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“Guten Nacht, my dear Betty,” your mother says, kissing you on your forehead and pulling the covers up to your chin.
“Guten Nacht, Mutter,” you reply softly, cold even underneath your warm blanket.
Your mother walks over to your brother Hans and kisses him as well before turning off the lamp on the bedside table. She walks to her own bedroom to sleep. You stir in your bed, unable to sleep. It is very quiet in your small house, but even the silence can’t soothe you. You rustle around in your covers.
“Betty!” Hans whisper-shouts at you.
“What?” you reply, sitting up, alert. Your eyes widen in the dark, suddenly very aware of every noise.
“Go to sleep!” he calls, annoyed.
“Oh,” you say softly to yourself. You breathe deeply and relax. You drift off to sleep.
THUMP. THUMP. THUMP.
Startled, you wake up. You drowsily get out of bed and grab a sweater to put over your thin nightgown. You wake your father up.
“Vater! Someone is knocking on our door!” you shrill, your voice high with anxiety.
He taps your mother’s shoulder next to him. “Sophia!”
Your mother sits right up in the small bed. “What is it?”
THUMP. THUMP. THUMP.
Your parents get out of bed and your father tells you to wake up Hans. He opens the door.
“Are you Robert Gold?” a tall, balding man asks fiercely. You watch your father shrink in fear.
“Ya,” he replies.
“Your family is ordered by the government to come with us. You may take a small bundle,” the man says. You notice now there are four other strong looking men behind him, all in the same khaki green uniform.
Your father nods slowly. The men come into your house and watch you gather your things up.
Your mother goes to wake her mother who is upstairs. Your father takes a large sack and puts in a few spare clothes for everyone. Hans is crying. You are just shocked. You try to sneak your doll into the sack, but your father sadly shakes his head.
“It won’t fit, Betty.”
You start to shake uncontrollably. You don’t understand what is happening to your family. You want to know why these men are making you leave your home.
Your parents, your grandmother, and Hans and yourself are roughly escorted outside, where you see the majority of your village frantically running in the streets. Your mother holds tightly onto your hand, squeezing it gently.
“Everything will be fine,” she mutters not so convincingly into your ear. You start to sob, watching the uniformed men close the door to your home. You look into the living room for the last time, the memories of your childhood fading away.
But you looked too long, for now your family is scattered. You see your father and mother out of the corner of your eye, with your brother tugging on your father’s leg. You run to them worriedly the second you notice your grandmother is not standing next to them.
“Mutter! Vater! Where is Großmutter?” you scream harshly, spinning around trying to catch a glimpse of the gray-haired woman.
Your mother also spins around suddenly.
“Oh my god…” she says, her soft brown eyes big in fear.
Your father puts his arm around her. “There’s nothing we can do, Sophia. We must leave with the rest of them. Your mother will probably come on too…we’ll meet her later.”
You struggle to watch your mother cry. Everyone around you is in fear, unsure what they are doing, where to go. The uniformed men try to direct them into a train. You don’t listen.
Before your parents can tell you otherwise, you run in the opposite direction, desperate to find your grandmother.
“Großmutter! Großmutter! Where are you? Please!” you scream at the other scared faces, as if they could help. You sprint to the opposite side of the village, your tears sticking against your pale face. You see some of your village friends, who try to catch your eye, but you don’t even look. You have to find your grandmother.
You weave in and out of people, all with the same expression of terror. You trip on a stone on the cobbles of the street and fall. Your knee is scrapped and begins to bleed. But you don’t feel any pain.
You see a hand reaching to you. It’s your friend Anke.
“Betty, are you alright? Come on, Betty, I’m sure your parents are waiting. Please, get up. “
You shake your head furiously, barely listening to her.
“No!” you scream at her, frustrated you can’t find your grandmother; you push her away and sprint faster. You continue running through the streets, but the concentration of people is getting sparser. They’re all boarding the loud train. Suddenly, you think you see a wisp of gray hair. You grin wildly, running towards the plump woman sitting on the ground.
“Großmutter! Finally! Come on now, we have to get on the train,” you say to her.
She doesn’t say a word. “Now really, we must go! We have to go find my parents!”
You walk around her to face her, but once you do, you regret it. You scream. Her face is expressionless, her body motionless. The side of her face is coated with deep red blood. You poke her cheek, her shoulder. You desperately shake her arms around, but she doesn’t budge. You fall to the cobble stones and bawl. Tears stream down your face, and no one even looks. Your grandmother is dead.
“Betty!” a high pitched voice calls.
You turn around to see your family violently motioning for you to come on the train, which is about to leave. You stand up, your face sticky with salty tears. You walk slowly to them, your face emotionless. The shock is too great. Your father grabs your hand and your family walks into the small, crowded train.
“I’m sure Großmutter is in here somewhere,” you hear Hans whisper to you, his heads bobbing around at the sight of the amount of people.
You look once more outside at your village before you get on the train.
And then you begin to weep.