Recap: Bayla escaped with Sophie’s family to England. Before they left, Sophie was about to open up to Bayla about her accident but they were interrupted by the danger.
Our lives fell into a routine. Tante Aimee met other ladies in the neighborhood and began doing volunteer work for the soldiers, sewing and visiting injured soldiers in the hospital.
She taught Chumash and Navi to Sophie and me every day. “After learning, Sophie and I went for a walk. I pushed her in her wheelchair to the park. I brought The Secret Garden with me. “Let’s read it together,” I said hopefully.
Every day she said, “No, I’m tired. Let’s go back.” I felt so frustrated. She needed to talk about her accident, but when I tried to ask her about it, she ignored my question. It was like I’d missed the opening that day when we had to leave France, and now she had decided not to tell me.
On Friday night, I had a sore throat; and by Shabbos morning I was burning with fever. Tante Aimee moved me into a room that was usually used as an office. She brought me cold drinks and a doctor came. I missed my mother terribly now. I had grown to love my Tante Aimee and my cousin, but I missed home more than ever.
Towards the afternoon, I started to feel a little better. Sophie came to visit me.
“I hate that you got sick here.”
“I miss France. I don’t like being here,” she said.
I thought of the worse things that were happening to Jews being displaced, and much worse, and I didn’t say anything.
It was the next day that a woman and her daughter came to pay a call. I was sitting in the living room with a blanket spread across my legs, even thought it was a gentle May afternoon. Sunlight streamed in the blinds, and the scent of lilac drifted in through the window
Tante Aimee introduced me to Mrs. Brown, a tall, thin woman wearing a head scarf, and her daughter Leah who had large blue eyes and looked about my age. Mrs. Brown was eyeing me strangely.
I wondered why she was staring at me like that.
As she was leaving, I said, “It was nice to meet you.”
She turned to go and then she turned back. “Didn’t we meet in shul on Shabbos? I am almost certain I introduced myself and invited you to join our youth group.”
I shook my head. “I was not in shul on Shabbos. I was home sick.”
Her statement, before leaving, unsettled me. “Why did she think she met me?” I asked Sophie.
Sophie looked up from her needlepoint. “Probably she met someone who she thought looked like you.”
That night, Feter Dan came home with frightening news. The allied troops are in trouble. France was invaded by Germany and the allies receded. They’re holed up in Dunkirk. The rabbi announced at Minchah that the British Army is calling for civilians to bring any boats they have to Dunkirk to rescue the soldiers stranded there.”
Tante Aimee paled. “No, Dan. You can’t go.”
“I already called Shimon Zev. He’s coming late tonight with me. We have to go. We have a yacht that could rescue many souls.”
Tante Aimee didn’t answer, but I saw distress in her eyes. Shimon Zev was going. They were both putting themselves in danger.
Tante Aimee turned on the radio and we heard a strong voice urging all civilians to bring boats.
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.