~ Original Idea created by Breanna
My only belief is that danger is always present. I can’t sleep, afraid to close my eyes for fear that in the second I choose to find peace my worst nightmares will come to pass. Every noise or footstep was an instant nightmare and my heart beat in my chest at a level that I thought was surely heard. It was September 13th, 1939. Just last month I was playing with my siblings while my mother cooked us dinner and my Father was hard at work. Everything was right in the world. Now, I lie still as a brick, hidden beneath the staircase with only inches to move. I can barely breath but anything was better than nothing. It was more than what my family was lead to. I weep silently as the memories flash through my mind. I can still hear my mother screaming out my name as I was ripped from her arms.
She pleaded with the soldiers only to be met with a swift jab in the stomach from their rifle. They dragged my mother out into the street and held us back from chasing after her. There was nothing I could do. I didn’t know where they were taking her, I couldn’t even understand what they were saying. The next thing I knew my ears were ringing and blood seeped through the doorway. My worst fears had come to light. They had shot Mother and taken her from us. We didn’t know where Father was, he never came home that day. They were dragging us out the back towards one of their military trucks when out of sheer panic I broke free and ran, yelling at my siblings to follow. I ran as fast and as hard as I could until I couldn’t feel my legs anymore and I fell to the ground, numb. I was sure that it was then I would be shot but I heard nothing, felt nothing. I waited minutes more before looking up but no one was there, not even my siblings who I begged to follow suit. I was laying face down, all alone, unable to move and bleeding in a musty ally way. My mind raced, trying to find a solution, an escape. I hardly paid attention to where I was going while I was running from the Nazi soldiers but I think I am somewhere near Abarron’s home. He was no Jew so his house may be my refuge. The only problem was getting there unnoticed, while blood fell from my knee’s and tears streaked the dirt on my face.
There was a banging on the door, I instantly stopped sobbing as fear took over heartache and I held my breath underneath the stairway.
“Öffnen Sie sich! Wir sind hier, um Ihr Zuhause für Juden zu inspizieren!”
I couldn’t understand but I knew why they were here. They must be doing inspections. Abarron and his family had committed treason the moment they opened their doors to me. Hiding a Jew was punishable by death and I had risked their lives to save my own. Guilt rose up in my chest as I realized what I had done. How selfish could I be? First I abandon my siblings and then I risks my own best friends life. Not just his but his whole families. The weight of what I had done weighed heavy on my furiously beating heart. What had I done?!
Abarron was terrified as well but not for himself, he was terrified for Atalie, the girl who meant everything to him. He hated this was happening and didn’t understand it in the slightest. He didn’t understand how somebody could hate an entire group of people, especially when Atalie was in that group. The inspectors came in and the entire family breathed a little easier when they once again passed. They knew better than to be too confident so Atalie remained under those stairs about two more hours before she was helped out by Abarron “I’m so sorry” she said as sobs wracked her body. “You haven’t done anything wrong”
‘I’ve put your family in danger”
“we’re happy you came to us. We’ll keep you safe, I swear it. You aren’t a burden”
“But…but what if they find me? They’ll kill all of you.” She cried harder and Abarron hugged her, his arms holding her against the warmth of his chest as he shushed her and gently stroked her hair.
“Everything’s going to be okay.” He didn’t know if that was true, not with the gunfire, the screams, not when families were being carted off to who knew where. He had a sense of dread, like the world was catching fire and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. “Come now, you must be hungry, they showed up so suddenly you didn’t have a chance to eat.”
“I don’t want anything.”
“Won’t you eat for me? It would be a good idea to stay strong, don’t you think?”
