“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Diana! Happy birthday to you!” Everyone sang to me. I blew out the candles on my cake and everyone began to dig in.
Chocolate, my favorite flavor of cake… mostly because that’s all we have. I had vanilla cake at one of my old friend Karina’s birthday parties. She always had the best parties.
Later, my parents decide that it’s time for gifts. All my friends gather around excited for me to open their gift.
“To Diana, from Mom and dad” I say excitedly. With each tear I get more and more exciting wondering what it could be! It’s a pack of pens!
“Thanks mom thanks dad” I ran out of utensils for school last month I’ve been asking for this for a while! “now I’ll have something cool to write with!” They smile at me and then give me another gift.
“From… Clara, Markus, and Hanna. Oh My Gosh! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I run over hugging them all. It’s what I’ve been wanting. It’s a book. I love to read, and I don’t get to read that often. Now I can read whenever I want.
As the day goes by people start heading home. I wish that I could live in the past. Back when I went to school with my actual friends. When I could go to the beach, when I could go to the park.
“Goodbye, Ralf!” I’m drained I just want to go to sleep and hope that tomorrow will be a good day. However, now that I’m 13, I want to go outside by myself. Maybe I’d see Karina.
Karina Yvonne, I always admired her. She had long blonde hair with green eyes. I have plain brown eyes and brown hair. Karina said that we would always be friends, but one day she just stopped talking to me.
“Mom, now that I’m 13 can I go outside by myself, I’ll only be gone for a little bit.” I beg for her to let me go.
She said yes, but she also told me to watch out for soldiers. The soldiers that walk outside from dawn till dusk waiting for people to catch outside during bedtime. They scare everyone with their blank faces. The only thing that they care about is finding people, people who are hiding in the shadows.
As I was walking I saw Karina! Yes, this is perfect! I walked on the opposite sidewalk then her. When she saw me walking down the street she waved, and I waved back. That was the most communication we’ve had in months. Kay, her brother, wasn’t with her, so I started running to her. When I finally caught up with her, she and I talked about school. Then she went on to say that her family doesn’t want her to talk to me or my family.
She gasped and whispered politely “Quick go hide, Kay is coming! Meet me behind our bush after school on Monday. Oh, and happy birthday!” She smiled at me, worried, and nervous.
I ran away confused as I could ever be. Why did I have to hide from Kay? Why doesn’t her family want to talk to my family? Well, at least I’ll see her on Monday. I skipped all the way home avoiding the random soldiers just like my mom had told me. I saw one with a bloody nose. He didn’t wipe the blood off, he just walked. Walk, walk, walk, he stopped and turned to the left. Then he yelled and grabbed somebody. This person, wasn’t very old. They seemed to be young, a child, younger then me! I gasped, then covered my mouth scared that he might have heard me. He looked in my direction, just for a second and then turned back. Scared for my life, I stayed there for a minute. Then, when I knew he was gone a raced all the way home, never stopping, not even to breathe. I ran into my house; the lights were off.
“Mom, Clara, Markus, Hanna, Dad! Oh hey, Mom” I said as I saw her walking into the room.
“Where were you. You scared me to death! I can’t call anybody, I would have had to just assume they found you like they found Theo last week. Diana, you said a few minutes, not an hour!” I tell her “I’m sorry” and “yes ma’am”. She was worried for me, I could tell because when she’s worried she talks a lot.
After this interrogation I go to sleep and dream about tomorrow after school. It’ll be daylight, so I’ll be able to see her face. I also won’t have to worry about soldiers!
I yawn and check our clock to see what time it is. 6am, time to get ready for school. I put on my school clothes, then I see the star on it. The star of David, they make all of us Jewish kids wear them. All my classmates and friends wear them, so I guess it’s a bold fashion choice.
“Hanna, will you walk with me to school today?” I ask kind of whining because I don’t want to walk alone. She tells me yes, but I’ll have to hold her hand. I complain and tell her I’m not a baby anymore. Then we argue quietly, being sure not to wake our parents. She finally agrees, and we walk to school. We learn about multiplication and division in math today. It’s difficult but I eventually get it. Then we take a spelling test. I know how to spell all of these words because Clara took this test last year. Finally, the teacher dismisses us. I run out to the bush, Karina is sitting behind it waiting for me. She to have a silver box in her hand. I run faster and faster until somebody pounces on top of me.
“AHHH!” I yell of the top of my lungs. “GET OFF OF ME! SOMEBODY HELP!” I can’t seem to get this person’s arms off me. I bite its fingers hoping that works. Sure enough, they let go. I turn around with my fists ready.
“Kay!? what are you doing?! Don’t do that ever again!” He nods and tells me he’s sorry. Then he has a sinister smile on his face and walks away. Confused I start to head towards Karina. Then I notice that he and his friends are watching me, so I signal Karina and tell her I’ll be right back. She nods knowingly. I start heading home hoping the boys will just give up and go home. They don’t. I’m halfway home and they finally give up and they enter their house. I turn around and they are gone. Their windows are shut and covered. I run back to the bush, Karina is still there waiting for me. She’s eating a bologna sandwich. I go and sit next to her. She offers me a bite of her sandwich, so I take her up on that offer. We talk for what feels just a few seconds. Eventually we decide that every Friday we’ll meet up back here. Sadly, I tell her I have to go, and she hands me the silver box she had earlier.
“Open this before you go to bed but when your parents aren’t’ there” I nod and we part ways. I wonder what’s in this box and why can’t my parents see me open it?
