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The Wishing Well
When I got the idea for this book, I had just learned about the Holocaust, and I read many books about it. The main book that inspired me was The Devil's Arithmetic. So my friend and I planned this all out, and we began to write it together. So i have to give half the credit to my friend, Hannah. We alternated between chapters, so if you see you see a difference in writing ability, that's why. I hope you enjoy!
“Come on, Paula, Anna! We have to get to the fort before the enemy attacks!” Bruno was running through the backyard with his two sisters trailing behind him. They were all laughing, because they loved playing imaginary war, and they couldn’t contain the bubbling excitement of having the wind blowing in their ears and the fast beating of their hearts.
“Hold up, Bruno! You’re running too fast!” Bruno could hear his youngest sister, Anna yell to him. He stopped running and stood, crouching over with his hands on his knees, breathing deeply.
“Okay, Anna! I’ll wait just a little bit.” He panted. Paula jogged up to him and stood with him waiting for Anna to catch up. Bruno watched as his little sister waddled over in the tall grass, even though she is 7 years old. He couldn’t help but smile.
“Thank you Bruno and Paula for waiting for me,” she said politely, “I had to stop running and tie my shoe. And then I had to start running again. And you know how slow I am when I run.” Anna sat down in the grass and picked a dandelion. She twirled it in her fingers for a little while.
“I think that’s the longest break we should get. The enemy will surely be close now. Come on! Let’s get to our fort!” Bruno, Paula, and Anna started running again. Anna screamed a fun, yet, frightened scream.
“The enemy is approaching! The enemy is approaching! AAHHH!”
“Good thing our fort is in sight! Quick! Get inside!” Bruno said while he stopped running and pointed to the fort which lay just at the entrance to the forest. It was a sad fort. It was just a hut made of wood that was to the point of rotting. It wasn’t in the best shape, and the paint on it which was once a dark green was chipping off. But it was the best thing the kids had.
Then Bruno turned around to face “The Enemy”. He saw Papa running towards them with his fake, fun growl. But Bruno had time to get inside the fort himself before Papa came.
So Bruno turned back around and ran for the fort. When he got inside, he found Paula and Anna hiding in the shadow of the corner, trying to contain their laughter. Bruno put his finger to his mouth and shushed them. He went in the corner himself and started to giggle too.
“Shhh! He’ll find us!” Paula giggled, “Wait. He’s coming to the door of the fort! Shh!”
Then Papa burst through the door with more of his fake, fun growls. “Where are those kids?” He scratched his head and looked around. The kids silently giggled. Although Papa knew exactly where they were, he still pretended to be unaware.
Bruno held up three fingers and whispered, “On three. One,” he put down one finger, “Two,” He put down another, “THREE! CHARGE!”
The kids leapt out from their hiding place and held up finger guns. Papa acted surprised.
“Bang! Bang! Bang!” Bruno said.
“Pow! Pow! Pow!” Paula said.
“Pew! Pew! Pew!” Anna said.
Papa clutched his chest and fell to the floor, acting dead. His eyes were closed. Then the three kids went over to him, laughing. “We got you, Papa! We got you!” Papa opened his eyes and smiled. Then he got up and picked up Anna. He put his mouth to her belly and blew, making a funny sound. Anna started to laugh really hard.
“That tickles!” she said. Papa put her down. Then they all walked out the door of the fort with smiles on their faces.
“Now we got to get you kids home. It’s almost bed-time! Can you believe that? Time sure does fly! Doesn’t it Anna?
“Yes, Papa. It does . . . Papa! Will you give me a piggy-back-ride home? Please?” Anna begged.
“Alright my little flower!” so Papa picked her up and put her on his back. They all walked home together and all told the story of the attack from their own points of view. Bruno talked with Papa and his sisters about how his birthday was in about two months, but he was lost in different thought the whole way back home. He was thinking about how his sisters loved this game. He was thinking about how he grew out of it, but played it with his sisters to make them feel better. But then he thought of how he still had lots of fun and laughed a lot in the game, because his sisters were so fun, and their laughs were like treasure to him. Bruno loved his family. He carried a smile all the way back home, and he went to sleep with the smile. He will never forget the evening of July 1st, 1939.