Atalie nodded solemnly, feeling defeated. She could feel the impending doom and couldn’t understand the meaning of life. There was no way that she was brought into this world to have her family so carelessly slaughtered and for her to be running for the very life she was given. Nothing made sense to her anymore, it took everything in her power to not give up and turn herself in, sparing this special family. The world needed more good souls and to take them out of this world would be shameful. She ate hurriedly even though she knew it meant that she would resort to life under the stairway once again. She didn’t want any chance of being caught by those bastard Nazi’s and couldn’t imagine seeing the blood of Abarron soaking through the creaky, cracked floor. She didn’t think that her mind could take any more horrors but was certain more was to come. A part of her knew that there was no good way out of this, it wasn’t safe for Jew’s to cross the border anymore, there was no where to go. She couldn’t very well live the rest of her life under someone’s stairs, no matter how kind they were.
Atalie lied awake that night, fearful of the visions to come if she fell asleep. Her dreams had transfigured and twisted into sickly nightmares that even the wicked couldn’t conjure up. Every day she could hear the screams of the soldiers chosen or found victims as they were drug through the mud kicking and screaming. They were lucky not to get an iron bullet to the back of their skull. It was better to just let them cart you off somewhere, where ever that may be. She hoped that her siblings were there in the lost land and not laying in a ditch somewhere, frozen stiff with mortifying looks on their dead faces. This was the last thought Atalie had before drifting off to sleep.
Just as she anticipated nightmares plagued her dreams. Dead jews lay everywhere, each with contorted faces of fear and pain. Her heart thumped wildly in her chest as she spun in different directions crying. She couldn’t even run away from the dead for they made a full circle around her. Just when she thought her dreams couldn’t get more terrifying some of them began to crawl over to her “You shouldn’t be alive”
“selfish girl” they were all saying horrible things, all the while pulling her down. They drug her down somehow, pulling her through a sea of bodies so that she began to scream. Apparently she had been actually screaming because there was Abarron and behind him, Abarrons parents “Atalie?” she clung to him, sobbing until her face hurt. “I thought something was happening to you, we all did. We were so scared”
“Would you like me to get you something to drink?” Abarron asked.
“No, I’m alright, thank you.”
Abarron’s heart broke for her. He hated leaving her alone, especially just so she could have nightmares and cry. It broke his heart. He gave his parents a look and they in turn looked at each other. “Atalie, why don’t you sleep in Abarron’s room with him tonight.” His mother said.
“I couldn’t, what if they came back?”
“She’s right, stay with Abarron and we’ll just leave this door open so you can slip inside and hide easily.” His father urged. None of them could bear her sadness and they also knew that if someone from outside heard her screams, the soldiers might return anyway.
She slipped into Abarron’s room and lay awake for what felt like a century. She was even more fearful now that she was exposed, laying out into the open. She had to admit that Abarron’s presence made her feel safer, more secure. She knew that this was a one time occurrence though and told herself not to get used to the feeling. Before she knew it light was shining through the windows, waking her from her sleep. It was the first time since the invasion that she had gotten to sleep without nightmares. She felt better than she had the entire escape but quickly squandered her joy. She noticed that Abarron was not in the room. “He must have gone out to She did not deserve happiness when her family was being tortured, or even worse, lay dead and frozen. She decided to quickly use the washroom and retreat back under the stairway until breakfast.
What happened next was a blur. There was a sudden crash and shouting commenced. The soldiers had returned and must have been tipped off that Abarron’s family was hiding Atalie. Atalie’s heart raced and her mind whirled as she tried to figure out what to do. There was no way to sneak from the washroom to the hidden stairway without being seen. There was a tiny window in the room but she doubted she could fit through. She realized at once that there was no other way. She climbed the toilet to reach and started beating the glass. The soldiers were getting closer and she could hear them ransacking the house, destroying everything that they could get their hands on. She finally smashed the glass and tried pulling herself up and through the window. Glass shards cut into her hands and she could feel the hot blood pooling onto her hands. She dared not cry out for fear that they would hear her. She felt shaky and numb in shock but knew if she didn’t make it through the window she would surely meet her end. She managed to get herself halfway out of the window and reserved to let herself drop the rest of the way down to the ground. Her clothes ripped into shreds as she slid through, her skin being dragged with it. She fell onto the outside road bleeding and beaten. She knew the only thing left to do was run. She had to find Abarron and warn him not to return to his home. She ran as fast as she could but her vision started to blur and she felt her consciousness fading away. “No!” she cried out. She couldn’t pass out, not now. She had to find Abarron.”Abarron!” she cried out.
