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Rated: E · Chapter · Other · #2281415
Madison sets out on her Mission
The plane was filled to capacity and noisy. Madison was grateful for her earbuds and tried to focus on watching a movie streaming on her tablet. But Berdine's diary kept nudging her mind. She didn't want to read anymore. She didn't want to read how Berdine was going to justify killing her poor baby boy. But the fact that it was there, in her carry-on bag, was relentlessly calling to her. Grudgingly, she finally reached down and pulled it from the bag.

August 1894
I told the children their brother has gone to stay with another family that has more food than we do. They did not question the absence of their baby brother again, but Adele looks at me with eyes that seem to condemn me. Perhaps it is my own conscience that rears up. I have to keep telling myself I did the right thing. My sweet baby boy would never make this trip across the ocean. I wonder if my girls will even make it. Many who take this trip do not make it. My boy was suffering, dying slowly. I ended his suffering. He is now at peace with my husband. Valuables on our journey would only make us targets and tho we have very little, there are some precious items I feel compelled to secure and will later return for them. I don't have the strength to do this on my own, so I have enlisted the help of my children. They helped me dig by the soft dirt near the fireplace stones. It took three days to get the whole deep and long enough for the chest to fit snuggly down inside. Last night, the children were each allowed to place one item they valued the most into the chest. Adele put her gold locket her father gave her on her 8th birthday and Frieda put a wood-carved dolly she received on her third Christmas. I wrapped the family Bible in a weatherproof oiled cloth. This Bible was handed down from my Grandmother and has a record of all the births and deaths, and I've added my birth, wedding, and the births of all of my children. I've added the date of my son's death. When I return for the book, I am sure there will be more dates that will need to be added. Lastly, I add several other items and seal the chest with a sturdy padlock. While my girls sleep, I bury the chest, being sure to pack the earth on top so no hint the dirt has been stirred remains.

January 1895
Five months have come and gone quickly. Most of the coins Gerhard saved have gone for passage fare for me and the girls. The few coins I have left, I carefully sewed into the hems of my warmest cape. They will not jingle and can not easily be stolen from us. The night before we are to leave, I use the last of our food supplies to bake three loaves of bread. Then, I slice it, toast it and place it in a burlap sack and place it in our travel bag. We are only taking one bag. One bag to hold all of our clothing, and essentials. We need to travel as light as possible or we get charged extra for baggage. It is icy and cold the day we arrive at the dock and await to board the ship. I and the girls have on as many of our warmest clothes as possible, yet the bitter wind cuts right through to the bone. I can feel my girls trembling from the cold and I ask myself once again if I am really doing the right thing. When I try to sleep at night, I hear my son crying from the grave. Crying for me to pick him up and comfort him. How can he know he has been left behind?

January 1895
Headed to America
Dear Diary,
I fear my youngest daughter may not see America. Several of the other passengers have died and I can't believe the sailors simply toss them into the sea! Oh I pray my little girl doesn't end up tossed into the sea. Adele seems to be taking the journey well, though she has stopped her usual chatter and barely makes a sound. She just stares wordlessly out into the distance with blank-looking eyes. I am thankful I thought to bring the toasted bread. Daily rations from the ship are small, barely enough to keep a child alive. Many of the passengers fight and the weaker ones have their food snatched from them. I have sworn my children to silence and they seem to understand the importance of this. At night, under the cover of darkness, I silently pull out a slice of bread and break it in half. Each of my children gets a half. They eat quickly and quietly before anyone can see them. I believe it is what is helping them stay alive. I pray the bread will last until we get on American soil.

January 1895
Headed to America
Dear Diary,
I'm not sure any of us is going to make it to America alive. We are now a week into the journey with nearly a week left to go. Disease has broken out and more of the passengers have died. It is hard to know for sure, but I heard one of the sailors say typhus was the cause. I'm worried about Adele. She has been having trouble keeping her rations down and twice has refused her evening bread. She shivers with
cold and I don't know if she is sick from disease or sick from the constant motion of the ship. I am watching her closely. Freida doesn't seem to be showing any signs of illness, just pale and very underweight. I pray we make it the next week. I feel so very weak. It is all I can do to sit here against the wall and make sure no one tries to take my children's belongings. Passengers are desperate, and desperate people do unthinkable things. Sleep evades me and I'm haunted nightly by my son who is angry with me. My heart breaks with the knowledge I betrayed him. He doesn't understand what I did was done out of love in the sincerest way.

The sound of the pilot on the loudspeaker pulled Madison from the ship to the present day. They would be landing in the airport she was headed to within the next ten minutes. She was both excited and nervous. What if she got lost? What if no one spoke English? What if she failed the entire mission? The plane landed smoothly at Stuttgart Airport and Madison made her way to the double doors that led to a whole new world. One she'd never been in before. Taking a deep breath she marched to the double glass doors before she could chicken out.

Even though the warm afternoon sun beamed down on her, the soft breeze made her shiver lightly. On the plane, she had switched her phone's settings and she quickly poked the weather button. The weather ap reported it to be sunny and mild with temps in the low to mid 70's. That was winter weather where she was from! She pulled her roll-behind case closer to the front wall of the building and rummaged until she found her soft pull-on sweater. Once snug in her sweater, Madison glanced around wondering where to go from there. Grandmother had said this was her mission therefore she should be the one to make all the travel plans and arrangements. The only thing Grandmother had done was give her a credit card and told her to charge everything she needed to the card. Madison was secretly looking forward to doing some serious shopping!

