The screams outside echo throughout the town. I stare outside the window, peering through the curtains with my terrified green eyes. We are struggling. Trying to stay healthy with all that is going on. Feeding five people during this time is like being safe, extremely hard. Bob stands ridgely by the door, listening for any soldiers to come. He has lost so much weight in the past year and a half. He used to be one of the most handsome and strongest men in our town. Now, his face is wrinkled and petrified. He pretends that he is not scared, that he will protect us and the Muraski family. But anyone could tell that he is anything but brave. His face and body tell it all.
I speedily glance at the Muraskis, telling them with my scared, wide eyes to stay quiet. I can see how they are trying to thank us for taking them in. But they cannot. They have other things to worry about besides thanking Bob and I. Like how the soldiers are coming up our stairs now.
I frantically whisper, “Go, go now! You need to go the the bathroom and hide in the cabinet!”
They sprint, as fast as they can, for the bathroom, piling into the hiding space. When Bob and I decided to help out this family, we had to build a hiding space for them that would be hard to find. In the bathroom, below the sink, we have cabinets. In one of the cabinets, we built a panic room, so to say. It is behind the wall of the cabinet. It can fit five to six people, which is just the right amount of space considering we are hiding five people. Many soldiers have searched our bathroom and have never found it, so I am almost positive it is a very good spot.
There is a very harsh knock on our door, “Open up now we need to search your place!”
“I’m coming! Let me put on my robe,” I reply trying to suppress the horror in my voice.
Once they were safely hidden I open our door. I look up at the soldier, with fear still in my green eyes. They barge into my home searching every inch and corner.
“Where are they! I know you are hiding them somewhere, we have a report,” the leader screams at us with hunger in his eyes.
Bob and I look at each other, trying to tell each other with our eyes that it will be okay. The soldiers are both young and old. They are very tall, I have to crane my neck to look at them. One of the soldiers, probably the youngest one, looks sympathetic. He looks like he does not want to be here and wants to go home. It is almost like he is on our side, wanting to help us out.
“You are very lucky we cannot find them, we will return soon to finally get rid of them and you,” the leader calmly said, which scares me ten times more.
When they left our home and went down the stairs, I ran to the bathroom. I hear multiple coughs, which makes me worry greatly. Lately, the eldest child Anne, has been getting an on and off fever. She will go pale, then start to cough her lungs out. If she keeps coughing, it will most likely be the end. We do not have the type of medicine to help her get healthy again, we barely have enough food to provide.
“Oh no, what happened to her?” I stutter.
“We, we don’t know. She just started to get really pale and cough so much. Help us please, she cannot die on us,” Keren pleads.
Keren is the mother of three children-Anne who is twelve and currently sick, Chaim who is eight, and Leah who is five. Abba is the father; he is the most scared of them all. He feels it is his fault for all of them being in this situation since he is supposed to be the protector. It does not surprise me that Anne is the child who got sick. She always gives her food to Chaim and Leah. She feels the need to give her food and supplies to them, saying how she has lived her life longer than them and they need to experience more of the world.
The next night, Anne looks like she is about to pass out. We all know she is close to her ending, but no one wants to admit it. I need to find her some medicine, quick. I will feel tremendously terrible if she dies, especially since I am the one hiding her.
"Bob, what should I do? I need to get her help!" I harshly whisper at him.
Bob looks just as worried as I am when he says, “Cheryl, you need to calm down. I am just as worried as you are. It is almost impossible to get her medicine though.”
The next night, I decide to go out and try to find Anne some medicine. There is a local doctor down the street, his name is Dr. Fonato. Before the war broke out, he was appraised for being one of the best doctors on the east side of Poland. So, I took a visit to him around one o’clock in the morning.
“Dr. Fonato! I need your help, please let me in!” I knock on his door speaking in an eager, hushed tone.
He opens the door a crack in his night robe and whispers, “Cheryl, what are you doing here at this time of night?”
“Please Dr Fonato, please help me.”
“What do you need help with that makes you come at this time of day?”
Once he let me in his home, I take a cautious look around. I notice the one soldier that came to my house, in the kitchen eating some soup. Dr Fonato notices my startled stare at this man.
He says, “Cheryl, this is my son Conrad.”
Conrad looks directly at me, finally realizing that he was one of the soldiers who had searched my house. I need this medicine, but I could not ask when he was sitting five feet away from me. How am I supposed to get this medicine with him sitting right there? I need to find a way.
“Dr. Fonato, by any chance can you give me some medicine for a fever, a very bad fever” I plead with him.
“I cannot just give medicine out, I need to know why!” he says as he leaps up from the couch.
"But I need medicine, I cannot go home without it," I desperately plead.
He suspiciously looks at me and says, "Cheryl, I have a strange feeling that this medicine is not for you or Bob, so who would it be for?"
I hesitate before quietly saying, "It is not for me, but for a different family."
"No, no I cannot help you! I cannot be an accomplice to someone who is hiding a family. I do not want to get in trouble for something like this. I am sorry but I cannot give you any medicine," he almost shouts at me while frantically waving his arms around.
