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Ticking Through Time
I am safe.
But you are not.
My location, Russia. Yours, Poland. Year, 1939.
I belong to a Russian man, barely wealthy enough to afford a possession like me.
You belong to no one.
But if you don’t hurry,
You will belong to them.
Move quick, time is ticking.
Your destination, here, in Russia.
They gave you ten days. Ten days to leave your valuables, your home, and your life all behind. I know this because you have told the story many times, with me, there, in your vest pocket. As tragic as it is to walk away from everything you know, you have no other choice. You have a wife and two wonderful sons to care for. You couldn’t stay in Poland without expecting to be captured. Captured and then worked to death. Captured and then starved to death. Captured and then burned to death. You were not safe in Poland. You informed your family that you must leave at once.
Pick up the pace, no time to wait.
Time’s running out. You must get to that gate. You must get to that gate before they decide they already let out too many Jews. You bundled up your sons quickly in the thickest layers possible. Your wife was in the other room getting ready. She returned back, ready to say the final goodbye, cradling her grandmother’s diamonds in her hands. It breaks your heart, but you tell her she can’t. She can’t bring anything else along other than herself. She cried and refused, but you told it like it is. If they caught her with the jewelry, they wouldn’t allow us to depart from the country. She vanished into the back room, and then returned minutes later without any diamonds. Her tears were now gone. You kissed her on the cheek and gave her hand a tight squeeze. Finally, the four of you walked out of your house. Together. Hand in hand, you took one last look. And then turned around as you began your journey to me.
She didn’t tell you at the time, but when she disappeared into that back room for those few, short moments, she took out her sewing kit. She tore apart the seam in the lining of her fur coat, and snuck the diamonds inside. Once they were carefully tucked away, she sewed the lining back up as if it was never even opened in the first place.
Waiting, waiting, waiting, but no time to wait.
You’re next in line to reach the gate. You have seen people turned away in tears. Maybe it was because they were caught trying to smuggle over their possessions. Or maybe it was simply because the Nazis at the gate thought they looked too Jewish. You held your oldest son, Abraham, tightly in front of you. Now it’s your turn. You stepped together as you moved towards the gate. They took a good look at him, and then a good look at you. They stare at your wife, and then turned to see your youngest son, Joseph. Once again, they looked at Abraham. They see his bright blue eyes and touched his dirty blonde hair. No one moved. No one spoke. And for the next few moments, you heard nothing else, besides the scream of silence.
Time stopped, lingering in the air.
Finally, they chuckled. You slide your sweaty fingers together in anticipation. They tell you how impossible it was for you to be a Jewish family. Jews are not handsome, with blonde hair and blue eyes. They laughed out loud once more and let you and your family through the gate. No questions asked. And just like that, you’re free. You say it was a miracle, but I’m convinced it was simply fate. Like I said, you were my destiny.
You crossed the gate and climbed inside a horse-and-buggy wagon that took you to your new home. The wagon was so crowded, with barely enough room to breathe, but that didn’t matter. All that mattered was that you had escaped, escaped from what would someday be known as one of the worst genocides in history.
Sigh of relief, you finally have time to breath.
With each second that goes by, you are getting closer and closer to me. You have finally reached Russia, and this is when your wife decided to tell you about the diamonds. If it was any other point in time, you would have probably been furious at the amount of danger she could have put your family in. But not now. Now, you were just glad to be safe. And now, you were thrilled because you would have money to start over and begin your new life.
You sold the diamonds and found out they were worth a lot more than you expected. Once again, you said it was a miracle, but I’m still stuck on destiny. You were able to buy a small home to live in and food for your family, with still some money left over. And with that money, you wanted to buy something special. Something with significance.
This is when you reached your destiny.
For once, time is on your side.
You were walking along the streets and came across a Russian man, begging on his knees. He said he was in desperate need of food, but had no money to afford it. He offered to sell you anything he has on him and emptied his pockets. A sketched picture of his wife, a silver chain, an empty wallet, and me. You picked me up and smile. How perfectly I would fit in your empty vest pocket. You tell the man you’ll take me and hand him a couple of coins.
Like I said, I was your destiny.
It was your destiny to reach me and my brass hands as they tick through your life.
And I have been there for you,
In your little vest pocket,
All this time.