Avigail pulled her thin cardigan tighter around her body, trying to ward off the biting wind that blew down the platform. Her sister stood a short distance away, wrapped up protectively in their mother’s arms. Mother was talking to the other women on the platform.
It was dawn, and they were waiting for their train to arrive.
She didn’t notice the young man approach until he touched her gently on the elbow. “You look cold, miss. Here, take my coat.”
She’d been warned not to talk to strangers, but the young man had kind eyes. “Thank you, but I’m fine.”
“Rubbish! You’re shivering,” he pointed out, removing his jacket and placing it around her shoulders.
The coat was large on her small frame, but it felt warm. She smiled gratefully. “Perhaps just for a minute. Thank you. I’m Avigail, by the way, Abigail Weiner.”
They talked briefly. She learned that he was called David. He was a music teacher. He had recently moved into the area and taken up a job at the university, which is why they had not yet met.
David’s smile made her feel special. It was like it had been saved just for her.
Too soon, they heard the sounds of an approaching train and David stepped away, heading back to the group of men from which he had emerged.
“Wait! You’ve forgotten your coat!” Avigail shouted.
“Keep it for me,” he replied, turning to smile at her again. “You can return it to me when we meet again.”
The train stopped with a hiss of steam, blocking out the wind. The doors rattled open, and Avigail was sucked into the forward carriage carried along by the other women. They were pressed together like sardines in a can, and Avigail had to use all of her strength to make her way through to where her mother and sister were waiting anxiously.
“Where have you been?” demanded her mother.
Avigail ignored the question. She pressed her face to the side of the carriage, peering through a gap in the wood, hoping to catch another glimpse of David. She missed his smile already.
Outside, the men were making their way down the platform to an empty carriage, and she could not see the music teacher amongst them. He was lost within the crowd.
They had been told that upon arrival, they would have a shower, be issued clean clothes and then receive a hot meal.
Avigail smiled at that.
The next time she met David, she might look a little more presentable. She wouldn’t look as if she had been dragged out of her bed in the middle of the night and marched through the town to catch a train.
She wondered what their new home would be like, and if she would really meet David again.
It was cramped in the cattle truck, but at least they were in out of the wind.
A whistle blew outside and the doors slammed shut, leaving the women in near darkness. Tiny beams of light broke the darkness; cracks in the boarding of the carriage.
The train shuddered and started to move, taking Avigail to her new home.