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"Why?" the woman sobbed. "What did we do?"
The young soldier offered her his hand to help her into the back of the truck. Her little boy had already climbed in, excited to be going on an adventure with soldiers.
"Is this why you joined the army?" her daughter demanded. "So you could put innocent people in prison?"
"It's not a prison," the soldier said, a rehearsed and polite response.
"Internment camp," the girl spat back at him. "It's not a camp. It's a prison."
"It's for your safety, too," the soldier answered.
"Our safety? You put us in prison because of a war on the other side of the world, because we all look the same to you."
The girl ignored his outstretched hand and climbed into the truck, her eyes burning with anger and red from crying. She stood with her arms crossed, looking at her mother and brother and a dozen neighbors, all women and children. The men and older boys had been taken the day before.
The girl sat down hard on her suitcase, the only one she'd been allowed to bring. A change of clothes, a hairbrush, a toothbrush, a few books and small keepsakes, only what would fit into one bag. Everything else, her whole life, had been left behind.
"It's not fair," she said, adding her protest to the cloud of anger and tears coming from the truck. "It's not fair. We're Americans, too. I was born here."
"All the people from the San Francisco area are going to the same camp," the young soldier said. "You'll probably see your friends from school there."
The girl glared at him.
"We have our orders," the soldier snapped, his sympathetic young face suddenly tired and angry. "All you people are going to camps. You might as well get used to the idea. There's nothing you can do about it."
He slammed the gate on the back of the truck and yelled, "All in!"
As the truck pulled away, the girl leaned out to take a last look at her home. The corner of her veil waved in the breeze, a white flag of resignation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
lives in the Chicago area, and reads far more than she writes.