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The Orphan Train
Looking out the window, we could not see anything but a white cloud. The faster we went, the more confused I got as to where we were going. All I knew was that I was on a hot, crowded train where everyone was packed in like sardines. Lice were everywhere, the smell of body waste was everywhere. I made many friends which I considered most, my family. I have never met my real family before. I was not told how much longer we would be traveling to the next stop. Sometimes it would be days, other days just hours, but it was so unpredictable. We would stop in the middle of the night and some kids would miss out on getting adopted because they would not wake up. I would always make sure I never really fell asleep so that does not happen to me.
The competition of trying to get adopted was unreal. We would get in fistfights trying to be the first out of the train. The one thing that we all have in common is that we all just want stability and love. At this point, most of us do not have an education or a desire to want to learn. I do not like to say It, but we have basically given up and lost all hope to have that roof over there head and all the food they want to eat. I am so malnourished because of the lack of food we are getting. They only give us a piece of bread and warm milk for each meal. The stench of dead bodies hovered due to the scattered bodies all over the train. The gruesome smell never left. It would be so cold that if they opened the door to the train car we would all freeze, so fresh air was not an option.
“Caroline, close that door!” I said furiously.
“Josie, do NOT! tell me what to do.” Caroline yelled back.
Yep, my name is Josie. I have been in the system for eleven years, and I am only thirteen years old. My parents left me in this strange orphanage in Lithuania, where we lived. Not all the orphanages are like these. Why did they choose this one? I do not know and never will.
“I am sorry. We just can’t have that door open anymore. Cambria is shivering, and she is not well.” Being the better person I am, I apologized.
“Well, I wasn’t feeling good myself, just needed like five minutes of fresh air, something we don’t get that often!” Caroline screamed back in rage.
“Okay, I get it, but Cambria is not even one, and she’s sick. She can’t have that cold to make it worse.” I exclaimed.
“Everyone out!” the sergeant screamed.
Everyone was scared and wondering what was happening because this was not like any other routine stop. They were shouting and pushing us towards the gate. All I saw was a small building, made of wood, not constructed well. Were we leaving this train? I did not know but did not worry because I knew I would find out soon enough. We all filed into a building where we were checked out by these mean nurse people. They poked and probed at us. If we had lice, we had to go in line two, and if we did not, we had to go in line one.
I was finally my turn to go up. I was so nervous. The smell around me was making me nauseous. I was praying I did not have lice because I am sure they would get quarantined or released from being able to be adopted. They took my heart rate and my blood then started to look at my head, making funny noises, and released me to go to line one. Oh, how I had never been so relieved. I started to walk to line one and they yelled back at me.
“Wait, Josie, you have to go to line two.” the nurse exclaimed
My stomach has never felt so sick before. I stood right there in shock, then I dropped to the ground. Nurses ran to me to pick me up and quickly brought me to the beds to see why I fainted.
“Josie, Josie?!” the nurse demanded.
“Yes? Where am I?” I said confused.
“You are at the Soviet’s base camp,” the old lady nurse exclaimed.
“What? Why?” I screamed.
“All of you orphans have been taken by the Soviet Union,” said the nurse.
Soldiers hovered around me, they were the Soviet Union was going around and raiding peoples houses because they can do what they want. I found out we were in Russia and the Soviets were going into everyone’s houses and burning them down. There were many guards everywhere. They were armed and scary. I never knew why we were a part of this because we were on a train passing through. Later on, I found out that they wanted us to bring in the enemies.
“Everyone line up!” the creepy looking man with the beard shouted.
“What are we doing?” I whispered to Caroline.
“I do not know, but I am scared. what if we are going to get in trouble?” she whispered back, scared.
“Why would we get in trouble? We were not doing anything wrong just following directions,” I whispered.
“I do not know; these soldiers seem mean. I do not want to say this but I wish we were back on the train again,” Caroline said in uncertainty.
“Me too, I felt safer on the train, but at the same time, maybe they will find us homes,” I said with a positive attitude.
