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Everything was cold that day. The falling snow, the metal bench outside the train station, the yellow star on my coat, everything was cold. The only warm thing in my atmosphere was Dorrika’s little pink hand. Her fingers were tightly intertwined with my own. Despite the occasion, my little sister looked as radiant as ever. Her coffee-colored hair was plaited into two French braids on either side of her head and her little black shoes, which she had polished that morning with a silver cloth, clicked daintily with each advance she made toward the train.
“Tell me again why we are going on this train?” Dorrika asked as we wormed our way through the crowd of desolate faces. “Winter vacation hasn’t begun yet.”
I had to look away when I answered. The angelic innocence in Dorrika’s eyes nearly brought me to tears. If we ever made it back to this place, I was almost certain that the innocence would be gone by then.
“We’re going because the man who’s in charge of our country has decided that he doesn’t want us here anymore.”
“Is he sort of like the king? The king of Germany?”
I hesitated. “Yes… I guess you could call him the king.”
Dorrika’s delicate eyebrows knit together in her variation of a scowl. “But why does the king not want us here? We didn’t do anything bad.”
I bit my lip. How was I supposed to sensitively explain the policies of Adolph Hitler to a seven year old?
“He doesn’t seem to think we’re as good as him because we’re Jewish,” I explained. “That’s why we have to wear the stars, remember?”
Dorrika nodded slowly, and I hoped that the conversation was over. But I should’ve known that my inquisitive sister wouldn’t be satisfied yet.
“Will the king of Poland make us leave too?” She asked as she boarded the train. We both flinched when the uniformed official directing traffic swore at the woman behind us and smacked her across the face. I hustled Dorrika to our seat before she could see the blood on the woman’s face. When we were seated, I finally answered.
“I’m afraid that the… um, king of Poland is the same one that controls Germany. He and his army control a lot of countries, now.”
Dorrika frowned and rested her chin on her fist. I let her have the seat by the window because I knew she’d like that. Now I was wondering if the things we would pass by were things I wanted her to see. “That’s not fair. I don’t like the king.”
“I know it’s not fair,” I said, wrapping my arm around her shoulders. She seemed so small and so breakable, like a little porcelain doll. “But we can’t let him scare us. He wants us to be afraid so he’ll have control over us, so if you’re brave, he won’t be able to hurt you.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“I know,” I sighed. “Neither do I.”