Katina Sokolova stood on the third class deck of the transatlantic ocean liner, called Liberty. Katina was ready to escape from Russia, and her past. She had experienced all too much and needed to put it all behind her.
It had been four months ago, that Katina had witnessed her entire family murdered by the Bolsheviks of Russia. The poor, lower class that took their revenge on the entire royal family, including Katina's parents, the Duke and Duchess of Sokolov.
Katina closed her eyes and that dreadful October day filled her head.
"You are a disgrace to my country!" yelled the angry farmer as he pointed a gun at Duke Grigori Sokolova. The Duke stared at the farmer.
"You are a disgrace to my country!" he yelled back viciously. The farmer sneered and pulled the trigger of his pistol. The Duke fell lifelessly to the ground. Duchess Elizaveta let out a shrill scream, and dropped to the floor embracing her dead husband's body.
The farmer pointed his gun at the Duchess and shot her as well
Katina and her siblings stayed hidden behind some columns of the palace.
"Find the children!" yelled another angry farmer.
Katina's oldest brother Sergei motioned for his siblings to follow him to the back nursery. Katina and some of her younger siblings ran in the opposite direction to their parent's bedchamber. They slid on the hardwood floor underneath the four post, mahogany bed.
Little Ilia began to whimper.
"Shhh!" snapped Katina in a hoarse whisper. The children all held in their tears and tried to keep as quiet as possible as they watched the various peasants and farmers storm the palace.
"They're going into the nursery!" cried Olga
"Quiet! They'll hear you!" snapped Katina again. It had been too late, a farmer must have heard Olga, because he headed toward the bedroom.
Katina quickly ran out from under the bed and into the closet
"Come!" she whispered to her siblings. To scared to move, they just stared at Katina wide eyed.
Before Katina could say anything else, the room was raided by Bolsheviks. She pressed her ear against the closet door and listened to them.
"Come out, come out wherever you are." Katina heard one of them say.
The room became silent, and then screaming…and then gunshots.
The wind began to blow harshly, Katina opened her eyes once more and let a tear trickle down her soft cheek. She let out a deep sigh and strolled back down to her room. She was lonely and tired.
After escaping from her own home, with nowhere to go, Katina set out for America, even though she knew a seventeen-year-old girl traveling by herself wasn't the safest thing to do.
After a restful sleep, Katina found she really wasn't hungry, once again, and so she skipped breakfast and went straight up to the third class deck and stared at the ocean.
It may have been her mind having hallucinations, but Katina thought she saw something out in the distance. Then one of the crewmen shouted, "Land ho!" Katina's heart began to race with joy. She had finally reached America! The land with streets paved in gold, the land of opportunity, the land that had saved her from Russia.
The deck started to get crowded as more and more people came up on deck to see the great spectacle that they were approaching. Women were crying, men were cheering and children and babies were giggling and laughing. A tall, patriotic statue greeted them. She was the symbol of freedom know as Lady Liberty.
Katina waited as the ship docked, surprisingly not at the main dock, but at the dock of a small island instead.
"Ellis Island," said a man with an Irish accent, not too far from where Katina was standing, "have to be smart as a wisp if ya want to stay in America." Katina's blue eyes grew wide.
"What do you mean?" asked Katina timidly. The man turned toward Katina.
"Them officials at Ellis Island ask questions to the immigrants, if ya don't answer them questions correctly, they send ya back to yer homeland." replied the man. Katina swallowed hard.
"Are you travelin' alone young miss?" asked the man. Katina nodded.
"Well, ya'd best find someone who'll let ya join their travelin' party, they send single girls back ya know."
"No, I didn't know.."
"I'd say ya could travel with me and my family, I know the wife wouldn't mind and all, but it'd be hard to take ya as a Irishwoman." teased the man. Katina twirled a strand of curly auburn hair.
"Then again, ya do have hair the color of the risin' Irish sun and freckles across yer face." The man rubbed his beard and studied Katina head to toe.
"Do ya at least have a place to stay in America?" asked the man. Katina shook her head.
"Wait here young miss," began the man, "I'll go fetch the wife." Before Katina had a chance to say anything else, the man ran off for one of the lower decks.
Katina leaned against the railing and watched the Statue of Liberty as she waited for the Irishman to return with his wife.
"Here she is Maura."
Katina turned around to see the Irishman standing there with a woman in her thirties and three young children in tow.
