Joseph rescued me. He pulled me from a burning building, which was hot, and I couldn’t breathe. I hate him. He pulled me from that burning building. But then he took me away from my house, away from my favourite toy. A pig. A purple pig, called Emma. I remember the heat, and now I feel the cold, because me and Joseph are walking through the snow, trying to find it. Trying to find my house. I wonder if my parents are alive. No, I don’t care. I just hope that Emma is there, on my bed, waiting for me to find her. I hope she isn’t all cold and wet from the snow that has fallen this winter. Joseph looks at me. He can see that I am getting tired. I glare back at him, and run a few metres to show him that I am not weak. Oops. Not a good idea. Me and Joseph haven’t eaten for AGES. I’m so hungry, I feel like I am going to collapse. A gun is being fired in the distance. Tears leak out of my eyes. I think about the poor person or animal that has just been shot. Joseph walks up to me, pity in his eyes.
“Do you want a piggy back?” he asks.
I shake my head indignantly. “I go to big school now. I don’t need piggy backs anymore.”
He smiles. I feel like punching him. Piggy backs remind me of Dan… and Emma. Dan, my younger brother, who would always seem to be on Daddy’s back. And Emma, my darling Emma.
I don’t get why it’s called a piggy back, because it’s not like you’re actually on a piggy’s back or anything. Emma used to give me real piggy backs, one where I was actually on a piggy’s back. Joseph looks behind him, and I do too, because I hate being the last one to spot something. Our footprints are leading a trail back to where we came from. Joseph frowns and starts to cover up our more recent footprints. I want to help him, but I’m too tired. I want to plop down on the snow like it’s a bed, but I know that it will be cold and I will regret it. Instead I just stand there, my nose red from cold, my hands under my armpits, numb from cold, while Joseph brushes his foot over the tracks. Winter. I hate winter. It’s too cold and I hate snow, because once when I was out playing in the snow I found something. Not a jewel or anything exciting. Something scary, that featured in my nightmares for months afterwards. It was a man. He was underneath the snow that day. I thought he was dead, but then he smiled at me. That smile scared me. His teeth were all yellow, and he had a gold tooth. Although I was scared, I was also fascinated. I watched him die. I watched his face turn white with cold. He smiled the whole time, as if it were something he wanted. When he was dead, I covered him up with snow, because somehow I knew that I had to. That he didn’t want to be found. Joseph is walking again. I run to keep up with him. A couple of hours later, we can see a house. I am starting to get excited. A house means food, and shelter from the cold. Joseph signals for me to
stop. He bends down and whispers in my ear:
“I am a Jew. You should know this. If they ask you whether you are Jewish, then say no. You are not Jewish. Remember that.”
I am confused. How could he know this about me? When we are one hundred metres from the house, he stops and tells me to continue. I go to the house and knock on the door. There is a woman. She looks friendly enough. She invites me in for a bowl of soup. I say yes (how could I not?). Suddenly, I remember Joseph.
“Excuse me, my friend is just out there, and I think that he would like a bowl of soup as well.”
She calls out a name. A man comes out of the house and runs to where Joseph is. I see Joseph run away, and the man follow him. The woman places herself in front of me. I crane my neck to see Joseph and the man. She moves me into the kitchen and places a huge bowl in front of me. Suddenly, I am not hungry anymore. I know why that man is chasing Joseph. I see a picture of a man with a funny moustache, and next to that a red flag with a black pointy swirly symbol on it. I know what that man is, a Nazi or something. I can see that painted across the flag. The man is a Nazi, and Joseph is Jewish. Joseph is the only person in this world that has never let me down. Even Emma has abandoned me. So I know what I must do. I take a deep breath, and remember something that Joseph told me: Jewish people don’t eat pork. There is pork in the soup. I stand up. My knees are shaking. I stiffen them, because I don’t like to show weakness.
“My mummy and daddy don’t let me eat pork. They say that it is sinful.” My voice is loud in the silent room. The woman is comprehending what I have just said. The man comes inside. He has Joseph. I run to Joseph and hold his hand. He looks surprised, but then he tightens his hold on my hand as we wait for the man and the woman to deliver our sentence.
The woman starts to speak. “How would you two like to go on a holiday?”
I glare at her.“I’m not stupid. I’m in big school now, and I know that they
don’t send Jews on holidays.”