Beth held her dolly tight as her mother pulled her quickly along. She heard her father calling from the far side of the throng of people. Her mother clutched her hand tightly as she pushed forward through the crowd. Pain throbbed in Beth’s hand because of her mother’s death grip, but she held her tongue. As they fought to where her father was standing, the mill of legs was all that Beth could see. It was chaotic and panicked. She could tell that everyone was scared. Even Mother and Father, to see them so frightened scared Beth.
They finally reached Father who pulled them in close. Her mother and father began whispering earnestly back and forth. Beth looked around. The crowd looked frantic – people running, families holding each other, mothers crying.
“NO!” At the sound of Mother’s voice Beth turned and looked up at her, who looked down, her eyes brimming with tears. She pulled Beth’s head toward her waist and buried it into her long overcoat. All Beth could hear was the muted voices of her parents talking – she didn’t know what they were talking about. Or what everyone was so frightened of. It all happened so fast.
Her father had come home from the factory early today and pulled Mother into the other room where they talked for a long time in hushed voices. When they came out they were carrying luggage. Beth’s mother had knelt down and helped her with her coat. As she buttoned it up she looked Beth in the eyes and told her that they were going to visit their auntie’s house in the country. It was going to be a holiday, she had said with a smile.
Now Beth hugged onto her dolly wondering why everyone was so afraid. Mother took her hand again and they were pushing their way through the crowd, following Father. He pushed open a big thick wooded door and held it as they walked through. Beth heard the sound of a train whistle at the far end of the station. She smelled the smoke from the train’s engine as it blew through the open air. There was less of a crowd out here but everyone still looked frantic and moved with urgency. They got to the door of the passenger car and Mother knelt down in-front of her as she had earlier.
She reached into their luggage and pulled out a small bundle of Beth’s clothes, “Hold on to these tight now.” Beth held them tight along side her dolly as Mother tied something to the front button-hole of her coat. “Remember what I said earlier? We’re going to go on a holiday to your Auntie’s house. You will have to go on ahead now, Father and I will catch the next train,” she said as she blinked away the tears. Beth looked at her father who stood there, face emotionless except for the shimmering of tears in his own eyes. He reached down and picked her up, Mother and Father hugged her tight. Then Father lifted her up to the train, reaching out he touched her nose with a finger, “I love you poppet.”
Beth looked down at her coat – a single ticket hanging from a button hole. The train began to move, Beth called after them tears streaming down her face. She reached out with her hand crying out to them. Mother and Father held each other tight, Mother sobbing and tears brimming over Father’s eyes. They disappeared from sight as the train rounded a bend. Beth saw smoke rising from the city.
The Monster had come.