I open the door and head to my room. Before I can even open my door all the way, Hanna, my sister, slams it shut. “Where were you?” she said quietly trying not to wake up our parents. I pause thinking of a quick answer. “I was walking home and then there was this soldier,” I lie “he looked kind of scary, so I hid behind a bush. Then out of nowhere like a whole bunch of other soldiers came out and started talking to him. I was so scared that they were going to catch me so” I can’t seem to stop talking until she covers my mouth with her freezing cold hands.
“Hey, I won’t tell mom or dad! Aren’t sisters supposed to tell each other our secrets?” I tell her yes and I tell say “I was with Karina! She and I met up when I went out for a walk on my birthday! We decided to meet up at” I stop talking for a second, wondering if I should tell Hanna where we met up at. “well we met up at what we call, our spot and we talked there for a really long time!” Hanna finally decides that my life is far less interesting than her own life so, she leaves me alone.
I go next to my window and make sure that it’s closed. I quickly tear off the wrapping paper, it’s a black box with a note on top. I read the note and it says,
“Dear Diana, Hey It’s me, Karina. I just wanted to say… I’m sorry about what happened to you. I told Kay to do that, I needed a distract you. If you had gone to the bush before that… I would’ve gotten in trouble and so would you if anybody saw us. I don’t know what’s happening. My mom said that your family was evil and the reason for our sudden loss of money. She tells me stuff about “your kind” and “those things” it kind of hurts to think of her saying that. My dad tells her not to say that stuff because he works with Jewish people too. He says not to be afraid of them and that they are human beings too. He said that fighting against them is not okay. That’s not the reason my I gave this to you though. It these dark times I know that they take Jewish people away from their homes. In school they are teaching us French, they said they wanted us to know French “just in case”. “La beauté est dedans.” This means “Beauty is within”. It reminded me of you. Even though you’re pretty on the outside… you are even prettier on the inside. I know you so well that I know you haven’t opened the gift yet, so go ahead.”
I tear off the silver wrapping paper in four tears it’s off. it’s a black box. My mind throws thoughts of what it could be all around. I slowly open the box. It’s a necklace! It has half a heart with an arrow going through it. I begin to finish reading the note.
“I hope you like it. It reminded me of the quote that I told you earlier. I want you to wear this necklace under your dresses and shirts all the time. Don’t take it off unless they catch you.” Then her named was signed at the bottom. That’s all there was. On a side note I started to think about who would catch me? Is she talking about the soldiers? I guess I’ll just have to see her next week.
I put my necklace on, under my dress. I think I should just go to sleep now. I go to my bed and drift into a soft sleep. I dream about the stars, and about the boy getting caught.
I wake up to a loud noise. I look around terrified and wondering what it was. I hide under my blanket to comfort myself. I count to ten before I get up.
“1…2…3…4…5…6…7…8…9…10” I count quietly. Then my entire family walks in, they all are wearing layers of clothes. I ask what going on while I’m stuffing tons of clothes on. All the words they say are “We need to go. Just hurry up we’ll tell you later!”
As we flee from our house, they tell me not to look back. We keep running until we finally meet our destination.
“Mom, what are we doing here? Are we lost?” I ask feeling stranded and alone. She then tells me that we are meeting another family here. “Another family? Mom we can’t do that! We can barely feed ourselves how are we going to feed another family?”
She doesn’t answer. I freeze when I hear a stick snap. Then a family of three walks out. We all say our hellos, not saying our names. I don’t know why mom told us not to say our names. I say hello to the little girl, I’m guessing their daughter. She must be shy because she doesn’t say anything back.
After a second of talking we all start heading further away from our home. Then we find a cabin. Hanna my sisters and I ask our parents why it’s here. They tell me that years ago our great grandparents built this.
We enter the house and my mouth falls open. “A BOOKSHELF!” My parents have plastered on fake grins. I can tell because their eyes aren’t happy, just their mouth. After I give a deep examination of this book shelf I ask them where our rooms are. They take me to my room, which I share with Hanna, Clara, and Markus. “Tiny room for so many people.” I go back to the bookshelf, pick up a book and head back to the room.
As I enter the room I see that everyone else is trying to go to sleep. I look out a crack, it’s dark outside. I put my book down and fall asleep, hoping that I can sleep through the rest of the night.
I wake up to the sound of Markus and Hanna playing with sticks. I get up and go play with them.
“Hey Markus, hey Hanna. Good morning.” I say. “Morning! How’d you sleep?” Markus asks. I tell him that I slept all night. Then we chat a little bit about what’s happening. “Guys quiet! NOW!” Hanna strictly leads us. We stay quiet because we have no idea what’s going on. Hanna tells us that she’s hearing something. I doubt that she’d lie to us, right? We try to listen, but our fear has made us be able to hear our loud heartbeats. I start to get up but then Markus does too. We get up and then Hanna tell us to get down.
“Ow!” we both yell when our heads collide together. Hanna bursts out laughing. “Got you!”
Angry as ever, I exit the room. I went to the bookshelf and pulled out a book. “Pippi Long stocking, Sounds like fun!” I pull the book off the book shelf and read it. My dad taught me how to read. He says its his favorite thing to do when he feels down. I guess that’s where I get my thirst for books.
I sit down on the cot in my room. I grab Hanna’s pillow and use it for a head rest. I read the first sentence an immediately get hooked. I keep reading until Markus walks in and asks to play a game with him. I tell him no, but he keeps on begging. Eventually I just ignore him until he leaves. I start reading again this book is so interesting. It sparks imagination, it makes me think about how my life could be compared to hers.
I hear thunder and look out my window. I watch lighting strike near some trees. Out of nowhere rain starts pouring down. Hanna, Markus, and Clara walk in and start talking about the lightning. They say how it almost hit them. I just listen in disbelief. How could it possibly have “almost” hit them?