The soldiers kept yelling at us to do things. We were all scared. Cambria was crying while I was holding her. The soldier kept yelling for her to stop, but I could not make her stop. As he kept yelling, I got more and more scared. Where are they going to take her away? I didn’t know, I decided it was best to just hold her mouth and hope she didn’t keep screaming. We started walking towards this big tent. They told us all to take our shoes and clothes off. New clothes? Boy, was I excited! Then we find out that they were keeping us in these concentration camps. They were cold, gross, and everyone there was mean, being at these made me miss those long gross train cars. We were in a time when equality is starting to show. At this point, the equality that we have evolved to is thrown out. I saw it right away. The soldiers were treating us badly just because we are girls. The boys went one way, and the girls went the other. I immediately thought that we were going to be hurt, then they asked us to bake and cook all the food for the soldiers. For me, it was not too bad because I love to bake and cook, but for others, it was a struggle to do any of it.
“You, over there, bake me an apple pie quickly,” the soldier demanded
“Me?” I replied in a scared tone.
“Yes, you! Who do you think I would be talking to?” He yelled even louder.
“I do not know. I just thought maybe you could be talking to someone else. I did not want to start baking and then you tell me that I was not the one who was supposed to be baking.” I quickly started to quiet down because I realized I should not talk back.
Pointing to Caroline and Cambria, he threatens me.
“Do not talk to me like that. If you do that again, you will get in trouble and not see your friend over here,” he said with an angry look on his face.
I got so scared. So, I decided I really needed to get the pie right and make it the best it could be, so I used my grandma’s special recipe. I baked it in record time, less than an hour and it was amazing. The soldiers loved it, so much they kept making me make more. I was becoming so exhausted my immune system was really weak. I caught the flu and was very sick. All I wanted was a family, and it has been two months since they have stopped this train. I do not see much hope for a family anymore. I have given up. Right as I told them I didn’t want any more medicine or help from the doctors, they immediately transported me on a bus to another orphanage where there was a hospital inside. I was scared I left all those people in that camp while I was getting help, how could I do that? Then I thought to myself, if I get better I can get people to help and free the others, and that was exactly what I was going to do.
“Hello Sweetie, how are you doing today?” this lady says right on my face.
“I am doing a little better, thank you!” I said in a promising voice.
“Do you feel like you want us to help you again?” she asked back
“Yes, I do want help now, I don’t know what got into my mind, I was feeling helpless and I couldn’t do it anymore. The sickness wasn’t improving so I figured that would’ve been best for me.” I tried to make it believable.
“Yes, that happens a lot, I get it, it is hard sometimes. I do have good news though some family wants to meet you and maybe adopt you!” she said in excitement!
“Really? Me? You sure?” I said in such surprise
“Yes, tomorrow at nine o’clock they will be coming to visit,” she said excitedly.
As tomorrow comes around I was so excited, even though I felt so weak I got up and showered, but on my nicest outfit and just waited. This was it, this is the time I might get adopted and who would ever think to adopt a sick child? I don’t know why they would but I have to act as normal as possible so they will adopt me.
“Hello, Josie?” this lady wearing a floppy hat said.
“Yes, Madame that’s me,” I said the nicest and normal way possible.
As soon as I said that she immediately started to walk around me and observe how I was sitting and how I smelt and just how I looked in general. I started to feel uncomfortable when she started to come closer. She then quickly backed away and called the headmaster of the orphanage over and said to her.
“I would like to adopt her please,” she said in a peculiar voice.
“I was so thrilled, but a little confused because she never asked me any other question except for my name, we don’t know each other at all,” I mumbled to myself.
I got more and more nervous as she started to fill out paperwork, then I heard something reassuring about her. That was she was a teacher, so she must be good with kids and most appreciate them unlike most. I was getting so excited because I might actually have a family now. I was hoping for siblings, a couple actually, that would be so fun. We walked out together and she asked me if I liked shopping and I was immediately so excited to live with her because she was living the life I have never lived before. I told her about my friends at the camp and she quickly calls the police about them and they…