1953

"Go on. Off to bed with you both..." Maria said urgently to her children Sophia and Antonio upon finding out what time it was. "It's getting late."

Sophia obeyed without question and grabbed Antonio's hand despite his reluctance.

"But, Mama..." He protested, turning to look back at his mother with large puzzled eyes. "Papa hasn't-"

"Don't you remember the rule? You need to be in bed by eight-thirty. It is now eight."

"But why?"

"Because I say so! Sophia, take him away please..."

"No, I don't want to-"

"Come on, little brother." Sophia insisted as she pulled the five-year-old along with her. "You have to practice this for school."

"Oh..." Antonio simply uttered in embarassment while remembering the reason for his own earlier excitement. "Okay..."

He followed his sister willingly from that point on, even as she climbed beneath the thin bed covers. She grew irritated when he tried to get in beside her and pushed him away as a result.

"Don't touch me. This is my side of the bed, not yours."

"But I want to cuddle!"

"I'll call Mama if you don't move."

Antonio pouted before making his way to the foot of the bed with a whimper. He thought it unfair that Sophia was allowed to sleep on the more comfortable side and the fact that her legs were getting long did not make things easy either.

One of the last things he wanted was to be kicked in the face during the middle of the night, yet have to pretend that he still felt fine.

The minutes crawled by and he eventually sat up to ease his boredom.

"Sophia, is school fun?"

"Sometimes. Now be quiet, I want to sleep."


Sophia holding his hand on the way to the right classroom made him feel quite safe, though the time soon came for her to let go.

He felt vulnerable the moment that she stepped away and cried out for her to stay, but she rushed off without saying a word.

"Mama..." He whimpered, backing up against the wall and hoping that Maria would somehow magically appear to comfort him.

When his mother did not materialize, he sulkily turned his attention to the other children whom were only just beginning to arrive.

He was a dwarf compared to them and it took him a while to remember that the ones with long hair were girls.

Other than that, they all looked similar to his unaccustomed eyes. Their fair hair and pale skin prompted him to look down at his own swarthy hands.

A voice as childish as his own prompted him to look up. He found himself face-to-face with a boy whose red hair and large front teeth reminded him of a donkey.

"Hello." The boy said in a tone that seemed friendly. The way he waved his hand as well let Antonio know that he had just heard a greeting.

"Hello..." Antonio repeated while imitating his classmate's voice and gesture.

"I'm Thomas. What's your name?"

This longer string of English sounds forced Antonio to think hard in order to figure out their meaning, until he remembered what his parents did when they couldn't understand something.

He shook his head rather vigorously, which was enough for the other boy to receive the message.

"Thomas." The boy introduced himself, before pointing his finger at Antonio. "You?"

Antonio couldn't help but smile as he realized what was being asked.

"Me... Antonio..." He replied proudly whilst gesturing at himself and expecting another challenge to come his way.

He was sorely disappointed when Thomas instead stared at him like he was some oddball.

"Where are you from? Why can't you talk right?"

"Me, Antonio." He repeated under the assumption that Thomas simply hadn't heard him the first time.