The windows of the Cohens’ house at 16 Poppleton Circle were covered with black curtains. A gas mask lay on the table beside Becca’s bed, as she thrashed around in her sleep. She cried out, “Mutti! Mutti!”
Mrs. Daniels tottered in sleepily and turned on the light. “What is it, dearie?”
Becca was crouched at the end of her bed with the covers over her head. Mrs. Daniels pulled the covers back. A disheveled, sweaty Becca peered at her with the distant eyes of horror.
“Another nasty nightmare, I suppose?” Mrs. Daniels asked.
“Let’s hear it, lass,” Mrs. Daniels said.
“Hitler found me. He was waiting for me under my bed. He tried to pull me under there.”
“I’d like to see him try. I’m from Swansea, Wales. We’re coal miners, a tough lot. Hitler wouldn’t stand a chance against me.” Mrs. Daniels smiled.
Becca looked up at her. “I miss my Mutti.”
“Of course, you do, lass.”
“But she’s never coming to get me.”
“That’s not true. Why do you say that?” Mrs. Daniels asked.
“Because Hitler had her and Baby Lilly under my bed, too,” Becca whispered.
Mrs. Daniels reached out her fleshy arms, pulled Becca to her large bosom, and hugged her. Becca clung to Mrs. Daniels’s strong embrace.
Mrs. Daniels knew that beneath Becca’s sassy, cheeky exterior, she was a frightened little girl, who was facing the end of everything she knew, and everything that made her who she was. As a motherless little girl, Mrs. Daniels had known that same all-consuming fear when the coal mine collapsed, trapping her father and two brothers. They’d suffocated when the mineshaft ran out of air. At fourteen, she’d moved to London to take care of other people’s families because she had none.
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