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April 1941
Krakow Ghetto, Poland

The ride is cold despite the spring warmth that creaps upon flower and corn stalks as the train that carries us raggedly over the Vistula river rambles on. This is a river that many other families can be seen traveling over through the little space in my side of the carriage that's not quite a window, but rather - just a peep hole. I feel trapped, like an animal in a zoo - more so than I had ever felt at home with Babcia, Alfred, and Dziadeck, stuck in the upstairs attic. At least there was warmth, and hope - what little rays could filter through to us. Here - I can hear sighing in every which way direction, and next to me, Alfred clutched my arm in the darkness. The lights were put out, and all the shades drawn. At least it's a decent train. . .Most of whom I have talked to, children like myself and Alfred, said that the order to move us to this 'Krakow' place, was meant for sanitary and safety reasons. For our own health?

The thought of the Germans actually caring slightly about our well-being had my brain spinning into hypothetical overdrive. They would never dare to show the slightest compassion to us. Any of us.

My shade's little hole, my peep hole, allowed me to see the outside world, in it's spring glory, almost mocking our transport to what was bound to be something terrible, sullen and gray. I clutched Alfred's forearm back and looked across the semi-quiet, fear-induced cabin at Dziadeck and Babcia. They were placed in the back of the train carriage, and even though they were near, I still felt as though they were going to be ripped away from me at any moment. I hated this feeling. The feeling of letting my family down and not completing the job I seemed to have thought Momma set me with.

Protecting my family, Alfred and Sonne (whom I had already failed) included. I felt torn of jumping out of the train into the river right then and there, to at least trying to redeem myself and my good deed gone bad. A toddler cried in the back of the train and was shushed by it's mother, instinctively, she put her fingers in the baby's mouth to quiet it and I felt my eyes well up at the thought of Josef, and how he must've cried. Swiftly pushing those absurd thoughts aside, I gripped Alfred's arm even harder.

"Min!" He whispered instantly, and I clutched harder in fear that he noticed something out the peep hole that I hadn't seen. With wide eyes I turned to look at him. "Min, you're leaving fingernail marks. . ." Leave it to Alfred to attempt to make the situation feel better.

I bit my lower lip and released his arm, attempting a half smile and pushing my glasses up on my face. "Sorry."

He didn't reply to my apology, just held me as close as he could within our little train seat, and gazed out of the little peep hole that was below eye level, thanks to us sitting on our small packs that produced large pains in our . . . well. . .you know. I felt somewhat warmer with Alfred's arms around me, and it felt right, but wrong at the same time. How could I be . . . 'cuddling' in the moments that could be the moments that set our deaths. But I hadn't the strength to move. I didn't feel like it and I wouldn't, at the time.

Approximately half an hour later, my eyes were burning to over-exposure of the light for a few seconds, and after my pupils widened upon getting off of the train and slinging my pack over my shoulder, holding Alfred's hand in my own, I realized that the sky was a solemn gray after all, and not the beautiful light blue that it had been like on the way there. Tall, gray brick buildings and large machinery gloomed down at us, and suddenly - I felt incredibly small.

"This is it?" I whispered, more to myself than anyone else, and I saw Alfred's own eyes widen in surprise. His mouth moved but I couldn't pick up the words he had spoken. It looked like he had said something along the lines of 'better than being dead'.  More people crowded out of the fancy trains and we solemnly looked ahead, rather than at one another.

Alfred and I waited for Grandmama and Grandpapa, and when they arrived, exchanged brief looks before proceeding to one of the outposts where a man sat at a little card table with an open briefcase on top, papers scattered all about the top of it, and pens tossed aside carelessly.

"Names?" The man asked. I opened my mouth, but Babcia got there first.

"Agata Heins."

Dziadeck continued. "Leopold Heins. Our granddaughter - Minka Wollsburglen. And grandson, Alfred Wollsburglen."

