4. The Tears Begin
“We have been transferred to the camps. One of the bad ones. Des Todes. You and I. I am scared Mickey. What am I going to tell Margot and Eva? I am only 26. I don’t want to see what is happening there. And Eva needs a father. She is three and she needs her father in her life.”
“Hans. I know. We will figure it out.”
“No they want us there in the morning.”
Fear strikes me. What will happen to Kristel? “How much time do I have to find a place for Kristel?”
“Not much time. A couple hours before we have to be there and it is an hour drive.” Hans looks at me and knows that I will use all of those minutes to save my sister.
“All right. Come back after you get everything sorted at home.” He nods and leaves. I go and get Kristel and call our parents. They can come get her tomorrow afternoon. I call over the neighbors who understand my ‘situation’. I ask if they can sit with her until my parents arrive. Thankfully they agree.
I go and push back the hidden wall and get Kristel. She looks at me and I nod, agreeing with her worst fears; that I am leaving for a long time. I take her into a warm embrace and don’t let go. She is stroking my back as I cry into her tiny 9 year old shoulder. She pushes me away so that I am looking at her. She wipes my tears and smiles, a silent understanding between us that gives me some joy in knowing that she is stronger than me sometimes. She knows that we will be OK. We go and pack up her room, getting clothes and some of her toys. She then helps me pack some of my clothes up and we share one last peanut butter and jelly sandwich at midnight and wait for Hans.
He arrives a little later, shaken up and sensing his pain, Kristel gives him one of her life changing hugs. It puts that needed smile on his face. We walk next door and I hand her of to Ms. Engel, who will watch her until our parents arrive. She gives me a smile filled with sympathy and I give Kristel one last hug.
“I will be back soon, little girl. Please be safe.” She nods and a tea runs down the length of her face. I kiss her forehead and turn to leave.
“I love you, Mickey,” she says. This voice cuts through me like a dagger. She never talks unless she has something that will matter in the long run. She knew I needed to hear her say it even though I knew that she does every day with her whole being. I look back at her and in a voice barely above a whisper; say “I love you, Kristel.”