Her cuts stung and it hurt even worse to crawl but she couldn’t stand any longer. She didn’t make it much further before unconsciousness finally forced her to stop moving altogether. “Abarron” was the last thing she whispered. She hadn’t been aware of her surroundings enough to see it but he had been running to her, had heard his name called out and he knew her voice. He picked her up off the ground and took off, frantically looking for anywhere to hide her until the officers were gone and he could try to find his parents. A butcher flung open his door, instructing Abarron to hurry inside. He listened because he knew the man and had complete faith he wanted to help them.
She awoke to the sound of soft sobbing and opening her eyes to see Abarron crying quietly in the corner. He must have heard about his parents. I wonder what happened to them since they never found me. The broken with shreds of my tattered clothing may have been a dead give away. Abarron saw me stirring and quieted, embarrassed for being caught.
“Abarron, I am so sorry, this is all my fault.”
“No Atalie, none of this is your fault. This is the work of Hitler and his men. I would save you ten times over again.”
“But your parents, I don’t even know what happened to them.”
“They were arrested by the Nazi’s and will hold trial. They never found you and that may have been what saved their lives. Thank you Atalie for escaping when you did, I can’t even imagine what would have happened if they would have found you. There is still a chance for my parents. They could say that I broke the window and ran off after being punished. There is no proof that we committed treason.”
“But won’t the Nazi’s come looking for you. Will you have to testify?”
“I don’t know Atalie, I am afraid to turn myself in for fear that I will be arrested too. I don’t want to leave you. I want to stay here and protect you, but we need to find somewhere else to hide. Mr.Heim has given us refuge for the night but no longer. If I am caught with you it will mean certain death for my family, I think I may have to hide you and then testify that it was I that broke the glass. I will come find you after Atalie, I promise.”
Atalie shook with fear, fear of Abarron being arrested, fear of being alone. She had no idea where to hide, Abarron’s family was her only hope. The only thing she knew was that they had to try.
“I trust you’ll come back, you’ve stuck by me this long. You and your family are such good people” she moved over to hug him, he obviously needed the comfort. Abarron accepted, holding her tightly against him. He had to try and think of something positive or he might break down and embarrass himself again in front of Atalie. He focused on the fact that his parents weren’t afraid to die because they knew when they took her in if they died because of it they died doing the right thing. So many were now living a cowards life and not fighting against the monstrous thing that was going on but they, they chose to take her in and keep her safe. They wouldn’t just hand her over and turn a blind eye. They knew when they met their maker he would be proud and thats what mattered to them.
He also tried to look at the fact he’d still have Atalie if he lost them. He had been growing to love her even before this happened so at least he would still have her. The two got little sleep during the night. They knew they should have gotten more rest while they were in a place as safe as that but it was impossible with how worried they were over his parents. Mr Heim showed them a little more kindness in the morning. He could have just shoved them out the door but instead he brought them breakfast. It was after breakfast he asked them to each get in a suitcase “don’t worry, I’ve made sure you’ll be able to breath in these. I just want you in them to make sure nobody sees”
What was only a few hours felt like an eternity. Atalie had always been claustrophobic and the suitcase was so much worse than she had ever imagined. When they finally stopped and light flooded Atalie and Abarron they were temporarily safe at the town border. No one was looking for them here so they could get to somewhere safe. Abarron wasn’t a Jew and Atalie barely passed as one so as long as they didn’t make themselves known they should be able to find refuge for Atalie so that Abarron could aid his parents. Abarron still had some money left over from his trip and Mr. Heim also gave them some money to eat on as well as a couple of contacts out in the country that may help in aiding Atalie until Abarron could return. They stopped at the local market and gathered some bread for their journey. They traveled for two days to the first contact that Mr. Heim had provided but they were already aiding another family and could offer no help. Atalie’s heart sunk but there was still hope with two more possibilities. The second family was three day’s walk away so they knew they must find a place to sleep. The wind was bitter and pierced their thin clothing but they found no shelter. They decided to rest under an oak tree by the river. No one should be looking for them there. They huddled close for warmth but both of them secretly cherished the closeness.
Despite the chill Atalie slept better that night than she had since the Nazi invasion. When morning came she felt renewed and the doom of the previous days started to melt off. The pain of her families demise still clung to her like the cold cut to her bones but having Abarron with her gave her some peace. They split some bread and then readied themselves for the hard travel. They walked as far as they could day and night until their bodies couldn’t push on anymore. It was then, and only then, that they rested. Fear never left them but the long journey took their minds of the eminent doom that followed them. After three long days they finally arrived to the second family on the list. Atalie didn’t know if she could make the journey to the third. Even with Abarron as her support her feet were blistered and her legs were shot. They came to the house as the sun set and softly knocked on the door. They both held their breath and hoped on everything that their suffering had temporarily ended.
No answer came at first and Atalie felt like she was going to cry. Abarron tried again, louder this time. She almost cried anyway when a disheveled man answered the door. Atalie was going to speak for them but Abarron was much faster on the draw. “Please sir, Atalie is a jew. My family and I were keeping her safe in our home but we were found out. My parents have been arrested. I wasn’t home when the Nazi officers came so she was able to run to me. She almost made it before passing out but I could gather what was going on. A friendly butcher from my town, Mr. Heim said you might help us by letting us stay here. Please, if even just her. She shouldn’t be out on the roads”
“hurry in now” the man said and they rushed inside. “It must have been a long journey” he noted as he saw how thin and dirty they were. “it was, we’ll earn our keep though, even tonight if theres something to be done.”
“calm down young man, you may stay. My wife and daughter are gone visiting family so it’s just me. I’ll make you some food but with my wife being gone it wont be that good, for that I’m sorry. While I get a meal together the two of you need baths. Ladies first son so wait in here while I take her up” Abarron wasn’t so sure about trusting the man alone with her but he was their only hope so he just took a seat which came as tremendous relief to his feet.
Abarron studied the stranger for a moment more before deciding that Atalie was in trustworthy hands. The man began boiling water for the bath and showed Atalie where the washroom was. Abarron listened intently for any signs of distress from Atalie but none came and after another moment the man came back down. Mr.Manshaw took the boiling water upstairs and poured it into the cooler water for Atalie. He gave her some of his daughter’s clothing as they were about the same size and came back down to speak with Abarron.
“How long did it take you to get here son?”
“It took two days to reach the first family that could not aid us and three to reach you. I thank you for giving us shelter and safety as I do not know how much further we could have gone.”
“Well, Mr.Heim was right to send you here. You will be safe, there are no Nazi soldiers that come this way aside from a few and there’s no reason to be suspicious of our family. You are welcome to stay as long as I can help.”
“I will be leaving in a day’s time. I must help my family to be released from the custody of the Nazi soldiers. I pray I will return swiftly after but exactly when is unknown to me. I pray that you can watch over Atalie until my return. She is a sweet girl, doesn’t deserve this and her whole family is gone. She barely managed to escape. I do not wish my family to the same fate as hers so I must do what I can. I hate to leave her but it seems I have no choice.”
“Rest easy son, she is in good hands. God will watch over her now and I will help until your return. My daughter will be happy to have a friend in the house upon her return.”
With that Atalie came down the stairs looking refreshed. The filth had been washed from her face and the blood that once stained her skin had disappeared. It was Abarrons turn to wash and he went upstairs to do so.
‘I could help you” Atalie offered as the man started to get things out to make something for her “You’ve had a long journey. Today you rest but you’re more than welcome to help with anything tomorrow”
“Could I lay down somewhere Mr Manshaw?”
