Watch Over My Child: Book Three in the Michal's Destiny Series, p.1Roberta Kagan
Watch Over My Child
Book two in the Michal’s Destiny Series
Copyright © 2009 by Roberta Kagan
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events are purely coincidental.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
December 1st, 1938
The first Kindertransport
Gilde Margolis stood beside her sister, Alina, at the train station. Her arms were folded across her chest and her small black valise sat on the ground beside her. It was that eerie time of morning before the sunrise, when the shadow of night had not yet begun to lift and the world was still cloaked in darkness. A dusting of snow fell like ashes on her hair, appearing more pale gray than white in the limited light of the station. Even though she was bundled up with a heavy coat over an itchy wool dress, thick black stockings, and long underwear, the icy fingers of winter reached deep under her clothing and into her skin. At twelve years old, Gilde was still a child, but circumstances were forcing her to embark, alone, upon a journey that would lead her far away from everyone she knew and loved.
“Gilde, look at me and listen to me, please….” Alina, her eighteen-year-old sister, bent to look into Gilde’s golden brown eyes, which were glazed with tears. Alina was shaking; her trembling hands were raw from the cold as she brushed a strand of blond hair out of Gilde’s eyes. Alina forced a smile, and trying to keep the fear out of her voice, she continued to speak. “Gilde, I know you don’t want to go to Britain and, believe me, I don’t want to let go of you.” Alina put her hands on both of Gilde’s shoulders. “Since the day you were born we have been inseparable and I already miss you terribly even though you haven’t left yet.” Alina cleared her throat and mustered a half smile of encouragement. “But I know that getting out of Germany right now is the safest thing for you. And you have to realize, Gilde, that it’s harder for me than you can imagine to let you go so far away without me. I want to protect you the way I always have. But, I’ve turned this over in my mind a thousand times and you see, sweetie I truly believe that you will be safer if you get out of Germany.”
“Why can’t you just come with me?”
“We’ve been over this, Gilde. I am too old. I can’t go. The authorities won’t allow it. This program is for children only. But you are lucky to have been chosen to be a part of it. Thank God you will be out of Germany and far away from Hitler.”
“I don’t feel at all thankful. I want to stay with you and Lotti and Lev and wait for Mommy and Papa to come back.”
“Gilde, we don’t know when they will return. For now, you will be in good hands in Britain. A family has agreed to care for you until everything settles down here in Germany, and then you’ll be able to come back home and it will be safe.”
“I’m scared, Alina. I don’t want to go all alone. I will be so far away from you, and I won’t be here when our parents get back.…”
“I know, Gilde. I wish I didn’t have to send you,” Alina said. Then she thought, if our parents ever come back. God help us.
“You don’t have to send me,” Gilde said. Her voice was firm and angry.
“Yes, I do!” Alina took off the gold Star of David necklace that she’d received as a gift from her parents for her sixteenth birthday and slipped it over her little sister’s head. “Wear this until we are together again.”
“But Alina, Mommy and Papa gave that to you. I know how much you love it. I couldn’t take it.”
“You’re not taking it away from me, Gilde. You’re just holding on to it for me until we are together again.”
“Please … don’t make me go.” Gilde reached up to her neck and gripped the Star of David and held it in her small hand.
“You have to go, Gilde. I love you and that is why I am insisting on this. Please, trust me.” Alina made her voice as firm as possible.
Lotti and Lev were waiting on the other side of the station; they wanted to give Gilde and Alina a few minutes alone to say goodbye. Lotti walked over with Lev at her side. She hugged Gilde, and then Lev hugged her as well. Tears stained Lotti’s cheeks and her eyes were red and swollen. They had been friends of the family for many years. And after Gilde and Alina’s parents had been a
And now the time had come to leave Germany. Gilde was standing at the train station as a frozen breeze swept across her face. With her knees quaking and tears freezing on her cheeks, she held desperately on to Alina’s hand for the last few minutes before she boarded the train into the unknown.
Alina knew that if it weren’t for that fact that Lotti had been volunteering at the orphanage for many years and then gotten Alina a job there, it was doubtful that Gilde would have been able to join the rest of the children on this rescue mission. “It is for the best, isn’t it?” Alina had asked Lotti on the day that Gilde had received her acceptance letter. Lotti had assured her that it was, but the question still plagued Alina, even now, even after she’d made the decision to send her sister on the transport.
“Gilde!” A heavyset boy of fourteen came loping over to Gilde. As he ran towards her he slipped on the ice and fell. His friend Elias, another orphan of the same age who’d been walking with him, laughed loudly.
“You’ve always been so clumsy, come on, let me help you up,” Elias said, giving Shaul his hand.
Shaul’s face was red with embarrassment.
“Good morning,” both Shaul and Elias said to Gilde.
“Good morning,” Gilde said without enthusiasm.
Elias pushed back his dark hair that was falling over his forehead. Even at fourteen, it was already obvious that he was destined to be a handsome man.
One of the teachers came over and handed Gilde and each of the boys a square of cardboard that had been made into a large necklace with two pieces of thick string. Written on the front of each of the cardboard tags were numbers. Gilde looked at the number.
“What is this for?” she asked.
“So that when you get to Britain your new family can find you and identify you. They have a card with your number. That’s how you will know each other,” the teacher said.
“I don’t need a new family,” Gilde said, tossing the card back at the teacher.
“I’m sorry,” Alina said, picking up the identification number and putting it over Gilde’s head.