An app on her phone told her the city she needed was just a little over an hour by transit bus, once again, she hit an app and this one told her there was a bus stop on the main road to the right. It even gave her a little map. Grabbing the handle of her wheeled suitcase and tossing her carry-on bag over her shoulder, Madison marched determinedly following the little arrow blinking at her on her phone. Who needed to make travel plans when all you needed was an app?

At the bus stop, there was a simple bench where several other people had gathered. The sun was starting to feel warmer as she stood there, earbuds in her ears to discourage anyone from trying to make conversation. A short five minutes later the transit bus arrived and she boarded the bus. She tapped the credit card her Grandmother had given her, heard a beep and the driver nodded at her so she proceeded down the aisle until she found an empty chair near a window.

The ride to Baden-Wuttanberg was just a little over an hour but Madison kept her eyes on the window and tried to absorb all the sights. It felt like the ride had only taken a few minutes. She followed several others off the bus and looked around. Pulling out her phone she hit the app for lodging near her. It took only a few minutes for the app to pull up a dozen or so suggestions. Madison scrolled until she found one she thought looked reputable. Nice but not posh. The pictures showed the rooms to look clean. The price was mid-range of all the other suggestions. She clicked on it and got the directions. It was only about a mile away and she once again let her phone navigate her footsteps.

Everywhere she looked was interesting! The smells, the sounds! So absorbed in the sights around her, she very nearly walked right past her motel. As she entered, Madison hesitated. The lobby did not look as modest as the room, and she wondered if she had made a mistake. White polished floors gleamed as she made her way further into the lobby.

"Willkommen!" said a thin woman behind a large, curved counter. "May I help you?" She sounded very friendly and smiled wide at Madison. Madison liked how she mixed both English and German to make it easier for her to understand.
"I, uh I think I need a room for two nights please," Madison mumbled as she approached the counter. "Do you take credit cards?" The woman smiled as she looked up from clacking on her keyboard.
"Sure we do," She finished clacking. "We have a nice, single room on the second floor. Room 214. Back towards the rear, is our indoor pool, and at the far end is the restaurant. Cleaning staff comes about ten on your floor, just hang the do not disturb sign if you don't want them coming in to clean." With a flick of her wrist, she scanned Madison's card, had her sign the paper, and handed her the key card and remote control."Guten Tag," the woman said as Madison thanked her and pulled her suitcase behind her to the bank of elevators.

The second floor was the same highly polished white flooring. Paintings done in soft watercolors dotted the walls as she followed the hall and found her room. Inside was spacious. A large queen-size bed draped in a thin bedspread was in the center of the room. A large, flat-screen tv was bolted to the wall in front of the bed. On the far side of the room was a sliding glass door that looked like it led to a small balcony. A small round table and two chairs made up a little dining area or could be used for a workstation. Under the tv bolted to the wall was a long chest of drawers to store stuff. Madison didn't think she'd be there long enough for the need to unpack her bags. She lifted her wheeled suitcase up onto the chest of drawers and unzipped it. After a moment of rummaging around, she found her cosmetics bag and toiletries and took them into the attached bathroom. It was a generic bathroom with the basic necessities and a stack of white fluffy-looking towels.

What should she do first? Madison wondered. She went back to her suitcase and pulled out her laptop and padded over to the small round table. In minutes she was hooked up to the motel's wifi and she began reading about the Black Forest. Many articles had been written and she scanned as many as she could pull up. The first logical step, Madison decided was to find an entrance into the forest and do a bit of exploration. The forest was thousands of miles, and she was searching for a needle in a haystack. The rumble in her stomach told her it was time to find something to eat.

After a hasty hot shower, she pulled on her best jeans and a dark grey thin pullover sweater. Combat boots on, she was ready to go. Down in the lobby, she followed the directions the lady clerk had given her and she found the restaurant easily. After she was seated at a small table with two chairs and handed a menu, Madison realized she could not read the menu. When the waitress came to get her order, Madison simply pointed to something she hoped would be tasty. The waitress wrote on her pad, bobbed her head, and filled her water glass. Madison had just googled "wiener schnitzel" to find out what she had ordered to eat and discovered she'd ordered breaded and fried pork chops. That sounded great to Madison. When the waitress arrived with her plate and sat in down in front of her, the aroma of perfectly fried pork mingled with a warm potato salad and a buttery dinner roll. Before chowing down, Madison used her phone's camera to snap a shot of the lovely-looking meal. She wasn't sure why, but having a record of her experiences seemed important. She was surprised when she didn't even need a knife to cut the pork, it was so tender. Madison decided this was the best meal ever.

Back in her room, Madison stifled a yawn and was determined to read more of Berdine's diary. At this point, she just wanted to get to the end of it. She didn't really care what Berdine thought anymore, but she was very worried about the two girls and wanted to know more about what happened with them. After changing into her pajama pants and a thin tank top, she snuggled into the queen size bed and gently opened the diary.

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