“Anywhere that looks good to you. After I’m done cooking I’ll show you my daughters room. You’ll be sharing it with her”
“Okay” she easily figured out which room was his daughters and laid down. She knew he was worried about dinner not turning out but anything other than bread made her mouth water at the thought. Atalie slipped under the daughters covers and was soon sound asleep. It was teh first comfortable place she had slept in a long time. She remained out until Abarron woke her for their meal “it’s done Atalie”
“Oh, wow…I slept so hard”
“I’m happy you did, come now, it actually smells good” she excitedly left the bedroom with him and joined Mr Manshaw at the table. He looked much more put together now than he did when they first arrived. He must have quickly taken a brush to his hair and straightened his clothing. Manshaw watched them eat with a heavy heart. They had to be extremely hungry children to be eating his food with that much gusto. “Thank you so much sir” Atali said again as she sat back in her chair. “You’ll be here awhile, my names Adalbert, please call me that”
“Adalbert, such a lovely name” replied Atalie. She was so thankful that this man, this stranger would be willing to risk his life to save hers. The hatred and cruelty of the world was overwhelming her and her faith in humanity had waned but this man had given her hope. Hope that one day she would be able to walk out into the sunlight and feel the warmth on her face without fear of being shot. After their meal Atalie excused herself and said good night to Adalbert and Abarron and went to finish her deep slumber. She wasn’t even afraid to sleep this time, she was sure that the nightmares would spare her this day, the best day in a long time. Atalie awoke early, habit of never being able to sleep, but she was rested. She hurriedly got dressed and went downstairs to start helping in any way that she could. She started cleaning up the kitchen and sweeping the floor when Abarron approached. His face was solemn and full of sadness.
“Atalie, I must leave you now. You are save here but I’m afraid that my family is not. I must go to them and plead their innocence. I pray that I return to you, I couldn’t bare to live the rest of my life without you Atalie. I know that we are young but I must do this while the chance is mine.”
Atalie was saddened by his words even though she knew the time was coming for his departure. She grew confused with his last words though and continued to listen intently hoping for an explanation. That was when Abarron got down on one knee and took Atalie’s hand.
“My dearest Atalie, we have known each other our entire lives and I have loved for just as long. You are my best friend and the most amazing person I have ever met. Please honor me by giving me your hand in marriage. I have no ring only my love to offer you.”
It was then that Adelbert walked in and heard Abarron’s proposal. He smiled at the two of them and rushed off upstairs. Atalie’s eye grew moist and tears of joy began to run down her face. She grabbed Abarron’s neck and hugged him as tightly as she could.
“Oh, Abarron, I do. I also love you so and want to spend the rest of eternity loving you.”
Adelbert returned and gave something to Abarron. Abarron looked back at him in disbelief and tried to return it but Adelbert refused. He then turned to Atalie, holding out a beautiful delicate golden ring with a single diamond that seemed to float softly on the top. It was a perfect fit for Atalie and they couldn’t believe that this man was so kind. Atalie, herself, had a hard time processing what all had happened that morning. She was engaged to be wed! Her heart was filled with joy but also heavy with sadness as her new fiance was leaving soon and may never return.
Atalie hugged him and he held her tightly, knowing he might not ever be able to hold her again. When she pulled back he he kissed her, savoring how she tasted, trying to remember it for the time he’d be away and so he might be able to recall it if he was put to death. He wanted everything about her to be able to cling to as he left this world. It was a long goodbye but he eventually was able to force himself out the door. She was safe and now his parents needed him to come to their aide. Atali stood on the porch, watching him go. Abarron deeply wanted to look back but refused to let himself. If he looked back he honestly didn’t know if he would run back to her. He needed to do the right thing and he definitely didn’t want to lose his parents if he didn’t have to.
Atalie quickly went back inside the second she couldn’t see Abarron any longer “I’m sorry I did that” she said to Adelbert once she was in “what? Went outside?”
“You wanted to see him off, I understand. Like I said you don’t need to be as worried here”
“I want to help out around here. What can I do today?”