Bruno felt himself being shaken awake. It wasn't even light out- why was he being woken so early. Slowly, he opened his eyes and saw Anna and Paula staring at him.
"What is it?" he mumbled softly.
"Anna found a frog!" Paula whispered excitedly. Bruno sat up in his bed. This was news. He pulled on his shoes.
"Well, what are we waiting for?" he asked. The girls cheered, and they ran outside.
"Just out of curiosity, Anna," Paula panted, "how did you even find the frog?" Anna shrugged and replied, "I saw him outside my window."
She stopped suddenly and crouched down.
"There he is!" she shouted. Bruno quickly shushed her. The frog was, in fact, a toad, a brown one, sitting silently in the grass.
"He's so cute..." Paula breathed. She reached out to grab it and it hopped away.
"Somebody get him!" Anna screamed. She scrambled over to where the toad had landed, but he kept hopping away from her.
"Let's get him!" Bruno said. The three kids chased the toad around the yard until they came to the entrance of the small forest. Anna stopped.
"I don't want to go in there..." she said softly, her voice trailing off. Bruno grabbed her hand.
"We'll walk in together," he said, smiling. Anna took a deep breath, and the children walked into the woods.
"Do you see him?" Anna asked. Paula pointed.
"There! By that well!" The toad was, indeed, sitting by a small well, hidden behind a few dead branches.
"Somebody grab him!" Paula shrieked. As if on cue, the toad hopped into the well. Anna slumped down and started to cry.
"Now we'll never get him," she sobbed. Bruno picked her up and placed her into the bucket. She immediately giggled.
"Bruno, what are you doing?" Paula asked. Bruno didn’t answer. He grabbed the crank and twisted it downward, lowering Anna into the well.
"Do you see him?" he shouted down. There was no reply. "Anna? Can you hear us?"
"Yeah, I can hear you," Anna's small voice replied. "There's a big tunnel down here! But I don't see the toad."
Paula slapped Bruno's shoulder.
"Bring her back up!" she demanded. Bruno obeyed. He twisted the crank, pulling Anna up.
"We could use the tunnel as our new fort!" she said excitedly.
"Yeah! But we just need to make sure the Enemy doesn't find us," Paula added. The girls shrieked with laughter.
Anna looked up at Bruno. “Bruno? Is that a wishing well?”
Bruno nodded. “I suppose so. Next time we can bring a coin and make a wish.” The girls both started to jump up and down. Then Bruno grabbed their hands as they walked back to the house. He turned around to look at the well, and what he saw was a large yellow star painted onto the stones.
Bruno woke up the next morning to his family sitting at the table, eating breakfast like usual. But he could see in Paula’s and Anna’s eyes that they were eager to get back to the well and explore. He could also see by the look of their faces that they were trying not to tell Mama or Papa about it. So he winked at them to let them know that they wouldn’t have to wait much longer until they can leave for the well.
“Good morning, Bruno. It’s nice to see you up earlier than usual,” Mama said. Bruno just smiled. Papa was drinking his coffee, Paula and Anna were playing rock, paper, scissors, and Mama was buttering her toast. Typical.
Bruno walked over to the cabinets and took out a bowl, a plate, a fork, and a glass. Then he went to the stove, shoveled scrambled eggs onto his plate, and sat down at the table. Mama passed him the bowl of fruit and the plate of toast. Bruno scooped fruit into his bowl and took a piece of toast.
“Would you like some coffee, Bruno?” Papa asked. Bruno put down his fork and stared at Papa, amazed. He was never allowed to have coffee.
“Aren’t I not supposed to . . .?”
“Do you want some?” Papa said firmly, “or not?” Bruno just stared at him with an open mouth. “Yes, I know that you know that I don’t want you to have coffee, even though you always really want to have it,” Papa took a deep breath, “but you’re almost thirteen, Bruno! You’re almost in your teen years! So Mama and I thought that you can start drinking coffee early. So . . . would you like a cup?”
