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I didn't title this but it's making me put one.
I never thought it would come to this. It’s early June, in the year 2012, I live in Wiesbaden, Germany with my sister Rachel, my mother and father. “Der Führer!” and “Hail Hitler!” rang throughout every neighborhood, hands shot into the sky in thunderous amounts. Rocks hurled into the windows of innocent bystanders, doors were broken down, women and children dragged to the streets, screaming, and begging, crying, that’s all we ever hear anymore.
A man by the name of Alfred Mueller rose to power somewhere around a year ago, he came when we were most desperately in need of help. His promises seemed sincere, and his smile seemed genuine. We were wrong. He studied for many years Adolf Hitler, he thinks, and talks, and acts just like him, he even changed his name to “Hitler”, and I fear he may take this infatuation too far. My mother says he’ll come to his senses, or that the Americans will intervene, but Rachel and I have lost all hope, the noise never quiets, the henchmen never rest. We’re hidden in a wine cellar beneath my uncle’s bakery, It’s quite large, and furnished with comfortable old couches and warm comforting blankets, but it’s nothing compared to our vintage Victorian two story home, that was filled with adventure and dreams. Behind our sanctuary there was a magnificent garden, it extended as far as the eye could see, it had trees of every shape and size, and flowers of every color and aroma. It was like heaven, at the center there was a fountain engraved with angels it was white but covered in moss and all around it were bushes of pansies and peony’s. I doubt there’s another place like it on the entire planet, when you walk in it you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. I used to write stories and it was the setting of most of them, and Rachel often drew it as the background to most of her pieces.
There is plenty of food in the cooler and freezer and walls of canned goods, we could survive down here for almost ever if we portion properly. The light is dim and there are no windows, but anything is better than outside, anything. I keep all my thoughts and experiences on a group of torn and crinkled pages I found in the drawer of a desk down here.
I heard the news man say that today is June 6th which means that tomorrow is my birthday, well Rachel’s too, whereas we’re twins, we’re turning 13. I’m excited but Rachel says it doesn’t even matter anymore, her outlook on life has become bleak and distorted, she’s always so sad, and her blue eyes seemed to fade to gray. I don’t believe this will be the end for us, I think we’ll make it through.
When I woke up this morning something absolutely mind-blowingly incredible had happened. The screaming stopped, the soldiers feet stood still, no more shattering glass or breaking oak. My father turned the radio on to almost silent, and tuned it to the news broadcast. “Der Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, has been captured, the Americans have come to intervene and stop this madness, all his henchmen have been ordered to retreat and train ways and airports have been reopened for the remaining citizens to board. This is temporary. We have not yet received word about what exactly is going to happen next. God speed.”
I grabbed Rachel’s hand and we raced to the door “ Rachel and Madelyn Keller! Stop right there!” mother whispered sternly, we stopped almost instantly and turned simultaneously. “But mother, the radio said that it was safe” Rachel was wearing a smile that I haven’t seen in a very long time.
“Not for two little girls.” Her face was worried, and tired, she didn’t sleep well anymore and had frequent nightmares. “We will go to the train station after we all wash up and put on our Sunday clothes.” My father is or was a rabbi at the synagogue on the corner of our road, Hitler’s henchmen set fire to it when this mess first started.
We left the cellar and for the first time in over a year we saw the sun, which seemed
almost majestic, the clouds seemed close enough to touch and big enough to carry us away, and the sky that was the bluest of blues, even the brown and grey gravel speckled with debris seemed like something out of a story book. I never thought I could miss something so much, Rachel’s eyes grew large and the lit up just like they used to, mine kept wandering, mother clamped our hands tightly and father brought up the rear, they were on edge and we hadn’t the slightest idea why.
“Mother, why do you look so scared? The radio said-“
“ I know what the radio said Madelyn.” Her brows arched and her lip curled “I don’t trust the radio anymore then I trust Hitler.” Her cheeks blushed a deep red and her eyes glazed over, her lips went from curled to quivering. I’ve never seen my mother cry before, it wasn’t a pleasant sight, it made me start to tear as well, which led to Rachel’s eyes flooding over. When we arrived at the train station my mother and father kneeled down in front of us, mother took a deep breath as if she was calming herself, “Rachel, Madelyn, we need you to be strong, and look out for one another. You are to try and write but if we do not respond it is only because Hitler has resumed power. You are to take the train to Amsterdam, then board a plane that will take you to America, your aunt and uncle will be waiting there for you. Here are your tickets, “ they leaned in to give us a hug and kiss good bye but they were stopped by our hands. “You two aren’t coming?” Rachel questioned
“no, my angel, I’m afraid we’re not.” Her shoulders slumped and her eyes swelled
“Well, why not?” I demanded
“Sweetheart I’m afraid we just don’t have the funds”
I glanced at Rachel and she at me, and we flung our arms around our selfless parents, we exchanged “I love you” and boarded the train that would carry us to safety. We were on the train for almost 7 hours, and the plane for twice as long. When we landed our aunt Marie and, uncle Oz we waiting for us with awkward, nervous smiles. Our luggage took 20 minutes to find it’s way out of the spinning doughnut, and while impatiently waiting I noticed a television hanging above us, it was talking about the happenings in Germany. I watched intently, and soon Rachel caught on, our jaws soon dropped as did our bags. Hitler had killed the head of the American army and ordered his henchmen to finish off the rest of them, then search for and capture all refugee’s. Everything hit us like a bomb, and within seconds we were sobbing, I grabbed my sister’s hand. “I’m sure they’ll be just fine. They’re strong Rach.”
She looked at me with red teary eyes, and pink cheeks, “You’re right, but tonight, let’s send a prayer their way, just in case.”
I nodded my head in agreement. Marie and Oz didn’t know how to handle the situation because they didn’t have children, they were still fairly young. They led us to their big red vehicle. It had four doors, but two of them slid open, and the windows were black they said it was for privacy. We drove for about and hour to this place called Boothbay Harbor, it was right by the ocean and the air smelled like salt and sand. It was warm with a cool breeze and all the people we nice and welcoming. Rachel and I were allowed to play outdoors with other children and we ate delicious foods and slept in something called a bunk bed, I wanted the higher one. We prayed every night for mother and father, and tried writing as often as possible, but we never seemed to get anything in return.
Marie and Oz brought us to the ocean, it’s called the Atlantic, it’s very cold and doesn’t taste very good. We all held hands and ran in together, we jumped whenever a wave came and played with things called boogie boards. All sorts of birds soared over head and cawed and squawked as people refused them food. There was a very tall long deck that went out over the water, Oz told us it was called a pier, it had shops and restaurants and a lot of people. There were binoculars all over the pier and for a quarter you could gaze out over the entire beach and water, we were intrigued. The whole way home Rachel drew pictures of the ocean, the birds and the pier. We will write about today in our next letter, though I wish we would show mother and father everything that we’ve seen. Marie brought us into town while Oz was at work. She bought us all new clothes and, beautiful jewelry, she’s very nice and pretty. Her hair is long, blonde, and curly, and she has green eyes, and a very white smile. She writes novels and works for a magazine, I forget the name. We saw a few men, and women snapping photo’s with camera’s, they weren’t like any of the camera’s we’ve seen, they were wider, and had all sorts of buttons and you could view the picture you took without getting it developed. Rachel and I are very happy and thankful, but we wish mother and father could be joining us.
The television was talking about Germany again. A few hundred Jews revolted and killed some of Hitler’s henchmen, so he sent tanks into the streets and put henchmen in doorways so all the Jews would be run over. They said the name of two survivors who also were the leaders or the rebellion, it was mother and father. Our eyes brightened and smiles wiped across our faces. “They made it” we whispered.
It’s hard for me to explain to you the feeling that swept over us. It was close to a mother hearing from a son who went away to war say “I’m coming home”, only better. Rachel shot up from the sofa and ran through the living room and the kitchen, flung open the swinging screen door and into the arms of Marie, I followed close behind. Tears of happiness rolled down her cheeks and a huge smile emerged between her ears I ran to her and wrapped my arms around her as tight as I possibly could. Marie kissed the tops of our heads and knelt down so she was eye level with us “everything is going to be alright girls” she smirked as a single tear fell from her green eyes and her blonde hair mimicked the sun. We all made for the door and sat at the dining room table for lunch, Marie made us peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwiches cut up the center into a triangle on white bread with grapes and a glass of water. She’s very good about feeding us delicious food, Oz always talks about how important it is to eat healthy and never skip a meal. When he came home around 12 in the afternoon Marie went into town by herself. We didn’t know why, but she was acting as though she were a million miles away on a desert island all alone and Oz was nervous and kept looking at his watch and then the grandfather clock, Rachel and I assumed that he didn’t know what was upsetting Marie either.
We were sent to bed a little after nine but couldn’t sleep. Rachel asked me if I thought we’d ever see our parents again, I said yes to keep her from nightmares. I don’t know what I think. Of course I want to see them again, but if we will depends on something much greater than me. I don’t know what Hitler is capable of and I don’t know what he will do. There’s no way to know, it all depends on who makes him angry and when. Who’s to say he’ll stop at conquering Germany. I’m thinking too much and I’m scaring myself. I have one sheet of paper left I’ll have to ask Marie and Oz for a few more.
