Playing with the Enemy
Chlorine filled the air of the pool area. I stood up on the blocks waiting for the signal to get in the starting position. I looked around the stands seeing cheering parents and realized why I hated big meets. Parents were all hooting and hollering about whose child was going to beat who. My mother is at home asleep. She never goes to the away meets because she never gets off work in time to get there. I could feel the eyes of my coach and my team mates. They were counting on me to win this race, and raise the score so we could beat the school rival, Hudington High School.
“On your mark!” The referee shouted over the antsy crowd. He held up a fake gun.
I bent over and grabbed the edge of the starting block and pulled my body backwards. The only thing keeping me from falling back was my death grip on the block. BEEP! The buzzer went off. At the beep I flung my arms out in front of myself and tucked my head in. Taking a deep breath, I hit the ice cold water. Jesus! Have they ever thought about using a heater!? Despite the cold water, I pulled myself into a rhythmic pattern so I could swim twenty lengths of the pool. I don’t know how many minutes passed by when I saw the counter, at the end opposite end of the starting blocks, showed two orange blocks. My arms and legs were tiring quickly, but I only had one length left. I drew upon all of my reserve strength and pulled my tired body into sprint. As I took a breath I realized the girl in the next lane was closing in on me. There was no way I was about to be beaten! I ignored my aching muscles and swam faster. I reached my hand out for the touch pad. When I hit it, I came up from the water and took a deep breath. I crossed my arms over the side of the pool and laid my head down on them.
“Rhea! You just swam a 6:59! You beat your old time by a half a minute!” It was my coach. I looked up at her to see her flailing her arms around like a fish out of water. Little did she know I couldn’t really hear her. My stomach was churning and my arms and legs hurt, but that is normal. I gathered up m strength and hoisted myself out of the water and so the meet could continue.
From across the pool, I could see Aiya coming towards me. Oh please don’t hug me. I was far from the mood to get a hug.
“Rhea I can’t believe you swam the five hundred that fast!” She said cheerfully. She wrapped her arms around my wet body and gave me a big hug. I grunted lightly, but did not complain. “Sorry about that. I guess I got a little carried away.” I could make out a hint of jealousy in her voice. Well I would be jealous if my best friend just swam the five hundred in under seven minutes.
When I got home from the meet, everyone was asleep. I glanced at the clock. Eleven Thirty. I changed out of my swim suit and put on a pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt. I walked over to my bed and tried to pull my blankets back. What the…? I looked closer and saw my black dog lying on my blanket. I would have easily seen him, but I had the light off. “Get up boy. I have a history final tomorrow, I need some sleep.” He whimpered quietly. He didn’t wan to move. I laughed at this. “Fine, if you don’t want to move yourself I’ll move you myself.” I bents over and picked him up and sat him on the floor. I crawled in bed and covered up. Not long after my dog jumped up on the bed and slept next to me.
The bright morning sun filled the small bedroom where I slept. I squinted my eyes lightly as the sunlight shone into them. I rolled over and pulled the blanket over my head so the light couldn’t bother me. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get back to sleep. I moaned in frustration.
I threw off the blankets and sat up. As I looked around my heart started to race. I was no longer in my bed. Instead, I was in a small room with brown walls. In the far corner was a small desk with a lamp on top. On the left wall, was a closet filled with dresses from back in the early nineteen hundreds. I looked down at my clothing and realized I wasn’t wearing my shorts and shirt anymore; I was wearing a long white night gown. The only thing in the room that was familiar was the blanket that my mom used. It was a large quilt that had the date 1935 embroidered in the left corner.
I climbed out of bed and walked over to the desk. Sprawled across it was newspaper. I picked up the front page and read the date. September 1st, 1939. I dropped it at once. Had I really gone back in time? Am I dreaming? I asked myself many questions that I had no answers for. I flipped through the closet and chose a pretty red dress and a pair of shoes to match. I walked over to the mirror and noticed I no longer looked myself. I had long dark brown hair, instead of my short, light brown hair. My eyes were now brown, instead of green. I pulled my hair back up into a French twist and starred at myself in the mirror.