Shaul read it. “Your number is twenty-four, Gilde. I’m eighty-two, and Elias is seventy-nine”
“Now we are nothing but numbers,” Gilde said sarcastically, shaking her head.
“Please, Gilde. Don’t fight this. I know it’s hard. But you have to go,” Alina said. She had been trying so hard to stay strong, but now she was crying too.
“All right, children, form a single-file line and say your goodbyes. It’s time to board the train.” One of the nurses Alina had become friends with during the years she’d worked at the orphanage was organizing the children for boarding.
“Come on.” Shaul took Gilde’s hand, but she shook him off violently. Then she stood steadfast and would not move.
“Alina? Do I really have to go? Really?” Gilde’s eyes were wide and pleading.
Alina nodded “Yes. But don’t forget to write. Write often.”
Gilde’s shoulders began to shake as she cried silent tears.
Elias put his arm around Gilde. “Let’s go, Gilde. You’ll sit with me. This is going to be a great adventure. You’ll see….” He carefully led Gilde into the line and after a few moments, it was their time to board. Elias took Gilde’s suitcase and carried it up the stairs, and then he extended his hand to help her. Gilde turned to look back at her sister and Lotti with one more pleading glance.
“Don’t make me go,” Gilde said. Alina could hear the pain in her sister’s voice.
“I love you,” Alina said. “Write to me. Don’t forget….”
Shaul boarded behind Gilde.
They slid into their seats. Gilde went in first so that she could look outside, then Elias sat beside her and Shaul next to him.
Now Gilde could see her sister, Lotti, and Lev through the small window. Elias was trying to distract her. He was talking. But she couldn’t hear him. Her ears were ringing too loud with fear. Then the whistle of the train sounded and Gilde jumped. The train rattled and sputtered as it sprang to life and began its journey to an unfamiliar land far away from everything Gilde loved. She craned her neck, turning all the way around to look out the window until the familiar forms of those she’d grown up with grew smaller and finally disappeared.
Gilde knew it was cold but she hadn’t felt the bitterness of it until now. It stung like an icicle had punctured her heart. When she looked down, her hands were red and trembling. Elias, who was usually so arrogant, cocky, and distant, was very kind today. He took her hands in his. “We’ll be all right. You’ll see. I’ve read a lot about Britain.”
“Yeah, me too,” Shaul said.
Gilde just shook her head. She was gently rocking with the rhythm of the train as it rattled along the track. Her life was shattering, and although she appeared calm, she was stifling the desire to scream and kick the seat in terror. It felt as if the train were taking her into a dark tunnel where she would never know what had happened to her family. Letters? This was the only communication she would have with Alina. And her parents? Just occasional pieces of paper? No smiles, no hugs, no kisses goodnight? Where were her parents? Were they alive? A shiver ran down her spine. What if they were dead? Her Mommy and Papa dead? Shaul and Elias were orphans. She didn’t know when or how they’d ended up at the orphanage, but they had been orphans for as long as she’d known them. So, how could they ever understand how she was feeling right now? In fact, she couldn’t even talk to them about it. Gilde wrapped her arms around herself and shivered from the cold. Then she leaned her head against the window of the train car and tried to fall asleep so she didn’t have to talk. As she sat quietly feeling sorry for herself, she felt something warm being laid on top of her. She opened her eyes to see Elias had taken off his coat and was covering her with it. He smiled at her. She smiled back, but she still felt very sad and alone.
Eventually, the warmth of the extra coat combined with the motion of the train coaxed Gilde into a deep, intoxicated sleep. It had been several days since the last time she’d slept through an entire night until morning without waking at some point shuddering from a nightmare. She was sl
“Open your suitcases. Now!” They were yelling “Shnell, shnell.”
Because she’d been awakened so frighteningly, Gilde felt lost, unable to move. She was disoriented, but she knew she must comply with their orders and quickly. Gilde looked in the overhead compartment where she’d stored her valise earlier, but she couldn’t find her suitcase. The officers were tearing through everyone’s things, throwing their belongings all over the train car.
“They’re looking for valuables.” Elias whispered to Gilde, “Get your suitcase and open it. If you have anything of value, give it to me now.”
Immediately Gilde’s hand went to Alina’s necklace.
“Hurry, give it to me before they see it,” Elias said.
Gilde slipped the necklace off and handed it to Elias. He put it down his pants. She gave him a look of disgust.
“I’m sorry. I had nowhere else to hide it.”
“Shnell. Where is your suitcase?” The Nazi inspector pushed Elias against the train window. Gilde saw Elias’s hand form into a fist. Gilde knew Elias well enough to know he was angry and ready for a fight. She got up quickly and opened her suitcase and Elias’s. Then she rubbed Elias’s fist and shook her head, mouthing the word “no.”
Elias looked at Gilde, took a deep breath, then unclenched his fist. Gilde knew that Elias wanted to hit the Nazi, to fight back. But she also knew that he didn’t stand a chance against the gun that she saw at the Nazi’s side.
When the inspection was over, everything that Gilde owned was scattered like bits and pieces of broken dead leaves on the seat and the floor of the train car. Shaul helped Gilde to gather up her belongings and his own. Then he found Elias’s things and tossed them to him. Shaul and Gilde carefully refolded their clothes. Elias just threw his stuff back into his suitcase and slammed it shut.
Watch Over My Child: Book Three in the Michal's Destiny Series by Roberta Kagan / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes