Recap: A bomb went off, and the family scurried into the Anderson Shelter. Benny’s cat ran out when the door swung open from the bomb’s impact. To their horror, when it was a bit lighter, they discovered Benny ran out after his cat.
Feter Dan started towards the door, but another whistle sounded right near the shelter, followed by an explosion that rocked the whole shelter.
Tante Aimee stopped her husband. “He’s small and close to the ground. You are much too big a target. Please, Dan. Don’t go out there now.”
Mimi was sobbing softly and saying T’hilim. I held her hand and said it with her.
A whistling noise grew shriller. I had to hold my ears. My whole body was shaking. I was waiting for the boom. Where would it land next?
“When is it going to stop?” Sophie asked, crying. Her mother had her arm around her. It felt like hours and hours, but it was probably not that long until the whistling noises grew further and further apart.
Mimi squeezed my arm. “I’m so scared for Benny. Where is he?”
Finally, the whistling noises stopped. There was a stillness outside that was eerie like the quiet before a storm. It was so black outside you couldn’t see anything. I thought of the plague of darkness.
Feter Dan crept outside on all fours. I watched him from the doorway. He called softly for Benny. There was no response. “Benny?”
“Benny, where are you?” he whispered louder.
Mimi wanted to follow him, but I held her back. “No, Mimi, please don’t go out there.”
I thought about Benny, that cute little boy with those wide, curious, blue eyes. I thought about where he would go outside. I asked Hashem to help us find him and that he would be okay.
Suddenly, I had an idea. “Tante Aimee, please tell Feter Dan to look inside the shed. The cat knows to go in there. Benny plays there with Kot. He might have gone in there.”
Tante Aimee called to her husband in an urgent soft voice. She told him what I said, and he crept across the yard to the shed.
A few minutes later he came back carrying Benny who was carrying Kot. Benny was sobbing.
We all hugged Benny and thanked Hashem over and over.
“You mustn’t run out of the shelter like that,” Tante Aimee scolded. “It’s dangerous.”
Feter Dan looked grim. “I think he learned his lesson. He saw the other cat outside the shelter.”
I looked at Mimi. “Gunther?”
Feter Dan nodded.
“They killed him,” Benny wailed.
I thought of these German men in airplanes swooping down and killing a cat. Merciless.
Feter Dan seemed to read my thoughts. “We’re dealing with Amaleik. They kill for the sake of killing. They’re ruthless.”
Benny was inconsolable, and I realized that this was why Mimi hadn’t told him about his parents. He was much too young to have to deal with all this chaos and sadness.
The next morning, Feter Dan buried Gunther. He gave Benny some stones to put on top.
I was relieved to see that when the children came for the play group, Benny was smiling and running around with them. When it was drawing time, that was when he drew a dead cat and asked me to write Gunther underneath the picture.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of Denver Dreams, a novel (Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials and features in various magazines including A Bridge in Time, historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). She writes the community column for The Queens Jewish Link and she writes freelance for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivahs and she teaches creative writing to students of all ages.