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“Kuma,” A Short Story, Part 3 of 3

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Eddy’s life changed right away. He stopped going to school and his family wasn’t allowed to leave the house at night. Eddy spent the first couple of days playing with Kuma and with Julia once she got back from school.

Eddy noticed a lot of strangers were going in and out of his front door and how things around the house were slowly disappearing. He found his mom arguing with a man over a brand new vacuum cleaner his dad had bought her for their anniversary.

“This is brand new and worth five times what you’re offering,” Mrs. Murakami told the man.

“Take it or leave it, Ma’am.”

Mrs. Murakami shook her head and when the man left, Eddy asked her, “Why are you selling the vacuum cleaner?”

“We have to sell everything,” Mrs. Murakami answered. “They are only letting us take one suitcase each.”

Kuma barked, which gave Eddy an idea. Since they could each take one suitcase, they could put the vacuum cleaner in Kuma’s suitcase. After all, Kuma was a dog and didn’t have anything to bring. He told his mom his idea.

Eddy knew something was wrong because his mom couldn’t look at him. When she finally did, she said, “Kuma can’t come with us. You’ll have to find a new home for him.”

Eddy ran up to his room and cried. He hugged Kuma all night. It was the saddest he had ever been.

But the next morning, Eddy knew what he had to do. He had two days to find a new home for his best friend. The first person he went to was Julia. He asked her if she could take Kuma, but she shook her head no.

“My mother’s allergic to dogs.”

Eddy was not going to give up so easily. He went from house to house on his street looking for another family that would adopt Kuma. Some of the people slammed the door in his face, a couple of adults even called him mean names.

No matter how hard Eddy looked, he couldn’t find anyone willing to take his dog. Kuma knew something was wrong, but tried to make Eddy feel better by licking his face and chasing his tail.

The morning Eddy and his mom had to leave, Eddy had still not found a home for Kuma. He told Kuma in his bravest voice, “I’m sorry, you’ll have to find a place on your own.”

Kuma barked, which was his way of saying, “Don’t worry about me.”

Eddy whispered in Kuma’s ear, “I love you.”

Eddy waved goodbye as Kuma ran down the street. Eddy began to cry, but when he saw his mom’s tears, he remembered his father’s words and tried to be strong for her. Together, they carried their suitcases down to the bus that was going to take them away.

When Eddy and his mom got to the bus stop, there were other Japanese American families already there with their suitcases. Everyone looked really sad. Eddy felt the same way, but on the inside.

The bus soon came and as Eddy was about to get on with his mom, he saw Julia and her mother running down the street. Next to them was Kuma.

With tears in her eyes, Julia told Eddy goodbye and explained that Kuma had come to their door. He was so sad looking that Julia’s mother said it was okay for her to keep him until Eddy got back.

Eddy and his mom got on the bus with all the other Japanese Americans in their neighborhood and they rode to the train station in silence. On the train, Eddy missed his dad and Kuma, but it made him feel a little better knowing that at least Kuma had a good home.

When they finally arrived at the “Jerome War Relocation Center,” which was really a prison in a swamp in Arkansas, Eddy found a reason to smile.

Mr. Murakami was waiting for them. Eddy didn’t realize he had missed his father so much.

Approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans like the Murakamis were forcibly removed from their homes during World War II and sent to one of ten remote “camps” around the country. Their only crime: looking like the enemy.

 

*Please Note: This story is fictional and was originally intended for a children’s book. It was originally published on 8Asians.com, on July 17, 2014.

 

© 2014 Koji Sakai

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