TG Universes & Series:
Bernie was worried, very worried. Only last week it had been on the news how a local authority down south had seized a couple’s children for adoption and apparently it was legal to rip a child or children from their family if the SS had any doubts over their welfare. SS – they were certainly getting a reputation, not as protectors but as oppressors just like their German namesakes last century.
They were at the Rose house more than her Dad, well it felt that way, Andrea had been placed on the ‘at risk’ register at birth for no reason other than her parent’s misdemeanours. Their social worker, Mike, a tattooed lesbian with no children, hinted every day that they’d take Andrea if they could, there would be no chance to get her back as they fast track infant adoptions – there are apparently plenty of ‘better’ parents waiting to adopt. Over her dead body, no way were they going to get Andrea.
Her parents were on her side and shared her fears and worries but there seemed to be little they could do bar adopting the child themselves. Discrete enquiries suggested that despite being the grandparents they would have little hope of success. They’d all been living on tenterhooks since the baby was born, it could be years before the threat of removal lessened, there really wasn’t anything they could do.
Although she’d been writing to Mart and Gab regularly she’d not mentioned any of this to her boyfriend or birthing partner, they’d only worry on her behalf. No she needed a plan, a plan to get the SS off their backs permanently not just until ‘Mikes’ next unannounced visit. Her computer was getting a bashing as she trawled the web for information and possible help.
There were stories of families fleeing the country but invariably the SS caught up with them and managed to manipulate the law to force their return, it never ended well. Just moving around the country sometimes helped, not all local authorities were so, well vicious, came to mind. She wasn’t even sixteen yet so unless they upped sticks as a family she couldn’t leave and the thought of being on her own with a baby – well it could make things worse.
No there had to be another way.
They’d all watched Gaby’s triumphs in Denmark on Eurosport. There had been highlights of all the events so they’d seen Jenny Bond’s surprise victory as well as the last couple of minutes of Drew, no Gaby’s gold medal effort in the time trial. There had been better coverage of the road race, Bern, with Drea on her lap was on the edge of her seat as the events unfolded that would give her best friend a second World Championship medal.
“Wave to Aunty Gab,” Bern waggled the gurgling Andrea’s puddy at the telly.
“Don’t confuse her, Bern,” Cheryl put in.
“You’re not confused are you pumpkin, that’s definitely Gaby there.”
Indeed, you didn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to see the girl on the podium alongside the lads. The outline of her sports bra was pretty obvious through the saturated race wear but most people wouldn’t be looking. The other Brit on the podium, the one who won, wasn’t much taller than Gab; he looked a right cheeky little bugger as they hugged.
“She’ll be having her surgery in a few weeks,” Bern noted.
“I still find it difficult to believe that little urchin was a girl all this time, he was such a tearaway,” Cheryl mentioned getting up to put the kettle on.
“Can you guys look after Drea for a bit please, I need to do my homework.”
“Okay, love,” Jack Rose agreed, “come to Gramps, Drea.”
Watching her friend racing had sparked an idea; she dug through a pile of stuff she’d brought back from her stay in Dernau. It took a few minutes but she eventually pulled her German textbooks out, hmm, ‘Sprechen sie Deutsche, Bernie?’ she mumbled to herself. Maybe it was a harebrained idea but it was worth checking out, first thing though was to improve her German.
It was several weeks later that she had the bare bones of a plan, it would need help from Mart and his parents, her own Mum wouldn’t like it, Dad either but he’d be easier to convince. The Internet had eventually supplied what she needed; her newfound skills with German had been essential and would continue to be if the plan was to work. She sat down and pulled out her writing supplies, email was quicker but she was paranoid that Mike of the SS would somehow get to read her electronic conversations, paper was more secure.
She wasn’t sure how the Preiser’s, how Mart would react to her plan, she wouldn’t entrust that even to the post but hopefully asking if they could visit was the first step. She’d have to get a passport for the baby, there was a chance the SS might be informed – who knows who tells who what, how and why between government departments, but she’d have to take the chance. They have application forms at the Post Office; she’d pick one up when she went to post her letters in the morning.
Gaby’s letter was shorter than usual, she was feeling sorry for herself after the surgery and didn’t have a lot of cycling, shopping or just schoolgirl tales to tell – it wasn’t often Gab got into a fugue but when she did it was usually deep and directly related to bike riding! The other letter, the postmarks were a day apart but they’d arrived together, was the one she really wanted to read – sorry, Gab. She opened it and drew out the folded sheets and began to read;
Andrea, she grows so quickly! I showed Mother the pictures, she says she is beautiful. There is a lot happening here….
A lot of the content meant nothing to her really, stuff on the farm, bragging about his soccer skills – well for a lad there was a lot! Then she got to the bit she’d been looking for;
It would be great to see you again; you are more than welcome to come! Will it be just you or will Drea come too? When and for how long do you think? I asked Mama, you could stay at the farm unless you have other plans.
Email me the dates and I’ll get everything ready here.
Hugs and kisses my liebchen, give Drea a hug from Uncle Mart!
Bern smiled to herself, maybe this can work.
“I’ve got an invite to go to Germany for a visit in the New Year.”
“That’s nice, the Bonds?”
“One of the girls actually, er Martine.”