When I woke up this morning a brown leather book was resting on my nightstand wrapped with a pink ribbon tied in an intricate bow. Sitting on top of it was a camera like the one we saw in town, I smiled and picked up the camera and set it on my bed, I carefully picked up the book, it’s pages were colored gold, just on the edges, and the cover had my name engraved in an over exaggerated cursive. I felt my eyes widen when my eyes spied it. I gently slid the delicate ribbon off and cautiously lifted the cover, the pages were white without a single scratch or crinkle, the corners were straight the first page read “this is to document your bravery”. On Rachel’s stand there was a camera, one of the fancy ones, and underneath it was a large book with birds and people and scenery drawn on the cover, her name was sketched in the center in big bubble letters, she isn’t awake yet, I’ll let her sleep. I opened my door and wandered down the hall to Marie and Oz’s room, I reached to push the door open but stopped when I heard them murmuring. They were discussing this morning’s paper, and news broadcasts, Hitler had reached Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. My heart slowed and my mind was blown, but I continued to listen. He has been sending threats the president and has enslaved several thousand U.S. citizens already, death and destruction has broken out all over Massachusetts. They say someone had sent the president a letter warning him of what Hitler planned to do and he ignored it.
I took a step back and gasped as I tripped over myself, Marie and Oz heard the fall, but by the time they opened their door I had made it back to my room and had begun telling Rachel. Our door creaked open and Marie and Oz looked down at My sister and I cuddled together holding each others hands as if we were about to fall, Rachel was whispering “it’ll be ok, Mad, we’ll get away, they’ll protect us. I promise, I promise, I love you”. I couldn’t be strong anymore.
Marie put her hand to her mouth and began to cry, Oz quickly wrapped his arms around her and pressed his lips to her head. This is real. We are two 13 year-old girls, two Jewish, twins facing Hitler’s number one fan. We need to leave, so Marie and Oz don’t get hurt.
Today we received a letter. It was from a guard at one of Hitler’s concentration camps. It read: Dear Madeline and Rachel,
My name is Roger, I met and befriended your parents a few days before they were captured and brought here, and it was mere luck that they were brought here because if they hadn’t, you would not be receiving this. I have a great amount of respect for them, they were doing a great thing and they saved a great many lives. You should be and I’m sure you are proud to be their kin. Enclosed there is a letter they wrote to you and asked me to personally make sure it got to you. I am /terribly sorry for your loss, but you must understand they died for justice not because they simply gave up.
It took us a few minutes to recover from the impact those words had on us. Then with shaky hands and weak nerves, we unfolded the enclosed letter from our parents. It read: To our beloved daughters,
Words cannot describe how much we love you two. You are phenomenal girls, truly. We are at Auschfitz, Hitler captured us three days after our rebellion. He found out we had written to the president of America, he was outraged, then he found out we were Jews, so he threw us here along with hundreds of thousands of others. Babies, it’s just like the history books, we do not regret at all sending you away, we only wish that we could see you once more. Our new friend Roger is a guard here, and he is helping us get this letter to you, we couldn’t leave without saying good-bye. We are going to die here, Hitler wants to watch it himself, please my loves be careful, run if he succeeds at reaching the states, run until there is nothing to look back at. We will always be in your hearts, and we will all be together again someday. All our Love, forever and always, Mom & Dad. P.S. Tell Marie and Oz thank you so much for everything they’re doing.
Hitler was moving quickly and has his troops spread across most of New England. We were next. After the news broadcast ended we all rushed to our rooms to pack our things to head up state and into Canada. This can’t be happening. We packed everything we saw, and filled two totes full of food and water. We all piled into the car and began backing out of the driveway. The road was crowded with people struggling to get organized, we weren’t moving very fast, maybe 2 miles per hour. Marie stared sympathetically at the people and said “stop the car”. Oz stopped and looked at Marie with a worried arch of the brow, “why what’s wrong?”
“ I’m going to stay behind and help the neighbors, then I’ll meet up with you guys in moose-head later. I’ll keep my phone on at all times and I’ll check in every hour” Oz was hesitant, but Marie was persistent. “well, I don’t know Marie. Things could get hostile at any moment.” Oz looked as though he was going to cry. “babe” she gazed into his eyes, smiled and kissed his lips “I have to do this”.
He sighed “If it’s what you really, really want. Check in every hour, promise?”
“Yes, I promise. I love you, with all my heart, and I love you girls, you were definitely blessings” she smiled, and held Oz’s nervous hand. “are you sure you have to do this?”
he began to cry, “yes, I’ll be fine”. She opened to the door and said her good-bye’s then ran to the nearest struggling family to assist. He sat still and silent for a few minutes, he looked at her, lifted his heavy heart, took the picture of her from his wallet and hung it from the mirror. He set his phone in cup holder and kept the radio on low so he was sure to hear the phone ring. Marie was the love of his life, she completed him, and Oz just had to let her go with the knowledge that he may never see her again. Rachel and I didn’t want to lose anyone else either, but what could we say? She was determined to help, and do something good.
