The sick and sad people, exhausted from the train trip, shuffled around, separating reluctantly from loved ones. Eva clutched her father. “No, Papa. I can’t leave you. Please, Papa. Tell them we have to be together. Please, Papa.”
“Eva, we must do what they say,” he said, gently.
“Papa, I can’t live without you. You’re the only one who’s ever loved me. I can’t breathe without you!” Eva said.
“You have my love with you. You won’t be alone. And you have God. Do not throw away your hope. It may be the only thing that will keep you alive.”
Eva nodded, her chin quivering with emotion, trying so hard to be brave for the father who had given her the strength to accept herself when her mother hadn’t. He was a father whose blood did not run through her veins, but his love ran through her heart.
“Move along!” the policeman yelled.
Bert, still holding Eva, didn’t move fast enough. The guard hit him with the butt of his gun. Bert let go of Eva’s hands. She held them out to him.
As he moved away from her, she whispered. “Papa. I love you. Thank you for being my one true papa.”
“I love you, too. You are my sweet joy,” Bert said, as tears ran down his cheeks. It was the first time Eva had ever seen her father cry, and it was more frightening than anything else she’d seen.
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