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Lonely Exile

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My name is Adrienne Mesnil, like the street, in Paris. I’m eight. I’ve lived in the US for three years now. Even though it’s strange because I am alone, and in a place with a different culture I’m grateful. I’m grateful mommy and daddy saved my life and sacrificed theirs to take me here. I’m learning English fast and writing it almost perfectly. Sometimes I’m happy because I have some friends too, and because I got out of France in time before everything happened. But sometimes I get real sad because I miss mommy and daddy, I never had a brother, and I don’t want all of my friends from France to end up in a camp with Hitler the bad guy with the mustache that commands all of those soldiers dressed in matching suits. Back in France, when things were still a little safer I used to go walking to school with Danielle, my best friend, and mommy. And when we turned the left corner down the block that was in our houses’ street there was always a big, tall, German soldier; he had blond hair and the bluest, most intimidating eyes I have ever seen. When we turned that corner mommy used to tell us to stop the chatter and be quite while we passed him, we did, then we started talking again. At the time I didn’t know why this happened but now I understand perfectly because Sister Barbara has explained everything. Now I want to write it because sister Barbara told me that I wasn’t going to understand everything because I was only eight years old, so if I write it I might read it in the future, and I won’t forget, and if I have to fix something, I will.

It was June 18 1940 the day mommy and daddy told me to pack our bags because we were leaving France. We had been helping Danielle’s family because the mean Nazi Soldiers had closed their shop and they didn’t have money. But I hadn’t seen the family since the beginning of June, I didn’t really know what had happened, and when I asked mommy she said she would tell me when I was more grown up. But Sister Barbara explained that Danielle’s family was Jewish, like she was, and that Hitler and his soldiers didn’t like them, so he sent them to concentration camps to die and work for them. Danielle’s father once lived in Germany and they were lucky enough to escape to France. But after that France allied with Germany, that’s why the rations were controlled. After France declared war to Germany, the Jewish fled to other places and were persecuted, then many things started going wrong in France. Then I asked Sister Barbara if she knew were Danielle was, she said she didn’t know. I’m not as stupid or as babyish to not see the sadness behind Sister Barbara’s eyes when she answered my question, I wanted to ask her what was wrong, but deep down I knew the answer. And I was too scared to hear it aloud.

After I packed up that day at night, only taking the most necessary things mommy and daddy drove very far and fast to the forest…. I fell asleep during the long drive. Then when I woke up it was already morning. Mommy and daddy told me we were going to stay in Aunt Marge’s house for today. I asked them why? They told me that in Paris we were in Danger and that we had to leave for a while. I didn’t panic, and did what they told me. When I was in Aunt Marge’s, she wasn’t there; neither were my cousins or uncle. I asked mommy why, she told me they were on vacation elsewhere, like us. When I went to sleep I realized they were very strange and I wanted to find out because I felt mommy and daddy weren’t telling me the truth… What I didn’t know was that mommy and daddy were planning our escape from France and they didn’t want me involved so they hid everything from me, and they were very nervous.
The next day mommy woke me up very early and told me we were leaving I wanted to know why, and I wanted to ask her everything I wanted to know, but as soon as she put me in the car I fell asleep again because it was very early. When daddy finished driving and turned off the car I woke up again, and I noticed we were close to the sea and mommy started talking to me in a very serious way, never in my short life did I remember her talking to me like that. So I listened. She said “Adrienne honey, we are at the coast because people in France are in danger now” when she said that I was going to ask her if that was why Danielle was missing but before I finishes the sentence she shushed me and put her finger in my lips. Then she kept telling me “we are going to another country, a woman that looks like mommy, her name is Sophie, will receive you, when she receives you she is going to take you to an undercover airport so that you can leave to the US” I wanted to tell her she had to go with me to that US place, I wasn’t going alone, but she talked very fast and kept shushing me. I got mad, then she said that I should say goodbye to daddy. And I asked her why? She told me that we weren’t going to see daddy in a long time. Then I started getting scared and I started crying. Why do I have to leave daddy? Was I ever going to see Aunt Marge again? And my cousins, were where they? I didn’t know… but I had to say goodbye to daddy. I said “bye daddy, I hope to see you soon, I love you so much, please don’t make us leave!” then he answered “I promise I will see you very soon, please don’t worry” then he hugged me, and I felt very sad, and I started crying, “Don’t cry” he said. And I listened. Then mommy took her bag, said goodbye to daddy too, and carried me while turning around to walk to another part of the shore. When she turned around I waved good bye to daddy from her back, and looked at him for the last time, this is the last picture I have from him in my head, and it makes me cry every time I remember it.

When mommy finished walking she put me down, then I saw she was talking to a grumpy looking man on a boat, she gave him some money, and we went inside. After the 2 hour ride, where I didn’t dare talk to mammy because the man looked scary, we arrived to another place’s beach. Then, mommy took me down of her lap, and gave the man more money. Then we walked through the shallow water into the sand.

But the man called mommy screaming and he said “You stay with me!” to mommy, and he finished counting the money and said “it’s not enough!” Then I got very scared and started crying, and telling mommy to not leave. She told me to not get scared with a scared face, and she told me she had to leave because if she didn’t the man would get both of them, and would turn them in. Then I screamed… she said that I should run, run and run to the end of the beach and then Sophie would be there. I stopped crying and nodded, then I told mommy, without really knowing why ‘thank you’, than I hugged her and kissed her goodbye; and I ran, ran, ran till I couldn’t breath until I reached the end of the beach. When I saw a woman that looked like mommy I went to talk to her, she asked me if I was Adrienne and I nodded. Then she carried me and walked with me to her car. In her car there was a boy and she told me he was Fred, his son. She drove me to a dark place, because it was already night, where she told me “this is the undercover airport your mommy told you about, we will go to the US in these planes”. It made me happy to have accomplished what mommy told me.

Sophie, Fred, and I, arrived to the US. Sophie told me she had to leave me were daddy had said she had to leave me, Sister Barbara’s orphanage because they would rescue me soon. This made me sad because Sophie was a nice woman that had accompanied me through that scary journey. When I told this to Sister Barbara she told me this trying to finish the sad discussion “Adrienne, don’t worry I’m sure someday you will see mommy and daddy again” Then I told her I hated Hitler, and she looked deeply into my green eyes. And I asked if she knew what that guy had done to mommy she said “/I do not know, if I did I would tell you”.

I hope some day I see mommy and daddy, like Barbara said. I hope some day the war ends, and the hideous, stupid Hitler goes away. And I dream that I can have my best friend back. I hope Danielle’s family hasn’t ended up in one of those horrible concentration camps. And I’m happy I’m with Sister Barbara, and not in France, because even if I love Paris I know I was in danger. Thank god I had to parents that cared for me and decided to give themselves up so that I could have a happy life.



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