my food was delivered. Today we were given a sweet roll and some broccoli along with some nice cheeses. “I feel like a king” the boy said “you know, eating all this fancy food makes you feel that way.” I nodded already stuffing my face with cheese and broccoli. The boy laughed as he saw me. “You eat like a pig!” he said. The next day, as I went to the bathroom, I heard the Nazi men talking. “We must keep the children healthy and fat so that the tests may be done well” one said. His cold voice sent a shiver up my spine. “Yes” another one said “If they are not we will not be able to test the tuberculosis treatment.” That made me feel even worse. “Oh however did you get the children to cooperate?” a woman asked, her voice frail. “All we had to do is get the translator to tell them their parents would be there and they went crazy” the first man said.

Then I noticed why the men were so nice to us and why they gave us all the amazing food. They were going to do some awful medical tests. I remember when my papa had tuberculosis. He coughed blood until he had no more left. Then he died. I hoped nothing like that would happen to us. We never did anything to deserve this! We did nothing wrong! I ran back to my bunk. “It‟s all a trap!” I shouted to the boy. He looked at me with a startled look on his face. “All the good food” I shouted, my voice rising at every word. “It‟s just to keep us healthy enough for another test!” “So all the food and promise of being reunited with our mama‟s and papa‟s” he said blinking back tears “it was all a lie?” Then he started sobbing. “I was such a fool to believe it was true!” he cried. I turned to him and hugged him. “We‟ll be fine” I said even if I wasn‟t too sure. He smiled at me. His eyes sparkled in the light. His curly hair waved in the wind from the open window. The train took many stops to pick up more passengers in the next few days. A young girl about five years old was placed in our bunker area. Now it was the three of

us. Later that day I found out her name along with the name of the young boy of whom I shared my bunker area with. The young girl‟s name was Abigail. She was short with blonde hair that was almost brown. She had small brown eyes. She had freckles all over her face and a small nose that was almost too small for her face. The boy‟s name was Deangelo. He loved me and Abigail like sisters. We were all a big happy family you could say. Except the thought of what lied ahead lingered in our minds. Like butter to bread my papa had said when I was little. Our real families were a touchy subject. Abigail was an orphan. Her father was killed in a hypothermia test. Her mother was missing. Deangelo‟s father was killed in a gas chamber and his mother ran away with him. She ran with him to Italy where they lived for two years until he was taken by the Nazis. He hasn‟t seen his mother since. My mother was taken away and I never knew my father. My sister ran as they were doing the round-up. I tried to run but I was only ten years old. The men caught me but I later escaped and was hidden by a Polish family. Yet the Nazis found me and they brought me to the concentration camp. We all had these sad memories. Like our parent‟s deaths and our tortured friends. Our lives were pits of sadness and our hearts were heavy with grief. As a

child my mother told me that sadness should be abandoned and replaced with happy thoughts. Now that the war started that was very hard to do. The grief surrounds us and the happy thoughts seem to be getting further away. Life in itself is hard to survive and people you love and cherish could be on the brink of death.

Chapter 2 We were put on a carriage and sent down an old broken road. I turned to Deangelo who was right beside me. I could see he was scared, his face filled with anguish. Abigail, who sat right beside him, with flushed with excitement. She still thought she was being sent to her mother. Her feet were going back and forth beneath her. I turned to Abigail. “Don’t be disappointed if your mother isn’t there,” I said to her. Deangelo looked at me in disapproval. He shook his head as if warning me to just let Abigail be her own happy self. It’s true. I shouldn’t ruin her bad mood. Especially since we knew it wouldn’t last very long. About half an hour later we arrived at a big brick building. It looked like an old abandoned school. It was huge with an orange tile roof and white framed doors. It looked like an old boarding school with creepy dark windows. “Where’s my mommy?” asked Abigail. Her brown eyes widened. She was about to cry when Deangelo turned to her and said “Even if it kills me, I will get you to your mommy. I promise.” “Do you promise?” Abigail asked. “I promise,” Deangelo agreed. Abigail smiled. Later as Abigail was walking in front of us I turned to Deangelo. “What were you thinking?” I whispered to Deangelo “You can’t promise that! It’s impossible!”

“Nothing is impossible” Deangelo whispered back “and I do not break my promises.” “But you can’t bring her mom back!” I whispered but he shushed me before I could say anything else. He brushed the hair out of my face and said “anything is possible. Always remember that.” Deangelo, Abigail and I held each other’s hands as we walked into the building. The inside of the building was just the same as the outside. The dark brick walls were haunting. Inside it was dark and the rooms were empty. As they brought us in our rooms were assigned. I was sent to room five, right down the hallway from Abigail. But I could not see Deangelo. One of the Nazi soldiers called us out and we were all put in a line. There were twenty of us, ten girls and ten boys, all between the ages of 5 and 12. Abigail was the youngest. “You will wake up at exactly 5:00 am! You are not to speak to each other! You are to be in bed at exactly 7:00 pm!” a Nazi man shouted at us “You are expected to listen to all commands! You are expected to do as your told and nothing else!” Then a few of us were pulled out of the line and sent down the hallway, Abigail was one of them. I watched as the Abigail and the others were brought into a room down the hall. “The rest of you go to your rooms!” the man shouted. As I walked to my room I looked back to see where Deangelo was placed. I had to find a way to see him and Abigail in private. As I walked I observed the other people in my room.

A girl (who seemed almost my age) turned to me and smiled. “Do you ever wonder if there is hope for us?” the girl asked. I sat by her side. “I don’t know,” I said “some days I wonder if I will ever see my family or any of my old friends. Sometimes I wonder if they are even alive.” “I know my family is safe,” she said, her voice full of hope. “How do you know?” I asked her. “They were good people and did nothing to anyone. There is no reason for anyone to be against us” she said quietly. Then she turned around, as if checking to see if anyone was there, and then turned back to me. “I believe we will get out safely. All of us” she said. Then she closed her eyes and fell asleep. A knock at the door finally awoke me. Yet it was not 5:00. It was way too early. “Come in,” I called out. Deangelo tiptoed quietly in and sat down beside me. I hugged him so hard that he whispered “Let go! You’re choking me!” Then I looked around us and saw that I was making a scene. Yet I couldn’t help myself. Who knew how much longer we had with our friends before either one of us would face the end. “I have a gift for you” he said. I turned to him in surprise. A gift? He nodded as if reading my mind. He put his hand in his pocket and brought out a silver stopwatch. My eyes widened. “It was my father’s,” he said. “And I want you to have it. “It is all you have of your father! I cannot accept it!”

“But you must” he said “It is a gift. I will feel offended if you do not accept it.” I held the silver stopwatch in my hand. It’s silver outside felt cold in my hand. I could hear its faint tick tock. It shone as the morning light hit it. “It’s beautiful!” I said in awe. “Now you can always know what time it is,” Deangelo said. “And my visits will not surprise you.” “I love it!” I said to him. “I never quite got your name,” he adds. “My name is Nicci” I said. “A beautiful name for an equally beautiful girl,” he said as he turned to leave. The next morning at exactly 5:00 I was awoken by the sound of a trumpet playing loud and melodically. It surprised me that such a loud instrument could play so majestically and beautifully. Its sound seeming to travel into each room until everyone was fully awakened. We were all sent downstairs where some of us ate and the rest of us just sat there hungrily staring at the food. It was peculiar. Some of us ate yet the others were teased with the thought of food. Then I saw Abigail and Deangelo. Both were sitting at the table of those who did not eat. I felt sorry for them so I saved some grapes and put them in my pocket. I also grabbed some bread of which I put in my other pocket. Surprisingly the guard, that was supposed to be watching us eat, did not notice what I had done. So I

grabbed the plate and spilled all its contents into my apron pocket, a few fruits and some bread. Then I asked the guard if I could go to my room. He leaned down, I was sure he was going to hit me, but he did something that surprised me even more. “Good luck” he whispered “I saw what you did. Going to feed your friends, am I right?” I nodded hoping it was okay to trust this guard. He smiled and winked at me. “You’re a brave one” he whispered. Then I skipped happily to my room and put all the contents in a bag. My mother’s bag… I thought. Sad memories flooded back but I knew I didn’t have much time so I quickly ran back to the large room and sat back down in my spot. Then, after everyone was finished and the people at the other foodless table were too sad and tired to sit up, we moved along to the next room and sat in two rows. The rows were organized the same way the tables were. There were the people who ate food and those who didn’t. Then we were split into two more groups. I wondered why. Five of us were in each group, two groups who ate and two groups that didn’t. Abigail, Deangelo and I were in three separate groups. Great I thought to myself I’m alone again. Yet I wasn’t alone. In my group there were two girls, including the girl I had spoken to the day before, two boys, and I. We introduced ourselves and sat down on the floor. I missed Abigail and Deangelo. Abigail was like my sister. She was so young and innocent. Yet Deangelo was different. I did not know

what to consider him. A friend maybe? A brother? No it was something else yet I could not describe it. Abigail’s group was led down to the basement. Yet Deangelo’s and mine groups were sent to our rooms. Strange, I thought, isn’t the testing done on all of us? Maybe they only tested on some groups. Maybe… At about 12:00 pm Deangelo knocked on the door. When I opened it I was surprised to see Mania. I carefully took a look around, simply making sure that no one saw them enter the room. “Look who I found looking for you,” Deangelo said. Abigail giggled. She reminded me of my sister. How she would tickle me and I would giggle. Then she would laugh at my giggle. After that we would end up laughing at each other laughing. It was strange but it was us just being who we were. No pressure to be perfect. No knowledge of the pain of the future. Yet why would we care? We were too young to care for such troublesome things. We didn’t care that one day we would be separated. We were just two girls laughing until our sides hurt. Then when we caught our breath we would laugh some more. We spent whole days laughing and laughing. Then I snapped back into reality. I welcomed Deangelo and Abigail in and we sat down on the floor. Abigail turned to me, her smiling face lighting up the room. Then Abigail told us what happened in the basement. “They gave me a needle” she said as she showed us the scar on her side. She explained it with such detail and drama.

“Quite the little actress,” Deangelo said as he ruffled her hair. She giggled again and smiled. It was almost 1:00 in the morning when Abigail yawned, curled up on the floor and laid her little head on Deangelo’s lap. “I’d better get going” he said as he got up, carefully picking up Abigail and walking out the door. “Good night” he said. Then he gave me a one-armed hug, since Abigail was in his other arm, and left.

Chapter 3
The Nazi soldiers sent us outside. Abigail, Deangelo and I decided to plan your escape that day. As we walked we searched for every weak point in the fence. We noticed several but none weak enough to escape through. “The fence has an opening on the right side” Deangelo pointed out. Yet when we went there to see it the hole was just barely large enough for Abigail to get through let alone Deangelo and I. Later as we walked inside I saw a door. The door was small so we would have to crouch yet it led right outside. I pointed it out to Deangelo and Abigail. “There!” I said. “That is our ticket out of here!” “Do I get a ticket too?” Abigail asked. Deangelo and I laughed. Abigail simply stood there, confused. “So?” Abigail asked “Do I get a ticket or not?” “It’s not a real ticket” Deangelo explained “It’s…” “Metaphorical,” I said. “Yeah it’s not a real ticket” he said. “Ok” Abigail said blankly “but I want an imaginary ticket too.” Deangelo and I laughed again. This time we laughed all the way to our rooms. Deangelo, Abigail and I hugged each other and split off into our own table groups. Again, Deangelo and Abigail weren’t given any food and again I stuffed my pockets with as much food as I could share with them. Yet this time I realized Deangelo didn’t look that hungry. Abigail looked as if she would faint but not Deangelo. No, Deangelo looked almost… full.

I pondered the thought yet said nothing to him that night. It was none of my business. Maybe it was just a guy thing. Maybe they can act tough in any circumstance. No, the other guys looked like they were about to die. Yet Deangelo still seemed strong. The food I was giving them couldn’t be enough. No, he must have other sources. What kinds of sources? Was it possible? No. I quickly shoved the thought to the side. In the corner of my eye I saw what looked to be colored pencils. Could it be? Could someone have hidden them for so long? I reached down under the bunk. They were pencil crayons! That wasn’t all I found. There was paper and a ruler. There were even charcoal pencils! It was amazing that anyone could hide them for so long without getting caught. The supplies were dusty so it seemed to have been around for a long time. I had heard a rumor that this place had once been a school; a real school, not a testing facility in disguise. Real children once walked these halls. Really classes had once taken place. What has happened to these children? Have they gone home to their parents? I took out some water color paints and started to paint a picture of the people here. I put all my anger into that drawing. I drew the guards and the children. I drew Abigail, Deangelo and as many people as I could fit on the page. I lost track of time. Then I heard a knock and I hid the picture and all the supplies under the bed. “Hello?” Deangelo whispered. “Come in” I whispered back. “Just check if anyone followed you.” He and Abigail stepped in. I gave her some bread and she ate it hungrily. But when I offered some to Deangelo he refused. That was strange. He ate nothing all day but he doesn’t even look at the food I offer him. “Are you not hungry?” I ask him “Would you not be after not being able to eat all day?” “No” he said sharply “I can withstand weeks without food. I am strong I will survive.”

“But aren’t you hungry?” I ask again “Not even the littlest bit?” “I will have it!” Abigail said staring at the grapes in my hand. “Here” I said. “Take them.” She took it without hesitation. She ate it quickly yet seemed to savor every moment of it as if she may never eat again. I laughed but Deangelo just stood there stiffly. “Deangelo, what is the matter?” I asked. “Nothing” he said with a little pain in his voice. “Absolutely nothing.” Abigail and I stared at him and he looked away. We planned our escape all the way to the point on which we would flee to Italy and the surrounding areas. “Won’t they look for us there?” Abigail asked. “Deangelo lived in Italy so would they not search there?” Abigail was young but extremely smart for her age. “Yes” I said “they would wouldn’t they?” I looked to Deangelo who was still very stiff. He didn’t respond. So the plan was that we would wake up at 2:00 am and sneak out the little door we found the day before and we would run over the fence and to one of the abandoned houses that circled the area and after three days of house hopping we would race down the road and onto the train that led to the Ukraine and jump on a boat to Turkey where we would hopefully be safe. Hopefully. Then at 12:00 pm Deangelo got up and left. What was strange is that he left without Abigail. He always brought her back to her room. Stranger still was the expression on his face, almost sad. It seemed like he had just lost a friend. I felt sorry for him. His family had died and he could do nothing.

Yet he was always so happy. He seemed to almost forget his pain. He had been so pleasant and it almost made me sad to think that something could be wrong. Sincerely, he looked depressed. It seemed almost wrong that he would since it was against his natural self. It just wasn’t like him. But I had to put all those thoughts aside when Abigail asked me “Why is he angry?” “I do not know.” responded “It’s not like we had anything to do with it.” “Are you sure?” Abigail asked. “Isn’t he mad at me?” “Why would he be mad at you?” I asked her. “It’s not like you did anything to hurt him.” “Really?” She asked quietly, almost in a whisper. I nodded. Then she lied down on the hard dirt floor and fell asleep. I picked up Abigail carefully and brought her back to her room. Then I walked back to my room and sat on the floor. I took out the pocket watch Deangelo had given me and threw it underneath the bed. Then I remembered the art supplies. I took them out and finished off my painting. I heard a sound, a small noise like creaking. Then I heard the footsteps that went along with the noise. I hid the art supplies under the bed and jumped onto the bed. I curled up under the covers and pretended to go to sleep. I moment later a large man walked in. I could see his shadow. “I know your awake, Nicci” said a familiar voice. I flipped over in bed to face the man. It was the cafeteria guard. The same large, burly man who let me store food for my friends had just walked into the room. “I need to speak to you” he said. I sat up quickly. “What is the matter?” I asked him. He turned and looked at me nervously.

“You are in danger,” he stated blankly “You, Deangelo and Abigail.” I turned to him quizzically. “What do you mean?” I asked. “If you, Deangelo and Abigail do not leave soon you may be killed,” his answered. His hands were shaking almost as if he weren’t supposed to be telling me this. As if he were breaking some secret vow just by being here right now. “But why will we be killed?” I asked. Such a stupid question, I thought to myself, No one here has much of a different end. “A traitor” he whispered almost afraid that some other guard would here us. Strange, I thought, He’s scared of his own collogues. “Who’s the traitor?” I asked. “I do not know” he said “I am only given information on a need-to-know basis.” Great he can tell me there’s a traitor and that I might die but he can’t tell me who. My mind was reeling. Who could it possibly be? Maybe the mean girl from Abigail’s room who was always throwing her shoes at people. It could also be the big shadowy boy from Deangelo’s room. Yet whoever it was they were willing to give up the life of someone they knew for something they needed. I was scared. Scared for Abigail and Deangelo and I will admit that I was scared for myself as well. What if we did die? What if we were taken into one of the gas chambers downstairs? That would be the tragic end of Abigail, Deangelo and I. No. I wouldn’t allow that. I will not let my friends die and hopefully I can save myself in the process.

Chapter 4

I woke up the next morning feeling sore. I had fallen off the bed and onto the hard floor. I got up, brushed myself off, and changed into my dress. Then I ran to the cafeteria to eat and gather some food for Abigail and Deangelo. When I arrived I saw that the large man who was naturally on guard wasn’t there today. He may have been caught. The next thing I heard confirmed my greatest fears. A loud ringing sound rang throughout the room. Everybody’s eyes turned to the center of the room. A new man stood there. He was thin and frail. “ATTENTION!” He showed in a voice so deep it startled me. It was almost contradictory that his voice be so deep yet him seeming so weak. “I am your new cafeteria guard!” he said in an equally strange tone. “There was a… incident with our old cafeteria guard and I have come as a replacement.” He said old as if it were the most disgusting person in the world he was referring to. He then stood up straight, put his hat back on his head and took a step toward my table. Then he said something that almost scared me even more. “There will be no more monkey-business am I right, Miss Costa?” Then he looked me right in the eye. I tried to speak but all I was frozen. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. Then the man chuckled and walked over to Abigail. Abigail hugged Deangelo’s arm tightly but he shook it off. She trembled as the man moved towards her. “Do you agree Miss Kowalski?” he asked cruelly. That threw her off the edge. Abigail sobbed loudly and ran off to her room. Then the man turned and whispered something into Deangelo’s ear. Deangelo nodded and walked

after Abigail. I sat in silence, eating my breakfast. I quickly snuck a loaf of bread into my pocket. Just as I was leaving to go to my room, a young girl turned to me. She was small for her age with light brown hair. She smiled at me and spoke in a small, hushed tone. “You must escape soon,” she said. “My brother and I would love to accompany you. Her younger brother stepped out from behind her. “I am Klocia and this is Damian,” she added. The boy nodded uncomfortably. He was small as well, about Abigail’s age. So I went to Abigail’s room and told her to come with us outside. We all sat down in a circle, all except for Deangelo. We told Klocia and Damian our escape plan and we agreed to do it next morning. With luck, we were getting out. Hopefully we would never to come back. I met up with Deangelo in the hallway. He invited me to his room so I stopped by. As soon as I stepped in he ran behind me and locked the door. He wheezed which I guess was from the tuberculosis injection. “What are the escape plans?” he ordered. I had never heard him this way. He seemed so worried and so sick. It scared me to think of what he may be going through. “Are you okay?” I asked him. “That doesn’t matter” he responded. “I just need to know your escape plan!” So I spilled the story about Klocia and Damian and how we were leaving tomorrow morning. “That’s good,” he said but he still seemed worried. Then he wheezed again, coughed a bit and then he collapsed. I helped him back up and he spoke quietly.

“We leave at exactly 3:00 am no earlier or later. Be ready,” He added with a sudden urgency. Then he opened the door and I rushed to tell the others. Then I got to my room and packed. I packed the art supplies and my clothing in my mother’s bag and hid some bread in there too. Then I took out Deangelo’s silver pocket watch. I stared at it unknowingly but finally decided to take it with me. Then at 3:00 am I ran to the door. There standing before me were Abigail, Deangelo, Klocia and Damian all they’re stuff packed and ready. We opened the door slowly. The door creaked and Deangelo checked to see if anyone saw us. I didn’t seem that anyone did. Then, with the door opened just wide enough, we snuck out into the dark. It seemed we were alone until a voice up behind us said “It seems I’ve got company!” It was the new guard. “Going somewhere children?” he said. His voice sent a chill up my spine.

“RUN!” shouted Deangelo. We all obeyed his order; we had no choice anyways. We ran as fast as we could across the field. The man shot at random all over the field causing Abigail and Damian to jump. Abigail and Damian ran in the front with Klocia and me running in the middle with Deangelo tagging along in the back. Then a shot rang out. It was Deangelo, he was hit. “Thought he could fool me!” shouted the man, his pistol in his hand. We continued to run but the man continued to follow us. Deangelo sadly was crumpled on the floor. He clutched his side. I could see the blood pouring out of the wound. “How could you!” I shouted as I dodged the bullets. “Didn’t you realize what he did?” he said “He never really liked you! He was a spy! He traded information for food!”

I could not believe this. All this time it was Deangelo. Then with a last wheezing attempt Deangelo got up and ran. “It’s not true!” he said in a raspy voice. “I loved you all!” “So sad to see him go!” shouted the man. Then he shot at Deangelo for a second time. “No!” I shouted but it was too late. Deangelo lay on the ground. “Get Abigail to her mother!” he spoke in a raspy voice. At that very moment, it dawned on me. He was now dead and that was his dying wish. Even through all the pain of the last few moments, I continued to run, the adrenaline pumping through my veins. Then another bullet shot through the air. It pierced my foot. I screamed in pain as the bullet tore through. Although I was in extreme pain I continued to run. It took everything in me to continue running. Yet we made it. We jumped over the fence and into the woods and hid they’re for about one hour. Then, when it seemed it was okay to continue, we walked over to a taxi and hopped in. We told him we had no money to give but that we were running away. He smiled and accepted to drive us to Hammerbrook station as long as we didn’t tell anybody he did it for free. When we arrived at Hammerbrook we hopped on the back of one of the trains and waited. Abigail and Damian shivered in a corner under a small thin blanket Klocia had packed. About an hour later the train left the station. We then searched the train for food. We searched for what seemed to be half an hour when I found a crate of oranges. I opened the crate and Klocia and I put as many of them as we possibly could into our bags. Then we waited about fifteen minutes until the train arrived. We hopped off the train and continued to run. We ran up to large brick church and knocked on the door. A nun opened the door and stared at us. She invited us in and gave us some food and water as well as some money for our trip. Then she noticed my limp.

“What happened?” she asked as she pulled off my shoe and examined the bullet hole. “I was shot,” I answered. “Shot in the foot.” “Oh dear” she responded. “Oh dear, oh dear.” She ran upstairs. Just then I noticed how tired I was and how long we had been running. I also noticed how much pain I was truly in. I was in pain because of both the shot and the pain of losing a friend. Why hadn’t it been me? Deangelo deserved the escape more than I did. He had a family out there. Then the nun returned with a roll of gauze and some disinfectant. She poured some disinfectant and I winced. Then she wrapped up my foot and gave me a pair of crutches. Then she asked “Where did you all come from?” “Bullenhuser” Damian whimpered. “Bullenhuser Damm?” she responded “That old place?” We all nodded. “All those concentration camps” she said “I despise what Hitler has done to this world.” She showed us where we could bunk for the night. We dropped our stuff onto our beds and unpacked. Abigail unpacked for me since I was on crutches. Then we got some new clean blankets and pillows from the closet. We made our beds and went downstairs to eat. I dumped all the oranges on the table but the nun shook her head and handed us some bread and milk as well as some vegetables. “You can’t survive only on oranges!” she said “You’re growing children! You need some good nourishing food!” We ate the bread and vegetables and drank the milk. Then we got up, thanked the nun, and ran up the stairs and to our rooms for bed.

The next week went on relatively the same. We would get up, get dressed and go downstairs for breakfast. Yet something was wrong about today. This morning one of the other nuns brought us down into the church basement. Another later ran down with food and medical supplies. Then the rest of the nuns brought down our bags and blankets. One nun turned off the light and told us to stay quiet and of course Abigail just had to ask why. “Why are we here?” Abigail asked me. “I don’t know” I responded. The four of us huddled in the low light of the church basement. I wondered why a church would even have a basement until I heard a noise that answered my question. The answer was a matter of life and death. It was the air raids. Now people would expect that when there were air raids you would hear big boom sounds. Yet that is not what we heard. All we heard was a simple whistling sound as if you were parachuting then you would hear the boom. Left and right the bombs flew down. One of the nuns handed us gas masks. We quickly put them on and sat completely still in the small corner. An hour passed then two, then three until we no longer knew how long it had been. Then I leaned against the wall and fell asleep. When I woke up the air raids continued. I checked my bag for the silver pocket watch when I realized it was gone. No, I thought to myself, I couldn’t have lost it! I searched again. Then in desperation I dumped all of the contents of my bag on the floor. It has to be here! I searched franticly under ever dress, in every pocket and sock. It simply was not there. “No!” I sobbed aloud. Klocia reached over and put a hand on my shoulder.