“Oh Papa! Mama! I’d love a cup of coffee!” Bruno jumped with excitement.
“Why does he get coffee?” Paula pouted.
“Yeah! Why does he?” Anna folded her arms and put on a pouty face.
“Paula! Anna! I do not want to hear any of that! Your brother is almost thirteen so he gets his first cup today. But if it’s alright with Bruno,” Papa glanced at Bruno and winked, “You can have a sip or two from his cup.”
“That’s alright with me,” Bruno winked at Papa.
After Bruno had breakfast, he, Paula, and Anna raced outside and found their way to the wishing well.
“By the way, what were you two doing rock, paper, scissors for this time?” Bruno asked.
“Oh, we were doing it for who was going to go down into the well first.” Paula answered as they approached the well.
“So who won?”
“I did,” Anna said, “but I let Paula go in because I did it yesterday.”
“That was very kind of you, Anna.” Bruno smiled down at the seven year old. “So, Paula. You want to go in first? Get in the bucket.”
Paula squirmed with excitement and got into the bucket which was surprisingly big.
“Oh, but wait. Get out, Paula. We have to make our wish.” Bruno reached into his pocket and took out a coin. “Okay, what should we wish for?” he asked. They sat in the grass and decided what it should be. Then they all got up, and Bruno tossed the coin into the well. Then Paula got back into the bucket.
“Don’t drop me, Bruno,” she said firmly.
“Oh, don’t worry. I wouldn’t dream of it. Now, Paula, when you get to the bottom move out of the way so that when Anna comes down she doesn’t hit you. And that goes for you, too, Anna. When you get to the bottom, move out of the way. I might be coming down faster than you.”
“We understand,” they said together. So Bruno slowly lowered Paula down by twisting the crank until she was out of sight. Then suddenly the bucket stopped moving, the chains picked up some slack, and Bruno knew that she hit the bottom of the well.
“I’m out of the bucket, Bruno!” Paula called up. Her voice echoed in the well and it sent a chill down Bruno’s spine. “And I see the frog!” she exclaimed excitedly.
Bruno twisted the crank the other way, bringing the bucket back up for Anna. She got in and he lowered her down. When she hit the ground, he pulled the bucket up and got in, himself. He was worried, because he didn’t know how he would get down without someone managing the crank. I guess I’ll just plummet down until I land. He thought. “Move out of the way!” Bruno yelled down so that he wouldn’t fall right on Anna’s or Paula’s heads. And with that, he let go and fell straight down.
He clung right onto the bucket and tried not to scream. The wind whistled in his ears as he plummeted down to the bottom. Fear shot up into him as he approached the ground, then suddenly he hit and everything went black.
“Bruno? Bruno? Are you okay? Wake up!” Bruno opened his eyes and found that he was lying on the ground in a damp, dark place. Paula and Anna were sitting around him with worried faces on. Where am I? He thought.
“Phew! I thought you were dead,” Anna said. Bruno sat up and clutched his head that was aching. Then he remembered where he was.
“Well, now that you’re up, we should start exploring. After all, we didn’t come down here to do nothing. Come on!” Paula started to run down the tunnel. Anna followed her and Bruno slowly stood and caught up to them. He reached in his pocket and pulled out his flashlight.
“There. Now we have some light,” he said.
They walked down the tunnel into a big, circular room. To Bruno’s surprise, there was no water in the well, and there, in the room, was a ladder lying on the ground. Bruno was relieved because he was starting to wonder how they would’ve gotten back up and out of the well.
Anna and Paula were running around the room shrieking with laughter at their new discovery. Then something caught Bruno’s eye.
“Look! There’s the frog! Do you still want to catch it?” he asked the girls.
“Where? Where is it, Bruno? Whe - Oh! I see it! Come on, Paula! Let’s go catch him!” Anna ran up to the frog and pounced on it with her hands. She stood up and held a squirming frog in her little hands.
“Can I hold him, Anna? Please?” Paula begged.
“Sure! Here you go!”
So they took turns holding the frog. And when it came time to go, they put the frog into the bucket and climbed the ladder. When they got to the top, they twisted the crank and pulled the bucket with the frog up.