There was a knock at the bedroom door. I turned towards it, unsure if I should say anything. “Come in.” The door opened and a woman about the same age as my mother walked in.
“Rachel! You’re awake. Your father and I thought you were sick.” She said. “Since you look fine, your father wanted to have a word with you about something.”
I nodded. I had no idea what was going on. I felt like I was in the right place. I followed her downstairs. Sitting in a wooden rocking chair sat a male, about forty years old. He had slightly graying hair, and was smoking a pipe.
“Ah. You’re awake. Good. Have a seat.” He pointed to the chair that was sitting in front of him. “I need to talk to you something.”
I sat down and studied his face. I knew I couldn’t have been good by the look on his face. “What about?”
“The Germans have invaded Poland.” He looked at me with his old eyes and finally said. “We are in danger, Rachel. They want to rid the world of Jews, and there is nothing we can do to stop them. I don’t want you to go outside alone. There is no way I want to lose you.”
I starred at him in disbelief. I didn’t want to believe what I had just heard. I looked around for something to tell me that it was a dream. But I didn’t find anything. With great effort I managed to ask what the date was.
Oh my God! I have gone back in time, but how? I ran back upstairs to my room. I sat on my bed and cried. I knew about what happened to the Jews during World War II, and I didn’t want to relive it. I tried to remember the name of the famous concentration in Poland, and to my surprise I couldn’t remember.
That night while we were eating dinner there was a knock at the door. Father got up to answer it. We overheard him talking to one of the local policemen.
He came back with a solemn look on his face. “Well Carrie, it looks like you’ll be sewing tonight.” He tossed three yellow patches onto the table. “Every Jew in town has to wear one on their jackets.”
“May I be excused?” I asked. Something in my stomach knotted up and was pressing up against my throat.
My mother starred blankly at the hideous stars that were in front of her. I don’t think she really heard me. “Mother…?”
She looked up at me and nodded her head.
I went upstairs quietly, trying not to show to my parents that I was scared. It really was happening! As tears flowed freely down my face, I kneeled in front of the bed and prayed to God, pleading with him to allow us to make it through the war. I lay down in bed and eventually fell asleep.
Early the next morning I saw my jacket hanging up on the door. Sewed on the front pocket was the ugly yellow star. I got dressed and grabbed my jacket. I went outside to go for a walk. I knew it would upset my parents if I left alone, but I had the urge to leave. I walked for about twenty minutes, and realized I should head back. I must not have been watching were I was going because I ran into someone. I looked up to see a tall, handsome young man. He must have only been about eighteen, not much older than me. There was something about him that I recognized.
“Pardon me, sir, I didn’t see you.” I apologized.
“It’s ok. I wasn’t watching myself.” He smiled. He looked down at me with a strange expression on his face. “Have we met before?”
“I don’t know, but you do look familiar.” It was true. Something told me that we did know each other form somewhere.
“Where are my manners? My name is Kris.” He held out his hand in a friendly shake.
“And mine is Rachel.” I took his hand and we shook.
When he put his arm by his side his jacket moved slightly and revealed a yellow patch. “The name does sound familiar.”
“Sorry to cut our time short, but I need to be getting home. My parents don’t know I’m gone.
After our departure, I ran home and jumped back into bed and acted like I had never woken up. I must have slept another hour when I heard someone walking up the stairs.
“Good morning Mother.” I greeted as she walked in.
“And good morning to you.”
She looked really happy and I really wanted to know why. She motioned me downstairs with a giant grin on her face. I walked downstairs, and all I could head was singing!
“Happy sixteenth birthday sweetheart!” My father congratulated.
I looked at everyone in the kitchen. There were about twenty five people talking and eating while the children played.
From somewhere behind me I heard someone calling my name. Recognizing it, I spun around. Standing in front of me was Kris. He bent down and kissed my cheek. “Hello again.” He said.
