“Must you go to war father?” Ann Godowsky asked as they ate dinner that evening.
“I don’t want to go child. You know they have threatened me to go out of this country if I don’t go.” Mr. Godowsky replied.
“I know what you are thinking, Ann.” He said.
Two years ago when Ann was not quite ten, her mother had died from a fever.
“I don’t want to lose you, father.” Ann said softly.
“I know child but you must be my brave little girl for my sake.” Mr. Godowsky said.
They silently ate and washed the dishes just as silently.
Mr. Godowsky turned on the radio.
“A hundred more soldiers have died today because of the bomb. It seems there is no winning this war as it shall continue to rage on in America.” The radio host said.
Mr. Godowsky turned the radio off.
“Do you see what I mean, Ann?” he said.
“They need me.”
Ann sighed. That night, Ann and her father read a book together as they did each night. Before her father kissed her good night he said, “Ann. There is something that I need to talk to you about.”
“Child, I know that this war is hard for you and for me but there is something that I must tell you. Since I am to be at war, you shall need to go someplace safe.”
That had not occurred to her.
“Where shall I go father?”
“Since we do not have any relatives who live in this city and I don’t have any money to send you to a boarding school, I have thought of sending you to an orphanage.”
“Orphanage? But that place is for orphans. I’m not an orphan.”
Then a thought occurred to her. Perhaps her father was thinking about sending her there because he might be killed in the war.
“Father! You can’t leave me. You can’t die. What shall I do without you?” Ann wailed.
Mr. Godowsky smiled sadly and pulled his daughter onto his lap even though she was twelve years old. He put his arms around her.
“It’s a possibility that I might die, Ann. But that doesn’t mean that I will. I may be injured.”
“No!” Ann said. She hated the thought of her father in pain.
“Or I may not be. I might come out of this war unharmed.”
“Then why are you sending me to an orphanage?”
“So you have a safe place to stay until my return.”
“What if I do get adopted?” “I’ll tell your manager to make sure that does not happen.”
A tear came out of Ann’s eye. Mr. Godowsky wiped it. He hated to see his daughter sad.
“Please cheer up, Ann.” He said.
Instead of doing as her father told her, she burst out crying. “Oh, Ann.” He pulled Ann to his chest. Ann cried hard.
“Shh.” He said.
He lay Ann down on her bed and smoothed out her hair.
“Please don’t leave me father. What shall I do without you?” Ann said.
“I’ll be back soon.” Her father said. She hugged her father hard for a long time. Then her father gently lay her down. Ann was already asleep. “Good night, Ann.” He whispered and kissed her cheek. He gazed at her as she slept.
She looks so much like Amelia. Mr. Godowsky thought sadly, feeling even guiltier of leaving Ann.
He turned out the lights and closed the door.
“I’m sorry, Amelia.” Mr. Godowsky said gazing upon his deceased wife’s beautiful face in her picture.
“You made me swear to keep our Ann safe and yet I have no choice but to put her in an orphanage. Please forgive me. Please…”
He burst out crying, feeling heavy with guilt.
The next morning Ann and her father ate breakfast in silence. After breakfast was done, Mr. Godowsky looked at his daughter’s solemn face.
“Ann…” he began. Ann burst out crying. Mr. Godowsky hugged Ann tight. “I’m sorry sweetheart.” He whispered. He put her arms around her and let her cry into his chest for a long time.
Ann finally pulled away. “You’ll come back soon, won’t you father?” she asked him. “I’ll try to.” He said, wiping her tears.
“Please don’t be sad, Ann. You’ll be my brave little girl, won’t you?” Ann nodded. “It won’t be easy father, but I will.”
“Now that’s my girl.” Mr. Godowsky said and kissed his daughter’s cheek.
Ann and her father pulled their packed suitcases into the carriage before they set off for the orphanage.
The carriage soon stopped them at the orphanage.
Mr. Godowsky helped Ann take out her suitcases and helped her roll them into the orphanage.
A stout lady with blonde hair greeted them.
“I am going off to war.” Mr. Godowsky said. “I have no contacts within this state and I am not wealthy enough to put my daughter in a boarding school. Therefore, I would like you to take care of my daughter until I’m back from war.”
The woman nodded wearily.
She looked sleepy and bored.
“Just do the formalities.” She said and gave Mr. Godowsky a form.
“There’s a fine you’ll have to pay because you’re leaving your daughter under our care.
“I’m willing to pay any price as long as you don’t let my daughter get adopted.” Mr. Godowsky replied.
After the formalities were completed, Ann gazed at her father sadly. Mr. Godowsky knelt down to face Ann and cupped her face in his hands.
How he hated to see his pretty daughter sad!
“I’ll be back soon, dear.” He said. “You must be strong for me. Shall you do that?”
Ann nodded. Yes, she would do anything for her beloved father.
“Father.” Ann said, holding back her tears.
Her lips trembled.
“I’ll always love you, ann.” Her father said.
He hugged her tight and kissed her forehead.
He stood up and put a hand over his suitcase.
“Goodbye for now.” Mr. Godowsky said, his back turned to ann.
He couldn’t bear to see his daughter’s sadness.
Without another word, he walked out of the orphanage leaving Ann with tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Now that it’s all done and said, I want you to come with me.” The woman said.
Ann studied her.
The woman was stout with thin lips and slanted eyes on her round face. She looked like she could be mean when she wanted to be.