“You’ve already been busy this morning”
“work will keep me more at peace sir. I can’t sit here and think about Abarron and his family dieing. Please, keep me busy”
Abarron went on his way, knowing that a long road lie ahead of him. It was five days walk back to home without any delays but he only had enough food for three and enough money for scraps. The temperature was dropping as winter neared and he knew the night chill would be hard to bare. He must continue to fight for his family. There was no other option, it was the right thing to do. Day and night he traveled, keeping Atalie in his thoughts to pass the time. The town’s he passed were unusually quiet since the Nazi invasion. Everyone kept to themselves or had already been taken. He wondered where they went once they were taken, praying that his parents were still alive.
Upon day four he traveled into the town instead of skirting around it so that he could gather what food and water that he could. This town was different, it seemed like the Nazi’s had only recently arrived as there was devastation everywhere and bodies still lie in the street, only just beginning to rot. Every time he caught himself looking he always caught their eye’s, still open, frozen in horror. Most of their faces were unrecognizable after being shot in the back of the head. Despite the cold temperature keeping their bodies semi-preserved the stench burnt his nostrils. He wanted to be rid of this sight and quickly got what he needed. All of a sudden he heard shouts to his left. Screams and crying pursued followed by angry yelling in a language he did not understand. A woman, his mother’s age, was being dragged outside of her home by her hair as she kicked and pleaded for mercy. Two shots rang out, deafening Abarron’s ears but still he could not shut out her devastation and sobbing screams. She fell to the ground, hugging the brick road with such sorrow that Abarron started to cry. The tears stung his cheek as the wind blew but he could not look away. He had gotten safely out of range but there was no denying this. This was happening right in front of him and there was not a damn thing that he could do about it. The soldier went behind the woman and yelled one single word in their language with a smirk on his face that filled the onlookers with seething hatred and disgust. “Traitor!”. Her suffering was ended at that point and her body lay limp, bent over itself, blood mixed with tears and matted hair. Abarron practically ran to get away. He had to get out of this town, he had to save his parents, he had to save Atalie. What was he to do? He felt helpless, tiny and insignificant. How was he to overpower and outsmart these soldiers?
Abarron was so sick to his stomach again about everything that was going on he didn’t even bother to eat again the rest of the way home. Rage, horror and sorrow drove him on and eventually he stood in his home town again, praying that his parents were still alive so he could even attempt to save them. As Abarron stepped into town Atalie was still sweeping the same room Adalbert had found her in an hour ago so he walked over and took her broom. She looked up at him as if she had just come out of a daze as he spoke “I don’t think these floors can get any cleaner”
“My mind was wandering…he should be back home by now”
“He’s coming back to you”
“You don’t know that” her voice was weak but she was determined not to cry “come, help me make some cheesecake then maybe I can take you and my daughter somewhere to swim”
“How can I swim while he’s there?”
“you being stressed and somber will not help him Atalie.” Atalie nodded and followed Adalbert to the kitchen where his daughter soon joined to make cheesecake with them. Atalie had met them just yesterday but she already liked them. His daughter was sweet and so was his wife. It had made Atalie want to work harder to earn her keep. She and Abarron would have a good life here if they weren’t thrown out so while Abarron was away saving his parents she wanted to show these people how much she could help and be of use if they kept them around.
The cheesecake turned out perfect and they soon had it in a basket with a pitcher of lemonade. It wasn’t too long of a walk to the lake but it still made Atalie nervous. She was outside and no matter how remote they were it was always a risk. “Only an hour girls, we’ll let you know when it’s time”
“Okay papa” his daughter said, hugging him then taking Atalies hand to run into the water with her.
Atalie’s mind was at ease as she relaxed in the lake and let herself have fun with Adalbert’s daughter Emyli. The hour passed quickly but Atalie didn’t mind leaving as she couldn’t shake the feeling of danger. They walked back to the house and never saw a soul. Atalie should start to feel more safe but she never did, believing danger was around every corner and the Nazi soldiers would soon come for this place as they had come for every other place in Poland. Nevertheless, she was safe for now and started up dinner as soon as she arrived back.
