Right, I was showering, and this got into me... I like it, more than my other SoM-fic. It's not beta'ed, and I'm not native English, so I apologize for any mistakes!
She looked around wistfully, seeing all the faces on the boat that would bring these people to mainland America.
Men, women, children; old women, haggard with frowns lining their faces; young, hopeful men, looking ahead towards the horizon. Yes, she'd seen them all, every type that would be welcomed onto America's shore.
Her gaze rested on a small group standing near the railing on the star board side of the ship. The man immediately drew her attention; he stood tall, ramrod, one arm around the younger woman next to him. She pictured him to be a captain in the army; he looked like a man used to giving orders.
The woman next to him was smaller, more fragile, yet possessing a similar air of confidence. She had reddish, shoulder-length hair, a fine face and a slim figure.
Around them were several children. Good god, were they all theirs? Had this woman really given birth to –she did a quick head count- seven children? If so, the woman must have a secret to keep her figure like that; a secret that perhaps, she thought, eyeing her not-so-slight body, she would be willing to share?
One of the children, or rather a woman, with black hair and piercingly blue eyes, made her way to the other woman – her mother?- , softly saying something to her. The woman smiled and squeezed the girl.
She wondered where they were from. Over the years she had seen many people, mostly from Europe, in all kinds of states, of all possible backgrounds.
In the 30 years she had been accompanying her husband on the boat, she had seen the background of people change. At first, around 1910, it had been mostly Irish and Italian people: large families, looking famished and scared. With Hitler's rise to power, Germans had begun to enter the States more and more, and with the actual World War going on, people from all over Europe were trying to start a new life.
She could by now divide the immigrants into several groups. The Jews were the easiest to notice; they looked around suspiciously, not trusting anyone, keeping to themselves. A haunted look was in their eyes and she couldn't help but feel sorry for what they had been through.
Then there were the economic refugees, of which there were quite a few too. In the earlier days, those were the easiest to tell apart: they were full of dreams of a brighter future, living a life in the country where everything was possible, the land of the free, home of the brave. She had always enjoyed watching those people; their enthusiasm shone through and she always thought that these were the people that had brought America its reputation.
But now, with the war, her occasional trips with the boat weren't as happy anymore. People weren't longing for America as much as longing for a place to get away from the war; it wasn't about prosperity, it was about survival.
This family, though, seemed to be doing quite well. The children's clothes were not poor; though quite ragged, they looked well-maintained. The oldest children as well as the father seemed to possess a natural pride.
She shifted closer to them, trying to catch what language they were speaking. Over the years, she had learned to distinguish the foreign languages and even learn a few words: Dutch with its hard g's and guttural sounds; German which sounded surprisingly less harsh than it did whenever she heard a speech on the radio; Polish, melodious and with a lot of s's and z's; and, of course, French, the language of love. She occasionally heard Italian or Spanish, but those languages did not appeal to her as much as the northern ones did.
This family spoke softly, and as she drew closer, she found out why.
They spoke German, and she realized they understood that the people on the boat, all fleeing the Nazis one way or another, wouldn't appreciate the language. Personally, she didn't like the official German, the way it sounded on the radio when spoken by Nazi politicians. But the colloquial German, spoken by the people, the immigrants, sounded lovely. She had picked up a few words in her years, and could understand a bit of the conversation.
"Neue Tag… Gretl muss zum Schule gehen… Hause…"
She frowned; Gretl didn't sound as a particularly German name; maybe these people were from Austria. She'd heard that, since the Anschluss, many people had fled. Even though Nazis thought of the Austrians as Aryans, like themselves, she imagined it was horrible living under their rule.
Austria it was, she decided, watching the oldest woman taking the youngest girl in her arms. No, she thought, this woman could not be the mother to all of them; she looked no day older than 30, perhaps 35, while the oldest daughter looked to be around 18. Surely this woman had not had a child when she was a child herself? And, with six other children, how had her figure remained the way it was?
Still, the way the woman interacted with her children made her think she was very close to them. Not just an aunt or family member; no, this woman was their mother in every way but the biological one.
She watched as the man pressed a kiss into the woman's copper hair, whispering words that were lost in the babbling of the sea.
They were young, this family, their eyes filled with memories of what they had left behind. But their manners were filled with love and respect and spoke of a lifetime of recent happiness.
Yes, she decided, this family would make it.
I sort of like the idea of watching all these immigrants... I mean, where have they come from? Where are they going? And why are they going there? There's a story behind everyone... it'd be fascinating to think about it and observe people like this woman can.
I've got no knowledge on the actual procedure of immigrants into the USA, I only know about Ellis Island, so I apologize if there are any inconsistencies.
Also, I imagine here that the Von Trapps stayed somewhere in Europe (perhaps Switzerland, for its neutral status) for about two years before they went to the USA. It fitted better with my story...
I've had German in school, but it's rather rusty, so I'm not sure it's correct (although, how can you get such phrases wrong?), but here is the translation:
"New day... Gretl ought to go to school... Home..."
(fascinating, I know =P)
oh, and I apologize for the title, I just didn't know anything better...
So, any opinions?