by Savannah White.
‘Hush now, Lucas.’ A flash of light shone through the cracks of timber; Mama smiles at me before the light disappears and the footsteps get quiet. It is so dusty here, cobwebs line the walls like thick white like the itchy cotton sheet Mama put on my bed when it got cold. I hope I don’t see a spider. I hate spiders. They have so many legs and basically a hundred eyes. My legs are shaking from standing for so long. Mama reaches her hand to touch mine, careful not to touch the wall, stroking the back of my hand, tapping tap… tap tap… tap tap… tap tap tap. I cover my mouth giggling. I love you, too, I mouthed to her.
Mama and I had a secret code that only super special secret agents used. I was still learning how to do it but I was the best at listening, Mama said that even she isn’t that good. Heavy footsteps above our heads creaked, shaking dust from the floor boards, settling on my nose. Mama smiles as I twitch my nose from side to side, she says I look like Bugs Bunny when I twitch my nose which I liked because Bugs Bunny was tall, and I wanted to be tall, like Papa. I peeked through a crack in the timber, looking at all my things on the floor. The men had pulled out all my toys and all my clothes and all my books, trampling all over them like a herd of big fat elephants.
Coming down the stairs, I saw three really big men. They were talking in angry voices. Mama straightened her back and she wasn’t smiling at me anymore. I can see everything, but no one can see me, I’m hiding.
‘Wo sind diese Ratten?’ The first one said, spitting on the floor. I don’t know German very well, but I knew all the animals. I’m the best at the animals. Ratten means rat. I hope he didn’t see a rat in my house, I hate them almost as much as I hate spiders. A loud bang shakes the whole house. Both men jump, covering their ears. Loud bangs didn’t scare me. Mama said the bangs were to scare off the bad men, and inside was things that would help us, like food and candy. The second man breathed a sigh of relief, shrugging his shoulders,
‘Scheiß drauf,’ he muttered, walking out of the room, wrapping his arm around the shoulder of the first man. They both laugh as they walk out of the room. I put my hand over my gaping mouth. I knew all the German swear words, and the “f” word was the worst. I heard Mama say it once when she burnt her hand of the stove, but she didn’t think I was listening. The third man still hadn’t left. He was looking around at all my stuff, picking up books, flipping through the pages before dropping them on the floor, squishing the pages, making them all dirty. He is getting closer, but I’m not scared, we’re in our super-secret hiding place. The man stopped to pick up Albert, my favourite teddy bear. Papa had given it to me before he had to go on a long holiday that only Daddies were allowed to go on, so Mama and I couldn’t go. He was still on holidays, it has been so long I have turned four and five. Mama says he will be back soon.
The man looked at it closer, before reaching to his hip and pulling out a really big knife. It was the biggest knife I’ve ever seen; as big as my head! The man held my teddy in front of him, smiling as he cut the head off, dropping the body to the floor and kicking the head across the room. He laughed as he walked to the front door. My Albert…A muffled cry escaped my mouth. Mama stared at me, her eyes wide. The man stopped, turning his head around, looking right at me; he can’t see me though, I am hiding. The man took a few steps closer, pulling out his pistol, holding it out in front of him.
Mama squeezed my hand really tight, whispering, ‘Be still, my boy.’ Her hand is shaking a lot, she must be cold. She looks down at me, her eyes watery, probably from all the dust. I know she is scared, but we’re in our secret spot, and he can’t see us. The man is walking closer, squinting his eyes and turning his head, Mama told me that’s how you know someone is listening. The man is so close I can smell his breath, it was so sour I wanted to throw up. Mama was holding her breath, so I did the same. The man was so close now. He leaned forward to the wall, knocking on it like a front door.
‘Yoo hoo….’ He said, his voice was husky… kind of like Papas.
Mama looked at me, her eyes wide. I put my finger to my lips, telling her to be quiet. She did it back, but she wasn’t smiling this time. Before I knew it, Mama jumped up, breaking through the secret entrance of our secret hiding spot. She landed right on top of the man, he was so scared. Mama looked at me,
‘Run, Lucas!’ She yelled, Mama never yelled. The man pushed away from Mama, shoving her to the ground stepping on her with his big army boots. He is so tall, I think even taller than Bugs Bunny. He pushed the gun into her cheek, yelling at her in words I didn’t know.
Mama said run, so I ran.