“Kris. Um, how did you know…?” I stood there dumbfounded
“I got an invitation from your parents. When I saw you this morning I was on my way to your house to talk to your parents. I didn’t know it was yours at the time though.” He slowly explained. It still didn’t make sense. How did my parents know him? “You mean you don’t remember playing together as kids? We would always go to the park and climb trees. Of course that was about ten years ago. My parents sent me off to a private school about an hour from here.”
I thought for a moment. Little by little the memories were coming back. Yes. I do remember playing in the tree. One time I remember breaking my arm because I fell out of the tree. “I do remember.”
He pulled out two red roses. I could feel my cheeks flush. “They’re beautiful!” I smiled.
“Happy birthday, Rachel”
About a month passed by. Kris and I started seeing each other daily, even though my parents disapproved. They thought the Germans were going to invade town any day and we would be caught. Everything was going great until the Germans did come to town. All of the Jews went into hiding, or they were thrown into a train and shipped to a camp. Mother, Father, and I hid in a small underground room that was about twenty feet wide, and fourteen feet long. We only had enough food to last us about a month, but enough water to last for three. I hated that place with all of my heart. It was bad enough not being able to see Kris, but I had to live in a small, dark and dreary hole in the ground. I wish the Germans would leave!
“When are the Germans going to leave?” I asked.
“Whenever they feel like it.” She sighed.
“Shh! I think I hear someone outside.” Father silenced.
We huddled together in a dark corner, hoping they’ll leave soon. I heard a flashlight fall off a shelf in the other corner near the door. This was the first time any soldier came near the hiding place.
“Did you hear that?” Someone asked.
“No sir. I’ll search the area again.” Another person said.
“Make it fast!”
Mother started to cry when the soldier neared the door. I covered her mouth with my hand so the noise was muffled. I had to be strong and not cry like mother. I was holding back tears with all of my strength.
“There’s nobody here, sir.” The solder said.
“Ok, move out!”
We all let out a sigh of relief when the soldiers left. “We are not safe here. We need another place to hide.” Father announced.
Mom and Dad left me alone in the hiding place to go look for a new place to hide. I begged them to stay with me, but they said no.
I’m guessing it was about five in the morning when there was a knock on the door. I could hear my heart pounding against my rib cage as I opened the door.
“Rachel?” Kris asked.
“Kris! I can’t believe you’re here!” I exclaimed.
“May I come in? I need to tell you something.” He asked.
I showed him to my sleeping area, and we sat on my bed. I looked at him. He didn’t seem very happy.
“Kris, what’s wrong?” I asked.
“Well I have some good news, and some bad news.”
“Bad news first.” I crossed my fingers.
“Ok. It’s about your parents. Last night, the Germans emptied out all of the buildings on a certain block, and found them. They were put into wagons and hauled off with the rest of the ones that were found.” He explained. He looked down at the dirt floor, afraid to look me in the eye. It was like he was ashamed.
Did I hear him correctly, or am I hearing things? No, this can’t be happening! My eyes filled with tears and I broke down crying. Kris held me close to him, and rocked me gently. I buried my tear stained face into his chest.
“No, it can’t be true!” I cried.
“I’m so sorry about all of this. I was in hiding a block away. When the Germans evacuated the buildings, I looked out the window and saw them” He said. “Do you want the good news?”
“Where will I go now that my parents are gone?” I asked.
“I was getting to that. I got a message yesterday about a small resistance group that needs members. If you want to, you can come with me, and join to group until the war is over.” He answered my question.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to risk my life, but then again I wanted to get back at the Germans for taking my parents.
“I come with you. It beats staying here by myself.” I smiled.
“There’s the smile I love so much. I thought that went into hiding also.” He joked.
I could feel my face turn red. I looked up at him with my water-logged eyes and smiled again.