Yeah, Cheryl didn’t know about Mart and Bern felt it prudent for that to stay the situation for a while longer.
“I take it you want to go then?”
“They were good to me and it would be nice to see everyone again.”
“So I suppose you want me and your dad to have Drea?”
“I was thinking of taking her with me.”
“Do you think that’s a good idea?”
“Don’t see why not, lots of people fly with babies and she’ll be six months old.”
Cheryl wasn’t keen on the idea but she’d vowed to be supportive rather than interfering, she’d had enough of that with her own mother.
“Won’t she need a passport?”
“Yeah, I’ve already checked what’s needed, just need to get a photo.”
“I suppose you need some money then?”
“I’ll be staying with Martine so I only have to pay for flights, I’ve got some put away.”
“You’ll need spending money and enough for nappies and baby food, you can’t expect this Martine’s family to supply everything.”
“Er no, course not, I hadn’t thought that far ahead.”
“I’ll talk to your dad,” Cheryl told her daughter.
Dates you wanted, Jan 5th to 19th for two, farm great!
The email didn’t give potential snoops very much but told Martin everything he’d asked, she pressed send.
Gaby emailed a few days later;
Mart said you’re coming in the New Year, that’s brill. Everyone’s looking forward to seeing you both, even Goth Gurl!
Making a flying visit to York for some dinner thing in a couple of weeks so I’ve arranged for Caro to get everyone’s Chrimbo prezzies to Warsop.
There was more about some market thing they are doing, sounded like fun and something about a wedding that didn’t make a great deal of sense – something about cheese? There was a picture attached but the spy ware thing had blocked it for some reason. Most importantly for Bern though the message made no reference to Drea travelling.
She went over the stuff she’d printed off again, it was a bit scary, she didn’t know how Mart would react, it would after all affect him and his family and could have repercussions. But she was becoming desperate, the flippin’ SS came round twice yesterday and the stress was making itself felt on her mother, it’s like ‘Mike’ was hoping she’d foul up somehow. It’s not like there was anyone to complain to – except the SS and that would as likely make things worse rather than better.
The plan was fairly simple, there would be hoops to jump through but it would be worth it and moving to Germany would be a small price to secure Drea’s future. There was only one parent on the birth certificate, a second could be added, one that would give Drea dual nationality. The second part would have more impact but even in Germany you need to be sixteen to wed legally.
Marriage – as children they’d all played dress up weddings, taking it in turns to be the bride – even the boys! There was never a groom of course; it was all about the bride and her maids. Actual marriage was something old people did – these days increasingly rarely, they used to watch the weddings at Meden church, hoping to see the beautiful bride – well it’s the law they’re beautiful at least in their preteen minds.
And now here she was herself, already a parent but contemplating, no hoping that she could marry someone who, in reality, she hardly knew. She did like him, and he her – he did reply to her letters so maybe there was a bit more there. Enough for a formal long-term relationship? She didn’t want to go too far along that chain of thought.
There wouldn’t of course be the dreamy white wedding every girl, well most girls dream about, time and the need for some secrecy put the kybosh on that. Her mother will go ballistic of course, maybe they can do some sort of church thing later? But the important thing was going to be the marriage certificate, the gateway to a new life.
It’s not like it had to be forever, that sounded a bit mercenary but it was true, if it didn’t work out they could divorce but that wasn’t part of the plan. There were residency issues but she’d be sixteen in March, if the Preiser’s agreed, the marriage could take place as soon as, Mart celebrated his birthday back in September, and everything else could start moving. She had nothing against her country of birth but right now it made her tiny family live a precarious existence.
Drea mumbled to herself in her crib thankfully unaware of her mother’s machinations.
It was the middle of December when the postman delivered a recorded letter addressed to Andrea Rose. Bern excitedly opened it for her daughter to reveal her new passport. It was perhaps the most important document she needed, they could at least travel to Germany for their ‘holiday’ now.
The subterfuge nearly ended before it got started, the SS visitor arrived before Bern could put the new travel document away. They’d have to know she was going away in the New Year of course but they didn’t need to know exactly where, did they? Getting her mum to carry the lie she was planning on telling would be difficult but not impossible.
“And how’s Andrea today?”
“The same as she was yesterday and the day before,” Bern supplied as she pushed the passport down the side of the sofa cushion.
“I think that’s for me to decide,” ‘Mike’ stated as she none too carefully lifted the sleeping babe.
A baby who immediately started to cry.
“What’s wrong, eh?”
“You picking her up, she’d only just gone down,” Bern pointed out.
The child was subjected to being stripped so the SS could check her over then handed to Bern to redress. The callousness and hate from ‘Mike’ was palpable, the woman shouldn’t’ve been allowed anywhere near children let alone be entrusted with their protection.
“You here again?” Cheryl mentioned with some venom when she returned home from shopping.
“No need to be like that, Cheryl, I’m here to protect your grandchild.”
“It’s Mrs Rose to you and the only person she needs protecting from is you!”
“I could take her away.”
“On what grounds? Your hurt feelings?” Cheryl was in the woman’s face now.
“Mum!” Bern tugged at her mothers sleeve, “Leave it, please?”
“I’ll be back.”
“I’m sure you will,” Cheryl spat.
Maddy Bell 27.01.16
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