Love in the Shadows

The train rolls along the track, smoke spewing out from the chimney.
A blur of children huddled in a dark carriage, unaware of their imminent fate.
Thoughts of family lingered in the foul, damp air.

I didn’t have parents.

I had Lily.

Us two were inseparable, they had said back at the orphanage.
We both had brown hair and ruby-red eyes that glistened in the sunlight.
I made her laugh, she made me smile.
I wanted to be with her forever.

But now, she was in tears, clasping her hands around her ears at the loudness.

‘I don’t want to leave you, Tom,’ she said as I reached in to hug her.

Her body was a cradle of warmth, radiating into my tummy.

‘I don’t want to forget you.’

We were both thirteen, but when Nazis were involved, everyone was frightened.

‘Where are they taking us, I’m scared!’ cried Lily, unable to hold back the tears.

In my hand, I clung onto a beige, scrawny teddy bear.
Its eyes were patched with buttons, while a smile trickled down its face.
The last gift my mother had given me.

‘Take this,’ I whispered to Lily as I placed the teddy in her soft pale hands.

‘If ever you are lost, hug this and I will be there for you.’
‘If ever you are helpless, hug this and I will be there to help you.’
‘And if ever you are lonely, hug this and I will quench your loneliness.’

By now the tears were flooding down her face.
A tiny smile crescented her face, enough to make me smile too.
I would never, ever leave her.

~ Ahaan, year 8, Glenunga International High School

Teddy bear, Migration Museum