Madame LeCheval held my arm tightly, her bony fingers burning into my dehydrated flesh, the train’s velocity hurdling it down the tracks toward my new home in Paris. In my minds eye as I can still remember the first sight of my new found hope, the cities bright lights glimmered along the horizon, darkness enveloped the train car and my breath stained the window. My tiny hands pressing against the dreamlike fog, la Seine, la pont Saint-Michel on the left and Notre-Dame de Paris on the right, I still remember the lights off the tower as we came into the station. I was happy even for a moment in the presents of a new start, a free life, and a hope for myself, for my parents, my family.
I have no time to rejoice as the train pulls into the station just before dawn, the Ukrainian and Madame LeCheval take wing across the departure dock and secure us, three girls and myself, in a black caravan that will take us to our new home.
“Allez-y” she yelps as we arrive in front of a large stone mansion. It is as my father has promised, I receive my own bedding –pillows and mattress brimming with warm feathers- a warm bath, and split pea soup with real Ham and potatoes, no corn starch to thicken. I am happy again for I believe I will see my family. I cry for my mother the first night and Madame LeCheval sits by my bed, she gently brushes my hair and kisses my forehead. I will return to this moment again through out my life yet I cannot be certain of the words.
She whispers harshly into my ear. “Sommeil de mon enfant, elle ne vient pas, votre mère est morte"
Madame calls on the Ukrainian and in his broken Polish he tells me she is dead. My tears turn inward; my father would not want me to cry. I turn onto my side and the tears escape my eyes, I try to sleep for I know now I am alone.