“What is it?” she asked quietly, careful not to wake up Abigail and Damian. “My pocket watch is gone!” I sobbed. “Can’t you just get another one?” she asked. “No,” I said. “It was special. It’s all I had left of Deangelo and now it’s gone!” “Oh,” she said quietly. “But its okay, we’ll find it.” She seemed so certain but I doubted we could after the mess the air raids may have made. One of the nuns told me that it was about 3:00 in the morning. The same time we ran away. The same time Deangelo died. Get over it, I thought to myself, don’t live in regret. But I couldn’t just ignore it. My best friend died. Now I lost all I had left of him. The silver pocket watch was gone, possibly forever. Later that day, at around 5:00 in the afternoon, the air raids stopped and the planes left. It had been almost a whole day. We were tired but we ran up the steps and out of the basement. I threw open the doors but regretted doing so after I saw the wreckage. The whole church was a wreck. Piles of bricks lay all over the place. The ceiling had caved in and the whole second floor had crashed into the first. It was a mess. I was sure I wouldn’t find the pocket watch but as soon as I got up to the wreck, which used to be our room I saw a silver gleam from what under what seemed to be a bed before. I quickly got on my hands and knees and dug through the wreckage. Then I found it. I grasped the small, cold, gleaming pocket watch and pulled it out of the wreck. It was scratched and dented but still intact. I pushed the button on the top and was pleased to know it still worked. I ran down to Klocia. “Did you find it?” she asked.

“Yes!” I squealed. I was so happy. I hugged her so hard she started to cough and I casually let go. “It’s a miracle that it would have survived,” she said. I promised to myself that I would never let it out of my sight again. I quickly shoved it in my pocket and made a mental note to try to get it fixed. I quickly ran to the nun and hugged her she hugged me back. “Where will we stay?” Damian asked a little too loudly. “I sincerely do not know,” she responded “But for now we must find a way to keep you children safe.” So we ran down stairs and retrieved our bags and blankets. Then a few of the nuns walked us over to the train station. Somehow the trains were still running but the same could not be said about the station. The nuns paid for our train all the way to Athens in Greece. Obviously, this new escape plan was very different than our earlier one, but an escape was better than nothing. We hopped on the train and it left for the main station. When we arrived we hopped off, grabbed our bags and proceeded to the next train. The one that would bring us to Athens.

Chapter 5
As soon as we arrived in Greece, Abigail got jumpy. “Are we going to see the temples?” she asked. “No” Klocia would answer. “We get in, hop on another train, and get out.” “Are we going to eat Greek food?” she would ask. “No,” Klocia would say. “I already told you it’s just a pit stop.” Then she would ask “What's a pit stop?” and Klocia would say “JUST SHUT UP ALREADY!” Then Abigail got angry. But she didn’t do anything. She would just follow us around the station and pout. Finally, after being tired of seeing Abigail act miserable, Damian finally did something to turn her mood around. He tapped my arm and whispered in my ear. “There’s a restaurant right over there,” he said, pointing at a small restaurant in the corner of the station. “Maybe we can order something small to make her stop pouting?” “Okay” I answered. Then I turned around a said “We’re stopping for a lunch break,” and walked over to the small restaurant. Now it was Klocia’s turn to pout. “Oh come on!” Klocia said as she followed us in “Must we stop?” “Yes” Damian, Abigail, and I said in unison. Then we walked in and the server showed us a seat. We sat down and took off our coats. We ordered some Tabbouleh, a type of Greek salad. We ate quickly since the next train to London was leaving in fifteen minutes. After only about a minute we had finished our food. We grabbed our coats and ran with our bags to the train.

When we arrived at the train we packed our bags under the train and got to our seats. A man walked by offering newspapers but he walked right passed us so of course I had to get his attention. “Hey!” I shouted. “Excuse me, but sir, we wanted some too!” He turned and laughed when he saw us. “So,” he said, almost comically. “You read the news?” “Yes sir” I said and Klocia nodded. “Really?” he asked. “Yes,” I answered. Klocia looked clearly insulted by his comment. “Look sir,” she said coldly. “I just want my paper. Now either you give it to me or…” “Or what?” said the man “You going to hit me with your little, kiddy hands? Ain’t that sweet?” The people on the train chuckled. “That does it!” Klocia said as she lunged at his face. I had to stop her, so I jumped in the way. “You can’t just kill the man!” I said to her. “And why not?” she responded clearly angered that she didn’t get to pummel him. “Yeah he’s a jerk, and yeah he’s pathetic but if we hurt him we may be kicked off the train!” She sighed and started reading her newspaper. I got to mine. ‘Monday, September 16, 1944’ was written on the top. Underneath that it said ‘175 Nazi Planes Down. RAF triumphs in biggest air battles of War!’ What a stupid thing to write about! So I flipped threw and found something that caught my interest. ‘New York City!’ It said. ‘Come see the sights and live the life you always wanted!’

I quickly turned to Klocia. “Look!” I said. “That’s where were going!” “But we need a boat,” she said. “And boats cost a lot of money.” “Then we’ll find a job!” I said. We were going to New York even if it’s the last thing I did, which it very well may be. Klocia, Abigail and Damian slept but sadly I couldn’t and for more than one good reason. First I was excited. I couldn’t wait to get to London, get a job, and leave for New York. Secondly, Abigail was lying down on my lap and I couldn’t move in fear of waking her. Thirdly, Klocia snored, but not just any regular snore, she snored loudly. So I just decided to just sit there and read the paper. ‘Germans capture five generals and 20,000 men!’ said one report. ‘Sooner Hitler than Union Leftists, Mr. Fadden Speaks His Mind’ said another. ‘Driving alone is like driving with Hitler! Get a driving buddy today!’ said one. Oh what a pathetic thing is war. Then I flipped to the back page and found something clearly interesting. ‘1944 Winter Olympic Games in London have been cancelled due to War.’ They couldn’t! No! They just couldn’t cancel the games! Everybody looked forward to hearing the games on the radio. It was devastating enough that the War destroyed everything but we can’t just let it destroy tradition! Yet that’s exactly what it managed to do. Sometime during my mental fit of anger, I must have dozed off. I awoke to the sound of Abigail singing. I’d never heard her sing before. Her voice was almost angelic. The pitch was perfect and the way she slurred the words just made it that much more melodic. “I never knew you could sing” I said. Abigail blushed and looked away. “I’ve been singing since I can remember,” she said softly. “I kind of stopped after arriving at Bullenhauser. It didn’t seem to be appropriate to sing in a place that was so gloomy.”

I agreed. Of all the places to sing, Bullenhauser was not one of them. Singing in Bullenhauser was very controversial. “You should sing more often,” I added. “You have a beautiful voice.” She wheezed and smiled. I had totally forgotten about her tuberculosis. Although it seemed she was recovering you could never truly know with these deadly diseases. “Look,” I said to Abigail. “As soon as we stop in England were getting you to a doctor. Okay?” She nodded then wheezed some more. “You never got tumer… tuber… tuberculosis?” she asked. I shook my head sadly. “Only you, Klocia and…” then I burst. All the emotion I had held back since Deangelo’s death came back harder than ever. Now you may understand who’s name I was about to say. I could not continue this way. I could continue knowing that Deangelo died to protect Abigail, Klocia, Damian and I. A sad price to pay one might say. Not only was it a lot for Deangelo but for me as well. Abigail hugged me. “It’s okay,” she whispered in my ear. No. It was not okay. It was a lot worse. Well at least we arrived well. We hopped off the train and walked down the road to a trolley. We hopped on with our luggage and sat down on the huge bench in the back. To many people we may look like refugee children. Clutching all we had left in our large bags, we waited. Then the trolley arrived. “Piccadilly!” the man shouted and we all hopped off.

We ran over to the church the nuns had told us about earlier, St. James church, 197 Piccadilly to be exact. A tiny market stood in front of the church. Somehow the church wasn’t devastated by the air raids. Even stranger was the fact that neither was the market. The tiny outdoor market was either not bombed or rebuilt recently. Either way Abigail was excited. “Can we buy something?” Abigail asked. “No,” Klocia said “Look let’s just get to the church and stay safe. Okay?” “Fine,” said Abigail, her arms crossed tightly over her chest. “Be that way!” We stepped up to the big wooden doors. “So do we knock?” Damian asked. “No!” Klocia said sarcastically. “We just stand out here in the pouring rain!” Strange, I hadn’t noticed it was raining until Klocia mentioned it. “I just meant we should…” Damian started to say but Klocia shushed him. Then she knocked on the door. “Hello?” Klocia asked. No one answered, but you could hear footsteps. “Look,” Klocia shouted. “Just open the stupid door!” That was it. I was sick and tired of Klocia so I pushed her out of the way. “Were just a bunch of refugee kids!” I shouted. “Please help us!” Then a nun opened the door just a crack and peeked out. When she noticed we were just a few sopping wet kids, she let us in. “Where are you from now?” the nun said. I limped into the room followed by Abigail and Damian. Of course Klocia had run in as soon as the door was open.

“Bullenhuser Damm,” I explained. “Well, if you will be boarding here with us, I must know your names!” the nun said. “I’m Nicci, this is Abigail, Damian and…” Again I was cut off by Klocia. “I’m Klocia” she said angrily as if she wasn’t happy to be warm and safe. “I’m Sister Martha,” said the nun “We have some rooms you can stay in upstairs.” So we walked upstairs to the room and dropped all of our stuff on the bed. Same routine as the last church we had stayed in, until it was destroyed. So days became weeks and weeks became months. We had spent about two months at this church. Yes, there were many threats of air raids but due to the church’s location we were never hit. Until one faithful day we almost were. Abigail, Damian and I were walking along. Down the winding path that led to the trolley stop. We were going to pick up some groceries. A short list was in my hand. Eggs, Milk, Butter, Flour, Sugar, Coffee and Carrots were all on the list. In my other hand I held the money, a £20 note. As we strolled along we noticed something. It’s not that it was abnormal but it was just unexpected. A British plane flew over head. But that wasn’t the strange part. What was truly strange was the fact that it dropped a bomb. Now it’s not rare to see a plane or a plane drop a bomb but a plane dropping a bomb on its own country was truly unexpected. You clearly will not believe what happened next.

Chapter 6
The bombs fell all around us. The sound of screaming was ringing in my ears as we ran. Abigail, Damian and I ran as fast as possible to the church. But for the first time in the church’s history it was hit. The bomb landed right before we arrived. “No!” I shouted as I began to run inside, Abigail and Damian attempting to pull me back. Maybe Klocia was inside! We have to find her! “Damian, let go!” I shouted “We have to save your sister!” “I’m afraid it’s too late,” said Abigail as she pointed to the limp, lifeless body before us. “I’m sorry,” she whispered sadly, brushing the blood off of Klocia’s cheek. I hugged Damian. So many losses it was impossible to keep track, first Deangelo and now Klocia. With all the pain of losing yet another life, we had totally zoned out of what was happening. That is, until we heard another bomb drop, devastating the road nearby. “Let’s go!” I shouted. “I want to stay here!” Damian shouted angrily. “I am not taking no for an answer!” No time to be lollygagging. We ran again, down the street towards a bomb shelter. As we crowded in with a few others in the underground shelter, Damian and Abigail clung to my arms. Damian was sobbing, but even saying that is by far an understatement. We sat there quietly, as we were instructed. You truly can’t keep Abigail quiet for more than an hour or so. “Where will we go?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I answered. Which was true since I had no idea what we would do. All I knew is that we had to get out of Europe by all costs, as far away as possible. So we sat there in the gloom, and we sat, and sat. Abigail was sleeping on my lap and Damian leaning against my arm. Their faces still filled with worry, even though they were asleep. A child should not have to go through this. It’s not meant to be. They should be worrying about school or playing with friends, not life or death situations. No, this truly could not be the way it was meant to be and it was in my hands to keep them from these situations as best as possible. After about a day, we were told it was safe to leave the building. Although many people lingered, scared to face what would lie in the world above them, Abigail and Damian dragged me right out. We stood there, in total shock. Abigail stared, taking in all her surroundings. “Well,” Damian whispered, “What do we do next?” There really was nothing left to do. London was a complete and utter mess. Houses were still burning, and lamp posts were turned over. Lying on the sidewalk was what seemed to be a dress on a mannequin, though it was so tattered and singed that the dress itself was useless even to the neediest of folk. We ran. We ran all the way down Piccadilly Street until we reached the church. Thank goodness my foot was almost healed or else I may not have been able to catch up to the racing children. The sight in front of us was truly devastating. The church’s steeple had crashed into the church itself, which had sent pieces flying across the street. There was no way anyone had survived. I was wrong. “Oh dear!” exclaimed Sister Martha. We turned to greet her as three nuns staggered out of the church.

“What are we to do?” I asked. “I haven’t the slightest idea,” she responded, “not the slightest.” She sent us to the train station, explaining what we were to do. Get on a train directly to Romania, then at arrival go to Turkey and later to Palestine. “An original home of the Jews,” she said, “you should be safe there.” She handed me £1000. “I can’t take all this money” I responded, but she would not take it back. “You will need it” she said “do not waste it.” Upon arrival at the station, we found out that there were still three hours until we would be leaving. In her impatience, Abigail began to complain. To her, either it was too cold or too hot. Either it was too loud or too quiet. We had spent about an hour listening to her until Damian just couldn’t stand it anymore. He took £2 and stepped up to a man selling lollypops. He picked up a huge pink lollypop, paid the man and began to walk back. “The walls in here are too—,” she began, but as soon as Damian got in close range, he shoved the lollypop in her mouth. “Happy now?” he asked, clearly annoyed by her ranting. I just laughed. Clearly, the lollypop worked, since Abigail didn’t say a word until we got in line for boarding. “So,” she asked “Where to next?” “Just as Sister Martha said,” I answered “we’re going to Palestine, home of the Jews.” Abigail smiled, but Damian did not. “Aren’t you happy, Damian?” I asked quizzically.

“It’s not that,” he said, clearly distracted, “it’s that!” Damian pointed directly at a Nazi soldier. The Nazi man was patrolling the area. I became worried as I stepped up to the ticket booth. “For how many?” the man asked. “For three please,” I said. I handed him our identification cards. He stared at them for about 5 minutes, looked back at us, and looked back at the card. He turned to the Nazi patrol man and whispered in his ear. “Come with me, children,” his voice as loud as thunder. As we followed him we saw others stare. “Please step in,” he said, pointing to a train cart. “Where are we going?” asked Abigail. “Somewhere very lovely,” the man said. So with that, Abigail gingerly hopped into the cart. But Damian could not be fooled easily. “Are you quite sure?” he asked the man. “Of course I’m sure!” the Nazi thundered “Best place for you Jews!” Damian looked around the cart. It was full. Bodies piled in every corner of the room. Children whimpered and mothers made failed attempts to quiet them. The elderly were so thin and frail that their faces resembled paper bags. Men, once strong and tall, were now hunched over and weak. I led Damian in, realizing that there was no other choice. As soon as we were all in the man said farewell and closed the door.

We were suddenly thrown into a deep darkness. The only window, on the roof, was covered in grime and only hints of light shone in the cart. It was unbearable. The groans of the sick and injured flooded the car. The little food they had was only a watery half-cooked soup. The place was so sad that even Abigail kept her mouth shut. Of course, Abigail’s quietness only lasted for about an hour. Her boredom soon turned into a rant as she continued on and on about silly things like how she missed her beloved cheeses and her mother’s tea biscuits. Even the subject of Antarctic animals wasn’t too random for her. So as she went on and on about how cool it would be to meet a penguin eating a block of ice, I decided to do a little wandering. I walked around staring intently out the grime-covered window. I was not looking for anything in particular, just a sign that I was dead or that this whole thing was just a nightmare. Yet such things were nowhere to be found. As I wandered around the car, I relaxed a little. Maybe it was just the pacing or maybe I was simply glad I was not yet dead. Yet, just then, all my fear returned as I realized that my most prized possession was now gone. “No!” I shouted as I ran through the car, retracing every step. I could not believe that once again I had lost the pocket watch. No, it had to be here somewhere. “Abigail!” I shouted “Damian! Come help me find the watch!” As we searched people began joining us. Some whispered quietly and some asked what we were looking for. My breathing was heavy and labored. I was beginning to hyperventilate. I simply could not live without that watch.

I could not stand it anymore. All the memories, we shared, gone. The nights when we snuck into each other’s rooms to talk and the night he died. This was all I had left. One boy, about my age, sat me down on my suitcase. “You’re hyperventilating.” he whispered “Try to calm down.” “I-I c-c-cant,” I stammered “I-I-I n-need it.” My breathing had become so heavy I could barely breathe, so instead I started to cry. The boy gave me a hug, and although I barely knew him, I didn’t push him away. I simply sat there rigid and cold, breathing heavily with his arms surrounding me, as the tears on my face fell like rain. The next morning I awoke colder than the night before. The boy who was with me the night before was now replaced by Abigail and Damian. Abigail’s little head lay on my lap and Damian’s on my shoulder. Had I imagined the boy from the night before? No, I couldn’t have, because there he was, curled on the floor next to me. In his hand was the pocket watch. “You thief!” I shouted. “What?” he shouted back. “You had it all along didn’t you?” I shouted at him, as the anger began bubbling inside me. How could he! He probably had intentions on selling it when we arrived. “No,” Abigail said in a scratchy voice “I gave it to him. I thought he would keep it safe while we dozed off. I’m sorry.” Again I burst into tears. How could I have been so stupid as to think that the boy would steal the watch? “It’s all right,” he said “calm down.” The boy passed me the watch. I held it tightly. Never would I ever lose the watch again. This time I was sure of it.

About two hours later we arrived. There really wasn’t much time to look around as we were quickly put on a trolley and shipped over to our new “home.” The building had a tall, brownish-red entrance. The gate was guarded so heavily that the man leading us inside had to go through five guards just to enter. Once inside, the stench began to fill my nose. The smell of sweat, pee and human remains was almost too much to bear. It was like having a whole bunch of skunks spraying you all at once. Except these were humans, not animals, they deserved at least a little more respect. Abigail suddenly began coughing violently. So violently in fact that I thought she may be dying of the Tuberculosis. A Nazi man came quickly toward us. “YOU!” he shouted pointing at Abigail “Come with me! Raus!” The man quickly dragged her over to a building at the other end of the camp. That was the last I saw of Abigail. About a day later, Damian began to realize what was wrong. He finally realized that Abigail was never coming back and so for the rest of the day he just sat there and stared at the nothingness on the other side of the room. “You have to begin working eventually,” I said to him later that day, “otherwise, the Nazis will think you’re weak and send you to the crematoriums too!” Now I wish I could take that back because what he did next almost got both of us killed. “What do I care!” he shouted at the sky “Why should I keep living if everyone I love dies!” Thank goodness for coffee breaks. All the Nazis were currently on break, where they would just go to who-knows-where and drink their coffee

and talk about how many people they killed that day. The injustice of it all was overwhelming. This same injustice just saved us both. “Well, that in itself is a good reason to live.” I said “To avenge the death of Abigail and Klocia. One day this war will end and one day we will be free to do as we wish. One day we may even have some good come of all this pain.” “What good would that be?” He shouted “Why should I wait?” “Because ‘He that can have patience can have what he will!’” I said, and that is why Damian never argued with me again. The next day, at about 4:30 am, we were awoken. I was not yet used to the early morning rising so I was absolutely startled by the sounds of movement around me. I got up and dressed quickly. The hideous blue striped outfit was far too large and the shoes were far too small, but it was all we were given to wear. I had hidden the silver pocket watch in hopes that the Nazi men would not find it. So that morning I decided that I would hide the pocket watch in my hair, under my cap, because surely no Nazi man would expect to find anything there. As soon as Damian and I stepped outside we were put into lines for “roll-call.” Then we were given half an hour to shower. Now half an hour may seem like a long time to take a shower but when you have thousands of people sharing just a few showers half an hour seems short. As I crammed into the women’s shower area I remembered the pocket watch. What was I supposed to do with it? I found a new hiding spot for my watch. While I was in the showers I would hide the watch in the folds of my clothing and during the day I would continue to keep it in my hair. That way, hopefully, it would never be taken from me.

Chapter 7
One day, as I was walking down the streets of Theresienstadt I came upon the small store. It wasn’t much of a store, just a cruel joke to us Jews. It was a way to show us that the Nazi’s were still in control, even of our possessions. The truth was that the objects in the store were not new, nor was the condition they were in. The truth was that the objects in the store were old belongings of ours, things taken and stripped of our grasp now being sold back for unreasonable prices. The money of course was not real. A true bank would not accept the flimsy sheets. The Kronen, as they were called, were fabricated and given to us to pay for things such as soap and socks. Naturally I would not care to visit such a place; the thought of them stealing from us caused me even more hatred of the Nazi’s, but something caught my eye. There was a simple suitcase sitting in the corner of the room. It wasn’t much really, it’s beaten up sides threatening to cave in and its paint peeling, but it was special. It was mine. As I checked the inside I realized that the secret compartment was still locked. I fiddled around my pocket for the key, desperately trying to free the contents within. As I wrestled with the lock, a tall, thin figure stood directly behind me. “May I help you?” he said in a quizzical voice. “No,” I responded “I’m fine.” As I turned around to face the boy I suddenly recognized him. His soft brown hair glistened in the sunlight, and his gray eyes were hollow but compassionate. He seemed to radiate a sort of warmth. His large smile almost made you want to smile too. This was the same boy from the train, the one who stuck right by my side until I fell asleep. “Thank you” I whispered. “What for?” he said in return. “Don’t you remember what happened on the train?” I ask. His face reddens slightly as he nods. We sit there in silence for what seems like a lifetime. Finally the boy speaks. “My name is Gabriel,” he whispers “what’s yours?” “I’m Nicci,” I whisper back. “Waisenkind,” he reads off my suitcase “you’re

an orphan?” “I don’t want to talk about it” I say fighting back tears. “It’s okay,” he says in a soft, soothing voice “I lost my parents too. My mother died a month ago in a gassing and my father was shot because he tried to steal food to keep the two of us alive. My sister died at the age of two because of a disease that spread through the last camp.” “I still don’t want to,” I say. I’m crying so hard the words are almost unintelligible, but Gabriel must have heard them because instead of pestering me he simply pays for my suitcase and walks me to my barrack. We live in the Children’s Barracks where the walls are painted in bright, floral colours, which to some may seem as a thing of beauty. But everyone here knows that beauty is a deception. The walls were painted simply to keep the Danish Red Cross at bay. They came to visit a while ago and even made a film during the winter of 1944. Terezin: A Documentary Film of the Jewish Resettlement as it was called. But of course no one called it that. To us prisoners it was called The Perfect Deception, as it was sincerely a great lie. As I stepped inside the Children’s Barracks I was surprised to see that Damian had found something to do. Ever since Abigail died he would just sit around and do nothing on Sundays. But he was not lying around today, he found a new hobby and it was quite annoying. “Bonjour, mon ami! Comment ca va?” Damian said with a smile. He held an old notebook in his hands. Sitting next to him was a young girl that reminded me of Abigail. The colour in the girls dress was slightly faded. Her hands were thin but steady and her eyes were a pale blue. In her hand she held an equally beaten notebook. “Bonjour” she squeaked. She had a voice like a mouse. Quiet and gentle. When she leaves, about an hour later, I simply cannot help but make fun of him. “So your learning French, huh?” I ask. “Yeah,” he says quietly “something like that.”