“Hey guys. I saw a lightning strike over by those trees.” I pause. “Want to go find it?” They all decline and say they don’t want to get all muddy.
“I’ll go with you.” An unfamiliar voice replied. I turned around and smiled. “Hello.” I take a second to try to remember her name. “I don’t believe I ever got your name.”
“My name…?” She pauses “I’m Mitzi.” She smiles and asks me for my name. “I’m Diana! Nice to meet you.” We talk a little bit and then put on our shoes.
“What are you doing?” I pause from this angry noise. It must be Mitzi’s mom because I don’t recognize the voice. She tells her that we are going to play outside. “Not in your good dress.” She replies sharply. “Go change into something else.” She whispers rude things to herself. I walk to Mitzi and she tells me to wait in front of the front door. I walk over there and sit on the wooden steps. I begin to nervously play with my necklace. I feel a wave of sadness go through my body. I wonder what Karina is doing. I bet she’s is magical fields of daisies or something beautiful like that. I just wish that I could be with her she’s my best friend. Maybe I’ll become best friends with Mitzi too.
“Okay, you ready?” Mitzi says while closing the door. “Yep let’s go searching!” We start to walk towards the trees when she asks “Wait, what exactly, are we looking for?”. I tell her that earlier I saw a large bolt of lightning strike,” I pause looking back at the house, then I look to the side a bit “Over there.” I point to a spot that is crowded with trees and bushes.
As we get farther from the house I get more nervous. I barely even know this girl; how do I know she isn’t going to kill me or something.
“So, Mitzi” I pause searching my brain for a possible question that doesn’t make me sound like a weirdo. “How are you?” I finally spit out, after what felt like forever. “I’m 12, and you?”
“I’m 13! I just turned it a few days ago!” we talk for a long time. She’s turning 13 in a month or so. Eventually, the light blue sky turns black and we have to turn around and go home. I tell her I don’t want to go back, I want to keep going, I want to explore what hasn’t been found.
“We’ll come back in the morning. Then we can bring food, water, and a blanket” She takes a deep breath and smiles. “I’ve never met somebody who has the same wants as I do.” We giggle and find our way home.
“Now Mitzi!” That angry voice that I heard before I left screamed. “Where have you been? I told you to get home before dark, now didn’t I? Answer me, didn’t I?” I don’t say anything, but I certainly don’t remember her ever saying that.
I decide to leave the room and get a good night’s rest. I’m going to need it, after all I am going on an adventure in the morning!
“Where were you?” I hear my mom say. “Oh, hey mom! I was just playing outside…with Mitzi.” I say expressionless. “Oh, I’m you two are friends, I was beginning to think that she’d stay locked up with her parents forever.” She laughs and then goes to her room.
I play with my necklace and laugh about what Mitzi and I talked about. We talked about how the sky shouldn’t be blue in the day. It should be purple, it would be a lot prettier that way. We also talked about how it should be a dark maroon at night, that way night time wouldn’t be so plain.
I start feeling my tiredness come over me like a wave. I give in and sleep peacefully. I dream about our trip here and how the woods didn’t seem so scary when I was with Mitzi.
I feel a slight poke on my arm. “Hey, Diana. You ready to go?” Mitzi whispers with a smile!
“Sure am, lets go get our stuff” I reply quietly, yet I still have so much excitement.
“Okay” Mitzi starts “Did you get you get water?” I quickly but quietly reply “Yep, did you get food?” She says yes, and we keep asking questions about we brought. I sure hope I brought enough water.
Mitzi begins another conversation “So, can I tell you about my dream?” I tell of course. Her dreams are always interesting, and she always comes up with a meaning behind it.
“So, it started out with me coming home from out in the woods.” She pauses. “I had no idea where you were, just that you were in danger. I went inside the cabin where my mom was, she was knitting by the fireplace, then she turned her chair around to face me. She started yelling at me for wearing my blue school dress. I told her that I don’t even go to school anymore, so I thought it would be okay!” She stops for a minute, holding back tears. “then she grabbed me by the wrist and throws me in your room. I see a toy chest and I figure, I could play with the toys while I wait for her to come back with my punishment. I opened the chest and found a tunnel. Then I told myself that you could be in there. I climb in the tunnel and walk towards the back, then out of nowhere, I saw you screaming your head off. You were pointing behind me, so I turned around. It was my mom!” My eyes open widely, I begin to feel terrified for Mitzi.
“Then she said “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Mitzi trying to save her friend. Mitzi darling, you will fail for all of eternity.” Then she had this like evil laugh. It was creepy. Well that’s it! That was when I woke up. At that moment I was still scared, and I just wanted to get away for a while. I went and grabbed blankets, food, and some clothes. That’s when I got you and told you we had to go. What was your dream?”
“Well” I begin “It started out with me in the woods, by myself. I was kind of scared, so I went back into the cabin. Then I saw you outside, so I went and hung out with you, it wasn’t as scary hanging out in the woods when I with you. Um… that’s it.” I say all of this very shyly. She then hugs me and tells me she’ll always help me be brave. I smile, and we keep walking.
As I walk, my foot gets tired and I tell her that I need a break.
“We’ve only been walking for…” She pauses and looks up in the sky “For 1 hour!” I reply to her saying “Fine, but the second that we find a good place to sit, I’m going to sit down.” She says fine and then laughs. “What’s so funny?” I ask “Nothing” She replies. She continues laughing. I don’t even know what’s funny but her laughing makes me laugh! Then we just become kids in the woods laughing for no reason. Which then makes me laugh even more!
