Silja closed the kitchen door and watched the scrawny kid for a few minutes. The kid hunkered down in the yard and finished off the humongous sandwich unaware that she was being watched. Finally, comestibles consumed, Finny unlatched the gate and disappeared from view. Silja closed the blind and turned away, glancing at the clock. Anneka’s bedtime.
In the dining room, Anneka sat in her high-chair, fascinated by her inverted reflection in a spoon, quite detached from the lively conversation Joe and Kirsten were having about the evenings unexpected visitor. By the stern look in Kirsten’s deep brown oriental eyes it was obvious that she had the upper hand in the discussion. The discussion was silenced by another hard glare from Kirsten to Joe as Silja entered.
“Bedtime now, Annie. “ Silja announced as the child allowed herself to be extracted from the chair and was passed around for goodnight hugs and kisses from her parents.
“Segja góða nótt.” Silja waved Anneka’s hand as they exited the dining room.
“Góða nótt !” Anneka beamed. Silja replied to Joe’s frosty glance with a defiant flash of her eyes and closed the door.
Thirty minutes later, a freshly washed and story told to Anneka watched Silja put out the light.
“Góða nótt.” Silja waved her fingers at Anneka and closed the bedroom door.
Ten minutes later, Silja turned out her own light and closed her eyes.
It was the breathing.. shallow, rasping. Clogged lungs made each breath wheeze. Silja squeezed teddy hard. The searchlight passed the window repetitively and dogs barked. Silja slipped out of the bed then out through a tiny gap between loose boards. She pulled the grimy coat close to her thin body. The mist blew frigid dampness across the compound from the cold North-Atlantic. She kissed Teddy as he peeked out from the neck of the coat.
“Keep watch.” she whispered.
Dodging dancing searchlight beams like she had done many times before, Silja and Teddy emerged into the dark mess-hall. Grabbing a sack she stuffed hard bread deep inside it, and limp cabbage cuts, carrot skins.
The Silja froze. She heard a girl humming. Her heart almost stopped. Silja buried her face into Teddy’s head, A few moments later she dared to peek.
The girl sat on the bench at a table slowly swinging her legs. She hummed into a huge white sandwich from which many layers of succulent meat glistened.
Their eyes locked. The girl pulled the sandwich closer to her chest, she shook her head to deny Silja. Silja felt the hunger pangs in her belly. She needed food. Her heart ached. Momma was dying. Momma needed food.
She knew the girl. She recognised her face from many years from now.
“Finny ?.. “ Silja reached out.
Finny’s face slowly smiled back. Silja watched the sandwich come back into view. The dirty fingers put the food on a plate and pushed the plate towards Silja. Silja reached for it..
The laugh was cruel. Guard reached past Silja and grabbed the sandwich. He stuffed it into his fat face. Silja reached in desperation but the hand came hard and fast. She fell onto the hard planks that served as a bed. Her Momma’s eyes were weak, almost grey, pleading, her mouth was slack.
“I tried so hard !” Silja screamed. “ Mommaaaa… “
Silja’s body jerked. She opened her eyes. The room came into focus, more familiar. Silja’s body felt damp, her eyes stung a little from salt-sweat. She sat up in the warm soft bed.
Sleep evaded Silja for much of the night. Many thoughts filled her mind. Her two lives. Finny. Joe. Anneka. Momma.
Far into the night, Silja arose and softly walked to Anneka’s room. She stood, arms folded across her chest in the doorway for many many minutes watching the tot sleeping peacefully.
This kid would want for nothing, unlike herself, or Finny. But…
Silja thought of her Momma, and her life before the camp. She smiled softly to herself. She looked again at Anneka, all open mouth and soft innocence. Anneka would learn about privilege and also about need. Not to take what she has for granted, but to grant to those who need. Silja would make sure.
Further along the hall a door opened. A bleary eyed Joe shot a questioning loot at Silja. Silja looked back with a face devoid of defiance, only gentle care. She answered softly
“It’s OK Joe, you wouldn’t understand. Goodnight.”
Silja closed the door and returned to her room.
(( cross fertilisation of storylines.. Thanks Joe for inspiring))