"Abigail, why would you do this?" Daddy hisses. Mommy says something that I don't hear- she talks quieter than Daddy. I press my ear harder against the door. Daddy is talking again.
"You know just as well as I that taking in one of her kind is punishable by death."
"What's her kind?" Mommy asks harshly. She is quiet, but I recognize the tone of her voice. It's the same tone she uses when I forget to clean my room, but so much worse.
"A Jew," Daddy says, so soft but so angry, and so afraid. That's how I know something is wrong. Daddy is never afraid. He says he has to be strong. He tells me and Mommy we should be strong, too. I will be strong. I will.
But not right now.
Instead of waiting to hear what Mommy says next, I turn and run up the stairs to my attic bedroom where Tabitha is waiting for me.
I push the door open. "Hi, Tabby," I say.
She whips her head around and drops her necklace from her mouth. Her eyes are wide and fearful, and she's pulled her legs tight to her chest. She looks me up and down, and seems to relax a bit.
She sighs. "You startled me."
"Sorry," I reply. She is calmer now- calmer than she was this morning, at least, but her shocking blue eyes seem like they've never known anything other than terror. I've felt bad for her since the very minute I saw her curled up on the side of the street, covered in soot and surrounded by discarded cigarette butts. Mommy felt bad for her too, so we brought her home with us.
Tabby still isn't happy, though. Maybe I can cheer her up, or at least make her feel more safe and at home.
"Come here," I urge, and walk over to the window on the other side of the room. Tabby looks surprised, but gets to her knees and follows me over. I push the window open and kneel on the floor next to her, and for a moment we just breathe in the cool night air.
I scan the night sky. It's a cloudless night, and I can see each and every beautiful star.
Then I see a special one. "A shooting star!" I exclaim loudly and excitedly. The wind carries my voice into the darkness. I thrust my arm out the window and point out the star, as it quickly makes its way across the sky.
"Oh..." Tabby mutters and looks at the floor.
"A shooting star!" I repeat. "Make a wish!" I close my eyes, clasp my hands together, and make mine. Usually I wish for something like a new doll or those pretty purple hair ribbons I was saving my pennies for before the shop got boarded up. But today I wish for something different. Today I wish for Tabby to be safe with us, and for Daddy to not be mad at Mommy anymore. I open my eyes and turn to Tabby expectantly. "Well?"
"I don't like to wish on stars," she says softly. "Stars are bad."
I tilt my head in confusion. Stars can't be bad. Stars are bright and amazing and spectacular!
Tabby reaches for her chest and holds up her necklace. She's always holding it, but I've never really stopped to notice it.
"It's a Star of David," Tabby explains. "It was a birthday gift from my Mom before she was taken. Now the Nazis use it to tell that I'm a Jew."
There's that word again. Just like Daddy said it.
"Stars aren't lucky for me. So I don't wish on them," she finishes.
I look at her curiously. She doesn't seem freaked out anymore, but her eyes hold something else. Wisdom. We're both only seven, but she's so much wiser than I, or I'll ever be. Even Mommy and Daddy aren't this wise.
"Why don't you just take it off?" I ask curiously. "The Nazis aren't here now, they can't make you wear it."
"I guess so," she sighs. "But it was from Mommy."
"But they'll hurt you if they see it?" She nods. "Then take it off." I say it forcefully. I think I'm being too mean, but I know she needs to.
Tabby looks like she is going to protest again, but then she nods, unclasps the necklace, and places it into my outstretched hand. I let it sit there for a moment, then close my fist around it.
In that exact moment there is a loud noise downstairs, and lots of shouting. I hear Mommy and Daddy, and some other men I don't know. Tabby and I exchange terrified glances.
Tabby reaches for her chest, where her necklace used to rest, and then she remembers that her comfort object isn't there. "Give me the necklace," she pleads, physically shaking.
"Hide under the bed," I tell her, jumping to my feet.
"Give me the necklace!" she repeats. I ignore her. I can hear footsteps coming up the stairs now- loud and thumping, not like Mommy or Daddy's.
Tabby gives up on trying to get her necklace back, and dives under my bed, pulling my long, white comforter further down behind her. The men are almost at my door.
I lean down, lift up the covers and peek my head under. Tabby is cowering at the back. "Be strong," I tell her firmly, drop the covers and stand back up.
The Nazis knock my door down right as I finish clasping Tabby's necklace around my own neck. The shooting star out the window is long gone, but the one around my neck shines bright. A symbol of death for many, but a symbol of hope for me.
I'm going to be fine, I tell myself. And I'm going to be strong.
Wow. The idea for this story has been floating around in my head for literally 5 or 6 years. I can't believe I finally had the chance to write it. What do you guys think?? :D