After some more sporadic laughs and a lot more walking she says that she’s hungry and feeling dehydrated. We sit down and ration out our food and water.
“Woah!” Mitzi says looking behind me. “What? What is it?” I say while turning around. My eyes widen in amazement! We both run over to this large waterfall. “It’s beautiful!” I say looking at it. She and I just watch it pour down it’s clear blue water.
We eventually decide that we need to keep moving forward. We drink a little bit of water and snack on one of the cookies that Mitzi brought. As we walk the day seems to be slipping by us. It’s crazy how the sky is already getting darker and pinker as the sun starts so set.
I look up at the dark sky and tell Mitzi that I think it’s time for us to go to sleep. She agrees and says that she brought three blankets. She pulls them out of her backpack along with a small snack for dinner.
As we set up our “bed” we talk about what our favorite part of today was. I say it was the fact that I got to be with my best friend all day! She says that she enjoyed that part, but she really liked the waterfall. We lye down and eat some bread and cheese. As we watch the stars I feel bad for our parents. I wonder what they think happened to us, what they think we are doing right now.
Mitzi says she doesn’t want to talk about her mom, I guess it’s just a sore subject for her. Considering her mom, it would be sore for me too.
Laying down feels great on my legs. I’ve been walking on them way too long. I am so tired that I don’t mind laying down on the ground with tons of rocks under me.
When I wake up, Mitzi is still asleep. That’s a first, I know what wore her out though, all the walking.
“Hey, Mitzi.” I say while patting her back, trying not to scare her, but rather gently wake her up. “Mitzi…c’mon! Wake up, it’s morning and I’m ready to move and explore!” I say ecstatically.
“Can’t it wait, yesterday was tough. I’m still recovering. Hey, could you get me some water?”
I gave her some water, she drank slowly, making sure not to drink to fast and make herself sick. I do the same, I start to feel like I need to move again. This time, so does she.
We start walking forward, not taking a break. I think eventually we will find a store or someplace that we can find more food and water.
I take a few steps closer to a tree and see a slug crawling on it. I show it to Mitzi and she seems to be grossed out by it because she said she wanted it as far away from her as possible.
We see a lot more slugs and other creatures. Nature is pretty cool like that. I can look around at the trees and the leaves. It’s so green and beautiful, I never thought being free would be so pretty.
“Mitzi, isn’t it pretty?” I ask. “Yeah.” She says and smiles wide. I smile back at her and say, “I’m glad we’re friends” She replies, “Me too”.
We stay there for a little bit longer, then we begin to walk away. As we walk the leaves on the trees are getting brown. It’s odd how there can be so much beauty in one spot, then in the next everything is dying.
“Hey Mitzi,” I begin, “can I ask you a really personal question?” She replies saying “Sure.” Kind of laughing. “Why does your mom always seem…mean?” I ask trying not to sound rude.
“Well,” She begins, “When we left home, it was because there was a bombing near our town. We didn’t talk at all on our way there. It wasn’t the way I thought we would. Mom was nice before that happened. Lately she’s really mean because she’s scared, and she doesn’t like it here. She’s trying to make things seem normal, she doesn’t realize that right now she’s the problem. It’s really hard for her, and us leaving, I’m sure, isn’t making this better.” She says, starting to cry.
“Do you want to go back?” We stop walking, “I mean, we can if you want. I don’t want to make you feel home sick.” I tell her, feeling sympathetic. “No! I’m not going back. I want to get away from the soldiers and the family drama. I want to get out of here.” I nod, and we get back to walking.
Once again, we reach a black sky so, we set up camp. Eventually, the temperature drops so low that our blankets can’t keep us warm. “I learned how to make a fire, from my dad.” Mitzi says enthusiastically. I tell her okay and I watch her make it.
Once the fire got started and was stable enough where we would just have throw some sticks on it every so often. We begin to sing a song by the fire, she has an amazing voice. “Hey Mitzi?” I ask. “Yeah?” She answers anxiously. “What did you do, before all of this happened?”
She starts to talk, but then stops herself to think. “Well, I was just a normal girl. I went to the beach and the movies with my friends. We had fun, we never even thought about how we looked or what each other was wearing. Now, all my friends turned their backs on me. They don’t talk to me.” She pauses. “Except, one girl. She gave me this.” She shows me a necklace. I freeze. My eyes widen, and I am kind of freaked out. “What? Are you okay?”
I pull my necklace out and show her. We have matching necklaces. “So, what is the name f your friend, on three.” She nods and says “3…2…1” At the same time we both yell “Karina!”
“Wow.” I begin “Um…do you think she knew that we were going to meet?” I ask. “Well, she had to have. Why else would she give us the same necklace?”
“I need to go sleep, can we just go to bed?” I ask. She says sure and we drift of into a deep sleep. Before I fell asleep I saw Mitzi get up and go for a small walk around our camp. I force myself to stay awake until I see her lay down. Eventually, she comes back. I ask her if she’s okay. No answer. I ask her if she needs anything. No answer. I understand that she’s feeling weird, so I decide to leave her alone and go to sleep.
I can’t remember if had a dream or not. I just remember seeing black.
I, once again, wake up before Mitzi. I wonder how long she stayed awake. I ponder our necklaces and wonder what they really mean. I sit in front of the burnt-out fire and think about the possibilities. Out of nowhere I feel a pat on my back. I slightly jump and turn around.
“Mitzi! Oh my god, you scared me!” I say quietly, still feeling as if I could wake up my parents. “Hey, I never asked you about your life before all this.” She says, then she gives me a slight smile.
