It started just like any other day. I woke up, put on a pot of coffee, and waited by the win. The sound of the brewing coffee reminded me of the way Papa used to make it. Mmm, Papa. I read the daily news paper and waited for Henry to wake up. Between politics and the Cuban Revolution, I didn’t know what to think. Henry soon woke up and wished me a good morning. We had only been married for a couple of months now. He kissed me on the cheek, his lips warm and soft. I could hear the sizzle of the bacon coming from the kitchen and the scent of a new pot brewing.
Henry asked why I drank all the coffee. “Nervous,” I responded.
“Why?” Henry asked. “You got nothing to worry about, you’re a shoe in.”
I was uneasy. “Are you sure about that?” I asked.
“Yup,” he chuckled.
We ate breakfast and talked about the day ahead. Mechanics was his thing. Henry loved to see the way things worked. After that, he was off to work and I had to get ready. I looked in my closet for something decent, but that’s all I had, “decent.” Today was special though. I had to impress them, make them want to hire me. Then, there it was, almost like it was staring me in the face. The long, pink tool stretched to the floor like a yawning dog. That was it, the dress my mother had worn many times before. The one I took to remember her by. The one that kept me and Elijah warm on those cold harsh nights. I could still see the stains of the nasty sewage water. I could still feel the emptiness in my heart. Henry did a pretty good job patching that up, but it would never be full. I threw it in the wash and didn’t give it another thought. When it was time to go, it took a little coaxing to get me out the door. It was cold, ironic. I grabbed my gloves and sun hat and was off. Traffic wasn’t too bad, but you know how it is in “The Big Apple”, the city that never sleeps. I got out of the car reluctantly, but I knew what I had to do. Tim’s Factory & Co., the building read. I walked towards the elevator, the click of my heels almost like a repeating pattern.
“Never been on one of these before,” said the woman standing beside me. It was like she came out of nowhere.
“Yeah, me either,” I replied.
“At least we have each other,” I said.
“Yeah,” she chuckled.
When we got to 6th floor we parted our separate ways.
“Good luck!” she yelled.
“You too!” I hollered back. “Hey, I never got your name!” It was too late, she had already rounded the corner.
“Hello, Mrs. Abigail,” a voice appeared from nowhere.
“Hello,” I said with a jump.
“Something wrong?” he asked.
“No, just a little nervous.”
“Don’t be, you’re just fine,” he said. “Right this way.”
I followed him down the long corridor into a strange office. There were crosses and stars hanging on the walls. There was even a menorah.
“You’re Jewish I see,” I said.
“Yeah, got a problem with it?” he replied.
“No... no, I mean I am too.”
“Really?” he said, almost shocked.
“Yeah, have been my whole life,” I joked. He gave a slight smile.
“So tell me about you, Abigail. Your hopes, dreams, life story. I want to hear it all.”
“Oh, it’s really not that interesting,” I replied. “You don’t want to know. I wish I didn’t.”
“Come on, a pretty girl like you must have an interesting past,” he responded.
“That’s for sure,” I added.
“Come on,” he started to sound annoyed. “Where are you from?” he asked.
“Germany,” I replied.
“Oh!” he said, sounding shocked. “Me too,” he said in a somber voice. “So, tell me more,” he said.
Then I began. The year was 1934 and the war was raging. Nazis everywhere and crying children. I didn’t know, but I was soon to be one. Boom, the first noise came as a shock, the second one almost like an impulse. Boom, again, there it was. My father jumped up from his chair in complete shock. My mother came running from the kitchen, the look on her face said it all. She was sobbing. I ran to her side and called for my brother, Elijah to follow.
“Run!” she yelled as another bomb cracked open the sky.
“No!” my father yelled. “Kids follow me!”
My brother and I chased him down the stairs into the basement. Then what happened next, I would never forget. Pop! I heard a shrill that sent a tingle down my spine and a panic throughout my entire body. Then a loud thud on the floor and foot steps.
“Adinah!” my father yelled.
He ran back up the stairs, but before he reached the top he was blown back. Pop!
“Noooooooooo!” I yelled.
But the sound of his agony covered my shrills.
“Go, there,” he pointed to the cabinet near the end of the stars.
“No,” I whimpered, “I can’t leave you!”
My brother lay there in horror. His young brain not able to comprehend what was going on. But before I could shake him out of it, we were off and racing towards the cabinet. We hopped inside, both sobbing in fear. It was dark and dusty. Just like that day had been. Then it came. The loud pounding footsteps, rushing down the stairs.
“Shh!” I told my brother, still trying to control the flow of tears streaming from my eyes.
But he ignored me, continuing to plead and cry. I was forced to cover his mouth.
Slowly but surely he stopped crying.
“Hey!” the Nazi yelled. “Anybody down here?”
There was a long and silent pause. My brother and I trembled in fear, waiting. The room was so quiet, I could hear my own heartbeat. Broken and devastated. Then after that, more silence followed. The Nazis had left, but I was too scared to do anything. All that I could think about was Papa and Mama. Whatever was I going to do? I slowly removed my hand from Elijah’s mouth. We were alone now. Just him and I. With tears clouding my vision, I got out of the cabinet and grabbed Elijah. I knew what would be waiting up stairs. But I couldn’t let Elijah see such a thing. I slowly walked up the stairs. Every step slow and shaking with fear. When I reached the stairs, there they were.
“Mama.......Papa?” I called out, but there was no reply.
They just lay there limp and silent. That was it, I lost it. Still covering innocent Elijah’s eyes, a terrible scream erupted from my mouth. It stung. My heart felt like it had been ripped out and stuffed back in. Still beating, but barely. I slid off my fathers ring, his fingers cold, and slid it onto Elijah’s finger. He rustled a little, trying to remove my hand, but I wouldn’t let him. Then I moved over to my mother. Her eyes looked like they were staring right at me. Piercing through my soul. I slid her ring off and put it on my own finger. I didn’t even get to say goodbye. But that didn’t matter anymore. I had to snap out of it.
Still carrying Elijah, I ran across the hall to my parents’ room. There I found a large bag. I dashed across the hall to the room Elijah and I shared. I threw everything in--diapers, food, clothes, and a few pacifiers. I grabbed some of my own clothes and a few of my most prized possessions. Tossed in some photos and food and was off. There I stood, at front of the door, too scared to see what lay beyond. What was I doing? How was I going to survive? I didn’t have the answer to those questions and I didn’t have time. Remorsefully, I opened the door. Once I stepped outside, I couldn't believe my eyes. Nazis, everywhere.
“Hey you!” one screamed in my direction.
I started to run but not fast enough. Soon I felt a strong grip on my arm and Elijah was being pulled away from my arms.
“NOOO! Stop!” I yelled, but they only ignored me.
I watched in horror as they took him away. Screaming, kicking, anything that would set me free, but it didn’t work. Elijah cried and yelped, kicking all over the place. I never saw him again. I paused from my story, tears consuming me, my body shuddering.
“Mrs. Abigail,” a voice said, shaking me from my state of emotion. When I looked up, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There in his hands, a ring, just like the one my father had worn.
“Elijah?” I said in disbelief.
“I’ve been looking for you for a long time,” he responded.