A Broken Life This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   It'sso dead here. Of course, it couldn't be much better at the front. At least I'maway from the fighting, I thought, trying in vain to be optimistic. Beingoptimistic was certainly a task at the camp. The prisoners - sometimes clothed,sometimes not - reeked from lack of bathing. As if that wasn't awful enough,there was the smell of burning flesh in the air. If the smell didn't break you,the stares from the prisoners would. The dark eyes stare intently, as if probingyou for a sign of hope.

"You're off duty." A fellow guard hadstarted to march in-step with me.

I nodded slightly and replied,"Thank you." I turned and began the journey to myquarters.

"No problems?" the guardasked.

"None," I replied abruptly.

Oh, how wonderful ahot bath would be. The rain had made my shift chilly. As I let my mind take me toa happier place, I didn't take care in watching my step. My arms flailed as myfoot slid in the mud and I reached out to the fence for balance. Once I rightedmyself, I looked up and found myself staring into the eyes of an oldman.

"Oh, my God," I whispered brokenly. All his pain andsuffering flowed from his gaze to mine. His deep brown eyes told me of thehorrors he had experienced inside the barbed-wire fence. His face bore the tollof the war. The deep lines in his face pointed downward, and his mouth hadn'tseen a smile in years. I returned his stare. All I could feel was theheart-shattering sadness he felt. My breath constricted as I stared into thosedark depths.

"I-I'm sorry," I stuttered as I stumbledbackward. "I'm s-so sorry."

I wanted to scream that I had nochoice, that I was only doing my job. I wanted to fall on my knees and weep. Theneed to release my tears was so powerful that I turned away from the prisoner. Ibit the inside of my lip as I fought the urge.

"Please," Ipleaded quietly. "Don't do this." My voice ended on a sob. It took allmy strength to keep from crying aloud.

I could feel the old man's gazeburning into my back and I turned to look at him. He looked like any otherprisoner, with skinny legs stretched out below the short pants held up with apiece of rope. His ribs, each one visible, stuck out several inches more than hisbelly. But, as before, my eyes drew closer to his until they met again.

Igasped aloud at the utter defeat in his eyes. I couldn't believe I hadn't seen itbefore. Maybe he'd kept it hidden, or maybe I'd been too blind to see. Even so,it provided a dull glaze over his eyes. My heart ached for him.

Ididn't realize what I was doing until I felt his fingers touch mine through thefence. I had stretched out my arm to make contact. My entire body jolted at thegentle touch of our fingertips. My eyelids fluttered shut as I let a myriad ofemotions flow through me.

My eyes flew open suddenly. Good Lord, Ithought. The old man's dying.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






Join the Discussion

This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

xximjustmexx said...
Jun. 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm
Is this about the concontration camps and the Holocaust? It was very touching and chilling. The Holocaust is my favorite subject. Good work. Keep writing.
 
Elizabeth said...
Jan. 17, 2009 at 10:22 pm
Wow, very touching and beautiful.
with constructive criticism though, it seems to end a little too abruptly.
 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback