The knock was harsh, demanding. Ilsa knew instinctively that it was no friend or neighbor at the door. The fear that had hovered under the surface of her emotions for five months came out full force. For a moment Ilsa was frozen, staring in the direction of the door that was once again trembling from blows.
Her mother broke the ice, hissing, “Gehen sie! Eilen sie! Hurry, take your books and go upstairs!”
Ilsa moved then, fumbling desperately for her own book and grasping at siblings’ books. The noise of their steps up the stairs seemed to thunder through the house. Help us, God. Help us, God.
The front window shattered and Mutter screamed. Unrecognizable noises filled the house. Ilsa turned back, back to help Mutter.
Brendan grabbed her, “No, Ilsa, come!”
The other children were disappearing up the ladder to the attic. Ilsa wondered suddenly, irrationally, why her parents had so many children. There were too many of them to hide.
The noises from downstairs filled the house, thumps, crashes, yelling. Then came the dreaded sound of heavy footsteps on the stairs. No time for the attic! Ilsa fled through the nearest door, into her parents’ bedroom. There was nowhere to hide. God help.
The roof outside the window caught Ilsa’s eye. Before she could think, she found herself shoving open the window and cambering onto the roof. She pushed the window nearly down and scooted out of sight, crouching awkwardly against the house.
The green police car sat right below her. Ilsa was vulnerable, exposed. All it would take was one glance up, one quick glance. She wondered what the police would do when they found her. Would take her away from her family? Surely police wouldn’t really do that? Surely not just because her parents were homeschooling her? Yet here they were, ransacking the house.
Ilsa’s young brain did not know what to think, how to react. Faint noises filled her ears, hoarse voices yelling, and always more crashes. She could stand it no longer. Ilsa pried her fingers under the window and shoved it open, sound coming more clearly. Pepin was crying.
She slipped as she came through the window, landing hard on her shoulder. The first think she saw in the hall was a book, a dropped school book. She snatched it up, holding it closely as though she could make it disappear into her own body.
A policeman came out of Pepin’s room, clutching the kicking toddler.
“Let him go!” Ilsa screamed.
The policeman stopped short, his eyes looking at Ilsa, hard and bitter. “What? Another child?” His voice matched his eyes, mocking. “What are you doing here? What have you got? A book?” He abandoned Pepin, shaking her, yelling, brandishing the forbidden textbook.
Then he was dragging her down the stairs. She did not try to resist, could barely manage to keep her feet under her.
The downstairs was a shock. More policemen were there, rummaging through the last corners of the house. Tables were overturned. Broken bits of dishes littered the floor. Papers lay in shreds, swirling from the wind that came through the broken front window.
Mutter was crying. Ilsa was allowed to go to her, wrap her arms around her, find assurance that she was all right. Her mother stroked her hair, murmuring a prayer.
Then the police were leaving. Ilsa wondered if it was possible, possible that this would end with none of them injured.
One of the men stopped at the door. “I will be back at 7:30 in the morning. I will come to escort her to the school.” His finger pointed at Ilsa.
Then they were gone. Silence filled the house. Yet, somehow, the torn pieces of their house screamed louder than voices ever could.
“Mutter,” Brandon’s voice quavering. “They said they will fine you per child per day. We must pay or Vater will be put in jail. We cannot afford it, Mutter!”
Mutter reached for us, gathering us and the rest who straggled from upstairs. “Your father and I have chosen to follow as God has directed, teaching you ourselves. God will honor that. We must trust. God is in this home.”
Though this story is fiction, it is based on the true story of a German family. Please remember in your prayers the ongoing fight towards legalizing home schooling for unlicensed parents in European countries.
A special thanks to The Homeschool Legal Defense Association for providing research information.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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