Little Dipper

Little Dipper

Four Jewish children are hiding from the Gestapo, where they keep each other company and reminisce about the past.


Historical fiction


annie lu (United States)

Sara pulled the bookshelf in behind them, leaving only a sliver of light leaking through from the sides.
"There," she said happily. "Isn't this nice? We're all together in this snug little space."
"I'm scared of the dark," David whispered hurriedly. He clutched his skinny seven year old body closer. It was almost pitch black, but Sara could see the whites of his wide, fearful eyes and the top of his black hair.
The toddler began to whimper, and her whimpers slowly grew into quiet wails.
"Hush, hush," Sara said soothingly. She took the child into her arms and rocked her slowly. The baby began to quiet.
"Why did you have to close the door all the way, Sara?" Sara's five year old sister, Ester huddled close to her. "I can't see anything."
Sara reached out and grabbed Ester's hand.
"Let's play a game, Ester, David? This will be fun, you'll see. Let's pretend like we're camping, or something okay? Remember how when we were really little, we would go out onto the street and Daddy would show us the stars?"
She giggled softly.
"And there would be Little Dipper and Big Dipper. David even found Medium Dipper, remember that?"
Ester smiled, Sara could see her tiny crooked teeth in the darkness.
David was quiet for a minute.
"I remember that!"
Sara wondered if he remembered something else, too. She wondered if he remembered their gruff, serious father telling him, "Those stars you see are not the same as the star you carry on your sleeve. Those stars you see are free." And she found herself wishing he hadn't said that, while also wishing he had said much, much, more.
David had attempted to stand up, hit his head and began to wail.
"Hush, hush, hush, David," Sara whispered. "Let's play another game. Let's all try to be as quiet as we can, okay? Let's all be quiet for ten minutes, and then after that I'll tell Daddy and Mommy to get us ice cream!"
"Ice cream, I want ice cream!" David said in a hushed tone, still clutching his head.
The four children sat silently, huddled together in the cramped space behind the bookshelf for a while. Ester's stomach began to growl loudly.
She covered her tummy with her hands.
"I can't help it", she whispered. "I'm so hungry."
David whispered too.
"Why aren't Mommy and Daddy calling us to dinner? I want to leave this place. It's dark and scary. I want to go to the kitchen."
"I know Mommy and Daddy are making us all a big, hot dinner right now," Sara said. "I can smell it! The challah bread is rising into lumps of soft brown dough, and the broth is being boiled with chicken to make matzah ball soup. Maybe Grandma will even come over to make her famous cinnamon kugel…"
She broke off suddenly.
"Oh, I think I can smell it too!" David cried excitedly. "The matzah ball soup is our favorite, right Sara?"
There was a stifled whine in response. David saw moisture glinting off of Sara's face as she turned.
"Sara, are you crying? Please don't cry. Why are you crying?"
His high voice rose with worry and panic
She quickly wiped her face with the back of her hand and managed to smile.

"Hush, hush. No, I'm not crying. I'm not crying. Let's play another game, okay? Let's all think in our heads of all our favorite memories with Mommy and Daddy and Grandma and each other, okay? And in a minute we can share them, okay? "
They all quieted down. In their minds they saw flashes of building sand castles at the beaches and riding bicycles to the corner bakery, and adorning their black strands with wildflowers, even David's.
"Ooh, can I share first?" Ester wiggled happily.
"Yes, of course."
"I remember when--"
The sound of pounding footsteps silenced her. For a moment, the sliver of light shining through the crack was blocked by a passing body, then again. The heavy movements were followed by crude voices, quietly menacing.
Sara hugged her siblings to her. The crack between the book shelf and wall widened, and the sounds of men struggling to push the heavy wood leaked through.
"Mommy, Daddy, is that you?" David whispered breathlessly.
In one violent thrust, the lamplight flooded into the four embracing young bodies. The children were grabbed roughly, separated with course hands. The baby was forced from Sara's arms into successive hands, tossed around like meat at a packing house. Five uniformed blonde men picked them up and flung them over the shoulder, not before kicking at them with shiny leather boots.
"We've got them" the tallest man said gruffly as he grabbed David by the forearm. "We've got them."
The baby, Ester, and David began to cry loudly, almost at once.
"Hush, hush, don't cry," screamed Sara, twisting to face them even as tears streamed freely down her own cheeks. An officer slapped her across the cheek. Blood dripped down the side of her face, the cut stinging as the cool night breeze blew against it. She caught David's eye as she was thrown over a broad shoulder.
"Let's play a game, okay?" she cried. "Let's close our eyes and look up at the stars together. Do you see?"
Her voice dropped to a whisper.
"Do you see the Little Dipper?"


Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1



The reviews for this submission haven't been published yet.