Bruno woke on the morn of his birthday feeling content. This was rare for him; usually he was more concerned about Paula or Anna instead of himself. Nonetheless, being content felt good. Maybe it had something to do with the cup of coffee that he smelled being brewed.
He pulled on his play clothes and headed downstairs.
There was no sound or light. Was he the only one awake? It made no sense. Suddenly the lights switched on.
"Happy birthday Bruno!"
Mama, Papa, Anna, and Paula were all there, cheering for him. Without warning, they launched into song.
"Sto lat! Sto lat! Niech zyje, zyje nam..."
They finished with a dramatic flourish, making Bruno laugh. "I love you Bruno," Anna said, hugging him. Everyone piled on top of them, dissolving into a fit of giggles.
Presents were stacked on top of the breakfast table. Slowly Bruno opened each of them: a new cap, new shoes, two books, and an assortment of chocolates.
“Paula and I picked this one out for you, Bruno!" Anna squealed, pointing to a small stuffed lion.
"There is one more," Papa said, his expression grim. He pulled out a small brown box. Bruno opened it and found three yellow stars, each one on its own separate chain.
"What are they?" he asked. The star looked familiar for some reason. "Why are there three of them?" Anna asked, peering over Bruno's shoulder at the necklaces.
"Because," Mama said, "you all need to wear them. You can't take them off." Bruno passed out the chains and the three children fastened them on.
"They're so pretty," Anna breathed, fascinated.
"What are they for?" Paula asked.
Mama glanced at Papa, a worried expression on her face. Papa squeezed her hand.
Suddenly Bruno realized where he had seen the star: it was painted on the stones of the well.
From the front hall, there was a knock on the door.
Mama jumped in her seat and glanced at Papa who nodded and got up. Mama grabbed Anna and Paula’s hands and gestured to Bruno to follow them. “Bruno, come with me,” she said. They went into Bruno’s bedroom where the window faced the backyard and the forest. Paula and Anna were quiet, which was surprising, because Anna usually chatters and talks. But they could sense the tension and new they should be quiet and listen to Mama.
Mama sat them on the bed and knelt down so they were eye-level.
“Kids, you must never take these off. We have baskets of food and bottles of water while we go in hiding. You know how we celebrate Passover, and The New Year? Well, we do that because we are Jewish, and soldiers are coming to take away all the Jews,” she paused and squeezed their hands. “That’s also what these necklaces are. They are the Star of David. Mrs. Dubicki is going to hide us in the basement. We have to be absolutely silent. We can’t come out of hiding. If anything were to happen, they have an escape passage from their basement to the woods. You would have to run and hide somewhere. Do you understand?”
Anna was crying and Paula had streaks of tears down her cheeks. But they all nodded to tell her that they understood.
Mama kissed each child on the forehead and went in the kitchen to get the baskets of food and the blankets.
“Rosa,” Papa called for Mama from the front door, “Angelika’s here. She says the soldiers could be here any minute now. Are the kids ready? Are you ready?”
“Yes, we are all ready. Are you ready, Aleks? Kids, take the baskets. We are going to leave now. Be very quiet.
They all left the house and Mrs. Dubicki, their great friend and neighbor carefully lead them to her house a few houses down. They all looked around to make sure nobody was watching them. When they made it to her house they went inside and quickly walked down the stairs into the basement.
“This way,” Mrs. Dubicki lead them to a small room in which they had to squeeze to fit.
“How can we ever thank you, Angelika?” Mama said quietly with tears in her eyes. Bruno stood hugging Anna and Paula, whispering in their ears that everything was going to be alright. But he had tears streaming down his face, too.
Mrs. Dubicki folded her hands over Mama’s hands and said, “Just thank me simply with a “thank you”.” And with that she gave them a lantern, closed the door, and slid a tall dresser over the door.
The closet in Mrs. Dubicki's basement was crowded and stuffy. It was hard for Bruno to even breathe. He closed his eyes and said a quick prayer.
