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Stones on a Grave

240 pages
Sara has never been out of the tiny town of Hope, Ontario, where she has been in an orphanage all her life. After a fire destroys the orphanage, clues about her parentage, a medical certificate and a Star of David, lead her to Germany. Despite her fears, she doesn’t speak the language, she knows no one in Germany, and she’s never been on an airplane, Sara arrives in Germany determined to explore her newly discovered Jewish heritage and solve the mystery of her parentage. What she encounters is a country still dealing with the aftermath of the Holocaust. With the help of a handsome, English-speaking German boy, she discovers the sad facts of her mother’s brief existence and faces the horrible truth about her father. Ultimately, the knowledge she gains opens up her world and leads her to a deeper understanding of herself.
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Kathy Kace
K stonesace on a grave
In early June 1964, the Benevolent Home for Necessitous Girls burns to the ground, and its vulnerable residents are thrust out into the world. The orphans, who know no other home, find their lives changed in an instant. Arrangements are made for the youngest residents, but the seven oldest girls are sent on their way with little more than a clue or two to their pasts and the hope of learning about the families they have never known.On their own for the first time in their lives, they are about to experience the world in ways they never imagined…
stoneson a grave Kathy Kace
Copyright ©2015Kathy Kacer
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Kacer, Kathy,1954–, author Stones on a grave / Kathy Kacer. (Secrets)
Issued in print, electronic and audio disc formats. isbn 9781459806597 (pbk.).—isbn 9781459806603 (pdf).— isbn 9781459806610 (epub).—isbn 9781459810907 (audio disc)
I. Title. II. Series: Secrets (Victoria, B.C.) ps8571.a33s76 2015jc813'.54 c20159017475 c20159017483 c20159017491
First published in the United States,2015 Library of Congress Control Number:2015935516
Summary: In thisyanovel, Sara arrives in Germany determined to explore her newly discovered Jewish heritage and solve the mystery of her parentage.
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design by Teresa Bubela Cover images by Shutterstock.com and Dreamstime.com Author photo by Nicole Kagan
orca book publishers www.orcabook.com
For Zac, Jesse, Leila, Izzy and Zoe— a new generation that will need to remember
The smoke was choking Sara, sucking the air out of her lungs. It billowed in massive clouds from the orphanage roof, exploding like lava and pouring across the sky. Sara stood on the lawn facing the disintegrating building, shaking uncontrol-lably. She pulled a blanket around her shoulders, wondering briefly how it had gotten there. Had she grabbed it when she ran from her room? Everything was a blur. Who had awoken her, screaming in the middle of the night? She had a vague recollection of one of the girls—was it Toni?—pounding on her door and calling out frantically, “Fire! Sara! Dot! Tess!Get out of the house! Run! Ruuuunnn!” Sara had staggered from her bed. She remembered clutching her roommate Dot’s arm before scram-bling down the long staircase, faltering in the dark.
k a t h y K a c e r
They had practiced fire drills a thousand times in the past. But no one ever paid much attention. This was no rehearsal. This was real. Girls pushed up behind Sara as she stumbled against the ones in front. “What about Tess?” Dot yelled. “Not here.” Sara had known without even checking that their roommate would not be in her bed. She would be out roaming, as she often did in the middle of the night. No time to dress, Sara realized, glancing down at her nightgown and bare feet. No time to take anything, except the tin box under her bed. It held all the money she had been saving. She didn’t even know how much was there—had resisted the urge to count it these last couple of years. She was waiting for a special occasion, maybe her birthday, to see how much she had saved. If you ever had to leave this place, what would be the one thing you would take with you?Dot had once asked. This box!Sara clutched it to her body and gagged, struggling to find a taste of something clean in the sooty night air. “Are all the girls out of the house?” Mrs. Hazelton, their matron, was pacing, her eyes scanning the lawn where the girls were huddled in twos and threes.
S t o n e s o n a G r a v e
She too was wrapped in a blanket; her hair, usually so neat, was wildly disheveled. This was the first time Sara had ever seen the administrator of the orphanage in a nightgown. Mrs. Hazelton was always so well-groomed, so perfectly put together. Sara couldn’t even imagine the woman actually sleeping! “Don’t you worry, ma’am, everyone’s out.” It wasJoe who responded. Their cook held two of the littlest girls in his arms. Their faces were buried in his shoulder. Sara watched their bodies writhe and tremble against his chest. “I’m countin’ them all, just to make sure. And Miz Webster is here too.” Their home economics teacher lived on the first floor of the house. “She’s got a couple of the young ones with her—Donna and Jen.” Sara was counting as well. First the Seven. They were always called the Seven: herself, Toni, Betty, Dot, Malou, Cady and Tess, who had now mysteri-ously appeared, fully clothed, along with the younger girls. Were they all there? It would be okay as long as everyone was there.Please be there! Others were gathering on the lawn—townspeople who usually kept their distance from the orphans. But now they looked concerned. They moved in between the girls, handing out blankets. Perhaps that’s how Sara’s had found its way around her shoulders.
k a t h y K a c e r
She searched the crowd for a sign of Luke but couldn’t see him. Did he even know what was happening? Would he come if he did know? Sara pushed that thought away. “He’s not coming, you know.” Dot was standing next to her, holding little Debbie in her arms, a sobbing bundle of tangled hair and twitching limbs. Dot could always guess what Sara was thinking.“I keep telling you, he could care less.” Sara shook her head. It was true that her boyfriend didn’t have the best reputation in town. But deep down she’d always believed that he cared—more than that: he loved her, even though it was hard at times to explain that to her roommate. “He probably doesn’t know about the fire, or he’d be here for sure,” she shouted back to Dot. That was it. Luke just hadn’t heard yet. “Are the fire engines coming? Can you see them?” Toni called out, always anxious, plagued with night-mares. Her face was silhouetted against the sky. Only a sliver of a moon still glowed above, disappearing in and out of the billows of smoke. What time was it? Two o’clock? Perhaps three? “They’re coming. I can hear them coming,” Betty replied, calmly, protectively. “Are they coming?” Toni repeated, eyes wide, shaking.
S t o n e s o n a G r a v e
“Joe said they were on their way,” Sara heard herself call out above the other cries, though she felt disconnected from her response. She was trying to keep her voice even. Maybe that would help still Toni and the others. But Sara’s heart was galloping, and her breath came in shallow gasps. She clasped her hands together and rubbed them hard—a nervous habit. If she wasn’t careful, she would rub them raw. And the smoke kept pouring out of the building. It didn’t help that the stench was nearly as suffo-cating. Acrid, sour, foul—like the burned dinner that Joe had served up a week earlier, but multiplied by a thousand, tens of thousands. The flames were next, breaking through the back part of the house where the rooms were—her room—and arcing up into the blackened sky. And the sounds! Who knew a fire could be so noisy—metal twisting and melting, wood crumbling—a cacophony of noises reaching a deaf-ening crescendo. It howled like someone gone mad, pounding inside Sara’s head. “Are you all right, dear?” Sara, startled, looked into the eyes of an elderly woman who had appeared with the other folks from town. She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. “The building was old and run-down. Everyone knew that,” the woman continued, shouting above the sound of crackling timber. “This was bound to happen.”