“So, who’s the girl?” I ask. “Just a friend” he says, clearly embarrassed. “Of course she is.” I say quizzically. “Just leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone, okay?” he asks “Or else I might just start questioning you about your new friend.” My face starts to get hot the moment the words cross his lips. “Fine,” I retort “I was just joking.” I’m not sure why I got so mad. I’m not even sure why he was so mad. For no good reason at all, I stomp over to the door. Damian tries to apologize and follows me all the way. I open the door, and just as he says ‘I’m sorry,’ I slam the door right in his face. I race down the streets. I don’t care if the soldiers catch me. As I’m running the pocket watch slips out of my pocket and hits the ground, hard. As I pick it up I notice a small opening. I push my nail in the crack and open the back of the watch. As I do so, a small piece of folded paper falls to the ground. I pick it up carefully and slowly unfold it. In Deangelo’s neat handwriting it reads “Find her mother.” I know he wants me to find Abigail’s mother but finding her in a place like this is like finding a needle in a haystack. Although, if this is Deangelo’s dying wish I must at least try to find her. If I do find her mother, am I going to say to her? I can’t just tell her that her five-year-old daughter was cremated! Just the thought of it brings tears to my eyes. At least I can give her Abigail’s journal and say sorry for not taking better care of her. I guess that’s the best I can do. A cat. An ugly misshapen cat crosses my path on the way home. What a waste! I can only imagine how much that stupid cat had to eat that made him that overweight. It looked about five times the weight of a

normal cat. How many people could be fed by the elimination of that cat? That one stupid cat. After kicking the cat, I walk back to the barracks. There’s no use in staying mad at Damian. It’s not his fault the world is so evil. It’s not his fault I’m feeling mad. I have no reason to hate him. I’ll just stop by the “cafe” and grab a small cup of coffee, which costs an unimaginable amount, and head back. Naturally, due to both its price, and the fact that it’s useless to me, I don’t drink coffee. But, due to my anger and emotional state, I seize the warm, strong brown liquid. I begin to take small shallow sips but end up chugging it down like there’s no tomorrow. I don’t waste a single drop as it cost me about a full weeks work. As I stroll back home I come upon that stupid cat again. Its deep green eyes seem to drill into my own as if it were trying to understand my very being. As it was in its distracted state, I decided to pick it up and throw him over the fence. I sadly miss but manage to hurt the beast. As it meows angrily, I happily stroll down the road and squeeze my way to the barracks. “Why so happy?” Damian asks. “I threw a cat and drank some coffee.” I respond coolly. “You go and throw helpless animals and drink overpriced drinks without me?” he says sarcastically “So not fair!” I punch him playfully on the arm and say “Well you should have followed me!” “How was the coffee,” he asks, curious “and why did you throw a cat?” “Coffee was weird,” I answer, sticking out my tongue “and the cat disgusted me. So I threw it, trying to get rid of it.”

“Only you,” He said shaking his head disapprovingly. “You should have seen the thing!” I explain “It had these green evil eyes and worst of all was how fat he was!” “We better get some rest.” He says. “Fine” I say.

Chapter 8
I am home. The silken covers of my bed drape me from head to toe in their light softness. A hand rests on my shoulder, my mother’s soft, warm hand, cracked from all the washing and cleaning. She is probably here only to wake me for the long day of school that is to come. “Nicci, wake up!” shouts a voice, a voice which definitely does not belong to my mother. I feel the cold surrounding me and all at once I lose my sense of safety. Where am I? What am I doing away from home? The blanket which I had thought was silken was now rough and ridden with holes. My eyes shoot open and for a few moments I am scared, but snap back into reality. “What is it?” I ask. Damian is leaning over my face, eyes gleaming. “July 15th,” he said simply “That’s what it is.” I was still confused. July 15th? What’s so important about July 15th? Just as I was about to question him, it dawned on me. July 15th is my birthday. How did he know that? I don’t remember telling him. I didn’t even remember it myself. “How did you find out?” I ask. “A bit of research here and there,” he says “It’s amazing what you find out when your new friend works in the Terezin S.S office.” I look behind him to see the young girl and Gabriel are waiting patiently behind him. The girl gives a quick wave and Gabriel just sits there, awkwardly, in his chair. What’s worse is that he stays absolutely silent. “What’s wrong,” I ask him. “Nothing,” he responds. “Something’s wrong,” I say “You’re acting so... weirdly.”

“I just didn’t want to ruin the surprise,” he says as he gets out of his chair and offers me a thin package. I rip open the package greedily. Inside there is something so rare even the Council of Elders must not own them. I pull out the small package of blueberries and an equally small package of sugar. It takes all of me not to swallow the whole package all at once. I pull out a single berry and pop it in my mouth. There must be five or six berries but that is enough for me. I haven’t eaten a berry since we arrived at the church. The church where Damian’s sister died. I dismiss the thought and follow them out of the room and up to the attic of one of the old buildings here in Theresienstadt. Thanks to all the artists and musicians of Theresienstadt there is always something interesting to do. For example today, which just happens to be my birthday, they are holding an art class. We tiptoe silently to the table in the back of the room since the class started ten minutes ago. Today we are going to paint in watercolours. As I paint I can’t help but remember Abigail and how she would love doing this. I suddenly remember the words on the note, “Find her mother.” The words begin to haunt me and I try to regain my happy state but I can’t. I begin to mask my emotions. I attempt to make my face unreadable and to take all my anger out on my drawing. And what was the result? An absolutely horrifying, depressing painting of Terezin. From the moment I see Gabriel’s face I can tell he’s worried. For the rest of the day I attempt to look animated, if not giddy, with excitement about my 13th birthday. Although really, my birthday is no reason to celebrate. It simply means that in a week I will be moved over to the women’s barracks the same way Gabriel was moved to the men’s.

This means that Damian will be left alone. I can’t let that happen. I have to find a way for us to stay together. I need to find Abigail’s mother. If she can “adopt” us we can live in the family barracks. Together. I have to find her. I race down the streets aware that Damian, the girl and Gabriel will be following me. I run to the transport list to check for her name. I find nothing. At least she’s not being transported. Next I race over to the office to see if I can get any information on her. “I need to know if there is a Mrs. Kowalski here,” I ask him. “Yes,” he says “There is indeed.” “Do you know where I might be able to find her?” I ask. “No ma’am,” he responds “All I know is that she is here and alive.” “Thank you.” “You’re welcome.” With that I race back to my room to get some rest. Tomorrow I will sort this all out. For the rest of the day I simply lie there on my bed waiting until supper. We usually only get a warm broth and sometimes, rarely, a potato and today is no different. I walk over with Damian to the line where we wait for our food. I take a bowl as the woman puts a ladle full of “soup” in Damian’s bowl, she does the same to mine. We take our broth and walk over to one of the tables where we meet up with Gabriel and the small girl. I need to find out what her name is. “Damian,” I whisper in his ear “What’s the girls name?” “Trinette,” He whispers back. I used to have a young friend named Trinette. Her parents were both French, hence the name. I used to watch her when her parents weren’t

home. I remember making her food and playing games with her. I even remember all the shows we would listen to through her families wireless. She wore the most beautiful dresses and her hair always fell in perfect blonde curls to her shoulders. This new Trinette was nothing like the old one I knew. Then again nothing was quite the same since the war.

Chapter 9
“Trinette,” I ask “Where are you from?” “Italy.” She responds suspiciously. “Where in Italy?” I asked. “Rome.” She said, eyeing me. “Where in Rome?” I ask. “Why are you questioning me?” She asks in return. “Just answer the question.” I say stubbornly. “Fine,” she responds “I live near the site of the Stadio Olimpico.” “Whats your last name?” I continue. “Again,” she says “why do you need to know this?” “Just answer the question.” I say again. “DuPont.” “Trinette DuPont, who is French, lives near the Stadio in Rome. You’re kidding me! You can’t be Trinette!” “What do you mean?” “Do you remember Tom Handley?” “Yeah, I used to listen to it on the wireless on Sunday afternoons while my parents went out with friends. I stayed with my babysitter named... wait. No, it can’t be! You’re Nicci?” I nod. “Nicci! It’s been so long since I’ve seen you!” She exclaims.

“I know.” “What’s happening?” Damian asks. “Who knows?” Gabriel says. “Remember ‘Zis is Funf speaking?’” I ask Trinette. “Yeah it was the German spy guy from the show!” she laughs. At that we both crack up for no good reason at all. After were done eating, Damian, Gabriel, Trinette and I all walk down to our barracks. Gabriel leaves for the men’s barracks as Trinette and Damian follow me down to the one for children. Later, Trinette leaves for her room and Damian and I are alone. It soon becomes quiet. Too quiet. “So...” I say to break the silence. “So...” he responds. “How was the soup?” I ask, which is stupid since I ate the same soup for dinner. “The usual,” he answers “It was cold, watery. There was a bit of potatoes however.” True. There were some potatoes but there were so few you could barely tell the difference. “Yeah,” I say as we break into our separate rooms. “Well,” he says “bye.” “Bye.” “Goodnight.” “Goodnight.”

There is nothing more to say. As I lie on my bed I begin to ponder why we are here. The ghettos are not a place for children. To tell you the truth the ghettos are no place for anyone. Why do they place us here? Why do these soldiers hate us? Are we not human such as them? We never did anything to hurt them so why do they hurt us? My mind is reeling with thoughts of hatred. I hate Nazis. I hate soldiers. I hate war. I hate Hitler. No. No I don’t. Thinking such thoughts will only make me as low as they are. Hating people because they hate you is stupid. I do not hate them do I? Maybe I am fooling myself by thinking that I do. But maybe I am fooling myself by thinking I don’t. I’m so confused. Look at what hatred has done to us. It has made us ignorant. It has caused stupidity. It has caused war. I refuse to fall into what has caused such a war. I refuse to fall for what has also caused the situation I am now in. I must forgive and forget. I must ignore what they have done to me. With that unhappy thought in my mind I fall into a deep, dreamless sleep. When I wake up I see a simple envelope tacked up on the corner of the post on my bunk bed. I quickly snatch up the envelope and rip it open. Inside are the simple words “I’m going to talk to the old lady.” It’s pretty much a code we use here. The “old lady” is just a way of saying that there’s news. I’m going to talk to the old lady just means that there’s news and we need to talk. I bet I know who it is and I take a shower and race to our meeting place. About a week ago there were rumours of an end to the war. But we couldn’t just say that out loud. We made a place to meet up and talk. A place that was hidden away but still reachable. So I run to our hiding place, the attic balcony which is both reachable and secluded. To get there, however, you must pass the attic filled with the dead and dying, older men and women. The place smells of rotting flesh and rats. Flies have invaded the area and gave no mercy to the aging victims as

the slowly rot away. Two to three people share each cot. They shiver as they attempt to sleep. I keep thinking of the fact that if they sleep they may never wake. But I guess it’s a better end than gassing or cremation. As I walk quickly past the dead and dying. I am expecting Damian to be at the balcony but when I arrive I see not Damian but Gabriel. Well that’s a shock. He’s not usually talkative and is always saying that we shouldn’t listen to the “old lady” and that it’s all just gossip. Well here he is and he seems to be anxious. “Listen to me,” he says “You have to save Damian.” “What?” I ask, bewildered. “Just stay calm,” he says “This is bad news.” “Just spit it out already!” I shout a bit too loudly. “Okay,” he says, trying to stay calm “Damian is being transported.” “What?!?” I shout, again. “I knew you would take it badly.” “I have to go tell him.” “No, you can’t! He can’t find out about this.” “And why not?” “Because we can’t. He’s been so... almost... happy. He has friends here and there’s Trinette too. I think she’d die if he left.” “Fine, but what do we do?” “I’m going to the office later. Please keep the little kids away. The last thing I need is two little kids complaining.” “Fine, I’ll go to the concert with them this afternoon.”

Ever since the Danish Red Cross came to visit we’ve had concerts and children’s Operas. I personally have no idea why. Aren’t they supposed to torture us? “Good.” Gabriel says, relived. And with that we run down the through the attic, down the stairs and we split off down the street in separate directions. I run back to Damian’s room to pick him up. “We’re going to Brundibár! Get up and get dressed!” I shout at him as I throw a pillow in his face. “What?” He mutters. “Get up! Get up!” I shout again. “I’m going, I’m going!” He shouts. I wait outside while he gets dressed, occasionally thumping on the door to hurry him up. “Let’s go!” I holler at him. I know it’s only been five minutes but I need to go get Trinette too. Damian finally thumps out the door angrily and follows me to Trinette’s room. “Trinette?” I shout “Are you there?” “Yeah,” Trinette shouts “Come in!” “We’re going to watch Brundibár,” I say as I walk in “You coming?” “Yeah,” she responds “I was going anyways.” “Let’s go people!” “Let’s go!” Damian echoes.

“Let’s go!” Trinette echoes. With that we all walk crazily to the theatre, shouting like wild animals. When we arrive we take our seats right before the show starts. The story is about a girl named Aninka and a boy named Pepíček. The two fatherless siblings run to the doctor to find out what’s wrong with their mother. The doctor tells them that what their mother needs is milk but they are too poor to afford it. Instead of giving up they run to the market square and sing to get money for their mother. But the evil organ grinder Brundibár chases them away. But with the help of a fearless bird, overly enthusiastic cat, a smart dog and a few of the kids in town help chase him away and continue to sing in the market square. “More!” the audience calls. “That’s the end.” The director shouts. The director is onstage now as the actors file off and the set makers clear the stage. “More, More, More!” the audience shouts. “That’s it for the day.” He shouts, but the audience is so loud you can barely hear him. About five minutes later Damian, Trinette and I decide to leave. The crowd is still shouting as we walk down the street soon out of earshot of the maniac audience. Its only 11:45 in the afternoon and I need to keep the kids distracted. The only thing I can truly think of doing is bringing them to an afternoon art class. We may even be able to catch a musical concert performance afterward. We race down the streets as quickly as possible. We only have fifteen minutes to have some lunch before we race over to the attic. We grab our soup and eat it all quickly. As soon as were finished we race down

the street and to the class. Even with all our running we manage to be five minutes late. “Today we will be trying watercolour painting.” the art teacher says eagerly “First choose two paint colours and squeeze them onto the plate. Now drop in a bit of water into your paint and mix it well. It should look a bit watery. After you have done this please come up to get some paper.” About half the class gets in line to get some paper. Paper is quite rare here. The artists sometimes get us a few sheets from their work. Mostly we use the back of old papers the soldiers throw away. But today it is artist grade paper. The beautiful thick, white sheets just like the ones in the secret compartment of my suitcase. I remind myself to thank the artists if I should bump into them one day. “Now,” the teacher continues “You may begin your original pencil sketches. You will later have to erase the pencil marks so please draw lightly.” I draw a pond surrounded by evergreen trees and full of beautiful water lilies. A frog sits atop a gray stone almost hidden away from sight. I spend almost an hour sketching until I finally find that the whole drawing is perfect. Then I begin to paint. The two colours I chose seem to complement each other. The blue and the green I have created are not vivid but sleepy. The colours Damian has chosen are equally well chosen. The gray is the colour of a raincloud and a yellow the colour of the pond lilies I imagined. As I begin to paint I realize that I cannot simply make do with only two colours and I ask Damian if I can borrow his. He lets me do so and I soon finish the lake. All that is left for me to do is paint the tree line and see if I can finish the water lilies. About half an hour until the end of the class, every bird has been painted a light greenish bluish colour, every flower doused in a layer of

light yellow paint. I have mixed in specks of white paint to create an effect making it seem almost as if the water is moving. The bits of yellow make the water become alive with sunlight. The trees are much darker and the shadows play across the forest ground. The frogs are strewn across logs, rocks and lily pads. The brush finely strokes the paper leaving colour behind. The beautiful lines and dabs are as intricate as they are delicate. It almost seems alive. “You’re not quite done.” Damian says. “And why not?” I ask. “You forgot to sign your name.” He responds, smiling, as he points to the lower right hand corner. “I guess I’ll do that now then.” I pick up the finest brush I have and gently inscribe the words ‘Nicci Costa #615982, July 17th 1945, Theresienstadt camp.’ “The old woman has been talking a lot lately.” Damian says “She said that the war might end soon.” This, of course, is probably just gossip, but here we take it as a sign of hope. “They are starting ‘clean ups’ around here.” He continues “next week we might be forced to help them cover up all the dead.” “I really hope we can get the war to end.” I whisper. “The old lady also said the Hitler is dead.” He whispers back, smiling. Something in between a gasp and a cough escape my lips and Damian laughs. “Were free, Nicci.” He says. Yes. Yes we are. We are free at last.

“Does Trinette know?” “She’s the one who told me. You know how she works in the S.S office? She practically sits around waiting on the soldiers orders so she picks this stuff up all the time.” “What else does she know?” “There are going to be hundreds of transfers this month, along with clean ups and then we are going to be left to ourselves.” The transfers. That is why they are deporting so many people. I guess they don’t want a bad reputation in case the Allies or the Russians make it here. The whole world must still think that we live comfortable lives in the lap of luxury here in Theresienstadt. I wish they’d come sooner. With only five minutes left of class, my painting is hung up to dry, and I am urging Damian and Trinette to hurry up. It is now 3:00 and the show starts at 3:20. We only have twenty minutes to run all the way back to the stage. Trinette has just hung up her picture when I drag them out the door. Again, we race down the street as fast as our feet will take us. Again, we are late. Its 3:30 by the time we reach our seats. The music is quite beautiful and the dancers leap across the stage soundlessly. I was told that these instruments were given to us when the Red Cross came for their visit and they never took them back. I keep wondering why. But I push the thought away from my mind and begin to sink into the beautiful sounds and imagine myself at home, listening through the wireless, seated next to Trinette on the red velvet sofa. As I snap out of my trance I find that the show is almost over and that Damian is shaking my shoulders.

Chapter 10
“Nicci?” He asks. “Wha?” I say, surprised. “It’s nothing. We were just scared that you had fallen asleep.” “With my eyes open?” “Good point.” With a final, glorious sound the show ends, the curtains close around the stage and the crowd breaks into a chorus of applause. “That was great!” Trinette exclaims. I nod my head in agreement. “I haven’t heard music like this in months.” Damian adds. We walk slowly this time, strolling down the street and into the children’s barracks. We decide to pick up some money and try to buy a toy of sorts. They don’t usually sell toys but once in a while one will pop up at the store. Usually it will be gone as quickly as it arrives so the chances of us finding one are quite slim. When we arrive Gabriel is there and as soon as he sees us he runs over. “Look what I found.” He says to Damian. He’s holding a small black box which he hands to Damian. Damian stares at the box uncomprehendingly. “Well open it!” says Gabriel.

When Damian opens the box he gasps. Inside is a slightly worn soccer ball. Damian picks it up gingerly; a smile tugging at the end of his mouth. “How?” he stammers “Where?” “It just came in. It was one of the props for the movie that was made a few months before and I guess it was better to tease us with it than to throw it away.” “How did you pay for it?” I ask. “A lot of saving. I won’t need the money anyways. You two go outside,” he says gesturing towards Trinette and Damian “I need to talk to Nicci.” Trinette and Damian obediently go outside and begin to kick the ball around. “What’s wrong?” I ask. “Damian is safe. I got him off the transport list.” “How?” “I took his place.” “You did what?” “I took his place” he repeats. “Why?” “Because I know how much it meant to you. I’m leaving tomorrow. Take care of the kids for me okay?” I’m starting to cry and he wipes a tear away from my face and locks me in an embrace. “Here,” he finally says “I’ll give you my address. As soon as this war is over I want you to send me a letter got it?”

“Got it,” I whisper. “Good.” He says letting me go. I try to clean my face off a bit and step outside. Gabriel doesn’t follow me. He simply lingers in the store, helping what little costumers he receives. “Let’s go.” I say. “What did he say?” Trinette asks. “Nothing.” “It couldn’t have been nothing.” She insists. “Trust me, it was nothing.” Noticing the pain in my face she stops questioning me. “Do you want to play?” he asks, attempting to break the awkward silence. “No.” I answer “You two go play and I’ll be right there.” With that I race down the street, into the barrack, and I throw myself into my bunk. I cry until I have no tears left and then I simply lie there, unreachable staring into the walls. Once in a while I get up, attempting to force myself to do something, but I only sink back into the bunk. A bedbug finds its way under my sleeve and bites my arm. I am so sad I don’t even notice. I spend the rest of the day silently lying in my bed. The next morning Trinette wakes me up. “What’s wrong?” she asks “And don’t say ‘Nothing’ because I know something is wrong.”

“Gabriel’s going on a transport and there’s nothing I can do about it!” I begin to sob and Trinette tries to calm me, to no avail. “What’s on the paper?” she asks. I just remembered that I am still clutching the piece of paper Gabriel gave me. Trinette slowly eases it out of my grasp. She reads it quickly and places it back in my hand. “Damian and I are going to a writing class.” She says “want to come?” “No thanks.” I say. “Well you can’t just sit around.” “I’ll be fine.” “We’ll go with you to say goodbye to Gabriel this afternoon.” “Thanks.” I say and with that she leaves soundlessly. I skipped breakfast, work and weekly cleaning that day. I just sat there doing nothing, until 12:00 when I had to go say goodbye. I run to the platform. There I meet Damian, Trinette and finally Gabriel. “You guys be good to Nicci, okay?” He says to Damian and Trinette. Then he gives me one final hug and whispers in my ear. “Take care of them for me okay? And don’t forget to write. Got it?” “Got it.” I whisper back. Then I feel his hand in my jacket pocket as he drops in some money. “Thank you.” I whisper. He lets go of me and with a final wave mounts the train just as its leaving.

My knees buckle and I slide to the ground. I stay there, on the ground, sobbing, as Trinette and Damian try to comfort me. It’s no use and I spend a whole hour there, crying, hoping to one day get him back. When I finally get up I race down the street and to the shop where Gabriel worked. I sat in the corner until a young woman asked “Can I help you with anything?” I shake my head and leave the shop There is nothing I can do to keep my mind off of the events that happened today. But I try everything. I run to the attic where we had class and picked up his old artwork. I race down to his favourite places, the coffee shop, the small flower pot in front of his barrack, even to the old forgotten carriage that sits in a corner next to the fence. There is nothing anyone can do or say to comfort me. I return to my room and lie in bed. When a soldier comes to ask me why I’m not at work I make up some excuse about being sick. I am to be let off of work for three days. That’s all the time I am given to “recover” from the nasty “bug” that I have been told I have. I have been having the same symptoms so they let me sleep. Although I can’t sleep. I keep feeling as if it’s my fault that he was forced to leave. I feel as if he saved Damian for me and somehow that leaves me feeling guilty. When I wake up it is 2:00 in the afternoon. I feel sluggish even after having slept fourteen hours. I have lost total interest in art. I didn’t go to art class today. I have been feeling sore. My muscles feel rigid and my left arm is throbbing. I feel certain heaviness upon me as I pace the floor. When Trinette and Damian attempt to visit me I shoo them away, angrily. I feel irritated by their visits. I even begin to loathe them for no particular reason.

I soon become reckless. I ignore the soldier’s orders and even begin to question them. I feel absolutely hopeless. I feel trapped. I just hope I can last through this war. But for the sake of Damian and Trinette, I attempt to push all of this aside. I then remember my original first mission. I must find Abigail’s mom. I lie there, attempting to build up the energy for this new endeavour. Maybe I can do something right today. However, I do not look for her today. I simply keep lying there. What if I get this wrong? What if I fail again? I only have one day left in the children’s barracks anyways. So I start with that. I begin to shove my clothing in my bag. I quickly open the secret compartment to confirm that I have everything hidden away inside it. I throw the silver pocket watch into the secret compartment and lock it up quickly, not wanting to see any of the things within. I grab my mother’s purse and pack it in with all the other stuff. It’s a miracle the purse has made it so far. The next day I wake up and drag my bag to the office where I am told where my next room will be. “Excuse me sir.” I say to the man at the front desk. “Yes?” he’s says irritably. “I need to know where my new room is.” “What’s your name?” “Nicci Costa.” “What is your number?”

“I am number six-hundred fifteen-thousand nine-hundred eighty two.” “Yes. I’ll be right there.” He says scribbling things down on a sheet of paper. The short, round man hobbles down the corridor. After about fifteen minutes later he emerges with a new sheet of paper. He hands the page to me. “Now just head down the street and take a left.” He said. I walk slowly down the street and take a left, just as the man said. I quickly find my new barrack and head for my room I quickly find my bunk and toss my things on top. I keep my suitcase packed and shove it under my bed. I try to be happy for the rest of the day. I go and pick up Trinette and Damian and, for the first time in two days, head to another art class. When we arrive Trinette starts to get curious. “I see your feeling better.” She says suspiciously. “Yeah,” I say unconvincingly. “How did you recover so quickly?” “Uhh,” I stammer “Stuff.” Then I try to change the subject. “Have our paintings dried?” “Yeah.” She responds. “Good,” I say “I want to see them.” I race to the window where our paintings were hanged. I pick up mine and survey it. The colours are perfect and they seem to blend almost making it look like an illusion.

I turn to the other drawings and paintings and see that mine is one in few optimistic ones. The artwork done by others is sad and the colours are deep and dark. In some of them you can almost hear the children crying and the people screaming. You see broken, hollow faces and hungry, bloodshot eyes. Old men with hunched backs hobble painfully down the street. The children are so frail and tiered that some lay dead in the streets. In the midst of these pieces of art mine seems strange and out of place. “Now this is what art should be!” says the teacher “Art should be a sign of hope as well as a sign of reality. Remember ‘Art is a revolt against fate.’” We all took our seats as she passed around pieces of paper and pencils. Today was a free draw day. We could draw whatever we wanted today without having to use just one method. So instead of doing just doing water colours we could do oil pastel and watercolours to give it variety. I chose two methods, sketching and oil pastel. I start sketching a field. A field filled with row after row of grain. A bunny is hopping in the corner and an owl is flying low, parts of it enclosed in the field. A mouse nibbles on a few grains of barley. A fresh pink worm inches out of its tunnel. A large green piece of machinery is a home for three newborn baby birds and one that is still hatching. A red crested bird is just arriving with food for the little birds. I begin to sketch rapidly knowing that I only have an hour and that the oil pastel work will take up most of it. The sketch is finally done and gladly took only fifteen minutes. I still have forty-five minutes until class is over which is plenty of time to get the pastel work done. I do my base colours first which will be the orange, blue, and yellow. Once I am satisfied I go on to do my animals. The snow white owl blends into the yellow and orange field perfectly. The red crested bird looks majestic surrounded by its three children and the last baby bird is

surrounded by a beautiful blue, speckled shell. The worm is the colour of a fresh baby’s skin, frosted with dirt. A light brown and white bunny is happily hopping around and the gray mouse huddles, greedily choking down the yellowish orange grains. Finally there is the large green machine sitting silently in the background housing the birds nest. I quickly race to the table to get a small sponge like object used for smudging and race back to my table. I quickly begin to smooth out the rough lines to create a milky landscape. I seem to lose myself as I make my art. Art seems to remove me from these troublesome places and into better ones. In this case I am not in Theresienstadt but in a lush field filled with barley and wildlife. I quickly become absorbed in my work and I forget who I am. I am simply a person within this amazing field full of barley and wheat. You could say art is only a pastime but to me it is an obsession. Art comes from the creativity of the artist. Art comes from the ignorance of fate. Art is blind to the world and that is what I need. I need to be blind to this world. I imagine myself in this field with my mother and father hugging me tightly as a butterfly lands on my nose. A beautiful butterfly, golden butterfly. I imagine the scents coming from the field. The sweet smell of flowers coming from a nearby patch overwhelms me. I imagine the birds flying around high above my head. The small mouse tickling my hand as it crawled into it. The sweet chirping of the birds fills my ears as the owl hoots up ahead. I am quickly finished my drawing and hand it to the teacher. Then I walk slowly back to the table. Trinette is soon finished and I notice that when she reaches the teacher she whispers something to her. “What did you say?” I ask when Trinette gets back.

“I asked if we could come again tomorrow.” She responds. “What did she say?” I ask, my face lighting up. “Yes.” She says, simply. I am so happy. I can only imagine how great it would be to return here. I was wrong earlier. I have not totally lost interest in art. With that thought in mind I begin to get happier. Maybe I can drag myself out of this ditch. Maybe I will survive until the end of the war. I quickly remember that I have forgotten to write my name on my paper and race up to the teacher to retrieve it. As soon as I get it I write my name and numbers then I write July 22nd, 1945 underneath. I guess today hasn’t been as miserable as I thought it would be.

Chapter 11
I go back to my new room feeling a lot better. At first I feel as if it’s just an illusion of happiness but even if it is I would rather be fooling myself than loathing the world. It’s tough. Life in the ghettos is no picnic so you have to take what you have. Even if you don’t exactly have it at all. Even if you don’t exactly have anything. I wonder how these people do it. Some people have been here for years. I guess they get used to it. I know I never will. I walk down the street with Damian and Trinette following closely behind. We walk slowly down the street toward the line of people anxiously awaiting their next meal. We get in line quietly and stand there clutching our bowls as the people in front of us slowly walk forward. When it is our turn our bowls are filled with a ladle of soup each and we leave to find a table. We sit down and quietly slurp up our soup. There’s a strange flavour to it and Damian quickly discovers what it is. “Chicken!” he shouts in surprise. “What?” Trinette asks. “There’s chicken in the soup!” “Your right!” I say. It’s been so long since any of us have had meat that we have forgotten what it tastes like. “Why would they be giving us meat?” Trinette asks. “Not just meat! They’re giving us eggs too!” I shout as I pull a spoonful of eggs and chicken out of my soup.

“The old lady said this would happen.” Damian whispers carefully “She said that with the war soon over they don’t want other countries to find out what they were doing. They’re trying to cover it up just like what they did with the movie and all the renovations.” “ALL PEOPLES ARE TO REPORT TO THE TRAIN IMMEDIATLY!” boomed the voice of one of the soldiers. “I guess that’s us.” Damian said to us. “We better go.” Trinette says. With that we all march up the streets quickly tailed by a group of others who were just finishing their suppers. We all march silently up to the train where we then stop and wait. Five minutes later a soldier reaches us and tells us to all get into lines and we obey. We wait in long lines each line leading down to the river. The person at the train end is given a box and the box is passed down the line and to be thrown into the river. We don’t dare stop for fear that if we do we will be beaten or worse, killed. One box falls and out spills both ashes and paper leaving a mess on the ground. A soldier forces him to clean it all up with his bare hands and, after all the paper and ashes are back in their box, the boy is beaten to a pulp and led off. That is probably the last to be seen of the boy. We proceed quickly but carefully as not to repeat the boy’s mistake. The boxes are heavy and I wonder what could possibly be written on the papers and what the ashes would be from. What could they possibly be trying to hide? Then it all fits into place. Ashes and paper. These are the ashes of those who were once alive. These are the ashes of those who were so wrongfully killed. These are the ashes of my people. These are the ashes of dead Jews. The paper is the documents of those they are trying to hide. They are attempting to erase these people from the face of the Earth. They are

trying to act as if they never existed as to keep from facing their problems. They would hide the deaths of thousands, and maybe millions, just to keep from being hated by the rest of the world. I am disgusted that they killed so many yet acted as if they were so innocent. I am even more disgusted that they try to cover it up. I am so glad that I kept Abigail’s suitcase and all her stuff. I could not imagine what would happen to it if I had not. I am seething. I do so truly despise the people that are guarding me. Their pure existence torments me. All that I can think of is how disgusting they are. I despise those little swine! I think I will always despise them! There is nothing anymore that will keep me from thinking such thoughts. Just then I remember Abigail again. I remember her beautiful shining eyes and her soft brown hair. I remember the way she would talk without end, the way she would add a certain life to any conversation. I remember how she would sneak in my room with Deangelo to plan our escape or to just talk. I remember how she would always be smiling and how she would never turn down the food I gave her. I remember how hungry she was and how her face lit up in sight of food. I remember how sick she was when we arrived. I remember how jumpy she was as the man led her off to be cremated. Then I remember that her remains may just be in one of these boxes and my heart becomes heavy. I turn to Damian and remember Klocia. The way she almost beat up the man on the train for not giving her a newspaper and for treating her like a child. I remember her determined face as we ran away from Bullenhuser. I remember her annoying rants at the church and how she would have knocked down that door if Sister Martha hadn’t answered it first. I remember how annoying she was in general. Then I remember how brave she was to try to get out of Bullenhuser and save her brother and how I know that she would do anything to keep him alive. I then

remember her pale, lifeless face and limp body lying dead in the street. Then I remember that those planes belonged to the same men that killed Abigail, the same men that killed so many. I turn to Trinette and remember the girl I met at the first camp. I remember how she told me that her mother had run and had promised to come back for her. I remember her bravery for standing up to the Nazi men even in facing death. I remember the cause of her hatred. I remember her missing legs and how those legs were used for the research toward the well being of those I hate. I remember the fact that her death was left unremembered by most. I remember that I never quite got her name. I remember Deangelo and all our plans to escape. I remember his gift to me, the silver pocket watch that I had managed to hang onto. I remember that faithful day where we walked outside and how confused Abigail got about his ticket comment. I remember his beautiful brown hair as it rustled in the breeze coming from the window that night on the train. I remembered the amazing food we shared on the train and how he promised to get Abigail to her mother. I remember how miraculously full he looked although he was given no food. I remember his one armed hug he gave me as he stepped out of the room clutching Abigail in his other arm. I remember the almost silent conversations we had late at night after Abigail had fallen asleep. I remembered how his eyes would light up when we made plans to leave. I remember his gentle hand as he pushed the hair out of my eyes. I remember his heroic death and how he died at the hand of a Nazi man. I then remembered the boy that stood in line with me at the first camp. I remember his worried look as we were assigned our separate sections. I remember our short conversation and I wondered if he lived. I remember that he was sent to a head trauma center and I find it quite unlikely that he would have survived. I remember that his possible death was to the benefit of the scientists that attempted to find cures for the men I hate.

Lastly I remember Gabriel and his warm and gentle smile. I remember how he held me that night on the train and how he stayed there until I fell asleep. I remember our short conversations and how worried he looked that day in art class. I remember his comforting words and his gift to Damian. I remember how he walked me back to my room the day I bought my suitcase back. I remember the fact that he was the one who ended up paying for the suitcase and how I never paid him back. I remember his last hug and the words he whispered in my ear. I remember how he gave himself as a replacement for Damian on the last transport and I remember his address scrawled on that little piece of paper that I had managed to keep hidden in my suitcase. I remember how he was transported because the population was one of the many things the Nazi men wish to hide. Then I wonder what would have happened if any number of them had made it. I wonder how long they would have survived if I had taken their place. I wonder what would happen to Damian and Trinette if I was gone. I wonder if the three of us will make it through the war. I continue to pass the boxes down as the rhythmic splish splash of the boxes being thrown into the water reaches my ears. We continue for what seems like hours passing the boxes down the rows. There must be millions of dead because box after box falls in. Who would have thought that so many people died here in this place? The injustice of it all leaves me angry. I see Trinette’s face as her small, frail body lifts the surprisingly heavy boxes. I turn to Damian and notice his hollow eyes facing me. I quickly turn mine back toward the box. My hands begin to tremble but I cannot let the box fall. I pull myself together willing myself to keep still. It seems to work a bit but I can’t help feeling angry that so many lives are being erased by the simple movement of my hands and that I can do nothing to stop this.

I sincerely am on the verge of running but I am tethered here not only by the brute force of the soldiers but also by the sad, hollow faces of the two children beside me. I feel so helpless. But for hours we simply stand there until all the boxes are gone and the ashes of the once living people are gone as well. When the work is done we are sent back to our quarters where we are to stay until the next morning. We are not to get out of our rooms or to speak to each other. Buts since there are no guards around me, I risk whispering to the girl beside me. “Do you know anyone by the name Kowalski?” I ask. “Yes,” she says “She lives in this barrack but on the first level. I work in the soup kitchen with her.” “Oh.” I say “Did you ever meet her daughter?” “Yes. Her name is Abigail right?” “Yes.” “Well her mother was really depressed when she left. Abigail was her only daughter.” “Did you know her?” “Yes. Abigail was in the same barrack as I was. Wait. Do you know her too?” “Yes. I was a friend of hers at Bullenhuser Damm.” “Is that where they sent all those children?” “Yes. About twenty of us were sent there. One of us died and four of us ran. One of us was shot while trying to run. One of those four was killed in a bombing in England.” “What happened to Abigail?”

“She... she was... cremated.” “Oh no!” “She was already too weak from disease so when she arrived they just led her off and that was the last we saw of her.” “You say we a lot. Is there anyone with you?” “Yes. Damian is the only survivor from Bullenhuser apart from me. He was a close friend of Abigail’s ever since they met.” “May I meet him?” “Sure maybe tomorrow after I find Abigail’s mother.” “How will you tell her? You know. About what happened.” “I found something in her suitcase that might help.” I say as I pull the diary from a pocket in Abigail’s suitcase. I hand it to her. She flips through it reading at certain points and gasping or smiling at certain points in the story. “You think it will work?” I ask. “Of course. She hasn’t heard from her for almost a year now. Is it okay if I read it?” “Sure.” With that we sit there for almost an hour reading her diary together. I guess it’s an invasion of Abigail’s privacy in some ways but we ignore that. “Wow.” The girl finally says. “Yeah.” I say “Well goodnight I guess.”

“Goodnight.” I lie down and make a failed attempt to sleep. One, two, three hours pass before I finally fall asleep. I wake up in the morning tired and sore. I seem to have fallen off my bed last night because I am on the floor. I get up groggily and change quickly. I descend rapidly down the stairs heading for the room I was told belonged to Abigail’s mother. I knock loudly on the door. An old woman gets the door. “Who is it?” she asks “I’m a friend of Mrs. Kowalski’s daughter. Please let me in. I need to speak to her.” “Come on in!” she says brightly “I’ll bring her over.” I sit down on one of the chairs in the corner of the room. The old woman goes deep into the room and climbs a ladder leading to the second bunk. She shakes a young woman’s shoulders. “What?” the young woman asks. “You have a visitor.” “A visitor?” “Yes. She says she’s a friend of your daughter.” “Where is she?” “Right down there.” The old woman says, pointing to me. “Tell her I’ll be right there.” The old woman carefully walks down the ladder and heads in my direction. “She’ll be right with you.” She says to me.

I wait there for about five minutes when a young, brown haired, brown eyed, woman steps down. “Hello.” She says. “Hello.” “I hear you’re a friend of my daughter.” “Yes.” “Is she okay? Is she with you? May I see her?” “You might want to see this first.” I say handing her the diary. She gingerly flips through the diary. Then she turns to the last page. “Why was the last entry about a month ago?” she asks worriedly. “She wrote that one on the train that brought us here. Right before she... died.” Tears begin to fill her eyes. “I’m so sorry. She was so sick that when she arrived they must have thought she was unfit for work so they took her away and we never saw her again.” We sit there for a while until finally Abigail’s mother spoke. “Was she good?” she whispered. “Yeah. She was one of my best friends.” “Did you take good care of her?” “As best I could.” “You mentioned she was sick. What was it she had?”

“We were sent to Bullenhuser Damm, a children’s tuberculosis testing facility. She was injected with the bacteria along with half of the others. Ten children were injected in total. I’m sorry.” “At least she sounds as if she were happy. You seem to have struck happiness in her. That’s something she hasn’t had for years.” “Well before Bullenhuser we were sent to another camp. That is where we were sent from. We all went to Bullenhuser together. She was never alone.” “Thank you for all you have done for her as well as for me.” “You’re very welcome and I’m so sorry you never got her back.” “I know she’s in a better place. Here keep the journal. It may not last long in my hands.” She passes the journal back to me. “Thank you.” I whisper as I walk quickly out of the room. I walk back up the stairs and open the door quietly. I walk in and shut the door behind me. I race over to my bed and sneak the journal within my secret compartment. Then I lie in bed as the fatigue engulfs me. In a matter of minutes I have fallen asleep.

Chapter 12
I wake up later that afternoon. The whole room is buzzing with chatter. “The end of the war!” One woman says “I hear the Nazis have lost!” another chimes in. “I heard that Hitler died.” Someone said in the back “They say it was a suicide. I guess he just couldn’t live with himself after all he had done.” I quickly become tired and hop off my bed and down the ladder to the hallway. I quickly race down the stairs and into the street realizing just now that I have about five minutes to make it to the food line to receive my dinner. I race as fast as I can down the streets and into the line. I step up with my bowl and receive my food with only seconds to spare. I sit down on a stool, alone. It’s the first time this week that I haven’t been totally surrounded and followed by Damian and Trinette. It feels lonely and I can’t believe that I spent those few days without them. I take the warm soup in my hands and swirl it around in my bowl. Little pieces of chicken, egg and potato come swirling up and then sink back down to the bottom. It’s August first and everyone is talking about how the war is almost over and how Hitler died. It seems as if it were some miracle, although really the war has been going on for about six years already so it had to end sometime. I guess they’re just excited about getting out of here and I guess if you look at it that way they really do have reason to be excited. I have however noticed the many “clean ups” they have been doing. All the crematoriums are either coming down or being disguised. Even the gas chambers are being “modified” which includes sending prisoners in to clean it. About four people have died at that job. They have been feeding us a bit better by giving us potatoes, eggs and meat. Even the

price of coffee has come down a substantial amount. The price has gone down so much that I can now afford a coffee every second morning. I go and run to the children’s barracks to see Trinette and Damian. The population has lowered so much in the past few weeks that I can now walk through the streets without worrying about bumping into people or getting stuck in groups of people. I can now run freely without having to worry about hitting or tripping anyone. Not even the guards seem to walk through the streets anymore. The whole place is too quiet. There were once fifteen thousand children here. Not all at once, of course, but there was always at least two thousand at a time. Now there are only about a hundred. I guess we really are the lucky few. Well, not that lucky. What I mean is that we are alive and to some life is a precious thing. The children that survived are less than one percent of the original child population. Children around here are pretty scattered. Only at night do they all meet up in one place. On a day like today I’m expecting to bump into two people my age at the max. I continue strolling and finally reach the children’s barracks. I climb the stairs two at a time until I finally reach the top. I race in and up the second set of stairs as I finally reach them. I know both of them are in Damian’s room because today is one of his “French classes.” “Now say it like this: Comment allez-vous?” Trinette said. “Comment alley voo.” He tried although his “Comment” sounded like the English word comment and he said alley instead of “allez.” “No. Comment allez-vous? The t in comment is silent and the ez make an a sound.” “Oh, okay. Comment allez-vous?” “Good!”

At that moment I opened the door and stepped inside. I saw that they were working on the other side of the room and that they hadn’t seen me. I tiptoed over to them and spoke. “Comment allez-vous?” I said. Trinette jumped. “Oh. Bon.” She laughed. “That’s good. I just thought I’d say goodnight!” “Goodnight Nicci.” Trinette and Damian say in unison. “Goodnight. Bye guys!” “Bye.” They say again and then they turn back to their book and start studying. I leave silently and walk back to the woman’s barracks. Now, with the problem of talking to Abigail’s mother over, I begin to relax. I walk confidently back to my barrack and climb the stairs all the way up to my room. I open the door and walk in. Then I gingerly shut it behind me. I walk straight to my bed and take out a long nightgown and fall asleep. The next morning I find that my room is almost completely empty. Not a single person is inside. I step up to the window and open it. Now I know why no one is inside. It’s a beautiful day! Everyone must be outside enjoying it. Maybe a few children are playing a game down there and the adults might be drinking their coffees outside on the cafe’s patio. Again I am wrong. Another “clean-up” project is underway. More plants are being put in pots. People are painting buildings. Furniture is being painted and polished. Windows are being wiped clean. I don’t think we have had such a big “clean-up” since the movie!

The streets are looking prettier and the barracks are being painted a creamy white colour. Roses and lavenders add colour to the streets. They have started to paint the insides of the buildings as well. As I march down the street a soldiers walks up to me. “YOU!” he shouts to get my attention. “Yes sir?” “I hear you are a painter! FOLLOW ME!” He leads me to a pile of paint cans. “You are to start painting the insides of the buildings! Someone should be there to make sure you don’t mess it up! You are to go to the children’s barracks! GO!” He shouts, shoving a paint-can into my hands. I take a brush and head back to my old home, the same one I once shared with Damian and Trinette. I walk silently and am surprised to see Damian digging holes in the dirt as Trinette gently places a flower in each. “How’s your morning been?” I ask. “Dreadful,” Damian answers “and how was yours?” “Oh, I just woke up but it looks like it’s going to be a long day.” “I agree. We’ve been planting these things for two hours. Almost all of them were done by us.” “I was assigned painting.” “You’re lucky. Very few of us were given that job. You sure will have an easier day than us.” “I guess so. But the way the man said it, it was almost as if he expected nothing but perfection.” “Well I’d better go. Bye!”

“Bye.” I walk silently into the barrack to find it layered with old newspaper and equally old blankets. I step into a room and find that about three men are refreshing the once peeling paint. I step in and one of them turns to greet me. “Hello. Are you lost?” he asks. “No. I was assigned to help paint the children’s barracks.” I respond. “Are you quite certain?” he asks. He must be wondering why the soldiers would send a small thirteen year old girl to go and paint. These were actual artists and I was just a simple girl who painted a lake. “Yes. I’m quite sure.” I say at last. “Then let’s get a move on! We’ve still got the rest of the barrack to finish!” he says cheerfully. “What do I do?” “Oh just use the old paint as a guideline. Paint the colourful stripes first and then get the white in around it.” “Okay. Where do I start?” “How about right here with us?” “Sure.” We start to paint silently but eventually end up bursting with conversation. “Where you from?” one man asks. “Rome.”

“How did you guys end up here? I thought all the scientists and artists were spared.” “No. To the Nazi’s were all vermin no matter what talent.” “How long have you been here?” “I’ve been here for about three years but some of the others have been around for much longer.” “Didn’t they at least try to take advantage of you? Having a whole bunch of artists and not using them must have been a bit of a waste if you know what I mean.” “They did. They made us draw these paintings of what life was supposed to be like around here. They ended up giving them to the Red Cross peoples. They also made us do the maps and signs. All the paintings in the cafe were also done by us.” “They’re amazing paintings.” “Yes, those men were quite talented indeed. It’s interesting that we’ve been speaking for almost an hour now and I still don’t know your name.” “My name is Nicci Costa.” “You’re Nicci, huh? I saw some of your work in the art room one day as I was dropping off some paper. Your good, kid.” “Really?” I asked, bewildered. “Yeah. I saw that lake painting and the one you made of the slaves working. You’re quite magnificent. Here I’ll get you a second opinion.” He says as he calls over one of his friends “This is Nicci. You know, the girl who painted that lake. The watercolour one.”

“So you’re the genius who thought up that one? Very nice to meet you! You’ve got talent you know? You might become something big when we get out of here. People will be itching to buy your art.” “Thank you.” I say. I’m blushing furiously. “You’ve got something most people here don’t have. You have hope. That lake was a symbol of hope, beauty and happiness. My little friend that is all you need to make beautiful art.” says the first man. He’s right. Art is powerful. It can change a person’s emotions and even their actions. a person who views an uplifting piece of art can become joyful and may even be inspired. Hopeful art is what inspires people, nations and sometimes the world. It is a power that has been thrust upon me. “How do you become an artist?” I ask. “There is no ‘How to.’ Art comes from within you. An artist is simply a person who sells or gives his masterpieces to the world. It is like giving or selling a piece of you to the world. Remember that.” says the second man. “I will.” “I am expecting great things from you, young woman.” The first man says. As he says this he unintentionally splatters paint down my shirt. I splatter some back at him and a wave of blue hits him in the chest. He tries to throw more at me but I duck and it lands in the second man’s face. It quickly becomes a huge war as we attempt to splatter each other as well as keep the walls free of splattered paint. We finally get back to work after about half an hour of paint splattering. By two o’clock that afternoon, we are done. We all step back to marvel our work before going to get some lunch.

We all walk down the street and into the line. The line is short compared to what it was four weeks ago. A few weeks ago we were double the size we are now. At least the line is shorter. I walk up, get my soup, and look for Trinette and Damian. I finally find them sitting on stools in the corner of the cafe. I walk up to them. “Hey guys.” I say. “Hey.” Trinette responds. “How did work go?” I ask. “Fine,” Damian responds “And with you?” “Pretty good.” I answer. “It’s looking pretty good around here.” Trinette said, enthusiastically. “I guess so.” Damian responded. “What? You don’t agree?” I ask. “It’s not that.” He responds “It’s the Nazi’s intentions. This is all a cover up. They’re trying to erase history.” “I guess so. But there’s nothing we can do to fix that.” “I guess you’re right.” “What are you doing next? You can’t possibly be planting again. I think there are enough flowers in the city.” “No, were done with planting. We’ll be fixing things for the rest of the day. We were told to go to the store right after lunch.” “That’ll be fun.” “Yeah I guess. How about you, more painting this afternoon?”

“Yeah. We only got one room done. We’ll be moving onto the one upstairs. We might even finish painting the barrack today.” “Well that’s good news. I guess the Allies are really close now. We might get out of here soon.” Trinette says. “Wouldn’t that be great? But what are we going to do? Were all orphans. Where are we to go?” I ask. “I don’t know. Maybe we could get adopted or something. You never know. We might even find our way to the United States and Canada. I hear life’s better there.” Damian says. “I guess. But let’s not worry about that now. We don’t even know if we’ll make it. You know they don’t want any proof of what happened.” “I’m pretty sure were not that much of a threat at least not enough that they’d kill us. Don’t you agree?” “But thousands here were killed for no reason at all. And anyways, we are a threat. Just our existence is a threat toward their dignity.” “Like they have any dignity left.” Damian mutters. “I’m not sure they particularly care about our lives. I don’t think they care about anybody but themselves for that matter.” Trinette says. We decide to walk around a bit before leaving for work. “What do you want to do?” I ask them. “Want to go to the store?” Damian asks. “Sure.” Trinette answers. We walk over to the store and begin to look around. I decide to check the silver pocket watch and find that we have only fifteen minutes left. “We’ve got to go.” I say.

We walk quickly down the streets and go to work. “Are you ready for the next room?” I ask the artists. “Yup. We already moved the stuff upstairs. Let’s go!” One of the artists says. I follow him upstairs to see that all the other artists and the supplies are already here. “Shall we start?” asks one of the men. “I guess so.” Says another. “Let’s start then!” says the first one. I crack open a paint can and pull out a clean brush. I begin painting the walls brushstroke by brushstroke. It soon begins to revive the room and give it a happy feel. “I hear the Nazis have surrendered.” Says one man. “Then why are we still here?” I ask. “Who knows? I guess they didn’t have time to make us camera ready so they keep trying now.” “Sounds stupid. Why don’t they just hand us over and admit defeat?” “Because it would be bad for them. Hundreds of their people would die if anyone found out about this.” “Well they deserve to die don’t they?” “I guess so.” “It would be too much of a defeat for them.” “Why did they do it anyways? Why do they hate us?”

“Hitler wanted a ‘perfect’ world. He wanted to have a ‘pure and uncontaminated’ race. He felt as if we were ruining his ‘perfect race’ and decided that we were to be kept separate. It’s quite evil, really.” “What did he consider a ‘perfect race’?” “He found that the people had to be ‘pure’ Germans. He wanted pureblood German descendants. He considered his perfect race to be fine skinned, blonde, blue eyed, slim and tall even though he himself was brown haired and dark eyed. They say that’s why he never had a child as his child would most definitely have dark hair and dark eyes. It’s quite stupid really.” “But how can he make a world like that? There are still so many people that don’t fit into that description.” “It was just some crazy idea of his. That’s why he started trying to invade Europe. His master plan, however, was for total world domination as to ensure that his ‘perfect race’ would be wide spread.” “Quite a stupid idea.” “He’s been said to be a madman.” “I believe he was.” “Who else would do such a thing?” We kept working until the whole barrack was painted. Then we said our final goodbyes and headed to our barracks for the night. I arrive at mine, slip my nightclothes on and slipped into my bead. I was so exhausted from working that I fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow.

Chapter 13
I wake up the next day feeling tired and realize that I have only been asleep for three hours. It’s currently two o’clock in the morning and I am absolutely exhausted. I keep trying to go back to sleep but it is a futile attempt. So I simply lie there, thinking. What would happen if Hitler never existed? Would all my friends still be alive? Would I still have my parents? Would I be here at all? The truth is that if Hitler never existed I would have never met my friends. If it were not for Nazism I would not have been at Bullenhuser at all. I would not have met Abigail, Deangelo, Klocia, Damian or Gabriel. If it weren’t for the war I may have never have heard the story of such wonderful people. If it were not for the war I would not have encountered them. We would all have lived our separate lives if it were not for what happened. Another piece of truth is that all of them might still be alive if it were not for him. Although I would never have met them they would all still be alive. Yes, that is one thing he took from me. He took the lives of innocent people, people who had never hurt him. He had no reason to kill them. I would have also had my family or at least my mother and sister. My mother would not have been taken. I would not have been separated from her. My sister would not have run. I wonder if my sister was caught. I wonder if my mother is still alive. The answer to the last question is quite simple. The answer is no. I would not be here if it were not for them. If it were not for their “Master race” I could have been at home. I could have been safe. I could have been spared of this cruelty. Then I hear a sound, a “clunk” sound.

I step down the ladder and feel around the ground. My hand reaches the cold silver back of Deangelo’s silver pocket watch. I clutch the silver surface tightly in my hand. I crawl back up into my bed and lie there silently. Then, right before falling asleep again, I remember that without this I would not have had the chance to meet all those wonderful people and that no matter what happens I will always have their stories and the memories we shared. I wake up four hours later. I get up and find that everyone is still here. Everyone is sleeping. But its six o’clock on a Monday! It’s a regular working day! Shouldn’t everyone be at work? I wake up, get dressed and race down the stairs and walk up the street to the children’s barracks. I race up the stairs and step into Trinette’s room. “Trinette, wake up!” I shout at her. “Wha-” she responds, groggily. “Wake up! Something’s wrong!” “What happened?” she asks as she gets up off the bed and steps onto the cold hard floor. “I don’t know. All I know is that its six o’clock on a Monday and everyone is still asleep.” “Why isn’t everyone at work?” “That’s what I want to know.” “What are we going to do?” “I’m going to get a coffee. Do you want to come?”

“Sure.” I walk outside and, after about five minutes, she emerges as well. “Are we going to pick up Damian?” she asks. “Of course.” We walk over to his barrack and step inside. “Wake up, Damian.” We shout simultaneously. “What is it?” he snaps. “Something’s wrong. Get dressed and let’s go.” Trinette says “We’ll explain later.” We walk outside and wait until he arrives. “What’s wrong?” he asks. “Were not entirely sure.” Trinette responds. “Then why did you wake me up?” “Because it’s a Monday and everyone is still asleep. It’s weird.” We step into the cafe where one lone man is standing behind the counter. The whole place is completely empty. “How can I help you?” he asks. “I’ll just have a small cup of coffee.” He hands me a warm cup of coffee. “Do you know what’s going on?” I ask. “Not a clue. I just can’t go looking around because I had to work.” “Thanks for the coffee.” I say as I pass him a small wad of bills.

“You’re welcome.” We sit down at one of the tables and I drink my coffee as we talk. “What could possibly be wrong?” Damian asks. “Yeah. Why would no one be at work today?” Trinette adds. “I don’t know.” I answer. “Well there has to be a reason.” Trinette says. “No one would ever just skip work.” Damian adds. “Of course they wouldn’t. They would all be punished.” I say. “That’s it!” Damian exclaims. “What?” Trinette asks. “No one is punishing us for not going to work. Either that means a change of heart, which is quite unlikely, or they all left.” He explains. “Why would they leave?” Trinette asks. “They wouldn’t want to be caught red-handed.” “I guess but why didn’t they kill us all first?” “Who knows? Maybe because it would seem suspicious that a whole bunch of people went missing all of a sudden.” “I guess you’re right. But why is everyone still here?” “Who knows? Maybe they just don’t know where to go next.” “I guess you can’t really leave if you have nowhere to go.” “I guess the war really is over. But we really need to wait before telling anyone. We still don’t have any proof.” I add.

“Yeah, your right.” Damian says. “How are we going to prove it though?” “Let’s wait a day and if we don’t see any soldiers we’ll know it’s true.” We get up and walk over to the man at the counter. “Thanks again!” I say as I drop the mug on the counter top. “You’re welcome.” He answers. We wander down the streets doing nothing in particular. We don’t have much to do anyways. Well at least not until 2:00 but we’ve still got about seven hours until then. We wander aimlessly until we finally decide to go and get Damian’s ball. Especially since we’ve wandered everywhere and are back where we started. “I’ll be right back!” he shouts as he runs toward the barracks. He comes back about ten minutes later clutching the ball in his hands. “The only problem is that there are three of us.” Trinette says. “Why don’t you two play and I’ll keep score?” I ask. “Are you sure?” Damian asks. “Yeah. You two have fun!” We are standing between the cafe and the store. The cafe wall is Trinette’s side and the store wall is Damian’s. “Three! Two! One!” I shout. Then I throw the ball straight up in the air. Trinette gets to it first. She races around Damian and to the wall of the store. She shoots but Damian jumps in front of it just in time. The ball bounces off his hands aimlessly.

Damian has the ball now and he races toward the cafe wall but Trinette is too fast and kicks it away toward the wall of the store. This time Damian is just realizing what has happened before the ball bounces off the wall. 1 for Trinette. 0 for him. He’s furious and kicks the ball as hard as he can toward the cafe wall but Trinette head butts it easily and it comes crashing toward him. It misses his head by a centimetre before hitting the wall, again. 2 Trinette, 0 Damian. He kicks it around Trinette this time and just barely makes it before he kicks it and it hits the wall with a huge thud. He runs around in a circle pumping his fists in the air. “And he scores!” he shouts “The crowd is going wild! They’re all calling his name! Who is it? It’s none other than Damian, the world’s best soccer player!” In the time it took him to say that, Trinette was shooting at the goal. Goal after goal. Only after about three goals did he realize what was happening. He lunged at the ball, keeping Trinette from scoring yet another goal. “Hey! That’s handling!” Trinette complains. “It’s true. Free kick for Trinette.” I explain. “Aww come on! I’m technically the goalie!” But Damian gives in and stands guarding the wall. Trinette shoots and scores. I guess that’s 6 for Trinette and 1 for Damian. He’s losing badly now. But he’s stubborn and he won’t let her win.

It soon becomes 6 for Trinette and 2 for Damian. But only five minutes later it’s 7 for Trinette. It keeps going back and forth until about four hours pass and it’s already eleven. The score is 16 for Trinette and 3 for Damian. “I can’t believe I was beaten by a girl!” Damian says. “Better believe it!” Trinette smirks. “Let’s go guys. We’ve still got three hours to burn.” I add. “Okay.” Trinette agrees. We step into the store and see that there are a few people shopping. I guess people have started to wake up. “I just love this dress!” Trinette exclaims “Too bad it costs so much.” “I’ll get it for you.” I say. “Are you sure?” “Of course I am!” I take the dress off the rack and bring it up to the counter. “I’ll take this dress.” I say to the woman at the counter as I take out a few bills. I pay for the dress and hand it to Trinette. “Thank you so much!” She says as she hugs me tightly. “You’re very welcome. Damian do you want something too?” “I’ll take a look and see.” Damian answers. After about half an hour Damian walks up to me and hands me a t-shirt. “Is this all you want?” I ask curiously.

“Yup. This is all I want.” I walk up to the man at the counter again and hand him the shirt along with the money. He takes the money and hands the shirt back to me. I hand it over to Damian. “Thanks!” he says. It now been an hour and we have only two hours left. We head over to the lunch line and get our lunches. Half the people are probably still asleep. We sit down on a bench and eat the soup together. “I haven’t had soup like this in ages! It’s really good!” Damian says. “I know! They seem to have added more to it.” I add. “It’s true. The cooking people have added something to it, although I have no idea what it is.” Trinette responds. “I can’t quite tell what it is either.” Damian adds. We stop by the small convenience store to buy some sugar. I pick up a nine cubes and hand the man some money. He hands it back and I become confused. “Just take them! It’s okay. It’s only a few cubes.” He says. “Are you sure?” I ask. “Of course!” he answers. “Thank you so much.” “You’re very welcome.” I hand Trinette and Damian a sugar cube each and put the rest in a small brown paper bag.

“I can’t believe he just gave it to us!” Trinette says. “I know! Especially since the price is so high for sugar.” I add. “I guess he’s just feeling happy. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I haven’t seen a single soldier all day.” “I guess you’re right. We haven’t crossed a single soldier.” It’s now fifteen minutes until two and we race over to the attic. We reach it with five minutes to spare. At least were not late. I sit down next to Damian and Trinette. The room soon fills with other children and I spot two of the artists as well. “Settle down children! I know it’s been an eventful day!” the teacher says “Now today we will be drawing cartoons. I have here two of the town artists to show you all how to do that.” “Hello,” Says one of the artists “today we will be drawing cartoons. We will be first sketching cute baby mice. First draw a circle and attach a long side-ways oval to it. These will be the mouse’s head and body. Then add four little circles to the oval. These are going to be the paws.” I copy this out on my paper quickly and it turns out quite sketchy. “Now draw two circles on the top of the head. These are the ears. Once you’re done that it should look a little bit like this.” He holds up the paper he’s been drawing on to show us the rough sketch of a mouse he made. “Next add a tail and some whiskers, like this, and then add the eyes, nose and mouth.” Says the first artist, “Once you’re done that you can shade in little details and fix up some of the original rough lines.” Mine looks somewhat like a mouse. I’m not much of a cartoonist. We spend about three hours cartooning everything from fish to birds. All my cartoons turn out lopsided or just plain bad.

“Now as a special surprise we have decided to allow you all about two extra hours to do whatever you want.” Says the teacher. I paint a few birds flying in the sky and soon paint a few fish in a lake nearby. As always I am captivated by my artwork. I paint a boat in the lake and a boy fishing in it. A girl swimming nearby. Three young children play soccer on the grass by the lake. Another boy is reading leisurely in a lawn chair on a deck. Another girl is diving in the water. I realize that I have painted myself. I am the swimming girl. The boy in the boat is Gabriel. The four young children are Abigail, Damian and Trinette. The boy in the chair is Deangelo. Klocia is the one diving in the water. I can hear the shouts of the children playing and feel the cold water envelop me. I can hear Gabriel complaining about the fish and I see that Deangelo is completely immersed in his book. Klocia does a flip into the water sending ripples down its glossy surface. The day is perfect. The sun is shining and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. This is the most perfect day, ever. I finish the painting and hang it up to dry. “It’s absolutely perfect.” Says a voice from behind me. I turn around to find one of the artists staring at my picture. “I love the contrast. It’s so uplifting.” “Thank you.” I say as I walk back to my seat. The rest of the day goes by quickly and we spend about three hours doing nothing. Chapter 13

I wake up the next day feeling tired and realize that I have only been asleep for three hours. It’s currently two o’clock in the morning and I am absolutely exhausted. I keep trying to go back to sleep but it is a futile attempt. So I simply lie there, thinking. What would happen if Hitler never existed? Would all my friends still be alive? Would I still have my parents? Would I be here at all? The truth is that if Hitler never existed I would have never met my friends. If it were not for Nazism I would not have been at Bullenhuser at all. I would not have met Abigail, Deangelo, Klocia, Damian or Gabriel. If it weren’t for the war I may have never have heard the story of such wonderful people. If it were not for the war I would not have encountered them. We would all have lived our separate lives if it were not for what happened. Another piece of truth is that all of them might still be alive if it were not for him. Although I would never have met them they would all still be alive. Yes, that is one thing he took from me. He took the lives of innocent people, people who had never hurt him. He had no reason to kill them. I would have also had my family or at least my mother and sister. My mother would not have been taken. I would not have been separated from her. My sister would not have run. I wonder if my sister was caught. I wonder if my mother is still alive. The answer to the last question is quite simple. The answer is no. I would not be here if it were not for them. If it were not for their “Master race” I could have been at home. I could have been safe. I could have been spared of this cruelty. Then I hear a sound, a “clunk” sound. I step down the ladder and feel around the ground. My hand reaches the cold silver back of Deangelo’s silver pocket watch. I clutch the silver

surface tightly in my hand. I crawl back up into my bed and lie there silently. Then, right before falling asleep again, I remember that without this I would not have had the chance to meet all those wonderful people and that no matter what happens I will always have their stories and the memories we shared. I wake up four hours later. I get up and find that everyone is still here. Everyone is sleeping. But its six o’clock on a Monday! It’s a regular working day! Shouldn’t everyone be at work? I wake up, get dressed and race down the stairs and walk up the street to the children’s barracks. I race up the stairs and step into Trinette’s room. “Trinette, wake up!” I shout at her. “Wha-” she responds, groggily. “Wake up! Something’s wrong!” “What happened?” she asks as she gets up off the bed and steps onto the cold hard floor. “I don’t know. All I know is that its six o’clock on a Monday and everyone is still asleep.” “Why isn’t everyone at work?” “That’s what I want to know.” “What are we going to do?” “I’m going to get a coffee. Do you want to come?” “Sure.”

I walk outside and, after about five minutes, she emerges as well. “Are we going to pick up Damian?” she asks. “Of course.” We walk over to his barrack and step inside. “Wake up, Damian.” We shout simultaneously. “What is it?” he snaps. “Something’s wrong. Get dressed and let’s go.” Trinette says “We’ll explain later.” We walk outside and wait until he arrives. “What’s wrong?” he asks. “Were not entirely sure.” Trinette responds. “Then why did you wake me up?” “Because it’s a Monday and everyone is still asleep. It’s weird.” We step into the cafe where one lone man is standing behind the counter. The whole place is completely empty. “How can I help you?” he asks. “I’ll just have a small cup of coffee.” He hands me a warm cup of coffee. “Do you know what’s going on?” I ask. “Not a clue. I just can’t go looking around because I had to work.” “Thanks for the coffee.” I say as I pass him a small wad of bills. “You’re welcome.”

We sit down at one of the tables and I drink my coffee as we talk. “What could possibly be wrong?” Damian asks. “Yeah. Why would no one be at work today?” Trinette adds. “I don’t know.” I answer. “Well there has to be a reason.” Trinette says. “No one would ever just skip work.” Damian adds. “Of course they wouldn’t. They would all be punished.” I say. “That’s it!” Damian exclaims. “What?” Trinette asks. “No one is punishing us for not going to work. Either that means a change of heart, which is quite unlikely, or they all left.” He explains. “Why would they leave?” Trinette asks. “They wouldn’t want to be caught red-handed.” “I guess but why didn’t they kill us all first?” “Who knows? Maybe because it would seem suspicious that a whole bunch of people went missing all of a sudden.” “I guess you’re right. But why is everyone still here?” “Who knows? Maybe they just don’t know where to go next.” “I guess you can’t really leave if you have nowhere to go.” “I guess the war really is over. But we really need to wait before telling anyone. We still don’t have any proof.” I add. “Yeah, your right.” Damian says.

“How are we going to prove it though?” “Let’s wait a day and if we don’t see any soldiers we’ll know it’s true.” We get up and walk over to the man at the counter. “Thanks again!” I say as I drop the mug on the counter top. “You’re welcome.” He answers. We wander down the streets doing nothing in particular. We don’t have much to do anyways. Well at least not until 2:00 but we’ve still got about seven hours until then. We wander aimlessly until we finally decide to go and get Damian’s ball. Especially since we’ve wandered everywhere and are back where we started. “I’ll be right back!” he shouts as he runs toward the barracks. He comes back about ten minutes later clutching the ball in his hands. “The only problem is that there are three of us.” Trinette says. “Why don’t you two play and I’ll keep score?” I ask. “Are you sure?” Damian asks. “Yeah. You two have fun!” We are standing between the cafe and the store. The cafe wall is Trinette’s side and the store wall is Damian’s. “Three! Two! One!” I shout. Then I throw the ball straight up in the air. Trinette gets to it first. She races around Damian and to the wall of the store. She shoots but Damian jumps in front of it just in time. The ball bounces off his hands aimlessly.

Damian has the ball now and he races toward the cafe wall but Trinette is too fast and kicks it away toward the wall of the store. This time Damian is just realizing what has happened before the ball bounces off the wall. 1 for Trinette. 0 for him. He’s furious and kicks the ball as hard as he can toward the cafe wall but Trinette head butts it easily and it comes crashing toward him. It misses his head by a centimetre before hitting the wall, again. 2 Trinette, 0 Damian. He kicks it around Trinette this time and just barely makes it before he kicks it and it hits the wall with a huge thud. He runs around in a circle pumping his fists in the air. “And he scores!” he shouts “The crowd is going wild! They’re all calling his name! Who is it? It’s none other than Damian, the world’s best soccer player!” In the time it took him to say that, Trinette was shooting at the goal. Goal after goal. Only after about three goals did he realize what was happening. He lunged at the ball, keeping Trinette from scoring yet another goal. “Hey! That’s handling!” Trinette complains. “It’s true. Free kick for Trinette.” I explain. “Aww come on! I’m technically the goalie!” But Damian gives in and stands guarding the wall. Trinette shoots and scores. I guess that’s 6 for Trinette and 1 for Damian. He’s losing badly now. But he’s stubborn and he won’t let her win.

It soon becomes 6 for Trinette and 2 for Damian. But only five minutes later it’s 7 for Trinette. It keeps going back and forth until about four hours pass and it’s already eleven. The score is 16 for Trinette and 3 for Damian. “I can’t believe I was beaten by a girl!” Damian says. “Better believe it!” Trinette smirks. “Let’s go guys. We’ve still got three hours to burn.” I add. “Okay.” Trinette agrees. We step into the store and see that there are a few people shopping. I guess people have started to wake up. “I just love this dress!” Trinette exclaims “Too bad it costs so much.” “I’ll get it for you.” I say. “Are you sure?” “Of course I am!” I take the dress off the rack and bring it up to the counter. “I’ll take this dress.” I say to the woman at the counter as I take out a few bills. I pay for the dress and hand it to Trinette. “Thank you so much!” She says as she hugs me tightly. “You’re very welcome. Damian do you want something too?” “I’ll take a look and see.” Damian answers. After about half an hour Damian walks up to me and hands me a t-shirt. “Is this all you want?” I ask curiously.

“Yup. This is all I want.” I walk up to the man at the counter again and hand him the shirt along with the money. He takes the money and hands the shirt back to me. I hand it over to Damian. “Thanks!” he says. It now been an hour and we have only two hours left. We head over to the lunch line and get our lunches. Half the people are probably still asleep. We sit down on a bench and eat the soup together. “I haven’t had soup like this in ages! It’s really good!” Damian says. “I know! They seem to have added more to it.” I add. “It’s true. The cooking people have added something to it, although I have no idea what it is.” Trinette responds. “I can’t quite tell what it is either.” Damian adds. We stop by the small convenience store to buy some sugar. I pick up a nine cubes and hand the man some money. He hands it back and I become confused. “Just take them! It’s okay. It’s only a few cubes.” He says. “Are you sure?” I ask. “Of course!” he answers. “Thank you so much.” “You’re very welcome.” I hand Trinette and Damian a sugar cube each and put the rest in a small brown paper bag.

“I can’t believe he just gave it to us!” Trinette says. “I know! Especially since the price is so high for sugar.” I add. “I guess he’s just feeling happy. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I haven’t seen a single soldier all day.” “I guess you’re right. We haven’t crossed a single soldier.” It’s now fifteen minutes until two and we race over to the attic. We reach it with five minutes to spare. At least were not late. I sit down next to Damian and Trinette. The room soon fills with other children and I spot two of the artists as well. “Settle down children! I know it’s been an eventful day!” the teacher says “Now today we will be drawing cartoons. I have here two of the town artists to show you all how to do that.” “Hello,” Says one of the artists “today we will be drawing cartoons. We will be first sketching cute baby mice. First draw a circle and attach a long side-ways oval to it. These will be the mouse’s head and body. Then add four little circles to the oval. These are going to be the paws.” I copy this out on my paper quickly and it turns out quite sketchy. “Now draw two circles on the top of the head. These are the ears. Once you’re done that it should look a little bit like this.” He holds up the paper he’s been drawing on to show us the rough sketch of a mouse he made. “Next add a tail and some whiskers, like this, and then add the eyes, nose and mouth.” Says the first artist, “Once you’re done that you can shade in little details and fix up some of the original rough lines.” Mine looks somewhat like a mouse. I’m not much of a cartoonist. We spend about three hours cartooning everything from fish to birds. All my cartoons turn out lopsided or just plain bad.

“Now as a special surprise we have decided to allow you all about two extra hours to do whatever you want.” Says the teacher. I paint a few birds flying in the sky and soon paint a few fish in a lake nearby. As always I am captivated by my artwork. I paint a boat in the lake and a boy fishing in it. A girl swimming nearby. Three young children play soccer on the grass by the lake. Another boy is reading leisurely in a lawn chair on a deck. Another girl is diving in the water. I realize that I have painted myself. I am the swimming girl. The boy in the boat is Gabriel. The four young children are Abigail, Damian and Trinette. The boy in the chair is Deangelo. Klocia is the one diving in the water. I can hear the shouts of the children playing and feel the cold water envelop me. I can hear Gabriel complaining about the fish and I see that Deangelo is completely immersed in his book. Klocia does a flip into the water sending ripples down its glossy surface. The day is perfect. The sun is shining and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. This is the most perfect day, ever. I finish the painting and hang it up to dry. “It’s absolutely perfect.” Says a voice from behind me. I turn around to find one of the artists staring at my picture. “I love the contrast. It’s so uplifting.” “Thank you.” I say as I walk back to my seat. The rest of the day goes by quickly and we spend about three hours doing nothing until finally dinner time arrives. We all walk silently to the lines and get our food. We then walk back to our barracks eating as we walked.

The hot soup burns my hands as I walk and eat. The soup is good and warms me up. We reach the barrack and sit at the small table in the center, slurping what’s left of our soup. “Why is everyone still here? At least somebody must have noticed what had happened.” Trinette asks. “They don’t have anywhere to go. Currently this is the best they have and unless they find a way to get home this beats living on the streets.” Damian answers. “I really don’t think this place could be any better than living in the streets.” “Here we have food. Although it may be only a little it’s still better than nothing. We also have homes here. Some people can’t make their way back home and some might not even have a home at all after all that’s happened. I guess they’re waiting until someone comes to save them.” “Makes sense.” We sit around in silence for about fifteen minutes until Damian breaks the silence. “What are we going to do?” he asks. “I don’t know.” I answer “I’m not intending on leaving you guys.” “I wasn’t expecting on going off alone either but we have nowhere to go. Unless we get adopted or something, were going to get sent to an orphanage.” “I hear orphanages are awful!” Trinette cries. “It will be a lot easier than life around here but still tough. It would be awful.” I add.

“I wonder if we’ll ever meet our parents again.” Trinette asks. “It would be hard, especially after being separated for so long. “ Damian answers. “I guess you’re right. There’s not much chance of finding either of them anymore.” “Well we’ll keep in touch right?” Damian asks. “Of course! Here, I’ll give you my address and I have Nicci’s address.” Trinette exclaims as she scrawls down both her address and mine. “Here’s my address.” Damian says as he silently writes down his address twice on a small sheet of paper, rips the page in half and then hands Trinette and I a piece. “I’ll be right back okay? I’m just going to go put these away. I would hate to lose it.” I say as I race out the door. I race as quickly as I can down a few streets and into the barrack. Once inside I race up the stairs and into my room. I yank my suitcase out from underneath my bed and unlock the secret compartment. I quickly stash the notes and race down the street to meet them. “I’m back!” I say as I push open Damian’s door. “Took you long enough.” Damian responds. “Yeah, why did you take so long?” Trinette asks. “I had a bit of trouble with the compartment on my trunk. Sorry.” “Oh it’s okay.” She laughs. “Well, anyways, what are we going to do today?” “Who knows? There isn’t anything to do.”

“Maybe we could ask the art teacher if we could paint a bit.” Damian suggests. “You know how she is with her supplies. She has so little and what she has she gives to us. Wouldn’t it be bad to ask her for it?” I respond. “I guess so.” “We could all just lie around. There’s nothing better to do. Maybe a bit of cloud gazing.” “Sure.” We all walked silently to a small hill in the park where we lay down and stared upward. The few clouds that were rolling by were very faint but it was all we had. “That one looks like an octopus.” Damian says pointing to a cloud in the corner. “I thought it looked like a kite.” I say. “That one looks like a train!” Trinette shouts pointing to one right over our heads. “You’re right, it kind of does. That one looks like a block cheese.” “I thought it was a jewellery box.” Trinette answers. “Maybe it’s a book.” Damian offers. “I guess it could be any one of those.” I explain. We spend about two hours cloud gazing before heading down for dinner and going to bed.

Chapter 14 I race down the stairs and stare out the window. Rain. All I see is the rain falling gloriously outside. I race outside and let it drench me from head to toe. I am absolutely consumed in the joy of rain. The rain falls down on me. I run around in it like a young child. Oh, how I love rain. From behind me Trinette and Damian emerge as they jump in puddles alongside me. Soon Gabriel appears and we all fall into a hue mud puddle. Not too long after Abigail, Deangelo and Klocia join us as we all become drenched. About twenty minutes later both the girl and boy from the first camp find their way over to us. We all dance happily in the pouring rain until we are shivering violently. We then step back inside the barrack only to find a fire flickering in a fireplace in the corner of the room. Strange, I don’t remember my barrack ever having a fire place. Laid in front of the fire are cookies and warm glasses of milk. We all sit around, huddled in warm woollen blankets telling stories and eating cookies. Once all the cookies have been eaten and all the milk is gone we all arise and take our places on nine four-poster beds. On them are luxurious red velvet blankets and pillows that are bigger than me. I fall asleep quickly. A searing hot pain hits my right temple. It pounds harder and harder in the darkness. I awake feeling colder and lonelier than I ever have. It was all a dream. The rain, all my friends, the fireplace, the cookies and milk, the warm woollen blankets by the fireplace, the velvet and warm four-poster beds were all just a part of my dream, a dream that left me emptier than when it first began.

I find myself shivering violently and for no good reason at all I begin to cry. I cry quietly but its enough to wake up the woman next to me. “What’s wrong dear?” she asks. “Nothing. I just hit my toe.” I lie. I can tell she doesn’t believe me but she leaves me alone. I quickly fall asleep again but it is dreamless and I find that much better than the last dream I had. I awake at about 3:00 in the afternoon. On a regular day I would be really late. Nine hours late to be exact. But luckily I don’t have to work today, which pretty much means that I just wasted nine hours worth of doing pretty much nothing. I have decided that for the rest of the day I will do as much as possible. I go and pick up Damian and Trinette. We make a stop by the cafe so I can get a cup of tea. I drink my tea as quickly as possible and we run down the streets toward the park and into a grove of trees. “What are we going to do?” Damian asks. “Let’s climb some trees.” I suggest. We would have been severely punished for this if the Nazi men and women were still here. I’m so glad they’re all gone. “Sure.” Trinette agrees. We all begin to climb. Trinette scampers up the tree like a small squirrel but Damian can barely reach the second branch. “No way am I letting you beat me at something else!” Damian shouts at Trinette, who is laughing as she reaches the very top of the tree. I am somewhere in the middle climbing slowly up. I am like a sloth. I don’t particularly care when I’ll arrive I just want to get there.

Even when I have reached the top Damian is still stuck at the bottom of his. I begin to climb down to go help him when I see Trinette shaking her head. “This is really entertaining! Let him do it himself!” she shouts from the tree to my left. “Don’t be that way!” Damian shouts at her as he struggles up the fourth branch. Trinette laughs so hard she almost falls out of her tree. “Go ahead and laugh! I don’t care!” Damian shouts. With that I begin to laugh too. “You too huh? I’ll show you! Trust me, I’m getting to the top of this tree if it kills me!” “That will take a while!” Trinette laughs. She’s right. It takes him half an hour to get to the top. But still I wasn’t expecting he’d get to the top anyways. “Ha! See? I got to the top!” “Took you long enough!” “I get the point. You’re faster and strong than me! You happy now?” “I think so. I’ll inform you if I become dissatisfied.” Trinette laughs. “You’re so funny!” Damian says sarcastically. That was all Trinette could take. She laughed so hard that she finally did fall out of the tree. “Are you alright?” I ask worriedly.

All she does is laugh. It’s strange because naturally you would expect that if a five year old girl fell fifteen feet out of a tree she would be in a ball on the floor crying and strangely she does the exact opposite. She laughs so hard she starts to struggle for air. “Calm down.” I say to her. “I-I c-c-can-can’t!” she says. “Really. You need to try.” I laugh. She finally stops and gets up. We walk into town and I give each of them a sugar cube from yesterday. We walk around aimlessly as usual hoping for something to do. “How about going to the cafe and buying a cookie or something?” Damian asks. “Not now. Plus it costs way too much.” Trinette answers. “We’ve only got a few days left around here anyways so what difference does it make if we eat a cookie now or later? Plus I think we won’t need this money for much longer.” “Sure. Why not? He has a point.” I agree. “Fine. Let’s go eat overpriced cookies.” Trinette responds. We all walk over to the cafe where we stare eagerly at the cookies and pastries in the shop’s window. “Are you coming to shop or to stare?” asks the man in at the counter as we walk inside. “Shop. We’re just deciding for now.” I say. “I want a chocolate chip cookie!” Trinette says eagerly.

“I’ll have the same.” Damian says. “I guess I’ll have one too.” “Where are you guys getting this money from? You be paid that much!” says the man at the counter. “It’s from a good friend. He was deported so he gave me all the money he had saved and now that the prices have gone down we can afford a few more things.” “I see.” I hand him a few bills and we walk outside eating our cookies. “Damian, how’s the cook―” I start “You already ate yours?!?” “Yeah he shoved it in his mouth as soon as he got it.” Trinette laughs. “I like cookies!” Damian says. “You can’t blame me for eating them.” “But that fast?” “Yeah. It’s been like two years since I’ve seen a cookie!” “It won’t last long if you eat it like that! You need to savour it. This might be the last cookie you ever have!” “I did savour it. Or at least I savoured it for the three seconds in which it was in my possession.” “You have no idea what the word savour means do you?” “Nope, not a clue.” “Boys.” Trinette whispers, rolling her eyes. Damian smiles happily and sits waiting for us to finish. I take the last few bites of my cookie and we all walk. There really is nothing to do. We just do nothing for pretty much the rest of the day.

Chapter 15 I wake up that morning hearing strange sounds from outside. The Nazi soldiers have come back! What are we going to do? I change and race outside in sheer panic. It’s already eight o’clock and everyone is still asleep! We’ll all be punished! I race to Trinette’s room and bang on the door. “Hello?” says a girl who looks to be about ten years old. “I need to speak to Trinette. Now.” “Come in.” I race inside and shake Trinette awake. “Trinette follow me! We need to find Damian before it’s too late.” She changes and we race upstairs to find Damian. We burst our way into his room and wake him up. “What is it?” he asks. “No time. Just change and meet us downstairs. Quickly!” Trinette and I run downstairs and wait for Damian to show up. After about five minutes of waiting he shows up. “What is it?” he asks impatiently. “I think the Nazi’s are back.” “Why would they come back.” “I have no idea. Let’s go before we get caught.” We race frantically to the streets to find out who is coming.

I guess I’m not the only one who woke up. It’s like a sea of people. More than half of the population is standing around. Most people are in nightgowns but some, like us, decided to change before coming to find out what it is. “Were safe!” a woman cries. How are we safe if the soldiers are back? “They’re here to save us!” says a man in the front. “Are we leaving mommy? Asks a little girl. An older woman, who must be her mother, hoists the girl up onto her shoulders. “Yes, sweetheart, we’re leaving. We’re going home!” she says to the girl. The girl giggles happily and claps. “What’s going on?” Trinette asks. “Well the Nazi’s are definitely not back.” Damian answers. “Then who is it?” “I don’t know. I can’t see.” The crowd parted to let in a few men and a huge tank. The Soviet Union. Either they’re going to kill us all or they’re here to free us. I’m guessing the latter. “Peoples of Theresienstadt you are free to leave! Would all orphaned children, elderly men and women and those in need of special services please come forth! We have designated places for all of you.” A tall man shouts above the crowd.

“I guess that’s us.” Damian says cheerfully. The three of us step into a line along with the other orphaned children, the elderly and those in need of “specialty services.” The line is huge. Almost all the children in town are in the line. That’s what war does. It creates orphans. “Why do you think their separating us?” Trinette asks. “They have to send some people to hospitals and others, like us, to orphanages.” I offer. “How are they going to do that?” Damian asks. “I don’t know. Maybe they have a train or something.” “I guess.” We wait in line for what seems like ages. The minutes seem to go by slower than they usually do and the line doesn’t seem to move fast enough. After an hour, which felt like three, we reach the front. “Your names please?” he asks. “Nicci Costa, Trinette DuPont, and Damian Prado.” I answer. “Are you orphans or do you have special needs?” “Orphans.” “All of you?” “Yes. All three of us are orphans.” “Home of origin?” “Trinette and I are from Rome, Italy and Damian is from Craiova, Romania.”

“Here are your papers. Do not lose them. They are your train tickets. Have a nice day!” “Thank you.” We walk to the park and sit down on a bench to examine our tags. “Where were you sent?” Trinette asks. “My tag says Cinecittà in Rome.” I respond. “Same with mine. How about yours Damian?” “Frankfurt am Main. It’s in Germany.” He answers. “When do you leave?” I ask. “I tomorrow at 9 in the morning.” Damian says. “I leave tomorrow at 8 in the afternoon.” Trinette adds. “I don’t leave until midnight.” I say. “I guess this is our last day together.” Trinette says with a sad tone in her voice. “We really should make the best of it.” I say “We need to go to the art room to pick up our art too.” We race down the street and to the attic of the old building. “Teacher, look!” Damian shouts as he runs toward her holding out his ticket. “I see. What’s this?” she asks. “A ticket! We’re leaving!” he says happily. “Awesome! What can I do for you guys?” she asks. “We need our art. Were all leaving tomorrow. Is it dry?” I ask.

“Yeah they’re all dry. I’m going to miss you guys. Some of my best students.” “Thanks. Where are they?” “Don’t worry, I’ll get them for you.” She walks over to the window and scans all the art. She pulls out a few and steps back toward us. “Here you go!” she says. “Thanks. Thanks for everything.” I say. She hugs each of us. “Goodbye.” She says. “Bye.” We say simultaneously. We walk away silently toward our own barracks to put away our art and tickets. We meet up about half an hour later at the park. “Hey.” Damian says. “Hey.” “Do you know where Trinette is? I can’t find her.” “No, I haven’t seen her either.” “Oh.” We wait for about fifteen minutes and decide to sit down. “Where do you think she is?” I ask. “Who knows? It’s Trinette. She could be doing anything.” There’s a slight rustling in the trees.

“Did you hear that?” Damian asks. “What?” “The trees.” “It’s probably just the wind.” I am mistaken. Five minutes later Trinette jumps right out of a tree and lands right in front of us. “How long have you been in there?” Damian asks. “It’s been about forty minutes.” Trinette answers. “How did you do that? It’s like twenty feet!” “I’m guessing fifteen.” “That was absolutely creepy!” “I was hoping for that.” We all laugh hysterically. “What are we doing now?” Damian asks. “Everything!” I say. We run all the way down the street and over to the soldiers. “What was the war like?” Damian asks curiously. “Hard, cold, bloody and long. That pretty much sums it all up.” Says one of the soldiers laughing. “Really long!” says another. “Ha ha, very funny.” Damian says.

“Here,” the first man said while taking out his gun, emptying it and handing it to Damian “have fun.” Damian stares at it uncomprehendingly. “You mean I can have it?” he asks. “Sure. It’s empty. Here,” he pulls off his helmet and puts it on his head “you can take this too.” “Wow! Thanks!” Damian says gratefully. “Have fun kid!” says another soldier. Damian rolls on the ground, gets up on one knee and shoots the empty gun. It makes a slight clicking noise but, obviously, nothing comes out. “I bet I can beat you in a race!” Trinette shouts at one of the men. “Okay.” Says one of them. “But there’s a catch.” “Go on.” “I bet I can beat you at a race up a tree.” “I bet you can’t.” Trinette races up to a small grove of trees and they each pick a tree. “Okay little girl, ready to lose?” the man teases. “You’re on!” Trinette shouts back. “Okay on three. Three. Two. One!” Trinette scampers up the tree really quickly but I bet that if the man wasn’t letting her win, he would be about a billion times faster. Trinette reaches the top in record time.

“I win!” she shouts. “I guess you did.” Says the man. They both jump out of the tree, landing simultaneously. “Good game.” Trinette says thrusting her hand forward. “Good game.” They shake hands and the soldiers laugh in the background. “I beat a soldier!” Trinette says to me. “I saw! You’re fast!” “Thanks!” I sit down on a bench and watch as one of the soldiers shows Damian how to shoot the empty gun properly. “No that’s the handle. This is the trigger.” I’m really quite scared of seeing Damian with a gun in his hand. “You need to look at the target. Don’t get distracted. Watch.” The man takes out a piece of paper and draws a circle on it. He then tacks it up on the brick wall and stands back. He pulls out his own gun and puts a bullet in it. He stares at the small circle, takes a deep breath and shoots. He hits it perfectly in the circle. “That was totally awesome!” Damian says in awe. “It comes with practice.” Says the man “Now look at the target and shoot.” Damian stares intently at the piece of paper and pushes the trigger.

“I can tell where it would have landed by the angle and if I’m correct you would have landed it somewhere around there.” He says while pointing at the edge of the sheet of paper. Damian keeps trying as the soldier points at where the bullet would have landed. “Nice shot!” he says while pointing at the edge of the small circle. I look at Trinette who is scampering up the trees and jumping back down ten to twenty feet as the men clap. I watch as a few of the men take out things like empty guns and helmets and hand them to the children. I watch as a few men walk around aimlessly and stare up toward the sky. I sit there in silence until one of the soldiers joins me on the bench. “Lovely day isn’t it?” he asks. “I guess. Aren’t you too young to be a soldier?” “Technically yes. You’re supposed to be eighteen but I snuck in a year ago. I was only four years off anyway. It’s better than what the Germans did. They’ve got twelve year olds on the front lines.” “I heard. Didn’t they start that before the war?” “Of course. The Hitler Youth started in 1922. Twelve year old kids were being turned into miniature soldiers since then. They say there are over five million of them now.” “Why do they bring children into this?” “They’re easy to train and don’t ask for money. They pretty much do whatever you want them to.” “I guess. You’ve probably had an awful year.”

“I bet you’ve seen worse.” “Most of us managed not to get shot.” “Few of you actually managed not to get killed really. I’m quite surprised that in these conditions, anybody lived.” “I’m quite surprised myself.” “You said that most of you managed not to get shot. Did you get shot?” “Once, in my foot. My friend died though.” “Well imagine most of your friends dying like that. That’s what war is like.” “How can you bear it?” “Oh, we don’t bear it. We’re forced through it every day whether we like it or not.” “Why did you sign up then?” “It seemed cool you know? It looked like it would be fun and I imagined that when I got home I would be a hero. I guess that’s why most people signed up. They started to draft a few people later on but most people just volunteered for the glory of it all.” “I have no idea how you could have found war to be fun.” “It seemed cool. It was like if you help your country then you’re eternally awesome or something.” “I still don’t get it.” “I don’t expect you to. How was life around here?” “Absolutely awful. Worse thing ever. I have never had a worse two years in my life.”

“I thought so.” “Imagine walking around and everyone looks like a living skeleton. Some people are so thin and malnourished that they become shorter.” “We had a similar problem. There were so many of us and so little food that we’d go around eating whatever we could catch and sometimes we’d steal food from the Nazi’s and Japanese we killed. When we were desperate we would sometimes take from out K rations. Those were only for emergencies though.” “But I thought the army needed to be strong.” “I guess the important ones might have been but we were never that important. We were the background guys. The real soldiers are still out there trying to beat the Japanese.” “I never thought of it that way.” “Yeah but no one got it worse than you guys.” “Yeah I guess.” “What else happened around here?” “Well when you walked in the camp they would look through your stuff and take away anything from gold to toothbrushes. You were left with the absolute bear minimum. Just a few pair of clothes, some shoes and if you were lucky they’d let you pass with a cup or a bowl.” “That’s really cruel.” “It gets way worse. After that they would assess you to see if you were fit for work. Sick people and really small children would be sent directly to the gas chambers or to be cremated although you would usually be sent to the gas chambers. They’d send little children to take showers and then haul their bodies out the door only half an hour later. But before cremating the people they would check their teeth to look for

things like crowns or bridges that might have metal in them. Then they would send them in and when the ashes cooled they would check for more metal.” The soldier shudders. “It must be hard knowing that so many have died.” “I guess. You never really get used to something like that.” “I know. It’s really cruel.” “I have to go. It’s almost lunch. I’ve got to get the kids. Nice talking to you.” “Bye.” “Bye.” I run over to Trinette and find her still chatting with the soldiers. “Trinette, its lunchtime!” “I’ll be right there!” She says goodbye to the soldiers and follows me over to Damian. “Damian let’s go!” Trinette shouts. “Coming!” he shouts back. He thanks the soldier and follows Trinette and me to the lunch line. “I wonder if there’s enough food for everyone.” Trinette points out. “There should be. I think they have some extra food in the market in case it runs out.” I explain. “But there were already about seven thousand of us and now with the soldiers that’s a few more. We were barely getting any food before so imagine how it’s going to be now.”

“I’m sure the cooks will think of something.” We walk up to the line and wait. After a few minutes we receive a small bowl of soup. Just the same as what we get every day. I guess they found a way to get some more food. The soldiers sit around on benches and stools; some have even managed to get a table. They sit around eating, talking and laughing. They tell stories as the others eat; listening intently to the story tellers. We sit down and slurp our soup. “What happened in the war? The soldier I was practicing with wouldn’t tell me.” Damian says. “None of them would tell me either.” Trinette agrees. “How am I supposed to know?” I ask. “We saw you talking to that soldier. He has to have told you something.” “He didn’t actually tell me anything. All I know is that people died and that the axis lost.” I lie. “What’s the Axis?” Trinette asks. “The bad people, Nazi Germany, Japan, Italy, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria mainly but there were a few others. They were just supporters, though.” Damian answers. “Oh.” “How do you know all this?” I ask him. “Before the war I used to study this with my father. Romania was an ally in the First World War and my dad was a high school history teacher. He used to teach about past wars to his students but was fascinated by World War One. He quit his job to be a researcher for the National

Military Museum of Romania a few years after the war. He used to bring me to work with him.” “Wow.” “Yeah.” “Let’s go.” We all walk over to the store since we know that this is our last day and that we won’t need much money tomorrow. We decide to go on an ultimate shopping spree which with the little money we have left is about enough for two things each. Trinette buys another dress and Damian buys a pair of shoes. We each get a cookie and save the rest of the money for a breakfast of sort’s tomorrow morning. We sit outside eating our cookies. Damian is done in five seconds, flat. Trinette ends up taking five minutes. Once were done we climb some more trees and run around. It turns out to be one of the best days of our lives.

Chapter 16 I wake up at six thirty the next morning to help Damian pack. I change and race down the stairs. I run into the street and toward his barrack. I climb up the stairs to Trinette’s room and we walk over to Damian’s room to wake him up. “Damian wake up!” Trinette shouts as we try to shake him awake. “What is it?” he groans. “Your leaving today. Wake up, let’s go!” “I’ll be right there.” We wait outside for a while and walk down to the cafe to buy some coffee and tea. “I’ll have some tea, please.” Trinette says to the man at the counter. “The usual for me.” I say. “I’ll have some tea too.” Damian adds. We all take our drinks and sit down at one of the tables. “What are we doing? It’s only six thirty!” Damian complains. “I know. It just to give us enough time to do everything. Trust me we might not even have enough time to do everything. We’ve only got two hours and a half until nine.” “What are we going to do for that long?” “You need to take a shower, pack your stuff and say goodbye to everyone before you leave.” “Fine. What’s first?” “Go take a shower. We’ll meet you back here.”

He runs off and half an hour later he comes back with his hair clean and combed and wearing a clean outfit. His hair is sopping wet. “What’s next?” he says. He’s gasping for air. He probably ran. “You need to pack. We’ll help if you’d like.” I offer. “Let’s go then.” We walk over to the children’s barracks and help Damian pack. “We have to deflate this thing somehow or else you can’t pack it.” Trinette says while pointing to the soccer ball. “Before you pack things you need to wash them. Really, have you not washed a single thing?” I ask. “I never had time.” He answers. “Trinette I’ll take care of the soccer ball. Can you go wash these please?” I ask. “Sure. I’ll be right back.” She leaves with a handful of clothes and a bar of soap. “Do you have a pin or something thin and sharp?” I ask Damian. “You’re not going to pop it are you?” he asks. “No. It’s just so I can deflate it.” “Oh okay. Here I think I have something that might work.” He looks around underneath his bunk and takes out a pocket knife. I wonder how he kept it without anyone knowing about it. He hands it to me. “I think the screwdriver would help. It’s the one on the bottom.” He explains.

I pull out a thin, sharp screwdriver and push it into the small opening. It deflates easily. I pack it down flat and hand it to Damian. “Here’s the ball and here is your knife.” I say. He takes the ball and the knife and packs them both into his suitcase. About half an hour later, Trinette shows up with a bundle of freshly washed clothes. “We need to dry these somehow.” She says. “I think there’s a clothing line out here.” I say. We walk outside and hang up all the clothes to dry. Then we step inside and help Damian pack the rest of his stuff. He doesn’t have much, though, only his soccer ball, pocket knife, war helmet, empty gun and some shoes. “I guess that’s done, or at least until we get the clothes down.” Trinette says. “Let’s go have some fun. We’ve only got an hour anyways.” I say. “Let’s have a race.” Trinette suggests. We all stand in the street facing a tree. The rules are that we have to run up to the tree and back. “On your marks, get set, go!” I shout as we run to the tree. I smack the tree, hard, and run back. I come in second. Trinette comes in third and Damian, of all people, comes in first. I personally cannot believe that Damian beat me and Trinette. “I won!” he shouts. “I guess you did. I still have a bit of money. Do you guys want to go get some sugar?” I ask. “Sure. Let’s go.”

We step into the store and I pull six sugar cubes out of the box and onto the counter. “Is that all?” the man asks. “Yes. That’s all.” I say. I hand him half of my money and hand Trinette and Damian each a cube. “Thank you.” I say to the man. We wait another five minutes and walk back over to the barracks to take down the clean clothes. We take it all inside and begin to neatly fold it all and put it in his suitcase. It’s almost time for him to leave. We walk silently down the street and over to the train tracks. We sit down silently on a bench. We’ve waited years for this to happen yet I don’t think I can bear being separated from either Trinette or Damian. Luckily I’ll still have Trinette. “Do you guys have my address?” Damian asks worriedly. “I have mine packed in my bag. Don’t worry. We’ll keep in touch.” Trinette answers. “I have it too. I hid it in my secret compartment so I don’t lose it.” I say. “Promise me that as soon as you get home you will write me a letter.” He demands. “I promise.” I say. “I do too.” Trinette agrees. “I might end up living with my aunt and uncle so you might as well have that address too.” He takes out a sheet of paper and writes out his address on it twice, then he rips it and hands us each a piece.

“Write to both addresses just in case. I’ll tell you if I’m at my uncle’s house.” He says. I hear a train whistle in the background and see the lights shining. “I guess that’s the train.” Trinette says sadly. We all get up and have a big group hug. He says goodbye to each of us and, with tears in his eyes, hops onto the train. Fifteen minutes later the train leaves and Trinette clings to my hand. The reality suddenly sinks in and I begin to wonder if we will ever see each other again but for the sake of Trinette I decide to push the idea out of my mind. “So what’s next?” Trinette says, teary eyed. “Do you want to go tree climbing?” I ask. “No thanks.” She mumbles. “What do you want to do?” I ask. “I don’t know.” She says. “Trust me, you’ll see him soon enough.” I try. “No. I might never see him again! He’s gone now.” she shouts angrily. “Look, I know how it feels. I’ve lost some of my best friends and I’ve even lost my family. There’s nothing we can do. He’s still alive and he will be fine. You have a chance at seeing him. I have friends that I’ll never see any of my friends ever again.” “I’m so sorry.” She says as she hugs me. “It’s okay.” I say, hugging her back. “It’s just...you know...” she stammers.

“I know.” We walk away silently with her clinging to my hand. She finally stops crying after a while. I run over to the art attic with Trinette following close behind me. “What is it?” she asks. “Nothing. Don’t worry. Just go back to your room and I’ll meet up with you for lunch.” I say. She walks off down the stairs and I watch her leave the building and head down the street before turning to the art teacher. “I need your help.” I say rapidly. “What for?” she asks. “I need some paper, a pencil and some paint.” “Okay, here, although I have no idea what you could possibly want to draw now.” She says as she hands me some paper, a charcoal pencil and a few paints. I take the pencil and paper and set myself up in a table in the back of the room. I lay out the paper and paints and twirl the pencil around in my hand. I begin to sketch a rough drawing of a thin, small, and bony face. I fill it in with the long, thin nose and the hollow eyes. I draw in the paper chapped, paper thin lips and the thin, straight hair tucked behind the small ears. A pained expression dances across her face. I spend half an hour sketching in details and shading in her face. I add the thin neck and the bony shoulders. I begin to paint in the ice blue colour of her eyes and the pale colour of her skin. I add a hint of pink to her chapped lips. I add a light brown colour to her thinning brown hair and cake it in a darker, dirtier brown. I then paint in the pale sand colour to her face, neck and shoulders. I take some brown and black to paint over the

shading. Before leaving it to dry, I write in the words that show all the information I have on the frail character, Probably Five years old, orphaned, probably dead, amputee, name unknown. I begin on my next drawing. I draw sketch in the slightly rounder face of an older boy. I add in the determined, yet soft, almond shaped eyes and the thick, long, straight hair. A hint of a smile tugged at his lips. His small, broad nose is speckled with freckles. His small ears are almost completely hidden under his hair. A large scar, almost like a claw mark, is stretch across his left eye almost as if he were attacked with his eyes closed. A smaller scar goes across the bottom of his ear and fades right before reaching his chin. I sketch in his thin neck and broad shoulders. I then begin to add a green colour to his eyes and add a few specks of brown to give as much of a hazel look as I can make. I quickly add some deep, dark brown to his straight hair. I erase all the freckles and decide to add them with paint instead. I mix the brown with a lot of white to make a creamier caramel colour. I gingerly drab the pages with the light brown paint. In no time at all, his nose is almost completely covered in freckles. I add beige colour to his skin and a slightly darker colour to his lips. I create a baby pink colour with some red and white to add to his scars. In the right hand corner I write probably ten years old, maybe orphaned, head trauma sector, probably dead, name unknown. I then sketch Deangelo’s long, thin face. I add in the mischievous, large eyes and thin long nose. I also add the majestic curled hair and thin lips. A deadly serious expression plays across his face. I don’t add in his ears as they are usually hidden underneath his beautiful hair. I use a dark brown colour that makes his hair look almost black and add a bit of shading to it by using a deep black colour around the curls. I mix some blue and white until I have the perfect ice blue colour and I add it to the rounded eyes. I add dark beige to his lips and a lighter tone to skin. I take care with the shading and the mischievous feel begins to overtake him. The boy I see looking back at me is an almost perfect representation Deangelo. In the bottom I add the words Deangelo,

Twelve years old at time of death, orphaned, Bullenhuser Damm children’s tuberculosis testing center, and Confirmed dead by gunshot. I sketch in Abigail’s rounded face. I add in her tiny nose and straight, shoulder length hair. I add in her small, uncomprehending eyes. I add in her thin neck and shoulders. I begin to mix a dark brown with a hint of white until I had a dark freckle colour. Not at all like the caramel colour of freckles that painted the little boys face but much, much darker. I take the caramel colour I had made earlier and add it to her hair. I am careful in the shading in her hair as not to make it too dark. I pick a baby pink colour I had made earlier, for her lips and gently shade them to make them look chapped. I then add the light beige to give her a pale look. I mix in a bit of baby pink with more white to make a barely pink colour and add it to her cheeks. I add some green to her eyes and speckle them with a mixture of bright yellow and light grey to give it a golden look. I write Abigail, Bullenhuser Damm children’s Tuberculosis testing center, Five years old at time of death, Confirmed dead by cremation. I then stare into the deep green eyes and I refuse to let her story go untold. It’s about lunch now and I know that I need to meet up with Trinette. I put my pictures up to dry near the window and say goodbye to the teacher. I race down the stairs and down the street toward the lunch line. I am five minutes late. I take a bowl and the woman hands me a bit of soup. I race over to the bench we agreed to meet at. “Trinette? Where are you?” I ask. “I’m right here.” She says. I turn around to see that she is right behind me. “Have you been following me?” I ask. “Not exactly. I waited for a while and you weren’t there so I started to look around and I saw you and followed you all the way here.”

“So you did follow me?” “Yup pretty much. What did you do in the art room?” “You’ll see soon enough. I’m going back there later today and I’ll meet up with you at six for dinner. Then we can go get packed.” “But before I leave I want to see what you’ve done.” “Fine.” I eat silently as Trinette watches. She already finished her lunch. “Do you want a sugar cube?” I ask her. “Sure. I didn’t know you had any left.” “I’ve still got three. Here, take one.” I say as I hand her a sugar cube. “Thanks.” We sit there sucking on our sugar cubes for five minutes and we both split off. I race back to the art room and am surprised to see some of the artists there. “They came to take a look at the art. They want to take some with them when they leave.” The art teacher says. “Is it okay if we take that farmer’s field painting you made?” says one of them. “Sure. I have plenty of others.” “I saw. Who are the people in these paintings?” one asks as he holds up the painting of Deangelo. “Friends who died.” “They’re very well done.”

“Thank you.” “Where did you learn to paint?” “I copied my sister’s work. She took art class in school.” “You didn’t?” “No sir. I have never taken an art class before now.” “You have amazing talent.” “Thank you.” I take a pencil, paper and some paints and seat myself at a table. “Is it okay if we watch you paint?” one of the artists asks. “Sure.” “We promise we won’t interrupt you.” “I don’t mind.” The three of them take stools and sit around the table staring at my hands as I sketch Klocia’s long, narrow face. They watch my every move as I sketch down her wide, alert eyes and small ears. The artists are unblinking as I draw her large nose and lips. The whole room is silent as I draw her unkempt, messy hair. I mix a brown with some black to make the dark colour of her hair. I add some light pink to her lips and do some shading. I add some deep brown to her eyes and some flecks of black to make them look even darker. I then add some beige to her skin. When I’m done I write the words Klocia, Damian’s sister, Twelve years old at death, Death by England Bombing, Bullenhuser Damm children’s Tuberculosis testing center. The artists sit there in shocked silence. They seem to snap back into reality after about five minutes and they all begin to clap. I go and put

the picture in its corner by the window to dry. I then begin on the next one. I begin to sketch Damian. Once I am satisfied with the first sketch I begin to mix colours and fill in things such as his deep brown eyes and the same brown hair that he shared with his sister. I fill them in and add the small flecks of black into them. I add the dark beige to his skin and a slightly darker shade to his lips. I then begin to shade and once I am done I sketch the words Damian, Klocia’s sister, Bullenhuser Damm children’s tuberculosis testing and Theresienstadt concentration camp, Five years old at time of release, Alive. I get up and place Damian’s picture next to those of Klocia, Abigail, Deangelo, the boy and the young girl. All the faces staring back at me begin to scare me. I begin to work on the picture of Gabriel and when I am finished it I notice that it is almost six o’clock. “I’m sorry but I have to go.” I say. I guess I’ll have to do Trinette’s painting later. “Are you coming back?” he asks. “I will later. I need to eat, help my friend pack and then pack myself. I leave at midnight.” “When will you be back?” he asks. “I’ll be back at nine. I might stay until ten thirty.” “We’ll be here.” I race downstairs to meet Trinette over at the lunch line. “Where were you?” she asks. “I’ll show you later. Let’s eat first.”

We grab our food and sit under a tree. “Is all your clothes clean?” I ask. “I washed it all yesterday.” She says. “Good. That will save us a lot of time.” “So we just pack and walk around?” “We’ll pack and then I’ll show you what I’ve been doing.” “Okay.” We go to her room and pack all her things. I then drag her over to the art attic. “Hello.” Says the teacher. “Hello.” Trinette says. “What are you two doing here?” “Nicci wanted to show me something.” “Oh the artists were quite interested in watching her paint.” While they are talking I begin to take out the paintings. I lay them out on the table and call Trinette over. “Wow. You made these?” she asks, bewildered. “Yeah I’ve been making them all day.” “They’re so life like.” “Thanks.” She begins to look at them one at a time. She picks up the ones of Damian and Gabriel.

“Who’s this?” she asks as she points to the painting of Abigail. “That’s Abigail. She was a good friend of Damian and I. We had some good times together. She’s been with me since before Bullenhuser.” “And who’s this?” she asks as she points to Deangelo. “That’s Deangelo. I met him at around the same time I met Abigail. He was shot.” She keeps asking me questions about all the different people and I try to explain who they were with as much detail as I can. “I guess we have to go now.” She says. “We’ve got about twenty minutes left. Why don’t we buy a bit more sugar?” “Okay.” We walk over to the store and pick up some more sugar. “Take a few.” I say as I hand her three sugar cubes. “Thank you.” We walk in silence over to the train station with her suitcase. “Thank you for everything.” She says as tears stream down her face. “Your welcome.” I say as I offer her a hug. She boards the train and waves from the window. I wave back. The train leaves but I know I will see her later. I walk back to my room slowly. I take out my bag and pack it up. I put in the few extra bills and my old ration card in my secret compartment. I pack with it the two slips containing Gabriel’s address and Damian’s address. I add the silver pocket watch with them and close up the compartment.

I lazily drag my bag over to the art room. When I arrive I am greeted by not only the art teacher but the artists as well. I place my bag down and take out the art supplies. I place them on the table and an hour later my painting of Trinette is done. I add all her information in the corner of the page and place her painting against the wall. I begin to test each of the paintings to see which ones are dry. I take down the paintings of Deangelo, Abigail, the boy and the young girl in my suitcase along with the other paintings I had kept. I hand the painting of a field to the artist along with one that Gabriel had made. “Here is the field and here is one that was made by a friend of mine. He liked to do abstract art.” I say. “Thank you. Both you and your friend are very good artists.” One of the artists says as I hand him the picture. “Thank you.” “We best be going. Thank you very much for letting us watch.” Says another. The artists leave and I stay in the art room looking at all the art that was left there by the children. I take a few paintings that Damian and Trinette made and packed them away. “Thank you so much for teaching us.” I say to the teacher. “You were quite amazing. I can’t believe you had never taken an art class before.” “Thank you.” “You best be on your way, child. It’s about time you leave.” “I already have all my things. I am just waiting for the painting to dry.” “Okay then.”

I wait for about an hour until the painting is completely dry. I still have an hour to kill so I take the painting, say a final goodbye to the art teacher and walk away. I climb a tree, eat a sugar cube, and walk around. I see things I had never noticed before. I see butterflies floating around the flowers and squirrels racing up trees. These are the last things you would expect to see in Theresienstadt. I find that I have only fifteen minutes left and I race over to the train stop. I mount the train and whisper my final goodbyes to this place. I can hardly believe that I am leaving. I am heading somewhere better. I am heading home.

Chapter 17 I am on another train. Unlike the other trains where I was being sent into captivity, this one is sending me to freedom. This one is sending me home. I am so excited that I don’t even eat. A plate of mashed potatoes and chicken sits in front of me but it goes untouched. I force myself to eat it in little bites but I simply can’t. I resort to staring out the window. I watch the clouds go by and remember that day of cloud watching I had with Trinette and Damian. I turn and see a carriage and remember the carriage ride that I shared with Abigail and Deangelo. I see an old brick building and it reminds me of that first camp I was sent to and the boy and girl whose names I never learnt. I wonder if Gabriel made it. He might have survived. Who knows? Maybe he did live. Maybe I will see him again. Maybe he will be at his house. Maybe he will send me a letter. But if he doesn’t it will just leave me feeling empty. Just as in the dream. I push away the thought and simply stare at the scenery. It feels so good to be free. It feels so good to be out of Theresienstadt. I feel as if I could go anywhere and do anything. I begin to take nibbles of my food. It’s delicious but I’m afraid that I won’t be able to keep it down since I haven’t had food this rich since I left home. But I decide that it’s better to have something in me than to go without food. I am halfway done my mashed potatoes when a man tells me to get ready for bed. I get up out of my seat and the man begins to take my tray. “Please don’t. I’d like to keep nibbling on it.” I plea. “I’ll bring you some biscuits and a warm glass of milk. Don’t worry. I’ll be right back.” He answers.

I think about what a waste this is, especially after seeing so many people dying of hunger. “No. I think I’ll keep the mashed potatoes.” I say. “Would you like a glass of water or some juice with that?” “Sure, I’ll take a juice. Thanks.” “You’re welcome miss.” He walks away and I lie in my bed. He returns with a glass of juice. I think its orange juice but I fall asleep before I find out. I am at home. My mother is calling me over. I run downstairs to see her baking a pie. “What kind of pie is it, mother?” I ask. “Oh, you’ll see soon enough.” She answers as she plants a kiss on my forehead. “Did you sleep well?” she asks. “Yes.” I hear myself say. “That’s good.” I sit down and she hands me a bowl with the rest of the batter from the crust in it. I take a spoon and begin to scoop out what’s left. I wake up suddenly to find myself in the train again. This time I do not feel empty but the opposite. I feel absolutely happy. This is the best day of my life. I might see my mother again. I might even see my sister. I have a million things I want to see. I want to see the Stadium Olympico and the Colosseum. I want to run through the gardens and throw coins into the Trevi Fountain. I want to see the Pantheon and eat gelato again.

I find a small tray of cookies and a glass of milk. I take the glass and dip the cookies in it. I now find it ridiculous that only yesterday I would have to work a whole day for this one cookie. I wonder how much it would cost me for this one small meal. I would have to pay a lot for these cookies maybe four days work. We were not given milk but I could take powdered milk and mix it with water. It wouldn’t be the same but in Theresienstadt it would be absolutely amazing. When the man walks back in to take the empty tray I decide to ask him a question. “Where are we heading to?” I ask. “A relocation center. Are you orphaned?” “Yes. Well I think so. My mother and sister might still be out there somewhere.” “It would be hard to find them but if they’re out there we might find them. Do you know if she is in England?” “I think so. My mother once said that if the war got too bad we were supposed to head to London, England.” “BBC is going to do a series of reports to find the missing family members of orphaned children. If your mother or sister is in England they will find them.” “Thank you sir.” “Your welcome.” The man walks off and I sit in shock. What if I am moved? What if I end up living in England with my family? They have to sell the house first. That is if our house is still standing. I sit around in silence. I had heard of Kindertransport before. Had my sister been one of the lucky ones? Had she made it?

I take out the silver pocket watch. I know that Deangelo would have been happy that it had made it. The watch is his life, it contains his story. I refuse to leave it. I refuse to give it away. The man soon returns with a piece of paper and a pencil. “Write down your mother and sister’s names and where you think they might be. Also write your name and story on the back of the page.” He says. “Thank you.” The man leaves and I begin to work on the paper. Mrs. Maria Costa, Miss Martha Costa and Gabriel Kuehn. Mrs. and Miss Costa believed to be living in Great Britain, probably England. Gabriel is believed to be in Germany. Mrs. and Miss Costa have once lived in Rome, Italy. Gabriel has lived in Germany his whole life.

On the back of the page I write: On behalf of Nicci Costa, age thirteen, Maria Costa’s daughter, Martha Costa’s sister and a good friend of Deangelo Kuehn. I have gone through three concentration camps and was living in Theresienstadt until released by the Soviet Union. I have also survived Bullenhuser Damm and I do not know what camp I was in at first as I stayed there for a short time. I ran to Great Britain and was caught while trying to make my way to Pakistan after a bombing. I have been in Czech Republic as well as in Germany. I fold the page and, when the man returns, I hand it to him.

“Thank you so much.” “You’re very welcome.” I pace the room. What happens if I do not find them? Would the government allow me to live alone? Would I be forced to live in an orphanage? I hope not. We arrive a few hours later and I am surprised to find myself in a station in Italy. We are placed in cars and arrive a few minutes later at a large building. I can hear a voice shouting overhead. “Would all displaced persons please head to the line on the right.” He shouts. I follow the order and walk, with my bag, over to the long line of people. I stand in line for what seems like ages. About an hour later it is my turn. I step up to the desk. “Name, age and home of origin?” the woman asks. “I am Nicci Costa, I am thirteen years old and I am from Rome.” I answer. “Orphaned?” “I think so.” “That man will show you where you are to go.” “Thank you.” I follow the man to a room where a few more children are seated eating lunch. “We will redirect you to Rome as soon as possible. For now you will have to wait here. It shouldn’t take long.” The man says.

“Thank you.” I sit down with the other children. Some are playing games and some have started eating. I just sit and take out my drawings. I see the young girl and boy from the first camp, Deangelo, Abigail, Klocia, Damian, Gabriel and Trinette staring back at me. I stare back at them and I realize that more than half are dead. No. They may be physically dead but I will not allow their stories to die. That is one thing that the Nazi’s cannot take from me. I take out more and more pictures. I take out the one of Theresienstadt and the lake. I even take out my awful cartoons. I begin to stare at all of it. I can’t believe that I might actually see another bird or another frog. I might even see another water lily. I walk to the bathroom and look in the mirror. I look horrible. My hair is a mess. It looks as if I haven’t had a bath in weeks which is actually true. I haven’t had a shower in two weeks which is normal in Theresienstadt. My hair is still a mess and my face is still awfully dirty. I turn on the tap and try to wash my face as best I can. It’s a pointless cause. I head back to find a little girl standing in front of my art. I had totally forgotten to put it away. She stood there watching them with unmistakable curiosity. “They’re old friends.” I say to her. “Oh.” She jumps “I’m s-s-sorry.” “It’s fine. I don’t mind.” “They’re pretty good.” “Thanks. Do you like drawing?” “Yes. I’m not very good, though.” “I’ll show you how.”

I take out a few sheets of paper and hand them to the girl. I take out two pencils and hand one to the girl. “What do you want to draw?” I ask. “I want to draw a flower.” “Just a flower? Nothing else?” “Yes. I just want to learn to draw a flower.” “Okay.” I show her how to draw a flower. It isn’t hard at all. I bet even artistically challenged people can draw flowers. “I’m done!” the girl says. I hold the picture in my hands. “It’s wonderful!” I say to her. It’s lopsided and some of the petals seem to be square but what did you expect from a four year old. “Really?” she asks. “Yes. It’s absolutely amazing. Here,” I say as I hand her three more sheets of paper “take a few sheets so that you can practice.” “Really?” “Yeah. You can keep the pencil too.” “Wow!” The little girl sits down and draws flower after flower until the whole page is absolutely full of blossoming flowers. I watch as she draws each flower individually. Each petal and leaf is different. Each flower is unique.

I sit on my pack and wait. I check the watch only to find that it has been only two hours. An hour passes. Then another, and another. Six hours later, the man returns and I am asked to follow him to a car. “We have found temporary accommodations for you. There is a family that is willing to care for you until we receive word of your family and friends. This is their driver, Adriano” The man says. The driver takes my bag and places it in the trunk. He opens the door and I step in. The car is amazingly luxurious. “I am going to be your driver. I will be driving you to school and pretty much wherever you want to go.” The man says. “Can’t I just walk?” “Sure.” The man chuckles. He drives me off to a pretty white house with a small fountain in front. This is so unlike my house. The man takes my bag out and brings it inside. “Here you go.” He says as he drops the bag down before me. “Thanks.” “Who is it?” a woman asks from upstairs. Unsure of what to do, all I say is “I’m Nicci.” “Sweetheart! So good to finally meet you!” A short, blonde woman races down the marble staircase toward me. “Nice to meet you too.” I say. “Oh come here! Give me a hug!” I step forward and she locks me in a tight hug.

“You’re so tall!” she says, once she’s let go. “Uh, thanks.” “Now go and take a shower before dinner!” “Where?” “Up the stairs and to the left.” I race up the stairs and find the bathroom. I take a shower, dry may hair and change. I then walk downstairs where I find the dining room. “Hello darling.” The woman says to me. Seated beside her is a tall, broad shouldered man who must be her husband. “Hello.” He says. “Hello.” I say. “I hear you’ve been through the most dreadful things.” The woman says. “I guess.” I shrug. “What was it like?” “Hard. We ate very little. We weren’t allowed to do anything. Things like art classes had to be kept secret.” “Art classes? You took art?” “Yeah. We got a few scraps of paper and the art teacher would make us paints and things like that.” “Can I see some of your work?” “Sure. I’ve kept some in my bag.”

“I’d love to see them. By the way, I am Evangeline and this is my husband Tom. I’ll be right back. I think the chicken is ready.” Evangeline returns five minutes later holding a huge platter of chicken and a small pot of mashed potatoes with gravy. I take the silver pocket watch out of my pocket to examine it. I can’t believe it’s made it this far. I can’t believe I’ve made it this far either.

Chapter 18 About a week later I wake up to see Evangeline sitting on the sofa, her legs tucked under her, listening intently to the wireless in front of her. I recognize the voice. It is the voice of David Lloyd James the BBC broadcaster. “Captive children, an appeal from Germany. This is David Lloyd James. This is the fifth broadcast made on behalf of forty five allied children who have been Nazi captives and have no homes. It is one in a series of broadcasts this day on each week which will be addressed to relatives that are hoped to be living in Great Britain.” the voice says. He goes through numerous names. The last two names, however, is what really grabs my attention. “I call two people called Costa, Maria and Martha Costa, on behalf of your daughter and sister, Nicci Costa. This thirteen year old girl survived three camps including Theresienstadt, Bullenhuser Damm and one which she does not know the name. She was separated from her family during the round-up and sent to a camp of which she cannot name. She was then sent to Bullenhuser Damm children’s Tuberculosis testing center, in Germany, where she escaped and made her way toward Great Britain. After a bombing that happened she decided to make her way over to Pakistan. She was, however, caught on the way and sent to Theresienstadt, in Czechoslovakia, where she stayed until she was released by the Soviet Union. I would also like to call upon Kuehn, Gabriel Kuehn, who is a close friend of hers that is believed to currently be living in Germany. That is the end of today’s list of people in this country who are being sought after by children on this continent who were released from German camps. Would anybody who recognizes himself write to the British Red Cross, Foreign Relations Department, 29 Belgrade Square, London SW1.” The wireless says.

“I didn’t know that they would actually do it.” I say. “Oh, they’ve been doing it for weeks now. This is week five of the program.” “Do you think they’ll find me?” “Of course. They would be stupid not to try to find you.” I race upstairs and grab a sheet of paper and a pen. I begin to write a letter to Gabriel.

Dear Gabriel, How are you? I have missed you very much since you left. Trinette, Damian and I have survived and I am currently living with a very kind couple here in Italy. However, if my family is found I may end up moving back to my old home. Please write back as soon as possible. I really do hope that you lived. Nicci Costa Once my letter is done I find an envelope and place it inside. I seal it shut and write the addresses on it. I then ask the driver to bring me to the post office.