I packed my things, and we slipped outside. We walked down Main Street, the busiest street in town. We stopped at a small white house with dark shades. Kris walked up to the door and knocked. He knocked twice fast, and three slow. It must have been a code. A tall, dark, muscular man at the age of about thirty answered the door.
“You must be Kris. Who’s your friend?” He asked.
“Her name is Rachel; her parents were taken during last night’s raid.” He explained.
“Before I let you in, you’ll both have to come up with a different name. It’s a security measure.” He said.
“My name will be Hans.”
“I guess mine will be Anne.” I shrugged.
We went inside to see six other people lounging around; two girls and four guys, excluding the one who answered the door.
“Ok, my name is Frank. These guys are Wolfe, Paul, Joshua, Daniel, Helene, and Elizabeth.” He introduced. “You guys, meet Hans and Anne.”
“Finally, another female!” Helene cheered.
Frank showed Kris to where he would be sleeping, while Elizabeth showed me to mine.
“I’m glad you’re here. We needed more females for our raids. Usually the guys do all the work while we women distract the guards, if you know what I mean.” She winked.
“What If we really wanted to do some damage to the Germans?” I asked.
“Well he might let you plant a few car bombs or something like that.” She said.
“That’s not fair! My parents were captured last night, and they are going to pay for what they did!”
“Don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of time to worry about that.” She smiled.
“So where will Hans be sleeping?” I asked.
“Across the hall. You like him don’t you?” She giggled.
“Yeah, you got me. We’ve known each other for over two months, a month before we went into hiding.”
“Are you two dating? Have you kissed yet?” She asked curiously.
“Yeah, sort of. No, we never really kissed.”
“Common girls! You guys are so slow!” Frank yelled.
“Fine, we’re coming!” Destiny hollered back at him.
“Is he always like that?” I asked.
“Oh yeah. He’s very strict, and he doesn’t like to mess around.” She explained.
The next couple of months we raided Nazi buildings and took guns and other equipment. On our last raid, Wolfe, Helene, and Paul were captured.
“We need to rescue the ASAP. We don’t want them to talk.” Frank said.
“We could go tonight.” I suggested.
“True. You and Kris will stay hear though. If you guys are caught you’ll be sent off to one of those camps.” Bulldog stated.
“We’ll be careful! Please, let us come with you.” I begged.
“NO! I don’t want to lose anymore people.” He snapped.
I stormed off down the hall, my face red in anger. How could he? They are my friends too! I don’t what bulldog said. I’m going too!
“Rachel?” Kris asked from outside the door.
“What do you want? You’re probably going to tell me that he’s just doing it for our safety, aren’t you?” I snapped.
“No, I wasn’t. I know how what you’re thinking, and I agree with you.” He smiled.
“If he likes it or not, I’m going with him.” I crossed my arms.
“Actually I was thinking of going by ourselves to rescue them.” He said.
Later that night we snuck out of the house without them seeing us. The sky was very dark, and the moon was hidden behind the storm clouds. Just as we arrived at the building, lights flashed around everywhere.
“What the?” I jumped in fright.
“I think we have been caught.” Kris signed, disappointedly.
“Hold it right there!” Someone yelled. About a dozen guns were pointed at us. I held my breath, hoping they wouldn’t shoot.
Somewhere in the near distance came a loud explosion. “What was that?” The soldier yelled.
“Hope, Steve, run!” It was Destiny.
We both headed into the darkness as gunshots overwhelmed our ears. I felt a sharp pain in my left leg. Not able to hold my own weight, I fell to the ground. I thought I was going to be shot for sure. I was saying my prayers when I drifted off into oblivion.
I was awakened by the bright morning sun. I opened my eyes to see Kris and Elizabeth sitting next to the bed. They were both sound asleep. Trying not to wake the up, I sat up and tried to get out of bed. A sharp pain ran up my leg. I grunted quietly, and laid back down.
“Hans get up! She’s awake!” Elizabeth smiled happily.
“Huh? Oh my God! I thought we were going to lose you!” He jumped out of his chair and stood by her side.