“Well, I guess I was kind of popular.” I begin, “I had a lot of friends, my friends meant a lot to me. We talked about how if we ever got separated we’d find each other, eventually. Once this happened, they never came to me. They started to mock me and make fun of me for being a Jew. It wasn’t right, and they knew what they were doing. It’s almost as if, me being a Jew made them feel disgusted. Karina was my best friend. She might have been with them, but she didn’t mock me. When I’d look at her it almost seemed that she had an expression of sympathy. Eventually, they just stopped talking to me. They made me feel invisible, therefore I didn’t really make friends at my new school. Then my new peers started talking to me. They told me that I was cool, that I was awesome. That was something new because nobody had ever called me that. I felt better about myself. I felt better about everything, this made me realize that I didn’t have to care about those other girls, I had myself. A little while later I had my 13th birthday party and I decided to go for a walk. Out of nowhere, I saw Karina. I ran over to her and we talked, a lot. Then she saw her brother, which is weird because I never saw him. That’s not the point…but it was good to talk to her.” I stop and take a deep breath. “Well, that’s all I want to say… you know almost all the rest.”
“You don’t to say anything that you don’t want to.” She smiles and thanks me for telling her the rest. “Hey Diana?” She starts. “Did your old friends ever say anything else to you?”
“No, they pretty much disappeared.” I pause and realize something. “In fact, they did disappear. I haven’t seen them since that day. Do you think they all left?” I ask “I don’t know” she answers.
“Well” I say to distract us from that topic. “Do you want to try to find our way home?” I laugh. “Sure, but we have to tell them that we were playing out in the woods when we found an animal, so we ran and got lost. Sound good?” I was amazed at how fast she came up with that. “Sounds like a plan… do you think It’ll work?” I ask. “of course, it will work!”
We begin to walk back. As we walk I start noticing cuts, bug bites, and bruises on both of us. How did we not see these before?
“Diana. Thanks for this.” She smiles, and I smile back.
“Hey, Mitzi.” I say quietly. “yeah?” She responds. “What if they don’t believe us?” I ask nervously. “They will!” She tells me. “What if they tell me that they want me to leave them forever and that they never want to see my face again?” I rant. “If they do that then we will leave together, I’m not letting you go by yourself! What if you run into a group of soldiers! You’ll need me there to tell you what to do.”
I agree with her and we walk forward. I wonder what we would have happened if that storm never struck it’s lightning by a random group of trees. I wonder if Mitzi and I would’ve become friends. I stop and look back. I remember our memories and how far we made it. We can’t go back now. We were so close; how could we just give up!
“Mitzi, we can’t go back.” I tell her. She stops and replies “Why not? If you are still worried about what your parents are going to say” I cut in and say urgently “Don’t you remember how far we got? We grew closer together just from a few days! We cannot give up now.”
“Diana, I don’t know what you were thinking about but you’re right. We have made it too far to give up now. I…” She pauses to think about what she’s going to say next. “…I’ve never experienced a friendship like ours. I kind of lied when I said that I went with my friends to places. My, um, only friend was Karina.” She takes a deep breath and wipes a tear from her face. “I don’t know why I was such a loner, but Karina made me feel…” She pauses again. This time I cut in, “She made you feel good about yourself.” She nods, looks down at her feet, and then walks forward. She then turns back, “You make me feel the way she did. Happy, and as you said, good about myself. I feel as though I’m on a cloud that is impossible to bring down!”
We smile and laugh. “We’ve shared a lot laughs and smiles. I can’t believe that lightning brought us together.” I laugh while speaking. She laughs too, and we walk back in the direction we came from.
“Do you think that they are still at the cabin?” Mitzi asks. “I don’t know, but I sure hope so.” I tell her calmly and gently.
If they weren’t at the cabin, they would either be at a camp or a different place entirely. I don’t know what we would do if they were gone. I give myself goosebumps thinking about where our families could be. “Mitzi, I want to see my family, but I need to get out of this place! We need to get out.” She nods, and we walk. Right now, that’s all we can do. I give Mitzi a hug and thank her for supporting me through all of this. She tells me it’s no big deal, but for me, it is. I doubt that anybody else would even consider doing this for me. I smile and laugh just thinking about our time together. Mitzi, is somebody that I wish I could’ve met before this happened. I’m sure we would’ve gotten along just fine.
As we walk back we start to talk about our lives and how we wished they turned out so far.
“I wish that I could still be friends with my old friends. I also wish that we could’ve met, and we could have done fun things and it would be really cool. I just miss when we didn’t have to worry about running into bad people.” I say. Mitzi tells me that she completely agrees, from there we walk in silence.
“Um… Diana?” Mitzi says alarmingly. “Did we see that building before?” I look over in the direction that she’s pointing towards. “No, I don’t remember…want to check it out?” She nods in excitement.
We run towards the left side and wait to make sure that there aren’t any soldiers. We pause, no breathing, no talking, not a sound. I start to form a smile. “Ready?” I whisper. “yep… you go first.” She replies quietly.
I walk into the store and I look around. “Mitzi! Come in here, it’s so cool!” I say. She walks in and I can see her look around in amazement. I can’t believe how much food is in here!
