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Sophia's Freckles: Part 1
Part 1- Meeting the Vanderbees
The warm joy of the morning sunshine awoke the streets and neighborhoods of London. The city, eager to get ahead on a new day, was quickly bustling with commuters. Children hurried to school, adults rushed to the newsstands for updates about the present war and rushed to coffee shops on their way to their workplaces; everything seemed to be progressing in the city. Yes, this was a lovely typical day for London in the mist of 1943. However in a distinct part of the city, on a particular street, within a specific home, for a most particular someone, this day would mark the start of something not as typical as the rest of the city would experience. For in that home, Sophia Brooks lived and her life would forever be changed. Now you might be curious as to what would changer her, but that is not the question to be asked quite yet. The correct question would concern Sophia’s freckles. Often, the most insignificant details are the keys the lead us to the most significant seasons of our life.
Sophia Brooks is a ten year old little girl of healthy size who lives on 1642 Willesden Lane in a quiet, retreated, more settled part of London. Sophia had just finished her breakfast, when her mother called for her. They had the usual talk about how Sophia would try to stay out of trouble and make the most of her day. Today, Sophia prolonged the conversation by asking her mother about a thought she always held in mind, “Mum, do you think I can make a friend today”?
Startled with her question, her mother gently and wholeheartedly answered, “Now Sophia, you can make a friend any day. Just because the other children don’t understand that, it doesn’t mean it’s not true.”
“Well I hope someone will see that today. I want a friend, Mum,” Sophia respectfully replied.
“I know dear; don’t worry. You’ve always been my friend.” After a long deep-felt moment, she continued, “Now here’s your lunch; I packed scones. Behave and remember,” she paused and simultaneously held her daughter’s gaze and petite hands, “Sophia, I love you; you’re something wonderful. Always remember that.” Sophia smiled and warmly hugged her mother. She knew her mother loved her dearly. She understood this well.
Sophia obediently grabbed her lunch sack and headed towards the door while turning to wave at her mother saying, “Good-bye, Mum”!
As Sophia began her morning walk to her school, she greeted her neighbor, Mrs. McIntire, with a joyful smile and a “Good day.” Turning to her left to walk up Willesden Lane towards the center of London, she noticed a commotion around a neighbor’s home. However, what was odd to Sophia was that for all her life, since she’s lived on Willesden Lane, that house had remained vacant and empty; she had never before seen the house surrounded by people. Sophia didn’t know whether or not to be surprised, elated, or displeased. But as her childlike amiability drew her closer to the house, she simply became overjoyed to finally see life in that once very desolate home. Although she was supposed to walk to school, she decided to rush to the new neighbors and greet them. It was difficult at first to differentiate between who was moving furniture and who were really the new residents of the home. As she walked around, observing the scene, she noticed that a woman was repeatedly near her and decided to ask her. Sophia was told the new neighbors would not be home until tomorrow. She felt a bit of disappoint and grew anxious for tomorrow’s morning.
The next day, while Sophia was on her walk to school, she noticed the home again. Yet, this time the home was quiet not surrounded by people and furniture. Sophia couldn’t wait any longer; she ran towards the house’s front door and knocked. After a few minutes passed, Sophia began to think that no one was home, but finally a woman in very formal attire answered the door. Sophia expected to hear a greeting, but instead she was just given a weak smile and a surprised, yet stern face looking back at her. So Sophia decided to smile and say, “Good day.” While extending her hand she added, “I am Sophia Brooks, a neighbor on 1642. I am very excited about our new neighbors”!
The woman straightened her back and replied, “Good day,” only this time her smile was just a tiny bit wider and more natural. Sophia expected an equally enthusiastic greeting, but she was pleased that the austere woman had become more relaxed. Sophia’s feelings of contentment were only relished for that short moment, for they were quickly interrupted by the woman’s new words, “I must go now.” Before Sophia could properly react, she was facing the door. Sophia sighed with displeasure. Now, she became all the more curious an anxious about her new neighbor. She was determined to be-friend them.
Now, why, you might ask, should a young ten -year old girl be interested in forming a friendship with strict adult neighbors? Well, Sophia was a girl who felt everyone needed a friend. So, she always aimed at being a friend to those who were more reserved, because she believed they were reserved only because they were friendless. “If no one wants to be my friend, then I will be theirs,” Sophia reasoned.
Day after day, morning after morning, Sophia would walk past the house, 1647, yearning to know more about the new neighbors. One day she noticed a man, dressed in his pajamas and a thick navy blue bathrobe, briefly outside the house retrieving the day’s milk and newspaper. Once he noticed her, he looked towards the ground and hurried inside. Before he could actually enter his home, Sophia greeted him saying, “Good day, sir!”
The man stopped and paused for a brief moment. He looked up at Sophia almost in astonishment, yet he too carried a smile just like the woman. “Good day, little one,” he gently replied. Sophia was overjoyed; he had stopped to greet her!
“I’m Sophia Brooks, a neighbor on 1642.I am very pleased to meet you,” Sophia answered making the most of her opportunity.
“Hello, Sophia; I am Mr. Vanderbee,” he replied with an even warmer smile, now. Just as Sophia was about to talk more to Mr. Vanderbee, the woman opened the door and was surprised to find her husband talking to Sophia.
“Good day!” Sophia was excited to see the woman.
“Hello, Sophia,” she softly replied. Bothe the Vanderbees looked at each other in a silent subtle, almost secret way of communicating. They both said goodbye to Sophia and entered the house at once again.
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Vanderbee,” Sophia called out right before the door was shut. Mr. Vanderbee paused again.
“Nice to meet you, too, Sophia,” he replied looking thoughtfully at his hands. Sophia noticed a ring on his left index finger. Somehow she knew it was a very special ring to him. He then stepped inside and shut the door. From the happiness in his tone, Sophia could tell that she had really brought pleasure to Mr. Vanderbee’s morning. Sophia felt accomplished. She knew that she had formed the beginning of her friendship with the Vanderbees.
While Sophia was infatuated with her new friends, greeting them every morning, she was also occupied with writing letters to her father, Daniel. Sophia and her father held a very special bond. They loved each other dearly, just as Sophia and her mother loved each other. However, her father was a physician and had decided to help Great Britain in the war by tending to the soldiers in the army hospitals on the battle field. The separation has crushed Sophia’s spirits, but she found comfort in writing him, wherever he may be. She wrote once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once in the evening with her mother, Natalie. Mr. Brooks was missed greatly, but they understood what was occurring. A disagreement with Hitler’s third Reich, Germany, and their militaristic invasion had taken the world to war: World War ll.
War with Germany meant bomb-air raiding. Today, in particular, was a day where the raiding would hit London. Sophia was walking with her mother in the streets mailing their letters and enjoying a wonderful Saturday afternoon. The sirens began to blare and sent the people on frenzy for shelter. Mrs. Brooks grabbed Sophia’s hand and both knew exactly where they were heading to: the underground subway. By the time they arrived, there must have been hundreds of Londoners seeking refuge as well. Thankfully Sophia and her mother found a spot to sit down and wait until the “all-clear” sign was heard. To Sophia’s surprise and content, they were sitting next to the Vanderbees! Surprisingly, the Vanderbees were engaged in conversation with Sophia. The Brooks and the Vanderbees enjoyed each other’s company for a couple of hours until they finally slept and were awakened by the sirens early the next morning, notifying that London was safe.
End of Part 1