I’m paralyzed with fright waiting, just waiting, for my one and only hope to survive. The gruff old man at my side does little to ease my agitation. During the past week I’d been hiding under the floorboards of his home, he had said little. At precisely eleven o’clock, he seizes my arm and whispers, “Get yourself ready boy.” He swings his lantern three times, and slowly the schooner appears. Hastily, he shoves me aboard, and without even a goodbye, the boat is off. The Germans could be anywhere, and if they spot the ancient pirate ship, we will be blown to bits in seconds. Scanning the other passengers, I notice a few exhausted mothers with their children, sleeping in their laps. They motion me closer and murmur, “You don’t think they saw us, do you?” I vigorously shake my head no, and they wearily smile and say, “Of course not, we’re perfectly safe.” Feeling somewhat solaced by their presence, I stretch out on the wooden planks of the ship, and it seems almost instantaneously I am asleep. The next thing I know a giant explosion rips through my slumber and I’m catapulted several feet into the air. Feeling the blood drip from my face, I stare in horror at a large German ship filled to the brim with soldiers, the hatred plainly visible on their faces. I stealthily slip to the stern, realizing it’s my only chance of escape. With barely a splash, I dive into the impossibly cold water, hoping that if I die it’s mercifully quick.
November 3, 2011