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Chapter 4: It Happens Again

March 24, 2013

I read a book this year called Number the Stars. It’s a Holocaust book, but it doesn’t have dead people or gas chambers in it. In fact, there are two things I really, really adore about the book. First, the heroine, Annemarie Johansen, reminds me a lot of Hermione Granger, Harry Potter’s sidekick. Second, there are all kinds of ‘ǿ’s in there. It reminds me of cheese. I think the title comes from the Bible, from a promise God made to Abraham about being able to number his descendants if he could number the stars. Did I tell you that my dad was a cantor? That’s the Jewish clergy who sings. My mom loved him when he was a cantor. I don’t know why it makes any difference what somebody does for a living.

So I wasn’t alarmed when my thoughts turned to stars as I was slipping off to sleep on the Thursday before my next visit to my dad’s. Usually, I don’t remember most of my dreams.  This time, I remember really, really well.

Scene 1: I am walking through the woods with a pail of fǿǿd. The night was moonless, but I knew where I was going somehow. I tripped over a root, and as I stumbled, I realized there was another set of footsteps on my left. That was the heroine, Annemarie. She didn’t stop. My dream, the way dreams do, cut to –

Scene 2: The Nazi that stopped Annemarie was getting too close to the bottom of her pail of food. There were documents underneath the food that would allow a Jewish family to escape to Sweden, but the Nazi would seize her and imprison her if he found the papers. I was invisible to the Nazi, or at least he wasn’t paying me any attention. So I moved away to create a diversion. I reached down, picked up a stone, and threw it into the brush. The Nazi’s Doberman pointed to the brush and the Nazi let us pass.

Scene 3: In a moonless night, you can see the stars through every break in the clouds. When the Nazi and his rabid Doberman turned away, the clouds parted and I saw hundreds of stars. Then the stars did the Fantasia thing and started swirling. It was a really nice spiral! But then –

Scene 4: The spiral split in two. The white-yellow of the stars started to turn rusty, then angry red. All I could see were the angry red holes. I looked frantically for the girl, but I couldn’t call out for fear of the Nazi and his Doberman. I woke up shuddering.

I was just about to get down from my bunk and wake up Aba when I realized that I was in my other home, at Mom’s. I know that I can go in to Mom’s room without any penalty. She has made it clear that she doesn’t like it, but she expects it if we have gale winds. Ru and I get scared when the wind blows, but I don’t usually have nightmares, certainly not this nightmare. I didn’t want to have to explain it, so I lit a candle and watched it until I fell back to sleep.

The next day, I would be going to my dad’s for the weekend. Maybe I had my encounter with the holes and I was done with it. I packed my Aba backpack and my school backpack, and I tried to shake the sleep out of my head and the angry red holes from under my eyelids.

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