Across the River

By
I still remember that night. I still have dreams about that night. The year was 1940, and the German Nazis had already invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland. I was only six years old when my mother, my biological mother, rushed me out of our peaceful house in the middle of the night. Before we left, my father kissed my forehead and said, “I love you Coco, be safe.” He then turned to my mother and said breathlessly, “Annette, the river, they’ll be waiting by the river.”

The only sound to be heard then in the silence of the night was the shuffling of our feet and the whispering of the wind. My mother would not answer any of my myriad questions; instead she quieted me and seemed afraid that someone would see or hear us in the deserted dark street. As we reached the overpass of the river, my mother pulled me closer to her. Instead of walking on the bridge, she brought me to the foot of the bridge, where someone seemed to be waiting for us. They called out to us…

“Coco! Coco! Nicolette! Uh, hello? Earth to Coco, come in, come in,” I snapped out of my daydream to see my best friend Lindsey waving her hand in my face. The image of my mother’s anxious face vanished and I returned to 1950. “It’s time to go already. Grab your books and I’ll meet you at your locker.”
~~~

That night I had a dream. It was sad… yet beautiful. I dreamt of my mother and my father, in France, with a child. A child who seemed to be their daughter, and yet, she was not me. She was about nine years old, with my father’s nose and my mother’s stunning blue eyes. They were sitting around a table, laughing, and celebrating a holiday which looked like Christmas. I suddenly appeared in the room, and they all stared at me with a who-are-you look. I opened my mouth to speak, but my voice came out as a whisper. “It’s me… Your daughter… Coco… Remember?” My parents’ faces changed from questioning and shock to understanding and sympathy. My mother spoke first. “I’m sorry, dear, you must have the wrong house. You see, this is our daughter.” I backed out of the room, at first mumbling to myself, “No no no no no no… This can’t be true… NOOOOOOO!”

I awoke with a start, with tears in my eyes. It was 3:11 a.m., but I made a promise to myself to return to France and find my birth parents. “I will find them,” I said to myself. “I won’t let them forget me.”
~~~

The next day was Saturday, and Saturday meant that I did not have to go to school and endure the loneliness I felt of having one friend. I decided to go to the public library and begin my research of France in 1940 and why my parents shipped me to America without my consent in the first place. It turns out that Hitler had already invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland, and Great Britain and France both declared war on Germany. Because my family is Jewish, I would have been persecuted and eventually killed, had I stayed in France. After reading the death toll of the persecuted Jews, my heart dropped- had my parents survived?
~~~

I love my adoptive parents, don’t get me wrong. Joanne and Jonathan Morrison were my parents’ business partners who took care of the overseas shipping, especially to and from the United States. They agreed to bring me to the United States to live with them, during the duration of Hitler’s reign and World War II. I am forever in debt to them for their kindness and open-heartedness. Joanne, whom I’ve called “Jojo” ever since they adopted me, has been very accommodating and understanding. She also bakes the best snicker doodles and brownies from scratch. Jonathan, on the other hand, is barely home because he travels a lot for business, and is sometimes gone for months at a time. Jojo and Jonathan have never taken me back to France to visit my parents or my hometown. I’ve never asked either, but lately, I’ve been itching to see my real home.
~~~

Jojo and I got into an argument the other day. It wasn’t a typical argument about what I wanted to wear or where I wanted to go; this time it was more serious. I asked her nicely if I could go to the upcoming school dance, and she replied with a curt “no”. When I asked her why, she exploded into a multitude of excuses, and towards the end, they were irrelevant and made no sense. Then, something slipped from my mouth I knew I would regret after I said it. I yelled “You’re not my real mother!” and Jojo’s face instantly went from angry to hurt. I immediately felt guilty and apologized but the damage had already been done.
~~~

The week after our argument, Jojo surprised me. She called me over to her bedroom and I thought “This is it. She’s going to kick me out and put me into a foster home”. I felt so bad and I cursed myself for ever deciding to open my mouth. I was about to cry when Jojo placed three airplane tickets in my hand. I sniffled and looked up at my mother’s smiling face with a questioning glance and then looked back down at the tickets in my hand. “Air France, Departing June 18, 1950” was all I read before tears welled up in my eyes- this time, tears of joy.





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WingWing said...
Mar. 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm
Wow, I love this.
 
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