Bones and All
Bane; "I wrote this as extra-credit for L.A. We were studying the Holocaust for some time, and I had some extra time on my hands. I know this is something often written about, and for this cliche'-ness I would apologize.
But perhaps this entails of something a bit further than a bit of consistentlymade-up history. And I hope any who reads this will agree."
She watched, wide-eyed from her bedroom. A sharp guilt stabbed at her gut, reminding her that she shouldn't know what was going on. Esther should have been in a blind, unknowing panic. But even this knowledge couldn't stop her from being glad of overhearing, even eavesdropping, on a conversation of the Nazi tyranny.
Of course, she hadn't believed the talk until now. Germany protected its Germans, and that was that. And yet, here she stood in the latest hours of the night, listening to the sobbing of her mother and the frantic footsteps of her father. He would be coming down the hall to her room any moment, whispering harshly for her to pack what few belongings she felt were necessary.
But she couldn't make herself move, and she shivered beneath her thin nightgown. Absently, she clutched at the pendant her grandmother had given her before she had left to Sweden; though her own family had been too stubborn to leave with her.
The voice was low and shrill, giving way to the over-bearing silence. A gracile, minute form appeared before her, and Esther bent down to receive her sibling in her arms.
"It's okay, Sara."
The child released a dry sob into her shoulder, but Esther took no mind. It was only minutes before the once vague plodding of feet became closer.
"Esther—get your things together."
The once sure tone her father had once possessed had all but disappeared. There was a resounding worry in his voice. Still, feigning innocence, she asked simply, "Why, Papa?" She thought she knew, really, but hearing it aloud would help… somehow.
But he didn't answer, instead shaking his head and striding at a brisk pace to console her mother once more. She could hear him faintly, "Gabrielle, come now. You'll frighten the children." Still, the sobs never subsided.
Esther, still pressing Sara against her side, shrank back into her room. She sat the tike on the mattress, and relinquished a rucksack from beneath the bed. Into this she placed most of her warmer clothing, and a few photographs. She didn't bother to bring anything to write with, for she had heard of the terrors of 'death camps', and knew that such things would not aid her to survive. She packed nothing else.
She took it upon herself to go into the next room and do nearly the same for Sara's belongings. Clothes, a book, and two dolls were placed into a slightly smaller messenger bag.
Perhaps I should change, Esther reasoned to herself, knowing full well how well the November winds bit. Her thoughts were, however, interrupted when an arm closed around her shoulder, and a knock sounded simaltaeneously at the door. Her father, who now stood beside her, gazed down at her with misty eyes.
She broke free, running into her room.
"I can't wear this!" She protested almost immediately.
"There's no time—"Another knock interrupted his sentence. Hurriedly, she slipped on a pair of boots, uncomfortable against her bare feet. Over her body, she draped an overcoat. On the lapel was the Star of David, marking her for the curse Germany must have thought Jews were. 'Jude' was imbrazoned in thick stitching.
Gathering her sister once more in her arms, Esther dragged the ever-light bags along with her foot. She paused by her parents, putting Sara down for a moment in order to place the sacks on her shoulders. Her father had already opened the threshold, and was speaking to a harsh-looking man in black uniform.
"Come Children, Gabrielle."
Esther took the hand of her younger sibling, feeling recognition at the smoothl bump; the small scar she had gotten from falling as a three-year-old. They stumbled out into the early winter chill. A large truck awaited them, halfway full with others like them.
It was an hour's drive to a station, where they were forced into a cramped baggage carriage. There were more of them than Esther had first anticipated. They were pushed against eachother, some overlapping.
Most were sick, she soon realized. Winter was not, under any circumstances, a healthy season choice for pushing numerous strangers into a small space. It was not more than a few moments before the mechanism began to move forward, beginning what would turn out to be a very long ride to Auschwitz, Germany.
Not even one who had heard of such things could have been prepared for the horrors of such a camp. They were first sorted, small children in one direction, and able women in another. Men were veered off to a large area, where they were spread apart. The officers who were controlling this exchange held heavy firearms, and Esther dared not disobey.
Not even when she heard the mewl of Sara, crying out "Essy!" as she was led away, could she break through the grip fear had on her. She only watched.
That night she was stripped of her pendant, her hair, and her humanity, just as the Germans wished. She was now just a number amongst the millions of 'plagues' just like her. The code on her arm proved that, and reminded her of it as it smarted unceasingly. She had only her mother, now. Her father, who she had once believed could fight off anything, had been taken away peacefully, without defiance.
She would never again love her country.
Here, in this hellhole, she was given little food and little kindness. Although she grew weak and ill wth each passing day, she could do nothing but push her deteriorating body to keep working as the Nazi commanders willed it to. Esther would watch, day by day, as carts from both Auchwitz and nearby death traps wheeled by, carrying bodies covered in sheets. She was a soul ensnared by barbwire, and it would be that way until she died, whereas she two would be wheeled away from this place. She knew she wouldn't have to wait long.
The following week, Gabrielle fell while working in the digging site. She never rose again.
It would be another two weeks of grueling work until she glanced up from her occupation to view one more cart. Though, this one seemed special, perhaps even sentimental. She couldn't tell why until she studied it closer, noticing that a small, child-like hand hung out limply from the side of the sheet. In the middle of the palm was a scar— one she recognized quite well.
Esther willed herself not to cry, and kept working, the labor ripping her heart at the seams. I'll be with them, soon, she told herself again and again. But even she couldn't believe it.
Still, more weeks passed, days melding into a long, nightmarish timeline of mingled events. She spoke to few others, preferring to spare herself of further heartbreak. Putting herself out like that would simply be another dead sould to fret about. And so she went on, wishing she could just fade away, like the blisters on her hands and feet, and the numbers on her arm. There could be no such luck.
She kept on as such until she woke one frigid morning to the braying racket.
"Out of bed, Jews! Out of bed!"
She jumped from her makeshift cot, and gathered with the rest of those in her 'dorm'. Once all was quiet, they were told of the day's happenings, which brought both relief and chilling horror at her very core. They began on what would someday be known as 'the Death March'.
Frostbite was the worst, she realized, as in only hours, some of the group begain to falter; their fingers and hands turning pink, to red, to blue. In her boots, she could only watch others fall to the ground, being left behind by those who knew they would meet the same fate. A few thought they could escape into the dusky snow.
She watched as those few were shot down. Murdered, simply for knowing religion. She, too, began to take a toll from the straneous work. As she fell to her knees, she thought she glimpsed what looked like her father ahead, but surely that was another poor soul like her… one that couldn't yet move on. Her eyes closing against her will, she relished the fact that her body would be evidence to Germany's treachery; bones and all.