People are silent as they work. Even the children say nothing. Men and woman smashing rocks. Woman sewing dresses and uniforms, men sewing shoes. The silence is almost deafening in a way.
But at night, all the suffering sounds that were repressed during the day are let out. Widows and former mothers crying out the names of their deceased beloved. Surviving children calling out the names of their mothers, sobbing over sore limbs from all day working.
I say nothing. I am lucky.
My mother, father, and brother live. My baby niece Anna does live, but her parents, my aunt and uncle don’t. There were part of the first chosen.
The day the soldiers came to our town, I was at the lake with Ginnifer. My mother had given us the day off from teaching (she home-schooled us, like many other kids) and we decided to spend the hot day swimming and having a picnic lunch.
When the soldiers approached us, we’d just barely gotten our clothes back on. I thought it was the old preacher who always scolded us for swimming naked. He said pleasure in any way was a sin, especially if your bare skin showed.
Our clothes on, hair wet, and shoes in hands, Ginnifer and I stared at the tall German soldier as he walked up. Had he not been dressed as he was, I would have mistaken him for a prince. His light blue eyes looked serene and kind, and his pure blonde hair shined in the sun. He smiled alluringly and flashed perfect white teeth. I could see Ginnifer swooning from the corner of my eye.
“Hullo, ladies,” he greeted. “Enjoying yourselves?”
“Oh yes,” Ginnifer replied quickly. “Possibly more so now that you’re here.”
“Ginnifer!” I cried with a laugh.
She ignored me and continued. “Would you like to join us, Sir? We’re about to have lunch.” She bat her eyelashes, something I’d seen her practice many times when she slept over at my house. It was very close to perfect.
“Oh no, I haven’t the time. Maybe you’d like to join us, though?” he gestured towards the back of the truck being held open by two other soldiers. Before I had time to reject his offer, Ginnifer squealed and began to hurry towards the truck.
“No, Ginnifer,” I cried. “Stop!” but by then, she’d already climbed into the car and asked ‘what was in the bag’. The shorter soldier simply smiled and slammed the doors shut. I heard one short scream, and then a thud.
Oh god, I thought. No no no!
I looked up at the blonde soldier and his charming smile had dissolved into a sneer, his blue eyes suddenly cold, striking me as a sign to run. Turning quickly on my heels, I tried to bolt, but the soldier grabbed my arm and gripped tightly, and I gasped.
“Filthy Jew,” he spat at me, and a clump of saliva and mucus landed on my bare foot. I grimaced at the feeling. It was nauseating.
He marched towards the truck and ordered the soldier to open the doors. With a simple flick of his wrist, he tossed me in next to Ginnifer’s limp body and slammed the doors shut again. I heard him shout something in German, and the truck began to move. I was terrified.
I tried to stand up and feel around for Ginnifer’s hand, but couldn’t find anything. And unable to keep my mind concentrated or my thoughts understandable, I fell to the ground.
The only thing going through my mind was relief Ginnifer didn’t know what was going on. As soon as the light disappeared, Ginnifer had fallen asleep, as I knew she would. When we first met, she told me about how a gypsy had laid a curse upon her soul as a toddler. When she had stared into the eyes of the gypsy, she took it as a sign of disrespect, and cursed her to a life of unconscious danger at the slightest dimming of a light.
Barely able to breath, I passed out.
When I awoke, many more people were being crammed into the truck, forcing me to stand up. I tried to pull Ginnifer up with me but she slept on. The doors slammed again. The truck was filled with so many people, I couldn’t sit. For days and days and days, the people in that over-heated truck and I stood with no food, water, or proper waste-ridding facilities. Ginnifer never woke up.
Now, we are in the camp. My clothes are too big, and if I pull my shirt up, you can see my ribs. My once-thick hair is beginning to fall out.
And today is the day. The third choosing.
We are all standing in a group, many neat rows filled with sick people. The inspector stands nearby, and my heart pounds. Quickly, I glance at his clipboard, scanning the numbers I don’t know until:
But… I think. That’s-
I just barely manage to hold in a scream. That’s Anna’s number.
She is in front and over three people. I want to tell her, to say something. But even from behind her, I see a smile on her face.
A chill runs down my back, and I try to concentrate on the muddy blonde hair of the man in front of me.
I suddenly feel much less lucky as the inspector steps in front of my face and commands me to hold out my arm.
- Title: Number
- Artist: LALA_to_FINOS
- Description: ^^; It was a little something I wrote as extra credit for English, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. =)
- Date: 04/06/2009
- Tags: number
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