“Diana are you sure there isn’t anybody in here?” I shrug and have a look of fear. “Do you think you heard something?” She tells me no but nods yes. I give a look that says it all. She looks down and nods. “Hello?” I yell. “You can come out…we won’t bite!” we both giggle and look around. Out of nowhere a child arose from behind some boxes. “Y-y-you aren’t a soldier, right?” The child stutters. “No, in fact we kind of running from them.” Mitzi says and laughs. He walks out and says, “Me too!” he smiles, he looks hungry. “You know you can eat the food in here, right?” I ask concerning. “Mom told me to always ask before you take food.” He replies. I look at Mitzi and she looks back. “Hey, what’s your name?” I ask. “Um, I’m Felix… I already heard your names.” He looks at me, “Diana,” then he looks at Mitzi. “Mitzi…right?” We both laugh and tell him yep. “Hey Felix, how old are you?” I ask. “I’m…uh…” he looks to his left and then counts on his fingers. “I’m eight.” I then ask, “Felix, where are your parents?” He looks at me, kind of afraid. “Promise not to tell?” I nod. “They took them. I hid behind the closet and all I heard was screaming.” He starts to cry, so I walk over to him and pat his back. “It’s okay, don’t cry. You’ll see them again. Hey, look at me.” He turns his head and looks me in the eyes. “Felix, you have us now, we won’t hurt you.” I smile, and he smiles back. “Do know if anyone else is here?” He tells me it’s just him. “Do you have a backpack?” He nods, and I tell him to pack it full of food.
“Mitzi, try to find some clothes and blankets. I’ll find water.” We nod and look around. I look all around but I can’t seem to find water. “Hey Diana.” Felix yells. “Yeah?” I yell back “I think I found water!” I run over to him, and sure enough there’s the water. “I’m sure glad we found you!” we all laugh and pack our bags. “Okay, everyone ready?” we all say okay and we start walking.
We walk and walk as much as we can until we can’t move. Our feet are in so much pain. The weight on our backs is not helping.
“Hey Diana, where are your parents?” Felix asks. “My parents? Well, um, I’m not sure. When we left they were at our cabin We haven’t seen them since then. However, I’m sure they are still there. Anyway, tell me about yourself, about your family.” I say.
“Well, I’m eight years old. My favorite color is red. My family was nice. I had two sisters and a brother. I was the youngest. My sisters were both sixteen and my brother was eighteen. I was the youngest, so I was always picked on. Of course, I’ll live, my school life was a lot harder.”
“You mean you were bullied? Felix you can tell us.” I say urgently.
“What I mean is, that I didn’t have very many friends. The ones that I did have weren’t the best. They kept trying to get me to say things and do things that I didn’t want to do. I was so scared that they were going to judge me, so I did what they wanted. I’d constantly get in trouble. My parents didn’t understand why I did it. I don’t really want to talk anymore…can we keep going?”
“Sure Felix, I’m sorry if I pressured you.” I say in a concerned tone.
After our break we walk some more. We don’t talk at all. We don’t laugh, we just walk. I can’t remember what we came out here to do. Why we left in the first place. I get sick from the silence.
“Mitzi, do you have any stories?” I ask, “I know a few, I’ll tell the story about the witch in the woods” She laughs “Get it, because we are in the woods?” We all laugh and then she begins.
“Once upon a time there was a sweet old lady who had four cats. Everyone walked by her house, but they were always afraid of her. One day a child started telling everyone about how she feeds off cats and she has eaten so many that her yard was just full of bones. Then another child said that metal gate was made from cat bones. Eventually, the adults even began to spread rumors. They say how she is witch and they once saw her try to eat a child. On a stormy night the lady decided to go have a cup of tea on her porch. When she went outside she saw a whole bunch of leaves on her porch so, she grabbed her broom. When she went back outside there were families all around her fence. She was very confused about why they were there. Everyone gasped at every move she made. Until she got sick of everyone being there. Then she yelled, “EVERYONE GET AWAY!” Then she would reveals, “I KNOW THAT YOU GUYS SPREAD RUMORS ABOUT ME”. I’m tired of that! I’d just like some peace. I am a normal person like you. After that, many children would avoid going in front of her house, they were so much more terrified. Eventually, the lady was kicked out of her house. She had to live in the woods! Many kids said that they could hear her cries for help whenever they’d pass by the woods. Well the end! How was it?” I was pretty freaked out, but she didn’t have to know that!
“It was good. I think that it could’ve been scarier. It’s dark out, want to go to bed? “I say. “Are you scared?” Mitzi says.
“No. I’m just tired.” I say half laughing. “Well let’s get some sleep then!” Felix yells, he’s frustrated. He needs some sleep too. I pull out him blanket and set up his “bed” for him
I fix my blanket and lay down. I can’t seem to fall asleep so, I go take a walk. I get up quietly and get a wave of cold. I grab my blanket are start walking. Making sure not to get too far away from our camp.
I think about everything that we’ve gone through so far.
“Over here!” I hear a voice whisper. I don’t move a muscle. Scared for my life I yell out “W-W-Who’s there?” I stay there for a while. Waiting for a response. “I don’t want any trouble. M-My friends and I will leave you alone if you just give a minute to leave.” I say with a shaky voice.
I walk away once they say, “Just hurry up, I just need to get away from everyone.” I run back to camp and start shaking everyone.
“Guys wake up! Hurry we need to leave! Come on wake up!” finally they wake up and we start packing everything up. “I’ll tell you what’s happening later we just need to hurry!” I tell them urgently.
We run as far away as possible staying as silent as possible. As we run I start to cry. I feel like if I hadn’t takin that walk, we might not have been so lucky. I don’t know who that person was or what they had. They might’ve been a bigger danger than I thought.
The more I walk the more my imagination wanders. That could’ve been a child, or an adult. They might’ve needed help, something that I can do! It’s too late to think about that…I decide that I need to eat something.
“Mitzi, I’m not feeling very well. Could I get something to eat?” she hands me a bag of…something. When I finish eating I walk in silence. I don’t talk I just stare at the ground.