“Why do you want to go to the post office?” he asks. “I have a letter to send.” “Why not just put it in the box?” “I need a stamp.” He drives me over and I buy a stamp and place the letter in the box. Then he drives me back home. When I arrive home I lie on my bead and eventually fall asleep. Weeks pass and I hear nothing from Gabriel or from anyone else and I begin to feel worried. “What’s wrong?” Evangeline asks. “Nothing.” I lie. “I’m sure it’s not nothing.” “The problem is that I haven’t heard anything from my friend and my family hasn’t called yet.” “It might take a while, sweetheart.” “I guess.” “Maybe you don’t have the right address.” “Maybe.” I walk up to my room and wait. Every day the mail comes and none of it’s for me. Another week passes and finally I receive some sort of good news. Gabriel has written back.

Dear Nicci, I am fine. I’ve missed you too. I’m glad to hear that you all made it and that you are happy. I’m sorry it took so long to write it’s just that I was never quite good with letters. I have been adopted by my uncle and am still in Germany. He heard about you while listening to the wireless and I contacted the Red Cross, which is how I received your new address. Please come and visit me during the Holidays. I really do miss you. I will try to write faster next time. Gabriel I stare at the small, messy print and can barely believe my eyes. Gabriel is alive! He made it! I race down the stairs toward Evangeline and push the letter into her hands. She reads it quickly and hugs me. “You were right!” I shouted. “I knew he would write to you.” “I started to worry. I thought that he might not have made it.” “Don’t you have other friends to write to? Go. Go write to your friends.” I sit down and write letters to Trinette, Damian and Gabriel and badger the driver into bringing me over to the post office. I buy the stamps and mail the letters. I really hope it won’t take that for them to respond. In a week I have received letters from all my friends as well as one from my sister. Dear Nicci, I am so glad to know that you have made it. I was listening to the wireless when they put up the report. I thought I’d never see you again. I have sent along with this letter the adoption papers. If I get the papers back you’ll technically I’ll be your guardian.

Isn’t that weird? Anyways I’m sorry to tell you that mum didn’t make it. I am currently living in an apartment in London and will be awaiting your response. Your sister,

Martha
I reach in the large envelope to find the adoption papers. I race downstairs and hand them to Evangeline. “You won’t believe what happened! Martha wrote back and she says that I can go live with her in England!” I shout excitedly. “Where are the papers?” Evangeline asks excitedly. I hand her the papers and she signs them. “Now when you’re at the post office buy a big orange or beige package and use it instead of a normal envelope.” She says to me as she hands the papers back. I race outside and don’t even bother to take the car. I just run down the streets until I arrive, panting, at the post office. “I need a big orange envelope and a few stamps.” I say. “Does it need to be delivered by airmail?” “Yes sir.” “Then once you’ve got it all done you can hand it to me.” I place the letter and documents into the folder and seal it shut. I then add the stamps and hand it to the man. “Have a nice day.” He says as he places the letter in a big box that says airmail on it. “You too!”

I race all the way back to the pretty white house and collapse on the sofa. “Ran all the way, huh?” Evangeline asks me. “Yup. All the way.” “Want some lemonade?” “Sure.” I take the small glass of lemonade and chug it down. Once I’m done I place the empty glass on the table and lie there watching television. “May I walk to Trinette’s house?” I ask Evangeline. “Why don’t you get Adriano to drive you?” “Okay.” I step into the car and give Adriano instructions on how to get to Trinette’s house. I arrive and find that the house is completely untouched. I ring the doorbell and her cousin answers it. “Is Trinette there?” I ask her. “Trinette, Nicci is here to see you!” she shouts. Trinette walks out and, after seeing her in Theresienstadt, she is unrecognizable. Then again, so am I. “Hi! Want to go watch a movie?” she asks. “Sure.” We walk down the street to the movie theater, just as we had done a million times before. I get some candy from the candy shop next door

and we settle in to watch the movie. It’s quite an interesting movie, quite funny too. Once we leave we walk to the park where we used to play and buy two kites from the kite man. The kite man is a guy who walks around with a cartful of kites every summer and sells them. We pick out a red one and a blue one and get them up in the air. We fly the kites for quite a while and then pull them back in and walk back to her house. I call Evangeline and ask her if she can have Adriano pick me up. Ten minutes later Adriano is waiting by the door. I say goodbye to Trinette, and Adriano drives me home. When I arrive I begin to write letters to Damian and Gabriel. I quickly race to the post office, buy stamps and mail both letters. I race back home to find an amazing array of food laid out on the table. “Is it a holiday?” I ask. “No.” she answers. “Then what is all the food for?” I ask. “Special visitors, my sister is coming over.” I turns out that her sister is a short little woman who has a British accent. “Is this the poor dear?” she asks Evangeline. “Yup. Straight from Theresienstadt.” Evangeline answers with a hint of pity. “Aren’t you pretty? I’ve got presents for all of you!” She hands me a box with a pretty red bow and pink paper. I open it quickly to find a new pair of white shoes inside. Evangeline’s present is a

beautiful vase which she switches with the old one that was on her table, getting water and petals everywhere. The last gift is a huge book for Evangeline’s husband. I surprisingly never learnt his name and should probably try to do so later. “Thank you.” I say. “You’re welcome, dear.” We all sit down for supper. Special Italian dinners are much different than normal ones. You start with an Aperitivo, in other words wine, and move forward to the Antipasto, which is the appetizer. Once you are done both of those you move onto the Primo, or first course, and after that is the Secondo, second course. You get a few courses later on, such as cheese and fruits, but usually children stop eating at around the Secondo, with exceptions toward Dolce or dessert. In front of me is the Antipasto. I huge platter is laden with cheese, olives, ham, small tomatoes, bell peppers sliced into tiny pieces and some roasted garlic. It’s like making a mini salad. You choose what you want and mix it as a salad in your plate. Evangeline takes a bottle of wine and pours some for her sister, her husband and herself. Usually you would do that first but I guess that for my sake she decided to serve the food first. Evangeline finishes quickly and runs into the kitchen with all the empty plates and platters, quickly replacing them with new ones. She returns with a plate full of Gnocchi in cheese sauce. She puts it on the table and so begins the Primo. She does this with every course. I skip Formaggio e Fruta since its just cheese and fruit and wait for Dolce. Once all the cheese and fruit is gone Evangeline returns with two plates. One plate holds four small chocolate cups and one holds a cake covered in Dulce de Leche. I take a chocolate cup and end up eating three slices of cake. By the end I am stuffed. I do not think I can hold another bite.

While the adults are drinking coffee and wine I walk upstairs to my room. When I arrive I fall into bed and sleep. About a week later, after just coming home from school, I receive a letter from my sister. She has sent me a boat ticket for England and two train tickets, one to get me to the coast of France and one to get me from the British coast over to London. I race downstairs to show it to Evangeline and run back upstairs to pack my bag. The time flies by and I find myself at the train station saying goodbye to Evangeline and her husband and walking up the stairs to take my seat. The hours pass quickly and I find myself boarding a boat to England. I no time at all I have arrived and am on the train to London. When I arrive I see my sisters smiling face waving furiously toward me. When I arrive she hugs me tightly and we take a taxi over to her new apartment. She shows me my room. Its small and nothing like the one at the white house but its home to me. I walk downstairs and Martha decides to show me around London. We visit castles and see Big Ben. We eat Fish and Chips and run down the Tower Bridge. We do absolutely everything you could possibly want to do in London. We walk home eating French fries (or “chips” as they call them here) which we had left over from lunch. When we arrive we have eaten every fry. I race upstairs to write letters to my friends to tell them about what happened. I finish Trinette and Damian’s letters easily but I still have a question to answer in Gabriel’s letter. “Martha, during winter break can we go to Germany?” I ask. “Why? Do you have friends there?” “Yeah. One of them asked me if I can visit over winter break.”

“You can go but I won’t be able to. I have to go back to Italy, get all the rest of our stuff and sell the house.” “I can still go to Germany right?” “Sure but you’re going alone.” “Okay.” It starts to rain but I run to the post office and mail the letters. When I get home I am sopping wet. “Go get changed, it’s almost supper.” Martha says. I have noticed that from three years of life in England she has started to get a British accent. I race into the living room, eat as much as I can as quickly as I can and race off into my room. I change into my pyjamas and fall asleep. Luckily the time change is only an hour so I fall asleep quickly. Next morning I wake up and go eat breakfast where Martha tells me that I must go to school. Once were done we race down the street and to the school office. We sign papers and take a tour. Once were done we have seen every room in the building. “Here is your school supplies list, your list of teachers, school map and other important papers. You will start school in two weeks.” The woman at the desk says as she hands us a folder. “That was easy.” I say to Martha after we leave. “I guess. But school here as a lot harder especially since you missed grades five through seven. I am going to get you a tutor as soon as possible.”

We race to the store to pick everything up and run back to the apartment. Soon life will go back to normal. I have good food, clean water, I’m going to school, I can take as many showers as I want, I am not alone and I am alive. I take out the silver pocket watch and open the back. I see the scribbled words, Deangelo’s final words. I did not fail him. I found Abigail’s mother. I told her the story. I continued the legacy. The pocket watch is not just any watch. It is a beacon of hope. If it survived that war it can survive anything and if a simple pocket watch can, then so can I. I can survive anything. Epilogue: Summer of 1960 I walk down the halls searching for one thing. Something I had left behind. I retrace my steps, climb into bunks and check in every nook and cranny. It might have been erased or painted over but I refuse to stop searching. After what seems like a lifetime, I find it. Plastered on one of the walls under my old bunk in Bullenhuser Damm is the picture. To many it would seem simple. It’s just a picture of people standing around. The only difference is that these are no ordinary people. They are children, and all but one, is dead. That one is me. I walk around thinking of all the things that happened. I step into Deangelo’s old bunk and find the words “I will find her” scrawled in his tiny writing. I step outside to find the memorial. Twenty children died here. Only two survived. Damian, Trinette and Gabriel follow me as I search every picture and every document on display. Not one mentions Deangelo’s name and not one picture shows his face. His story has, however not been forgotten or else I would not have come here.

I see him everywhere. When I sit on the floor I remember him sitting beside me. When I sit at the breakfast table, remember him holding tightly to Abigail. When I walk in the yard behind the building I see the man holding his gun and I see Deangelo’s bloody body lying limply on the ground. I want to run but I can’t. I know that if I run now I will eventually returning. I must see everything. I must never forget what happened. Damian and I are the only ones who truly have a connection with this place. We knew those who died whether in passing or as a friend. We were never safe. There was always a chance that we would die. If we stepped one foot out of line they would go after us and make sure we were dead. Our destinies were pre-planned. Those few who survived until the end were hanged. Some were so light from starvation that they have to put bricks in their pockets to hang them and for some they actually had to pull on to hang. Twenty dead children. We were supposed to be hanged with them but we weren’t. We lived. I see the little door in the corner of a room and open it slightly. We escaped through this door. I stare at the fence up ahead. We jumped that fence. I walk into my old room and look at the bed. I slept here ages ago. It’s been twenty five years since I was last here. Twenty five years since Deangelo died. Twenty five years since he was shot. We are here under a documentary project for a museum. Every five or so minutes the camera men will ask me a question but Damian is the only one who answers. I can never quite make the words. “How old were you when you were here?” the camera man asks. “I-I” I try.

“She was twelve.” Damian answers. “How did you escape?” he asks. I stammer again. “Through a small door in the back. We ran and jumped the fence.” Damian answers. “Were there any casualties?” the man asks. “Yes. A twelve year old boy named Deangelo died here.” Damian answers. “Anything else?” “Nicci was shot in the foot.” We split up into two groups. Gabriel follows me into my old room where I take down the picture I had painted and hand it to him. “Did you do this?” he asks. I nod and point to Deangelo. “Is this him?” I nod again. “Can I show this to the camera people?” “Th-that’s wh-what I w-wanted you to d-do.” I stammer. He smiles at me, kisses my forehead and walks toward the camera guy and explains. I just sit there, crying. The walls are still old and the pipes are leaking. I walk slowly to Abigail’s room and find a page of her diary on the ground under her bunk.

I was told that today we would see our parents. Maybe I’m going home. Maybe I’m being sent back. I’m wearing my prettiest dress and I am about to board the train. I really hope that mommy is there. I really miss her. Theresienstadt wasn’t that bad now, either. I remember that before I left they had started filming a movie. Everyone was so excited because they were planting flowers and doing plays. I remember watching Brundibár the day before I left.
I stare at the small page and realize why she pulled it out. It must have been terrible for her when she arrived and found out that she wasn’t actually seeing her mother. I take the sheet and run to Damian and Trinette who are outside. I shove the sheet in Damian’s hands. He stares uncomprehendingly at the page for a few moments but suddenly realizes what it is. He stares back at me. “Where did you find this?” he asks. “Abigail’s room.” I say. These are the first clear words I have said all day. We both run toward it with Trinette following quickly behind us. “Where are you guys going?” he asks. When we don’t respond, he just follows. The two camera people follow us as well. When I arrive I show Damian where I found it. “I can’t believe it survived this long.” He says. I reach into my pocket and find the watch. The silvery surface feels cold in my bare hands. I pull it out and open the secret compartment. I pull out the small sheet of paper and show it to Damian. Everyone turns to

read it but I can tell that only Damian and I truly understand its significance. “May I see the watch?” he asks. I hand it to him and he reads the engraving “Marco Crema.” “Who’s that?” Trinette asks. “Deangelo’s great grandfather.” I answer. We all stare at it. “Is that why you were so scared of losing it on the train?” Gabriel asks. I nod. He hugs me tightly and I begin to cry again. “I wonder how he kept it hidden.” Gabriel says. “Probably hidden in clothing the same way Nicci did.” Damian says. I nod and sit on one of the cushion free beds. I know that this place has been cleaned and all artifacts have been removed but they have managed to keep some things behind. The beds on the bottom have been mostly untouched so that visitors can see what it looked like and so on. Even the kitchen still has some of its big metal pots inside. We walk slowly down the steps into the basement and crematorium. I never even knew we had a crematorium in Bullenhuser Damm. That is when I totally break down. I go running upstairs and hide, like a child, in the rose garden memorial. I sit there until Gabriel finds me and wraps his arms around me. “Do you want to stay out here?” he asks.

I nod, crying. “Do you want me to stay with you?” he whispers. I nod again. We sit there in silence until Trinette and Damian come back outside, teary eyed. They see us and walk toward us. I take out the scissors I brought and cut a white rose and a pink rose from a bush and place them on the plaque with Deangelo’s name, the only thing that shows that he exists. I don’t care if I am breaking a rule, this is one of the only reasons I came here again. I just wanted to see the memorial. I look around and see all the others who died. I stop right in front of the photograph of the guard. The same guard that told me about what Deangelo was doing and let me bring food back to my room. He died for what he did. He died so I could live. I stare at the photograph. The picture is quite, probably from before the war, but it is clearly him. It had to be from before the war because he was smiling. I read the words underneath. “This man was killed here before the children were. He was killed for committing a “crime.” He helped a young girl and four of her friends escape. Deangelo, one of the children, died while attempting to flee. No further information about the man is known.” If only I had known to ask him his name. I cut a yellow rose and place it on his picture. I feel guilty now. It seems as if he died to save me. It’s the same as saying that it’s my fault that he died. I race back to Damian and drag him over to show him what I saw.

“What is it?” he asks. “Read.” I say as I point to the plaque. “’This man was killed here before the children were. He was killed for committing a crime. He helped a young girl and four of her friends escape. Deangelo, one of the children, died while attempting to flee. No further information about the man is known.’ What did he do?” He asks. “He warned me about Deangelo.” I say hoarsely. “What about Deangelo?” he asks. “He was a spy of sorts. He was being paid in food for information about our escape. I think he’s the one who ratted on the guard. He changed sides though, right before we ran away.” I can’t believe I just told the whole story without crying or stammering or anything. “I’m sorry. I never knew.” Damian says. “It’s okay.” “Let’s go. We’ve got a plane to catch.” Gabriel says from behind me. We walk over to the car and go to the hotel. When we arrive we all pack our bags and head back to the airport. It’s in walking distance so we all just walk. I’m feeling a bit better but I know that we still have the rest of the day in Theresienstadt for more tours and documentary filming. The people seem to find our stories fascinating. I just find them downright dreadful. We board the plane and I take the window seat. “Gabriel, do we really need to keep doing this?” I ask. “Doing what?” he asks.

“The interviews. It’s depressing.” “Do you want to?” “Not really but I know how much this means to you and the others.” “If you don’t want to we don’t have to continue.” “No. I’ll do it.” “Are you sure?” “Yeah. I’ll be fine.” He gives me the same worried look he gave me that day in art class back in Theresienstadt. It looks as if he’s worried but doesn’t want to say it. I stare blankly out the window. I don’t like seeing him like that. He shouldn’t worry. He needs to relax and worry about himself, not me. It’s almost as if he pushes everything that worries him aside, just to help me. I know he was worried about this trip, it’s hard for all of us, but he went anyways because he knew that I wanted to tell the world what happened and not let this go unnoticed. I watch the clouds as we fly upward. It’s a short flight since Germany and Czechoslovakia are neighbours. About two hours later we arrive in Prague. From there we rent a car and Gabriel drives over to Terezín. It takes about an hour and a half but we finally arrive. When we get there I am surprised to see that the place has been transformed into an actual town. A real one. I can tell that Damian, Gabriel and Trinette are equally surprised. “When did they do the renovations?” Gabriel asks. “We did some.” Damian said. “But not all this.” Trinette continued.

“It’s being used as a military fortress. Haven’t you guys ever heard of the ‘little fortress?’ Well this is the ‘big fortress.’” One of the camera men informs. “Oh.” Trinette says. The whole place is empty. Maybe it’s because its summer or they don’t need military people here right now or maybe the whole lot of them got scared. Who knows? We all run toward the children’s barracks because all of us (except Gabriel) once lived there. I step inside gingerly. It’s been so long. I haven’t walked through these halls since I was thirteen. I can’t believe it’s been twenty five years. I step inside what was once my room. The paint is peeling badly and the once colourful stripes are almost gone now. I remember the painters and run down the stairs toward the art room with Damian, Trinette and Gabriel racing behind me. When I step into the attic, the paint splattered tables are all that is left. The pictures are gone, the paint and pencils are gone and even the paper bin in the back of the room is gone. “Where did it all go?” I ask. I realise what a stupid question this is as soon as I say it. It’s probably at a museum or in someone’s private possession the way my paintings are. “It was sent to museums and to their rightful owners.” One camera guy says. “I have a few.” I say “I brought them because I thought we might want to use them for the documentary.” I take out my suitcase and remove the drawings from a small envelope at the bottom. “These are the ones you showed me right before I left.” Trinette gasps.

“Yeah. I always knew I would need them.” I say. “How come I never saw these?” Damian asks. “You left before I started painting them.” “How come you never showed them to me?” Gabriel asks. “Because I myself haven’t seen them for twenty five years. I found them in my old suitcase while I was doing some cleaning. I remembered the old secret compartment in the back and opened it up. Then these spilled out. I shoved them in an envelope along with a few papers and brought them with me.” “This one’s mine.” Damian says. “And this one is mine.” Gabriel points. “Yeah. I got them in the end, when we were liberated. You two left your art so I took some with me.” I answer. “How old were you when you made these?” the camera man asks. “I was thirteen. The ones of people were made the day I left and the others were made during art classes.” “This is Abigail, Klocia and that’s me.” Damian says. “That one is me.” Gabriel adds. “This one was me.” Trinette chimes. “And this is Deangelo and a boy and girl whose name I never knew. They were from the first camp.” I say as I point to the faces. The camera men make Damian, Gabriel and Trinette hold the pictures up to show the audience what they looked like. “My face is kind of lopsided in this drawing.” He laughs.

I know it’s not and I know he’s joking. “Liar.” I say to him, punching his arm playfully. “No really. My head is lopsided and my nose is too big.” He jokes. “Ha ha. Very funny.” Just like old times. We walk down the street toward the café. “I was never able to afford coffee in the beginning but before leaving Gabriel gave me the rest of his money which paid off things like clothes so I was able to drink a glass a week. In the last few days of war the price was dropped and I could afford a glass every morning.” I explain. “I still remember that day when you came back to the barrack saying that you drank coffee and kicked a cat.” He laughs. “I don’t remember that story.” Gabriel laughs. “Either we hadn’t become friends yet or you had already left. Yeah, I never told you that one did I?” I answer. “I still remember that game of soccer. I beat Damian by like a million points.” Trinette laughs. “More like five.” Damian adds. “In your dreams. I beat you by at least ten.” We all laugh. “I beat you in everything!” she adds. We all walk over to the park and talk about how we used to come here to eat and play games.

“When the SS left we were allowed to play games and climb trees without being punished so we did everything. We were totally carefree after that.” I say. “I remember that.” Trinette says. “Do you remember when you fell out of that tree? I sure do remember that one!” Damian laughs. “That was hilarious.” I say. “I do not remember that at all.” Trinette says. “You must remember it. You fell fifteen feet out of this very tree.” Damian says. “We thought you had died only to find you laughing your head off.” I add. “Oh, that.” Trinette blushes. We walk over to the place where the lunch lines used to be. “There would be thousands of people. They would all wait in this line for food. It could take anywhere from one to three hours to get food.” Damian says. “And it wasn’t even that good. It was usually watery lentil soup until the last few days when we were given a bit of chicken and eggs.” I add. “Every day you would only get one meal. Anything else had to be bought from the store which always cost a fortune.” “We used to buy sugar cubes just to have something to eat.” “I liked those sugar cubes.” Trinette adds. “But it was nothing like eating real food.” “Nothing compares to actual good food.” Damian says.

“Your right.” We move on to the crematoriums and I try to keep myself from running. It’s even harder to do here knowing that Abigail was cremated in this very room. I begin to cry as I think of Abigail and all the great times we had. I run outside, but not to hide. I grab a few of the flowers from a planter and cut them free. I run back and place them in front of the crematorium. “Abigail.” I whisper under my breath. “Yes, I know.” Gabriel whispers from behind me. Tears well up in my eyes and I can barely see. I just stand there watching it. I wonder how she felt as the heat grew and she was thrown in. She would have died the moment she was put in but how would it be before that. She may not even have known where she was going. She could have thought that she was going to see her mother. These thoughts bring more tears. We all stand there for what seems like a lifetime until, as if in a secret agreement, we all simultaneously head toward the door. We walk toward one of the old, weathered benches and sit down. “You were like a mother to us, you know?” Damian says to me. “A mother doesn’t let her children die.” I answer. “There was nothing you could do about it.” “I shouldn’t have let us get caught.” “There was nothing you could do about that either.”

“London was perfectly safe. We should’ve stayed there.” “We left the day the bombs fell. We were all panic stricken. There was nothing better to do then get out of there.” “Staying there would have been better.” “You would have no way of knowing that for sure. At least not back then.” “I just feel as if it’s my entire fault. If I hadn’t suggested going to Israel we wouldn’t have been in this mess in the first place.” “It was a good idea. We couldn’t be discriminated in Israel for being Jews. We should have gone there in the beginning.” “I guess.” I take out the pocket watch and begin to fiddle with it. It still works and I am always changing the battery in it. I fiddle with the cover and notice how beautiful it really is. It really is a treasure. I will never forget it.

Notes
The children of Bullenhuser Damm
In my story I included Bullenhuser Damm, a medical testing facility for children that was established by the Nazis in which to find a cure for tuberculosis. However, in my story, I have included survivors. In real life, none of the children lived. All the children and their Jewish caretakers were hanged in the school’s cellar on the morning of April 20th of 1945, just days before the war ended. The children were killed to “destroy the evidence” of the experiments as the allied forces approached. "They sat down on the benches all around and were cheerful and happy that they had been for once allowed out of Neuengamme. The children were completely unsuspecting." Said one S.S. official. The kids were told that they needed a typhoid fever vaccine before leaving. Instead, these children were injected with morphine, a calming drug, to keep them quiet. The children were hanged from hooks on the wall in an attempt to kill them. The first child was said to be so light that the rope wouldn’t strangle him. They had to take the full weight of an S.S. man to tighten the noose. The children were hanged in two’s from the hooks. None of the children cried. At five o’clock in the morning, all the dirty work had been done and the S.S. men sat down to drink their hard earned coffee…

Terezin (Theresienstadt)
Fifteen-thousand children passed through Terezin, only one hundred came back out. Terezin was a place for the arts with their band concerts, hidden art programs for children and dramatic performances. Brundibár was created by the directors of Terezin, those who were famous before being captured. They are also the ones who helped create the documentary film, Terezin: A Documentary Film of the Jewish Resettlement. For the making of this film they practically recreated the town, rebuilding and remaking everything. Even the people in the film were handpicked actors. Still, survivors were found as the Red Cross arrived in Terezin on May 1st, 1945. The people of Theresienstadt were finally released on May 8th, 1945.