The man started to write our names down, but paused, and held out his hands. "Do you have your indentification?" Oh no. If Alfred was to pass as my brother, he would need to have proper identification, with MY last name on it, not his! How, how could this go wrong? I sincerely hoped Grandpapa had a good excuse for no identification. He handed four, count them, four, ID pamphlets and I stared at them. I saw Babcia's face and name, along with details, Dziadeck's, mine, and. . . Alfred's. . .

How? I waited for the man to catch that the last name didn't match the one Dziadeck had given, but he said nothing, and handed them back after stamping them and writing down our names. "Proceed to Block 23A, Apartment 12B. Second floor." His voice was monotone and clearly showed that he didn't care, and once we got in the huge iron gates, hustled along by guards and streams of more people crowding into the small spaces, I looked up at Grandpapa.

"How?" I asked.

He winked, and said no more.

Our apartment is home to us four, and seven more people. Two couples, one with two children, and a single young man. The children cry far too much, and often we have guards coming up to investigate the noise, or ravage our stuff. I work in a factory, as does everyone here who is able to. Those who cannot work, must be taken along to the work place itself. Alfred and I attend Optima factory, placed in between two other huge ones. The children's parents also work there. We are forbidden to use the pavement, so we must walk along the side of the road, like hitch-hikers.

I consistantly feel ashamed, even though none of what has been done is my fault, and shouldn't be ashamed for. Still, we are treated horribly, and I cannot even talk to Alfred anymore. My voice is wearing down due to disuse, and my most common phrases are ''Yes sir." and "No sir." I get glares every day, and when I'm not glared at, I'm ignored. I feel as though I'm under constant watch and pressure, and my limbs have become surprisingly small, Alfred's breathing is raspier and uneven, and my grandparents - they suffer with the amount of work on their shoulders, even if they tell me they will live.

A deep feeling in my gut says otherwise.

When I get home, and gather what little possessions I have, I tug my coat over me and lay on the floor next to Alfred and the young man by himself, and pull out my notebook. I've attempted to write many letters back home. But none of them ever had gotten finished. Except one.

"From: Krakow
To: Home

Family, Momma, Papa, even little Josef because I know he's always watching me, pretending he's older now and it's his job to make sure I see it through alright. I miss you, and I fear I have failed you ever since I arrived by train to see Grandmama. I haven't a chance to practice my spells, because I fear that I'm useless. The wand is always kept in the waistband of my trousers (trousers are strictly worn within factories, especially stupid Optima). But I never use it.

I don't think I have magic anymore. It has been squished out of me, so Papa would say.

Momma, I want to go home. If it means I have to die, because you are dead as well - and though I dread to think about it, I shall die, just so I can go home. I'm scared here, consistantly I feel as though I have eyes burning through the back of my head and they can see what I think, how I feel. They treat us, all of us like dirt. I fear any longer they starve us and I will be able to fit behind a sword edge. Alfred's breathing is ragged and Grandmama and Grandpapa look as though their time has come.

But they pretend to be strong. I know it's just pretending because they can't leave me here alone.

Momma, where's home? Has home been destroyed? Where's the magic that could protect us without being seen? Give us nourishment and health? Or would we look too suspicious? Where's home?

-- Minka Wollsburglen."

Author Note: Yes, yes. I know, yet another long long wait. Softball season is now over, our record wasn't half bad, and most of my junior year testing is over as well. All I really have to worry about is my senior project, and my job and becoming a senior. But this shouldn't stress me out too much, so I'm going to end up finishing this within another seven chapters, give or take.

So, I don't understand why Minka would go to Poland if the Germans invaded in 1939. Wouldn't she be safer with her family in Germany?No. The thing was back then, that it was safer to split your family up in some occasions. To send Minka to Poland by herself was a precaution. She was the one with the most magical capability at the time - so protecting her, by moving her out of the way and risking themselves, was their idea of a 'plan'. It was the only thing they had. Granted, some families would prefer to stay together. But in this case, as in others, the family split up before they were forced to.

Will she ever find her parents again?Undecided. /snickers

ALEKSANDER?! -is bitten by hungry fans-Chill! Chill! He'll come in time! /sprays rabies vaccine on self


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