“My name is Mrs. Bridgett.” She said.
“I have worked in this orphanage for the past twenty years of my life. I have had plenty of experiences with handling girls like you.”
“But I’m not an orphan.” Ann said.
“Doesn’t matter.” Mrs. Bridgett said.
“You’re a girl, aren’t you? Now, you shall be taught history, arithmetic, science and English as you are taught in school. If I hear that you have caused any inconvenience to the teacher, you shall have to deal with me, is that understood?”
Mrs. Bridgett opened the door for her.
“Put your belongings in this room and go to your class over there.” She said, pointing at another door.
Ann obediently did so without looking around the room and stepped inside the next room. She heard the door close behind her.
“Mrs. Bridgett isn’t mean. She’s just strict.”
Twenty pairs of eyes were staring at her as Ann looked around.
It was a small classroom with wooden walls, desks, and floor.
“Sit down at the desk over there.” The teacher told ann.
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Twelve, sir.” She replied.
He nodded. “All right class.”
He pointed to the writing on the chalkboard.
“Repeat after me.”
Ann knew most of the answers to the questions that her teacher asked the class.
The afternoon droned on until it was 3:30 PM.
The girls packed their schoolbooks and went into the room that Ann was shown to before.
“this is where all the girls sleep.” Ann realized, looking around at the bump beds.
Mrs. Bridgett passed around a snack and the girls took their snacks and ate them.
“So you’re the new girl.”
A plump and pudgy faced girl said.
“Yes.” Ann said, feeling intimidated by her.
“How did your parents meet their end?” the pudgy faced girl asked her.
“Oh, my mother died a very long time ago but my father still lives. He was drafted to war and left me here to be taken care of.” Ann replied.
“Your father could not send you somewhere else?” the girl snickered.
“Catherine, leave her alone.” A tall, blond girl said.
“Why should I, Natalie?”
“Leave her alone.” The girl named Natalie said again in an icy voice and took Ann by the hand.
Both girls walked to a corner. “She’s been that way ever since she came here.” Natalie told her.
“And how long ago was that?” Ann asked.
“A year ago.” Natalie replied. “I have been here for seven years.”
“Why have not you been adopted?” Ann wondered.
Natalie shrugged. “Perhaps no one wants me. it has always been that way.”
“My parents gave me up for adoption when I was two years old. They did not care about me. How should I expect anyone else to?”
Ann spoke no more because she was stunned into silence. She felt sorry for the girl and could only think, “If only she had a father like mine.”
The girls were soon given dinner and sent to bed promptly at 8:00. Ann opened her eyes and found herself awake before the other girls. She’d had a dreamless night and had woken up thinking about her father.
She wondered if he was all right or if he was even still alive.
“No,” Ann thought firmly. “Father shall not leave me. He shall come back for me unharmed.
Ann missed her father. She missed his warm smile and beckoning open arms.
She was jolted out of her thoughts when Mrs. Bridget came into the room and said, “It’s time to wake up!” all of the girls woke up, brushed their teeth and dressed.
They all ate breakfast silently and protected their food from wandering eyes. Then they all went into the small classroom for school.
It was the same routine every day. The days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months. Girls were adopted by foster families and new girls came into their places.
The teacher’s name was Mr. Caldwell. He was a gruff and strict teacher who disciplined his students by hitting their knuckles with a ruler. He was in his mid-forties with balding hair and a stern expression. Ann missed her father very much and wondered if he was still alive to miss her back.
James Godowsky was a handsome man of thirty five. He had the same brown hair and eyes as Ann. Many women had wanted to court him after his wife’s death but he chose to remain a widower. He had loved his wife deeply and had been shattered into pieces after her death. As he continued to walk to registrar’s desk, he thought about Ann, his lovely daughter. She looked a lot like him but had taken after his wife with her rosy lips and dimples on her cheeks.
“I wonder how my Ann is coping without me in the orphanage.” He thought. “I wonder if I shall still live to take her back with me. What if I die of a disease or get killed?”
Mr. Godowsky shook his head.
“No. I have to stay alive for Ann and make it out of this war. Ann already lost her mother. If I die, then she’ll really become an orphan. I can’t bear the thought of her being sad again. I want to see her happy and I’ll do whatever it takes to see her smile.” He thought triumphantly.
“Name?” the attendant said.
“James Godowsky .”
The attendant checked his roster and nodded his head. He then handed Mr. Godowsky his uniform.
Mr. Godowsky changed into his uniform and entered a room full of men. They were in all sizes, short and tall, fat and thin with the same military crew cut like his. He was handed a rifle. The man at the front wore a cap and had many badges on his camouflaged uniform. He was the sergeant.
“My name is Daniel Harris.” He said. “Remember one thing, soldiers. In this war, there is no such thing as fear. there’s only one thing that you have to remember and that is you are fighting to protect your country from anyone taking over it. Do you know how I got these?”
He touches his badges. “I showed bravery and I got injured for it. I expect yourselves to be willing to sacrifice your lives for the country that has given you so much. You may not get badges or honor and other petty things but you shall play a role in protecting this country and its citizens. If you love America and if you want your patriotism, then be prepared to face the consequences of this war and make the sacrifices. Now soldiers, this is how you hold your rifle.
“I’m making a sacrifice all right.” Mr. Godowsky thought. “I’ve separated my own darling Ann away from me and we both have to bear the consequences of it.”