"This be me wife Maura, and our tree young'ns Colleen, Patrick and Saiorse."
The woman smiled heartily at Katina. Except for her Irish background, she looked as if she could have been related to Katina, with their matching auburn hair.
"Katina Sokolova." said Katina holding her hand out.
"Pleasure to meet ya m'dear" said Maura, the wife. She shook Katina's hand.
"And I'm Donegal O'Flaherty." said the man, also outstretching a hand.
"My husband tells me yer travelin' alone and need a travelin' group, is that correct?" asked Maura.
"Yes, it is."
"Ya have a strong accent, ya can hear it when ya talk, even in yer best English. I would tell ya to just stay quiet when they inspect ya, but they'll send ya back if they think yer not mentally fit." said Maura, "Perhaps we could just say yer a cousin from Wales or Scotland. Can't understand a damn word they ever say!"
"Scotland?" asked Katina. She made a face.
"Where are ya really from?" asked Donegal.
"I figured ya were from one of those eastern countries."
"I am quite smart, and well educated. I came from a strong and wealthy family." said Katina defensively.
"I got it!" exclaimed Donegal, "We'll just say yer half Irish and half Russian and yer a cousin." Maura nodded in agreement.
"That sounds fair enough." added Donegal.
Before Katina could agree or disagree, one of the ships officials announced that the ship was soon boarding at Ellis Island and everyone was to get with their traveling companions.
"This is it." said Katina quietly to herself.
Angry and tired immigration officials hurried all of the immigrants off of the ship and into a large brick building, from there they were escorted into a large hall where they waited until their interrogation. Katina had barely had a chance to sit down before she was hurried into a small, and narrow room with the O'Flaherty's. There were podiums all lined up, and at each podium was an official. Each official spoke a different language to try to understand the immigrant that they were interrogating.
Katina and the O'Flaherty family were taken over to an official that was there for the English speaking immigrants.
One by one he asked each of the O'Flaherty family members questions about where they were heading, what their plans were once they reached America and about their past life in Ireland. Then came Katina's turn.
"What is your name?" asked the official
"Katina Sokolova." replied Katina.
"Russian?" asked the official suspiciously. He looked up from his notepad and stared at Katina.
"She's a cousin." said Donegal quickly.
"She's half Irish and half Russian." added Maura.
"So you immigrated here from Ireland?" asked the official. Katana nodded.
"How old are you?"
"Seventeen." replied Katina.
"Have you had any schooling?"
"I was taught at home by a tutor and my father."
"What were you taught?"
"Mathematics, Language, Grammar, History and Science."
"Have you ever committed a crime?" asked the official in a serious tone of voice. Katina thought for a second. She debated in her mind whether to admit that she escaped from the Bolsheviks when her family was murdered, but the scared look on Maura and Donegal's face convinced her not to.
"And you are meeting people here with the rest of your family?" asked the official.
"Do have a job or occupation waiting for you here?"
Katina glanced over at Maura nervously.
"Yes she does. In a factory where me sister works." said Maura.
The official finished scribbling in his notepad and then instructed Katina, Maura and her daughters Colleen and Saiorse to the next room for a medical examination.
All in all, their entire stay at Ellis Island lasted a week. After being poked and prodded and asked more and more ridiculous questions, Katina and the O'Flaherty family were free to take the ferry to Battery Park on the island of Manhattan.
"Oh there she is!" exclaimed Maura waving to someone from the ferry.
"Who is there?" asked Katina confusedly. She tried to figure out whom Maura had been waving to. Maura didn't answer because of all the shuffling about on the ferry deck. She grabbed a hold of Donegal and the entire O'Flaherty family rushed off to get onto the dock. Katina tried to stay as close behind as she could, finally just grabbing onto Colleen's jacket.
"Maura darlin'!" exclaimed a middle-aged woman from the pier. Maura ran over to her and gave her a warm embrace.
The middle-aged woman looked very similar to Maura, although a little older. Her hair was light brown, except for some spots that had faded grey and her eyes, although hidden by lines and wrinkles, were a soft blue.
"Katina, this is me sister Mary." said Maura introducing Katina to the woman.
"Pleasure to meet you." said Katina shyly.
"And where'd this one come from?" teased Mary.
"We adopted her into the family on board the ship." said Donegal. He leaned over and gave Mary a hug.
"She had nowhere to go, no place to live or work." said Maura. She gave Katina's hand a squeeze, then turned her attention back to her sister, "Where's that husband and boy of yers?"