I smiled at their concern. “I’m ok. It’s just a sore leg and a bump on the head.”
“I’m glad you made it.” Elizabeth looked at the ground sadly. “Daniel, Frank, and Helene were shot and killed last night.”
My eyes widened. Everyone I cared about was dying. I slammed my fist against the wall. “Why does everyone I care about get captured or killed?”
“Not everyone. Wolfe, Joshua, Paul, Hans and I are still here.” She tried to cheer me up, but it was useless.
In less than a month I was up and walking around without any help from Kris or Elizabeth. In the meantime I was plotting my escape. I was going to leave the resistance and live on my own.
About two in the morning I got out of bed and got dressed. As I was ready to leave, I bent over and kissed Kris on the forehead. Slowly I made my way back to the old hideout.
Just as I opened the door a gun was shoved in my back. “Stay where you are, Jew!” A Nazi patrol officer ordered.
I stopped in my tracks. How did they know I was a Jew?
“What do we have here?” He asked to himself. “I’ve seen this girl before. She was at the raid about a month ago.”
Another patrolman spoke up. “Where are your friends?”
I refused to speak. There was no way I was going to tell them where they were. The patrolmen grabbed his whip and threatened to hit me with it if I didn’t speak. By this time I was shaking like a leaf, but I still didn’t say a word.
I heard rustling noises from the bushes. “Look who I found lurking in the bushes.”
He held up a guy by his collar.
It was too dark to see who it was, but I had an idea. What was he doing here? How did he know I left?
“What should we do with these two?” He asked.
“Put them in jail, and let the boss deal with them in the morning.”
We were shoved into the back of the car. “Hans, is that you?” I asked.
“Yeah, it’s me. I heard you leave the house so I followed you here.” He explained.
“Shut up back there, or you’ll be shot!” The driver yelled.
We rode in silence the rest of the way. When we arrived at the jail, we were shoved into a tiny jail cell.
“What do you think will happen to us?” I asked. This was going to be the end. I wasn’t going to see my parents again, I’ll never get married, nor have children. What I would do to change what I did. If I could I would go stay with Elizabeth and the others. I wouldn’t have ran away. Tears were streaming down my cheeks
“I don’t know, but it can’t be good.” He said in anguish.
I laid my head on his shoulder and cried myself to sleep. In the morning a shouting guard rudely awakened us.
“Get up! It’s time for you to say good-bye.” He taunted.
We got up and followed him to a small room. Rudely, we were pushed down into chairs. Sitting in front of us was a Nazi in uniform behind a desk.
“What do we have here? A couple of pathetic Jews who thought they could get away with sneaking into a German building.” He smirked. “I want your names, your real names.”
“Anne.” I lied.
“Hans.” He lied.
“Very well. For your actions at the raid a month ago you will be sentenced to death.
My eyes widened and filled with tears. I glanced at Kris, and he was also on the verge of tears. Could this really be happening? Could it all be a dream?
The Nazi soldier called the guards and we were taken outside. When we got outside we were tied to separate wooden poles. Four soldiers lined up in front of us and aimed their guns.
“One! Two! Three!”
I closed my eyes as I heard the sound of the gun firing. The pain of the bullets piercing my skin was overwhelming. Soon I blacked out.
I sat up in bed, covered in cold sweat. Had it been a dream? I looked around the room and realized I was back in my bed safe and sound with my dog still curled up next to me. I looked at my closet and noticed an old red dress. I crawled out of bed and pulled it out. It was the same one in my dream!
I ran down stairs and woke up my mom and asked her about the dress.
“That belonged to your grandma before she died.” She explained.
“How did she die?” I asked curiously, remembering the dream.
“She died during World War II. Your great Grandparents lived through the camps, while Rachel died in the resistance groups.”
I about fainted. I dreamt about my grandmother! I was in her body and experienced what she had to live through. I went back upstairs and went to bed. Not very many people got to know my grandma, and I was lucky enough to know her.