I do not know how to tell this story properly. I was not there to see it all happen. I was not there during the adventures, the wars, the friendships made, the friends lost. I came afterward, after the doors had closed and the memories faded. Yet, I feel as if this story is mine, because I too have lived it, if only just a little. And my mother always told me that true stories went on forever and ever, and although the original storytellers were gone, the threads of the story would weave on, unbroken and strong throughout the centuries. She said if a story were really true, there would always be someone to remember it.
I may never be able to tell the story as well as my mother, and there are holes that I will never be able to fill in. I can only imagine what happened in the bare, empty spaces, and piece together the parts that I know to make what may have been true. What matters most is the emotion and the feeling. My mother taught me many such things about telling stories, for she was the best at telling them herself.
It is a complex tale, for it is the story of more than just one person. This story spans both centuries and seconds, it is a tale of so much, yet so little. I do not know where to start. I do not even know which parts to tell. If I told the whole thing, we would surely be here until we were both old and gray.
But you are curious to hear the story now, are you not? I shall try to begin as best as I can. I suppose there’s no better way to start a story than:
Once upon a time, there were four children. These four children were not special in any way, just two boys and two girls, and they had escaped to the countryside during the Second World War. And there they had many adventures in a particular wardrobe that may have been true and they may have been just the children’s imaginations.
Eventually, of course, the war ended and the children could go back to their parents. If this were an ordinary story, I would say the four children outgrew their childish fantasies, and grew up, and had children of their own. But something went terribly awry, and those four children did not grow up. Instead, three of those kind, lovely children and their parents died in a train wreck. It was a horrible train wreck, and the newspapers all had headlines about it, saying things like “Trains Collide For Unknown Reasons” and “Train Wreck of the Century Kills All Passengers.” And naturally, everyone who read those headlines was sad, and murmured what a pity it was that such an awful thing would happen. But like all news, this incident eventually faded out of people’s memories, and they went about their daily lives, never thinking of the victims again.
But, if you remember, there were four children in the story. What happened to the child that did not die? Well, she was not important obviously (and yes, she was one of the girls, the older one), and nobody mentioned anything about her afterwards, and nobody knew where she went.
I was born eleven years after the accident, and by that time, hardly anyone recalled it at all, except the yellowed newspaper clippings that some people who were interested in those things kept...