Uncertainty: Chapter Three
I drove the back roads to the farm with the van’s headlights off as a general precaution. Leaders of the Jewish community had informed me earlier in the evening that the Nazis were on high alert–canvassing the roads and making hundreds of arrests across town. The last thing Rochel and I needed was for something to go wrong.
There was no reason to return to the house and the store. It wasn’t safe there anymore, and anything of value had probably been stolen, destroyed or tossed into the street. At least we managed to grab the important things, like our coats and our papers before the pogrom spread through the neighborhood like a virus.
Packed suitcases and my sewing machine from Lodz were already in the back of the van (from our last attempt), hidden under a mattress of worsted wool that my angels were now using as bedding. Glancing back at them, both girls appeared to be fast asleep. It melted my heart.
Whispering, “This is not what we planned, Rochel. This is not how we intended to protect the kinder1.”
“I know, Manny. But it’s too risky to hide them at the farm. In fact, it’s not safe anywhere in Germany, right now. We’ll have a talk with them in the morning.”
Eema pulled the barn doors apart in darkness. The van quietly coasted into the open barn, and pulled up beside the Opel. Abba shut off the engine, exited the van, and joined Eema in securing the barn doors with a heavy chain through the handles of both doors.
Eema approached the back of the van and swung open the back doors before Abba could stop her. Whispering, “Rochel, let’s not disturb them. Let the kinder shluffen2 a bissel3.”
Eema nodded. She reached inside for the picnic blanket and spread it across our curled- up bodies, up to our faces.
I tried to stifle it, but I couldn’t help but sneeze. Eva stirred for an instant, but remained asleep.
“Gesundheit4!” Eema answered reflexively. She paused for a moment and sniffled, “Lang Lebn5 my beauty,” before turning away.
I watched through the windshield as they slowly walked arm-in-arm to the front of the barn with a familiar closeness, and slipped into darkness.
3a small amount
4health/ bless you