"Please save us," he muttered softly. He could hear banging upstairs, the closet doors rattling with each strike. Anna had fallen asleep on Papa's lap, and Mama was comforting Paula, who was silently crying into her mother's shoulder. Bruno couldn't blame her for being scared. He knew it had something to do with his religion; at least, that's what Mama and Papa had talked about. Still, the whole thing shocked him.
Suddenly he heard strange voices coming from upstairs.
"Open up! It's the police!"
The police were here? Bruno started breathing heavily. Mama placed a cool hand on the back of his neck in an attempt to calm him down. Together, they listened to the conversation from upstairs.
"You are Angelika Dubicki, ya?" the strange voice was asking.
Bruno heard Mrs. Dubicki's shaking reply. "Yes."
"I'm afraid you'll have to come with us, ma'am. And we're going to need to check your basement."
That did it. Bruno turned and vomited in the nearest corner. Paula shielded her eyes.
"Mama, they're gonna find us!" Bruno whispered softly. Mama grasped Bruno's hand and nodded, with teary eyes. Bruno started sobbing and leaned into his mother's arms. He heard footsteps approaching, and knew that the soldiers would find them, and it would be the end.
"I don't have anyone hiding," Mrs. Dubicki was saying. The soldiers seemed to be ignoring her. Slowly, the footsteps approached the closet door. Bruno held his breath.
"Mrs. Dubicki, you're still going to have to come with us," one of the soldiers said. Bruno felt something tugging on his shoulder.
"Bruno!" Paula whispered. Her nose was slightly wrinkled, and her mouth was just barely open. "I'm gonna-"
Bruno's eyes widened. "Don't you dare!" he whispered. She was going to sneeze and give them away. It couldn't end like this!
Paula shoved her hand over her mouth, and Bruno lay his hand on hers-
The sneeze couldn't have been any louder.
In a matter of seconds, the cabinet was moved away from the door. A strong hand pulled Bruno out of the closet and in line with the rest of his family members.
“You will have to come with us," the soldiers were saying. Mama stood in front of Bruno, Paula, and Anna.
"Not the children!" she said, her voice rising in panic.
"Ma'am," the soldier said, "step away." Mama stood her ground.
"Mama, what are you doing?" Bruno whispered. The soldier pulled out a gun and aimed it at Mama. Paula screamed. Slowly Mama moved away from the children, and all of the Scizowksi's followed the soldiers upstairs.
~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~
It seemed like everyone was watching Bruno as he and his family were brought outside from the Dubicki's house. The soldiers had tight grips on Mama and Papa. Anna had woken up, and was in tears.
"Bruno," Paula asked, "what's going to happen to us?" Suddenly there were shouts and screams. Bruno looked up, and saw Mama running across the field. Paula's eyes widened. "Bruno, she's going to get-"
A gunshot sounded through the air. Bruno watched with horror as Mama slowly fell to her knees.
"No!" Papa yelled. He broke free and ran to Mama's side.
"Papa, no!" Bruno screamed in tears. A second gunshot sounded. "NO!" Bruno shrieked. He started to run, but Paula and Anna held him back. Papa fell to the ground next to Mama. Anna burst into tears.
Bruno screamed “NO! NO!” over and over until he stopped because his throat was raw and burning.
"They're gone," Paula whispered.
Once the soldiers had left, the children ran to their parents. Bruno grabbed Mama's hand.
"Is she still here?" Anna asked. Bruno gently touched Mama's wrist. He took a shaky breath. He couldn’t say the word. But finally he was able to choke it out.
He sunk to his knees next to Mama and Papa. Paula sat next to him, and Anna placed her hand on Bruno's shoulder. She grabbed Papa's hand and placed it on top of Mama's, and the three children sat in the field, silently sobbing.
Bruno felt a tap on his shoulder. He awoke immediately, scared, saying, “Don’t take us away!” But when he looked up at who woke him, he saw a girl about his age with an urgent expression on.
Bruno blinked and looked around. Anna and Paula were already awake, and were silently sobbing next to the place where Mama and Papa were shot. He noticed that they were gone and in their places were two stones and two patches of dirt. The stones read:
In memory of Rosa and Aleksander Scizowski,
Two loving parents and neighbors.
Then Bruno recalled the last night, where he witnessed two deaths. The deaths of his parents. He shook his head trying to forget what happened, and looked up at the girl.
“I’m Bianca, and I’m very sorry to wake you, but the soldiers are coming back, and-”
“Oh, no! The soldiers!” Bruno buried his face in his hands. “Where are we gonna go? What should we do? Where should we go? Are we going to live? What will happen if they catch us? Wh-”
“Bruno. Calm down. Everything will be fine. We made food baskets with blankets, and water. Do you know a safe place to hide?”
Bruno looked up and wiped away his tears. He sat there, rocking back and forth, thinking. Then he remembered.
“There is this one place. It’s a place in the woods that we found one day while chasing a frog. It should work pretty well.”
“Are you sure? Your lives are in danger. Are you sure it will work?”
“I’m sure. Will you come to give us food every week?” Bruno asked.
“I will try to do whatever I can to help you, Bruno. But I suggest that we get your sisters and go as soon as possible. The soldiers could be here anytime.”
So they got up, took the baskets, and headed for the woods. The whole way there, the kids held hands and huddled close to each other. They tried not to make any noise in case there were soldiers waiting to ambush, and they all held their breaths. When they got to the well, they all sighed as if it was a relief to at least get there safely.
“Bruno,” Bianca said, “Don’t leave this unless you totally need to. You could get caught. And most certainly, don’t take your sisters up. If you get caught and they ask you if anyone else is down there, tell them no. No matter what the cost is, don’t. Do you understand?”
Bruno nodded and looked down the well. He saw that the last time they were down there, they didn’t take the ladder away from the wall, so he didn’t have to go in the bucket.
“I’ll lower the baskets of food down when you get to the bottom. I wish you all luck.”
But then Bruno remembered that he’d seen this girl at school before, and he remembered that she was also Jewish. “What about you?” he asked her, “Aren’t you, well, you know, Jewish too? Where will you hide?”
“I’m hiding with my family. Don’t worry about me.” She answered, and Bruno could tell she was fighting back tears. “But you should get going. Goodbye, Bruno. Goodbye, girls.”
They slowly started to go down the ladder, and went all the way down until they reached the ground. They started to see the bucket come down with the baskets of food. Bruno took the ladder away from the wall and set it down in the tunnel.
“We must be very quiet,” he said, “We should go to the very far corner in the other room, as far away from the opening as possible.” Bruno looked at his sisters and saw their pale faces nod and then wipe away tears. He went over to them and hugged them.
“It’ll be alright. We’re safe in here. It’ll be alright.” He whispered to them softly. Then Bruno took the food, and they all walked down the tunnel and into the big room where they were to hide for who knew how long.
They sunk to the ground and took out the blankets from the baskets. For it was quite cold down there, and when they were so petrified from the possibility of being caught, they were feverish.
Anna looked up at Bruno and sniffled, “How long do we have to stay down here, Bruno?”
“I don’t know, Anna. But we’ll be okay.”
They all reached for each other, and sat in the gloom, embracing for hours.
Bruno woke up early the next morning. For a minute, he didn’t know where he was, but remembered they were hiding. Quietly, he picked up a lantern from one of the baskets and lit it.
Suddenly he heard a voice.
"Bruno," Anna mumbled, "where are you going?"
"I'm going to look around," Bruno replied. "Stay here."
The sound of several gunshots shook the well ground, stopping him in his tracks. The soldiers were close. If he wanted to protect his sisters, they would all have to stay still. Paula grabbed Bruno's hand and tightly squeezed it.
"I'm scared," she whispered. Bruno nodded. It would take all three of them a long time to get used to being down inside the well. "How long will we be here?" she asked.
"I don't know," Bruno replied honestly.
The well was quiet, and Bruno realized that the guns had stopped firing. Most likely, it was safe to explore. But what would he do with the girls? He couldn't bring them with him, and risk them getting hurt.
But if he left them where they were, the soldiers would surely find them.
"I want to come with you," Paula said. He had almost no choice now. Bruno took the girls' hands and they walked down the well path.
"Wait, do you hear that?" Anna whispered.
Bruno heard a faint noise coming from down the path. It sounded like...
"Run," Bruno yelled. "Run!"
The kids ran as fast as they could to the entrance of the well. Anna and Paula climbed into the bucket, and Bruno grabbed the rope as a blast of water shot down the path and to the entrance. Bruno watched in horror as the level rose higher and higher. Then, almost as sudden as it started, the tide sank lower and lower, until all that remained were a few puddles.
"That was a close one," Anna whispered, breathing a sigh of relief.
Bruno nodded. "We're going to be more careful now," he added.
Hiding in this well was going to be a little harder than he thought.
Weeks had past and the three kids were running out of food.
“I suppose I should journey up and out of the well and find food?” Bruno gulped. He didn’t like the idea of risking his life to find food.
“Mm-hmm. My tummy is already getting hungry,” Anna said.
“Yeah, me too,” Paula announced.
“Well, maybe we could, uh, wait a couple of da-”
“No!” the girls couldn’t wait any longer for more food.
“Well, alright. But you two have to stay here,” he said as he went into the tunnel to get the ladder.
“Okay, but hurry, will you Bruno?” Paula said.
“I will. I promise,” Bruno said. Then he climbed the ladder with the empty baskets to fill with more food.
When Bruno reached the top, he looked in every direction to see if the coast was clear. Then he looked around for any source of food.
Hmm . . . there’s an apple tree over there, so I can get some apples. Ooh! And a raspberry bush! He thought. Then he looked around some more. Are those, mushrooms? They are! And they’re the edible kind!
So Bruno collected these few items and searched for more. He looked under fallen trees, on the banks of streams and creeks, and then he stopped. Bruno’s heart started pounding. He strained his ears to listen. Bruno thought he heard a crack of twigs as if someone else was here with him in the forest.
Bruno slowly turned around so he was looking at the well. A figure started walking towards him, but he couldn’t tell the details because of the fog.
“Bruno? Is that you?” it was Bianca!
“Y-yes. It is,” Bruno saw more figures. “You brought the soldiers?!”
“No, this is my family. But we have to hide, and I thought that maybe we could hide in your well with you. Is that alright?”
“Of course! But you’d better get in the well soon,” Bruno looked in the emerging figures’ arms and saw even more baskets of food. So I won’t be needing this anymore.
Bianca and her family started going down the ladder. Then when the last person was out of sight, Bruno starting climbing down the ladder himself.
“Hault!” the words were dead and clear.
Bruno’s heart stopped. Suddenly his hands and feet felt numb and his whole self was terrified and he felt himself giving into despair. Then, very unexpectedly, he started to cry.
“Please don’t take us away!” he sobbed. “We’ve lost both our parents and we’ve been trying to survive in a well!” He looked up at the soldier who put down his gun, looking concerned, and looked around as if to make sure nobody was watching or listening. Then he walked closer to Bruno who backed up and hid his face in his jacket.
“Listen. I’m not supposed to do this, but I’m going to let you go,” Bruno looked up from his jacket. “The only reason I joined the Nazis is because I have a wife and kids, and I don’t have enough money to take care of them. I don’t actually want to kill or torture anyone. So go. I promise I won’t give you away.”
“Yes I am. Oh, and my name is Arik. Now go. Before somebody finds us,” Arik ran away from the well and Bruno watched as he slowly faded into the fog. He wiped away his tears and climbed into the well.
The next day Bruno woke to gunshots and screaming. He couldn’t bear the sound. Not only because he hated death, but because when he heard the sounds, his mind ran through what happened to Mama and Papa over and over again, until he buried his face and his arms and started to cry.
I’ve got to help more people. He thought. But Bruno, that would be very dangerous. Yes, but maybe Arik could help. How would you contact him? I don’t know, but I’ve got to hide more Jews.
Bruno started thinking about Arik. He saved my life. Not only mine, but Anna’s and Paula’s, and Bianca’s family. Arik. What a name. Arik. Arik.
Bruno will never forget the day that Arik saved his life. And he will never forget his name.