When he said that, my whole face fell a mile. That was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to hear. Almost worse than when I heard about the cruel war breaking out. It devastates me that I cannot help Anne, I wish Dr. Fonato could just give me some medicine, it would save an innocent child's life.
“Okay. That medicine means so much to me right now, I desperately need it. I guess you do not care about an innocent girl’s life,” I say on the verge of tears.
“Cheryl, it is not that I do not want to help this girl, but I do not want to get in trouble. If they find out that I am an accomplice to a family in hiding, they will kill me,” he softly tells me
I guess I can see where he is coming from, I told myself. When I turn around to leave, I see the young boy staring at me, almost looking right through me. I quickly leave his home and go back to my apartment.
When I get back, I am extremely quiet. If I talk, I will break down into a river of tears. Keren sees the look on my face and her small, frail body rushes over to me. She knows that I could not get any medicine for Anne just by looking at me.
“Come on, let’s go to bed. Tomorrow is a new day. Maybe we can find some tomorrow,” she gently says while putting her thin arm around my shoulders.
The next morning, I wake up to one of the worst sounds known to man- pounding on my door. I was so startled I did not notice the door knob start to twist. I jump up and rush over to gather the Muraskis into the bathroom. Once they are in the bathroom, I hastily walk to the door. When I open up the door, I freeze. All the blood drains from my face. Conrad is standing in front of me in his obnoxious uniform.
“I came to search for the family. You admitted to be hiding a family last night and I came to arrest them,” he sternly tells me.
“No. No, you will not search my house. I will not allow it,” I plead with horror laced in my voice.
“You need to let me in. If you do not I can and will arrest you,” Conrad says so firmly I almost wince away.
He pushes past me and enters my home. I am petrified. I have no idea if he will actually find them. Conrad knows we are hiding a family, this is going to go down terribly. I can feel it in the pit of my stomach. It felt like hours passed by before he said anything, but it was merely minutes.
“I will come back with my team. You will not get away with hiding this family,” he firmly says, but not as strong as before which is very strange.
When he leaves, I see a bag by the door, inside the shoe rack. There is never a bag there. I walk over to it, slowly, since I have no clue what is inside. I turn around to Bob and look at him. He knows what I am asking him to do by the look on my humble face. I want him to go open up the bag. I am too nervous to go anywhere near it. The bag is a deep brown and about the size of a dish. It is heavy and rattled, which makes me so much more scared. Abba came out of the bathroom to check what all the silence was about. When he notices the look on mine and Bob’s face, he rushes back into the bathroom to retrieve his sick family. It is time to open the bag now that everyone is present in the room.
Bob looks down at the bag, then up at us. He slowly starts opening the small bag. It feels like days have past before he finally opens the bag all the way. When he looks inside the bag, his face shows pure shock and confusion.
He looks up at me and says in nothing above a whisper, “It’s-it’s medicine. Where could this have possibly come from?”
“What do you mean it’s medicine?” Keren shrieks.
I respond slowly, still trying to wrap my head around this and say, “Well if it is medicine give it to Anne! Maybe someone came and dropped it off because they knew she was sick?”
“Who could have dropped it off? No one knows we are here, at least I hope so,” Alba questions.
I could not stop thinking about this. Who could have dropped off this medicine? No one else came into our apartment besides Con-
“It was Conrad! He was the only one in our apartment! It all makes sense now. His father is Dr. Fonato,and he was there when I asked for the medicine and Dr. Fonato refused!” I yell gleefully.
I run over to Bob and rip the bag out of his hand. This was the same exact bag that I saw on their kitchen table. I take the medicine out and examine it. The medicine is Dr. Fonato's. It has his name on it. One question kept running through my mind; Why would Conrad give us this medicine? He is a soldier trying to take down the world. This makes no sense.
"Can we please just give the medicine to Anne now?!" Chaim exclaims.
"Of course, of course. Here, hand me the bag," Alba says as he swiftly grabs the bag from my hand.
All seven of us wait. Wait to see if the medicine will work. I watch Leah and Chaim. They have no clue what is going on, just that their older sister is sick. I look back to Anne and Abba to see Abba feeding medicine to a weak Anne. She takes it. Terribly slow.
It has been three days since we found the medicine and gave it to Anne. She has gotten healthier. We can clearly see it in her body language. She can now stand up straight without getting dizzy. Her face is not as pale as before.
Another two days go by and we can tell how well Anne's health has increased. Day by day Anne gets better. The atmosphere is so much more happy now. We can see how a huge weight has been lifted off of Keren and Alba's shoulders. Everyone seems so much more relaxed.
It's been several weeks and the war is over. The Russians and Americans have come to save us. When they come, Anne is once again perfectly healthy. She is up and moving around like nothing ever happened. All of us are so relieved to finally be safe again. We can go and get food without being shot down. Six years of hiding and trying to not get killed. A terrible experience. One cannot explain what we have gone through. With Anne being very close to dead and Keren doing everything in her power to protect her children. It was such a miracle that we survived this horrific challenge.