"Williams back at the boardin' house. And lord knows where that boy is." Mary made a face, "No matter what I do, can't keep him out of trouble." Maura and Donegal chuckled.
"Any who, let me get ya back to the house so ya can relax for a bit."
The boarding house was fit snuggly between two disintegrating buildings with clotheslines hanging about like Christmas lights. It wasn't any taller than three or four floors up, and a lot of the brickwork on it appeared as though it too, like it's neighbors, needed some repair.
A tall man with grey hair was standing on the stoop smoking a pipe, with one hand tucked into his vest pocket.
"Well there ya are," he said to Mary as they all approached the house, "I was startin' to worry."
"William Fleming ya were doin' no such thing! I bests believin' that ya didn't even know I was gone!" exclaimed Mary. The man on the stoop chuckled.
"Katina darlin', this is me husband William." said Mary. She grabbed a hold of Katina's arm and pulled her over.
William came down from the stoop, and pulled his hand out of his pocket and extended it to Katina.
"Pleasure to meet ya young miss." he said giving Katina's hand a hearty shake.
"Katina came over with Maura and Donegal. She's goin' to be stayin' here with us." said Mary. William nodded.
"Oh goodness! Before I forget," began Mary, "why don't ya head over to the factory to talk with Mr. Fowler, the manager, so that he can get ya started with a job for tomorrow."
"I don't know where it is." said Katina.
"Oh it's quite easy to get to." said Mary, "Yer just goin' to head down this road, then make a left onto Market St. and then another left onto Voorheesborough St."
Katina nodded slowly.
"We'll take yer stuff up to yer room, and then by the time ya get back, dinner should be on the table." said William.
Katina nodded slowly again. She handed her suitcases to Donegal and then watched as they all went into the boarding house. She began to walk down the road and kept saying Mary's directions over and over in her head.
When she reach the end of the road, she made a left onto the main street, which happened to be Market St. It was busy and bustling, with trolleys and horse-drawn carriages speeding down the street, and vendors selling all sorts of vegetables, meat and poultry lined the sidewalk.
Katina went over to a man selling rolls.
"One roll please?" asked Katina. She was starving, having not eaten in days.
"5 cents." replied the man. Katina fished in her pocket for money but could only find a few Russian rubles. She handed them to the roll seller
"What the hell is that?!" snapped the man.
"I don't have any other money." replied Katina.
"We're in a war, and you think that I can give this to you for free?! Go away you filthy greenhorn!" snapped the man. Katina was about to walk away, when she heard a loud police whistle and a bunch of men yelling. A young man was running down the street, the police running after him.
"Thief! Thief! Catch him!" they shouted. The man ran right past Katina, nearly knocking her over. He quickly turned a corner.
"Miss, did you see a man run past you?" asked the police man as he came to a halt in front of Katina. The middle-aged police man had to catch his breath. Something in Katina made her want to protect this man. She pretended to be looking around for the man, he was hiding behind one of the corner buildings.
"I'm sorry what was that?" asked Katina in Russian. The police man looked confused.
"Do you speak English?" asked the police man slowly. Katina returned the confused look. The police man let out an aggravated sigh. He motioned for the other police men to follow him and they all went down some random alley. Katina continued on her way, when someone stopped her. It was the man the police were looking for. He was thin, somewhat built, as well as very tall and remarkably handsome.
Despite his six-one stature, he was quite young. Maybe three or four years older than Katina. He had short, brown hair hidden underneath a brown plaid hat and dashing blue eyes, with a ring of green around them, shadowed by the brim of the hat. He was dressed in simple brown trousers, with suspenders hanging at his sides and an even simpler white button up shirt underneath a ratty brown jacket. Although his face was smudged with dirt, it didn't hide the fact that he had a nice smile.
"I know you don't speak English, but I just wanted to say thanks." said the man. He spoke in almost perfect English, but had a slight Irish accent.
"Your welcome." replied Katina in her best English, her Russian accent evident. She started walking away, but the man stopped her.
"Hey what's your name?" he asked.
"Katina Sokolova." replied Katina.
"Sokolova?" asked the man. Katina nodded.
"Luke Fleming," replied the man shaking Katina's hand, "your not from around here, are you?"
"No, I'm from Russia."
"That would explain the last name," said Luke, "so where are you off too?"
"A factory on Voorheesborough St."
"I know where that is." said Luke, "I can show you there."