Recap: Bayla escaped with her cousins by boat from France to England. Sophie was about to open up about what happened to her when she had her accident, when they had to leave quickly to escape the danger in France.
The sun was setting as we pulled up to a port. Feter Dan helped Sophie into the wheelchair and then took out the suitcases. We each dragged a suitcase and headed towards the dock. Shimon Zev carried two suitcases. Feter Dan had to lift Sophie onto the yacht first and then the folded wheelchair. I’d never been on a boat before. This one was big. He started the motor and we were off. My stomach was knotted. Would the Germans bomb us? I asked Hashem to help us get there. I heard my uncle and aunt talking about where we were going.
“Golder’s Green is not too far from the house. It should be all set up. I phoned Bella to get it ready.”
“Who’s Bella?” I asked Sophie.
That’s the maid who takes care of my father’s house in England. He uses it for business. I’ve never been there.”
“Sophie, are you scared?”
My whole body was trembling.
“Yes, but mostly I feel strange like I can’t believe this is happening. My parents know what to do, so, baruch Hashem, I don’t really feel scared.”
I felt a pang when I thought of my parents. How were they and Mimi?
The ride across the channel was fast. We docked in front of a large brick house with a dock and a big yard in front. This house was not as big as the mansion in France, but it was still a nice-sized house.
Feter Dan opened the front door. There was a musty smell inside, like an old house that hadn’t been used in a long time. “I hope you’ll be comfortable here,” he said to me.
There was a large living room with an L-shaped beige couch and a glass coffee table. The walls were painted off-white. The best feature of the house was a terrace in the back.
“Let’s go sit on the terrace,” I said to Sophie.
Tante Aimee wheeled her to the bedroom that I would be sharing with Sophie.
“You should both lie down and rest before dinner. It’s been a trying day.”
I didn’t want to rest. I was too overexcited. “No, I think I’ll just sit on the terrace,” I said.
Shimon Zev told me he was going to the Gateshead Talmudic College to see if he could stay and learn there.
I sat on the terrace gazing at the starry sky. Questions floated in my head. Why did people want to kill other people and destroy their homes? I asked Hashem to keep my family and me safe and to please bring shalom. I remembered that a teacher had taught us once that wars and bad things come to klal Yisrael when we don’t show proper love for each other. I thought about Sophie and how she was hiding a secret that she needed to tell so she could heal.
I asked Hashem again to please help me help my cousin. That was why I was here, separated from my family.
Later that night, we sat listening to the radio. “Holland has surrendered,” Feter Dan announced as he turned off the radio. Tante Aimee was crying.
“I heard something good,” he said. “There was one last boat of the Kindertransport. It left on May 14 – the freighter Bodegraven from Ymuiden on May 14. The boat made it to England and the children were sent to families near here in Golders Green.”
“They are mostly Jewish?” Tante Aimee asked.
“Baruch Hashem, they are here.”
I had no idea then how important it was to me that that boat had made it to England.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of Denver Dreams, a novel (Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials and features in various magazines including A Bridge in Time, historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). She writes the community column for The Queens Jewish Link and she writes freelance for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivahs and she teaches creative writing to students of all ages.