Mitzi and Felix start to talk about their parents. They talk about how their mom’s both went a bit crazy. I’m glad that they can be friends. Mitzi bursts out laughing, taking me out of my thoughts. I look around and there are so many trees, bushes, and green. It’s beautiful!
“Well, I was wondering when your smile would come back” Mitzi says, as soon as I smile. I laugh with her and soon Felix joins in.
“Thanks for taking me with you.” Felix begins. “I really am glad that you did. I’d probably be sitting in that store, starving myself.”
Felix, Mitzi, and I settle down once more. We hope that this time we can get a decent night of sleep. I close my eyes and lay like that for a bit longer. Eventually, I fall asleep. I dream about the old lady. I wonder what it must’ve felt like to be her. I bet it was lonely, I couldn’t be like that. She must have had a lot of courage. I know that it’s hard to be alone.
I wake up due to a sudden pain on my leg. I reach for it and I feel a liquid, almost like water. I look down and my leg is covered in blood.
“Mitzi!” I start to yell. “Help me! My leg…it’s uh bleeding, a lot!” I yell in a panic.
Mitzi runs over to me and starts panicking. “Oh god! That’s pretty bad. What happened? Are you okay?” She continues asking questions. She’s freaking out and personally think she’s just making it worse.
“Hey…what’s going on?” Felix says while rubbing his eyes. “OH MY GOSH! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR LEG?” He screams, making him no longer very tired.
“Hey everyone! Calm down. I just need a wipe, napkin, or anything that can soak up the blood. Please get me something as well as a bandage.”
Felix then runs back to his bag. He hurries his way up back to us and hands me a package of wipes and two containers with bandages. I thank him for this and begin to wipe down my leg.
I wince a little once it reaches the wound. I grab another wipe and ask Mitzi to open the bandages. While she struggles with that I clean up whatever blood that was left on my leg.
“Hey!” we hear from a distance. “Get them!” our eyes widen, and we look in every direction.
“Run. Run and don’t look back. Leave me here, Mitzi take care of him. Now GO!” I say, trying to stay calm. A tear slides down my face as I watch them go.
I try to get up and run with them, but my leg is so severely wounded that I can’t get up.
With one full movement I try standing up. I did it. I’m up, then I fall back down. I decide to get down and stay down.
I hear movement. I hear feet running across the leaves. I slow down my breathing to make sure they won’t hear me. With all my effort it doesn’t anything. I’m crying so much that my breathing is scattered, and loud.
I feel something grab me. It grabs me roughly and painfully, not caring that I’m just a child.
I look up in terror just to find myself in a larger state of panic. I try to shake my way out of his grip. I find that with every shake his pushes his nails farther into my shoulders. I scream as loud as I can. I do this to try to warn others, if there are any.
I give up. I let them drag me across the ground all the way to their vehicle. I was far outnumbered. I knew where I was going. How long I’d live, that was the was unknown!
I sit and wait, not knowing how long I’ll be here. I hold my tears back. I feel as though I must stay strong. I don’t know who I’m doing this for, not myself.
All I know is that I must figure out a way to escape, find my friends, and go back to the cabin to find my family.
I keep a straight face, showing no emotion. I can’t let them see my fear, my anger, nor my sadness. I come up with a plan. I’ll wait till we get to the camp, then stay there. I’ll do the most I can to stay alive. I’m sure I can wait this out.
I’m very worried. I just have to hide my emotion from the soldiers. I’m afraid that if they see my worry they’ll use it against me.
I obviously worry too much. Although, in this situation I feel like my worry is used correctly. I’m sure I can do this. I believe in myself. Out of nowhere, a giant shiver rolls down my back. There, right in front of me, is a giant fenced in area.
They take me to the showers first. It’s awkward because I don’t know any of these people.
Once I leave the shower, I’m taken by a strange man. He grabs my wrist tightly. I’m stumbling behind while trying to keep up, he’s too fast.
Once we reach a large house I am told to go inside and ask for Mr. Yvonne.
“What?” I say then immediately regret it. He kicks me onto the ground and says “Mr. Yvonne. Now go!”
I stand up and hold my tears in. This can’t be Karina’s dad. It’s not possible. A headache arises from my confusion.
I ring the doorbell and a tall lady opens it.
“Oh, you must be the new girl. Come in, come in, I suppose you are looking for Mr. Yvonne?” She speaks very fast and very well.
I try to speak but I can’t manage to get the words of the tip of my tongue. I nod, that’s all I could do.
“Do you speak?” She says, giving a slight giggle. I don’t reply.
“Theodore, you have a child waiting for you, Bruno brought her.” Based on her comfort level with calling him Theodore, she’s either a friend or Mrs. Yvonne.
“Hello dear.” She smiles at him, he nods, and she leaves. “Wait a second. Do I know you?” He asks, scaring me for a second.
“Um, not that I know of sir.” I say while trying to manage my stuttering.
“Okay. Anyway, your job here is to help clean around. We recently lost our last servant. The kitchen is around there. Go clean or something.” He goes upstairs and doesn’t come back down.
I head in the direction that he pointed to and hoped for the best. I walk into the room and, luckily, it’s the kitchen.
At first, I’m glad that it was so easy to find. Then I take a look around and I’m disgusted. Now I understand why the last servant…wait a second. I’m a servant? How did I not know this?
Whatever, I put aside my frustration. Considering that I’m a servant now, I’d better get to work.
There must be a bug infestation because there are giant roaches everywhere! I immediately gag, and a shiver runs down my spine. The dishes are layered in dried up food.