Abarron traveled to his house, although part of him didn’t want to see the devastation left there by the soldiers. The house was destroyed, everything toppled over, glass was shattered everywhere and not a single picture remained on the walls. He saw the broken bathroom window and the clothes and blood that were there. He realized that there should have been scrapes if it was he who had left the bathroom after “a fight with his parents”. He quickly tried to softly scrape himself since it should be close to healing now if he wanted his story to stick. He decided to wait until tomorrow to go to the officials so that it could have time to scab over. He sat on his bed and pulled out some bread that he had purchased along his journey. He couldn’t taste anything as he chewed for his mind was somewhere else. He thought of Atalie and hoped that she was ok. He trusted Adalbert and his family but still worried of soldiers discovering her. What if he had nothing to come back to and she was already taken by the time he returned? What if he never returned in the first place? He shook the thoughts from his head and told himself to stay positive. There was nothing he could do until morning light so he rested his head and let himself drift off to sleep.
Morning came and even though he had run over what he would say a million times over he still was not prepared. He walked to the officials with his heart racing faster than his thoughts. He tried not to think of anything so that he could do what needed to be done. He finally arrived and was met instantly by Nazi soldiers.
“I am here to plead for my parents lives, they are innocent and I can prove it.” He stammered as he spoke and the soldiers just looked down on him.
“This way” one of them spoke in a heavy accent. He didn’t know where they were leading him but there was no turning back now.
Abarron soon found himself in a cell with no explanation of what they planned on doing with him. Panic almost set in but then the sound of his mothers voice filled his ears “Abarron!”
“Mom, I’m so sorry I ran away!” he said, making sure to be loud enough for the leaving men to hear. His parents didn’t question him for a second, knowing their intelligent son probably had a plan. They checked him for wounds and it was only when they realized he was alright that he could see the question burning in their eyes was Atalie alright he knew it was too dangerous to tell them aloud so he just looked at his mother, hoping that deep, mother son connection would tell her Atalie was safe.
Abarron hadn’t been sure anybody planned to come back for him when two different men came hours later. The man he was brought too sent a frigid chill through him but he tried to look calm. The man asked what evidence he had and Abarron belted out his story, trying his best to effectively convince them of his lies so his parents lives might be spared.
When he finished his tall tail of an argument and running away all there was left was hope. Abarron nearly fell to his knees in relief when the man said “It appears we misjudged your parents. Be a better boy, your childishness had cost them days of punishment” Abarron nodded and was soon released with his parents, much to his surprise. He knew they couldn’t go straight to Atalie, that was too risky so they went back home.
When they arrived home his parents grabbed him and held him, weeping.
“Thank you Abarron, we didn’t think we would ever see you again, we thought you had been captured and taken away!”
“I am here, I had to save you. All is well.” Abarron hoped that they understood the double meaning of his words, that Atalie was safe. He was so relieved and couldn’t wait to tell them of his engagement. They started picking up the shattered pieces of their lives, strewn out along the floor. Even though their surroundings were desolate, their mood was jubilee. Their hearts were filled with hope and faith that things would be ok.
The days passed slowly and painfully but Abarron knew that they could not go to Atalie. They were being watched closely now that they had been accused of treason and every move had to be delicate. Abarron started to worry he would never get back to his love. He dreamed of her every night, hoped that she was alright and no trouble had come their way.
Atalie stared at the ceiling in the bedroom she shared with Adelbert’s daughter. A tear slid down her face into her ear as she lay there, silently weeping. She had no idea if Abarron was ok, whether he was even alive. Every day that passed grew darker as she feared for the worst. She was convinced that if everything was ok that he would have returned to her. The images of the people piled in the streets bloodied and still invaded her thoughts as she worried about Abarron. She started to wonder if she should travel back, sneak in just to find out if he was ok. Maybe no one would recognize her. If she could just know that he was safe that was all she could ask for. Was it too much to ask Adelbert to travel to her home city? It was a five day travel on foot. She couldn’t, could she?
It was the next day when she ventured to ask him. “I will have to talk to my wife. I’m not sure. If we go everything is at risk. I do care about you but my wife could lose me running this errand and we all already risk so much having you stay here. I don’t wish to make you feel guilty, I’m just giving you perspective while I talk to my wife. She will have to raise our daughter on her own and find a better means of work if I die taking you.” Atalie nodded, feeling terrible for even asking. These people were being so good to her and here she was, asking for more when their necks were already out. She missed her family so much and yet she might cause the young girl she had bonded with to lose her father forever because of her own want to see Abarron.
She wondered if she should go alone. It would definitely be the less selfish thing to do but she was scared, her cowardice making her unable to just run out and not put this burden on the Manshaws. She knew this talk would take a long time so she went ahead and started getting ready. Though she was scared enough to ask Adalbert to come she would still go alone if he wouldn’t accompany her so all the same she needed to be prepared to leave.
The daughter appeared at her side “what’re you doing?”
“Packing, I need to see if Abarron is alive”
“Wouldn’t he want you to stay here?”
“are you going by yourself?”
“I asked your dad to take me. He’s talking to your mom…I hope you aren’t angry” Emyli’s face filled with fear and intense emotion, “Why wont you just stay?”
“I just can’t wait any longer for him to get back. I’m so worried”
That night Adelbert knocked on his daughter’s room where Atalie was staying. Atalie felt a pit in her stomach, knowing that, in a way, either decision would not be good.
“Atalie, may I talked with you a moment?
“Of course Adelbert.” Atalie shook, her nerves uncontrollable. She didn’t want to look him in the eye, her question still a heavy burden on her heart. The silence was deafening.
“Atalie, I’m sorry. My wife has forbid it. We have housed you as our own child at the risk of our own lives. All we can do is beg you not to go. We care about you Atalie and cannot stand the thought of you venturing out by yourself. I’m sure that Abarron is ok. After the scrutiny of housing a Jew, if his parents were released they would be watched heavily. You cannot expect Abarron to come to you immediately. He is doing what he can do to keep you safe. Please Atalie, do not betray him by risking your life. It would make everything he has gone through pointless as you would still be gone by the hands of the Nazi soldiers. You cannot sneak there unnoticed. How you got here to begin with is beyond me. I know you care for him, if he is alive he will come for you. If he has met bad ends then do not make his death mean nothing by wasting your life. Please stay here Atalie. You are welcome here as long as you are in danger. Do not let your love cloud your judgement.
By this point Atalie was not even trying to hide her tears anymore as they flowed down her cheeks. She wept heavily as she didn’t know what to do. She didn’t think she could survive one more day without knowing if Abarron was safe. She felt as if she was already mourning him, prepared for the worst. She knew Adelbert was right though. She would be throwing away everything he had done for her to keep her safe. What will she do?
Atalie thought hard through the rest of the night and well into morning. Her final decision was to stay, to wait for his return. She was scared for him but she just couldn’t put herself in harms way after everything Abarrons family had done for her. Months past then a year and Atalie barely felt alive. The Manshaws were still treating her as if she was a part of their family but the devastation and worry over Abarron was all consuming. One evening while she was sulking on the porch he came into view and she thought she was hallucinating. “Abarron?” she asked anyway, standing up almost painfully fast. She ran to him and he began running her way, followed by his parents.
Abarron held her up in his arms as she sobbed uncontrollably. He wasn’t dead, he really wasn’t dead and had found his way back to her. “hey now, we need to get inside” he said softly and she nodded, wiping at her face. As they walked inside Abarron looked at her hand to see if she still wore the ring he had given her. He smiled happily when he saw it on her finger. The plan was to wait out Hitlers reign with this family and when things were safe he was going to give her the wedding of her dreams and start a family with her.
Abarron had so many dreams of what he wished their life could be like and he just knew they would come true one day. He just knew a man as evil as Hitler would be taken down eventually and the jews could live in peace once more. For now however, he would just be grateful he had managed to get back to her undetected. He wouldn’t waste time waiting for the future when he had right now with her. He loved Atalie and no situation or hardship would ever change that.
~ The End