Into the Night
Author's note: I wrote this story for a school project. I took a few months to finally get it decent enough to... Show full author's note »
Chapter 1Kraków, Poland 1942
As the synagogue bell struck at seven o’clock, Halina and her brother, Edmund were on their way to the town square.
“I wish Mother and Father were here walking with us. It’s kind of creepy out here on the street alone.” Halina said.
Edmund laughed. “You know that mother and father left earlier to help set up for Tobias’s birthday,” he answered. “But, why are you scared? You have me to protect you.” They turned
Halina’s brow suddenly furrowed and she tugged at a strand of her hair. Edmund turned his head. “What is bothering you?” he asked. “Usually, you are not that quiet.” Halina grunted and pulled at the Star of David armband she wore around her upper arm.
“I hate this thing!” she said. “Why do we have to wear it!?”
Edmund looked and her and rolled his eyes. “You know perfectly well why we have to wear these armbands, Halina. The Governor General issued a decree stating that we are, by law, supposed to wear these things. Now cheer up…I know that’s not what’s troubling you. What’s wrong?”
“I have been wondering what Father got for Tobias all day… I don’t like him keeping it a secret.” As they entered the town square, Edmund said, “Don’t worry, you’ll find out soon.” He winked and walked over to help Piotr, Tobias’s father.
“Not soon enough…” Halina muttered. There was a tug on her arm and she looked down. It was little Anichka, Tobias’s younger sister.
“Anichka, there you are!” Halina swung her up into the air and gently let her back down onto the ground. Anichka held onto her hand and said, “It is Tobia’s urodziny* today!”
“Yes it is,” Halina agreed. “Let’s go tell him happy birthday.” Anichka led her to the other side of the town square. Standing with his father in the middle of a crowd was Tobias.
“Źyczenia urodzinowe** Tobias!” Anichka screamed. Tobias looked up and grinned. Halina waved and was about to walk over when they were interrupted by a shout.
“Time for Tobias to open his birthday gifts!” Anichka began to pull Halina to the small wooden table that they had carried to the town square. Tobias came running and climbed onto the seat set in front of the table.
Halina tapped on her father’s arm. “Which one is ours?” Halina asked. He pointed to an irregular shaped package sitting on the top of the small stack of gifts. Halina stared at it intently, trying to look through the paper at the gift.
Tobias reached for a small parcel just to the left of the gift Halina’s father had brought.
“To Tobias. From, Krystopher.” he read.
Halina and the others watched as Tobias ripped open the package. Inside was a metal gyroscope.
“Cool!” Tobias exclaimed. “Thanks Krystopher!”
Krystopher smiled shyly and said quietly, “You’re welcome.”
Tobias grinned and reached for the irregular shaped package.
Yes! Halina thought. I get to see what it is. She watched Tobias impatiently as he took the gift out of the paper. It was a wooden airplane with smooth, long wings and a sleek body.
Halina turned to her father. “Did you make that?” she asked. Her father smiled and nodded his head.
The small crowd squeezed in closer to get a look as the rest of the presents that were opened eagerly by Tobias. Minutes later, an array of books lay on the table along with many different toys.
Tobias looked up. “Thank you!” he said happily. He started to turn away to play with the other children, but his father put a hand on Tobias’s shoulder.
“I believe you have one more present, son.” he said pointing at a small package peeking out from under the torn paper. Tobias moved the paper aside and picked the package up.
“To Tobias. From, Father.” he read slowly. Tobias tore the paper and held up a stuffed bear. “What’s this?”
“It was made by your mother. She told me to give it to you on your sixth birthday.” Piotr said. “Turn it over Tobias.”
Tobias turned the bear over and saw that something was sewn on the back. It read Tobias- Made with love. Love, Matka* He looked up at his father.
“I miss mother.” Tobias whispered. Piotr picked him up and Tobias clung to him with tears streaming down his small face. Piotr had tears in his eyes, but held them back. After a minute, he set Tobias down and Tobias walked slowly with his friends to the field. Halina saw him wipe his nose on the sleeve of his tattered shirt.
Once she found Anichka, Halina walked over to the field where the boys and girls were playing ‘Statue.’ They watched them for a while until even the hyper children lay on the grass and closed their eyes. Anichka was already asleep, so Halina lay next to her thinking of Tobias’s birthday and of the armband bearing the Star of David. She tried to keep her eyes open, but unsuccessfully fell asleep with her check against the cool grass.