I sigh and get on to scrubbing the dishes. Surprisingly the food easily leaves the plates. I scrub each dish. Scrub, rinse, soap, scrub, rinse, repeat.
Finally, I finish drying them and putting them back in the cupboard. After that I move on to sweeping and mopping the floor. This wasn’t hard, rather gross because of all the dead bugs on the ground.
I’m done. I feel proud but, now I don’t know what to do. I look around for some type of schedule, I don’t find anything. I guess I’ll just have to call out for Mr. Yvonne.
“Mr. Yvonne?” I say while wandering the halls. “Mr. Yvonne, I finished with the kitchen. Do, um, do you have anything else I have to do?” I’m not yelling but I’m not speaking quietly.
“Oh, hello again. You finished? I wasn’t expecting it to take such a small amount of time.” He smiles and tells me to follow him.
He takes me into a small, but pretty, room. I bet it’s a lot better than sleeping on rocks and sticks.
“It has all of the essentials. There is your schedule.” He points to a binder on a small dresser. “Follow it exactly and we won’t have any problems. Well, because it’s so late you may go to bed. Sorry if you had to skip dinner, but you will have a bigger breakfast then I assume you’ve been having. Goodnight.”
“Thank you, sir.” I smile then he leaves.
I take of my shoes and crawl into my new bed. It’s a lot more comfortable then I expected.
It’s been a week since that night. I’ve received more chores since then. Not only do I clean the entire kitchen, but I clean their clothes, fix their Breakfast, Lunch, and dinner, and I clean around. Basically, I’m their maid.
I head to the kitchen where I start to pull out ingredients for eggs. I go to the fridge and there’s a note on it.
“Fix us pancakes. We are bored of eggs. -Mr. Yvonne”
After reading his short note I put everything back and pull out flour, olive oil, eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, and milk.
Once I prepare the pancakes, I fix the table. I’m starting to enjoy my job. After I got rid of the roaches everything has been so much cleaner!
I place two pancakes on each plate, then I place a warm cup of syrup in the center of the table. Everything looks good, tastes good, and I’ve put everything in the kitchen away.
“Breakfast is ready!” I shout. I learned on the first day that’s what I do when breakfast is ready or else nobody will eat.
Mr. and Mrs. Yvonne hurry down the stairs to eat.
“So my brother and his two kids will be coming over next week. I need you to clean two bedrooms one for the kids and one for my brother. You will call him Mr. Yvonne as well. You may speak to the children ONLY if they speak to you. Got it?” Mr. Yvonne says sternly.
“For god’s sake Theodore, she’s a child who hasn’t seen another face her age in a week.” Mrs. Yvonne argues.
“Fine. If my brother allows you to talk to them you may.”
“Well, now you’d better write to him now. We don’t want her to have to wait till day-of to talk to somebody. Now do we?”
I decide to cut in. “Mr. Yvonne, Mrs. Yvonne. It’s okay. I can wait. Thank you, I’d better get ready with their rooms.” They nod and smile. Then they whisper something. I can’t understand it, but it seems to be something positive. That’s a good sign.
I head to the first room. There are already beds in there. I just have to wash and dry the sheets and pillow cases. I start picking up toys from what I guess were from the last time they visited.
I sweep the floor, getting rid of a lot of dust. The room looks so much better now.
“Wow, I didn’t know so much work could be done in such a short amount of time!” Mrs. Yvonne says.
“Thank you ma’am.” I respond.
“Well, Theodore spoke to his brother and he says that you may play with his children. This means that you can take the days off of work next week. However, you still have to clean the kitchen, make meals, and do laundry. Do you understand?”
“Yes ma’am. Thank you so much!” I say. She smiles and then leaves.
I continue cleaning but am going so much faster just so that the day may seem to go by faster. It doesn’t work, time seems to be slowing down.
I take the bed sheets from the room and go outside. I put them in soapy water and wash them. After that I try to go inside but a man walks up to me.
“You are going to have to come with me” He grabs my arm. Bruce, it’s the soldier.
“MRS. YVONNE! HELP ME PLEASE!” I yell, trying to get her to save me.
“Bruce, what are you doing?” she says slamming the screen door.
He freezes and stutters “Boss says all servants need a shower. She’s a servant isn’t she?”
“It’s okay, I have a shower that she can use in here. I’m sorry but I can’t allow you to take her.” They argue on and on. Sadly, she doesn’t win. Bruce takes me by my arm and I can see in the distance Mrs. Yvonne crying. Mr. Yvonne then walks out and starts yelling at her. That seems to make her even more sad.
I’ve heard them talk about showers before. They said that some people don’t come out of them.
Once we get to the large shower building I must start undressing. There are so many people in there. I feel afraid that everyone was staring at me. It just gets more awkward the more I think about it.
We get taken into the shower room. We just stand there and wait for the water to start pouring onto us. Waiting feels like forever.
Out of nowhere people start to cough. I start to freak out! I am balling my eyes out. I run over to the door and bang my arms against it.
“Let me out” I cough, why am I coughing? “LET” I cough again “ME OUT” I can’t stop coughing.
Everything is getting dizzy. I see many other women falling onto the ground. I try to get the soldier’s attention, but they don’t even glance in my direction.
I continue crying, everything is going wild. I hear a very annoying ringing sound in my left ear. I crawl up into a ball and scream until my throat feels dry.
My vison is foggy, and everything is spinning. I let them down. I let Mitzi and Felix down. I let my entire family down.
I close my eyes. Open. Close. Open. Close. I don’t have the strength to open again.
Everything is dark. Darkness is all around. I can’t move, I can’t do anything. Everything is black. Everything is gone. Everything has faded, just like that it’s all gone.