She called every hour on the hour for four hours, on the fifth she called and said “hey babe”, then all we heard was screams and wind, and movement. Oz desperately tried to get her attention “hello? Sweetie, baby, Marie! Hello, hello, hello!” He began to cry again and called her back several times. No answer. At around eight o’ clock that evening Oz received a text that said: “they’re here.”
We pulled over at rest stop and sat in silence for about 30 minutes. Rachel kept staring at her picture of our old garden. She had shaded the flowers all different colors and the grass green. Oz flicked on the radio suddenly, it jumped Rachel and I. It said Hitler was again making his way upstate, and that if you weren’t in an area under his control you should keep moving. The president was planning an attack on Hitler to stop his madness. He ignited the engine and pulled back onto the highway, he didn’t say a word until we reached moose-head lake. He then folded the back seats into the floor of the car and laid out blankets and pillows for us, he tucked us in, kissed our heads and promised us that we’d get out of this. He spent an hour on the phone with Marie, she told him that they came without warning, and stormed everyone’s house, except for there’s. She’s staying there with a few of the neighbors that made it, they’re Jews. Oz told her that she shouldn’t be doing that, he argued with her for a few minutes, and then apologized. He said he understood why she did and that if it were him, he’d do the same, but it is dangerous. Hitler turned the town near the beach into a concentration camp. He does random searches of houses and allows his troops to pillage and brutally beat and other such things to whomever. The radio said that U.S. troops were moving in to stall and eventually stop Hitler. Scientists and Psychologists, scholars and lawyers all gathered at a conference in Washington D.C. to discuss what should be done. Oz turned to us and said “they’re searching our house..”. he put the phone on speaker so we could hear, Marie was talking innocently to the troops, “here’s the kitchen, would you like some coffee?” we heard a crash “No!” the accent was heavy “ who are they?”
“They’re some friends, they wanted to stay here until things calmed down.”
“Why do they wear the star of David around their neck?”
“It’s just a fad, a trend, you know kids..” she chuckled.
She yelled and we heard a thud. He had hit her. The family staying there had started screaming, and praying. The guards were throwing them around and yelling at them to shut up. We heard a heavy breathing, the Marie said “ Baby I love you, Girls I love you too” we heard a piece of paper slide across the floor, “Madeline, you’re an amazing writer” she must have found one of my pieces about the garden I dropped on the way out. Oz whispered, “I love you too” as he heard her scream and the screen door slam shut.
I am done writing for a while. Oz needs comfort.
The room is dark and damp. The cold steel beneath me is numbing, I can feel myself fading, the shackles seem to lift away, and I find myself keeping time with the rhythmic beating of my heart. My green eyes pierce through the black, and my golden waves dance in the thread of sunlight that snuck between the cracks of the poorly constructed prison they’re holding me in. I close my eyes and hear yelling, and chanting, marching. “Hail Hitler” and thunderous hands, only imbeciles would believe him. I never thought it would come this. But I’m leaving you with this scrap of paper I found under my table when they took me in the name of “justice”. I was sheltering my neighbors, who happened to be Jews, and until today that never mattered. This man, this monster will be stopped, soon. I squeeze my lids tightly together the noise fades, and I hear running, and English, American troops, Hitler’s demise. Tighter, I see a garden filled with every flower known to man, shaded in every color, trees of every shape and size. In the center was a fountain, engraved with angels; its water was as clear as crystals and cool as ice. I hear girls laughing behind me; I turn and see Madeline and Rachel running throughout the labyrinth of tulips and pansies, peony’s and daffodils. Following close behind are her parent’s, smiling and holding hands, the girls run to them and grabs their hands. They lead them to a small pond, surrounded by shrubbery, they stop and look at me, they smile wide and run in my direction Madeline grabs my hand and Rachel reaches past me. Oz strolls to my side and grabs my free hand. We all stand together and as a loud crash sounds from in front of me and Hitler starts yelling we take our first steps into the pond, and as the guards shake and prod me we take our second steps and submerge into the clear sanctuary, and as the room is stormed by American troops, Hitler turns and injects my arm with poison and we take our final step.
I don’t know what is real.
I open my eyes and the room is white, and I’m laying down. My head is throbbing and I’m attached to an IV. The nurse comes in and smiles at my consciousness. “You have visitors.”
Oz runs in with the girls at his side. I never thought it would come to this.