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Business as Usual
“Mira! Come down, I need you to help me put away these books.” My father’s voice stirring me from my thoughts.
“Coming da!” I was watching the entrance and exit gate of our ghetto, several Nazi soldiers filed in, more than ever had guarded our Jewish section. Their Aryan features were grimmer than usual.
“Your hands are so slight and perfect, are you sure you’d want to take all those books and risk hurting those gentle hands?” My brother was flirting with a lady, again.
She stuttered in agreement taking his arm, walking out with my brother, whose was easily carrying the two books in one arm.
“How many today was that, da?” Amusement was in my voice and eyes.
“Six and its not even noon.” He grumbled.
I simply laughed, and hugged my Da from behind. “Its just business as usual.”
Ma was leaning against the doorway. “Mira would you help me?” She took my wrist and led me out. Ma worked in the theatre, and finally they changed their play of week, which had been on for about three months. Her job was the basic cleaning; also when they changed plays, she made and put up the sign. It needed two people to hang it since it was far too heavy.
“’Apple a day, keeps the doctor away’ isn’t that just a bit absurd.” I took one ring that was attached to the metal sign.
“Don’t blame me Mira, I just paint, not create the title.” She took the other ring. Together we lifted, and climbed the two ladders. From above we saw my brother running to our home, his face white, as if he saw a death itself. Letting the sign clang to the ground we quickly followed him.
“Da! Rabbi told me that at dawn that all the men in the Ghetto will have to line up at the gates, you don’t think they will...”
Father interrupted him, “We will not think about it, now let us enjoy each other company.” Cohen realized I was next to him and stooped down to rest his brow on my shoulder; I turned my face to suppress tears from his curly brown hair.
“Cohen,” I spoke only after Mother and Father went up.
“Mira, I’ll miss you.” I felt tears starting to leak from my eyes, “No, don’t cry how can I be strong if you won’t be my pillar.”
“That was in the last month’s play.”
“Well it fits!” He smiled shakily.
I chuckled, “Do you remember, how often we would sneak in.”
“It cost Ma and Da so much that Ma ended up working there.” We laughed, to hard for the small joke, but we clutched to each other for breath. We laughed ourselves to tears.
A week later we could still see the imprint of his head on the pillow. Ma still went to work. Trying to keep it as business as usual, but I would find her sleeping against my brother’s bed, her fingers resting on the top of the imprint.
“Ma wake up, please sleep in your bed or with me if you’re lonely.”
“No Mira, I’m fine here. Now go to sleep.”
“Ma-” I was interrupted by the door crashing down. We heard footsteps rushing toward us.
“Everyone is being evacuated from the Ghetto.” They didn’t ask us to go with them, their guns did. So we complied allowing them to take us to the gate with separated their world and ours. We were forced into lines; children were ripped from their mothers, I was lucky I was tall enough to be pushed into a group of women, seizing my mother’s hand, kept her from being lost in the crowd.
“Age?” An uninterested officer dressed in dark green uniform never looked up from his clipboard. His indifference made me lie, “18, sir” After he heard Ma’s age he gestured her to the left and me to the right. Other uncaring men’s weapons pushed us toward different destinations. It wasn’t until I was on the truck that I knew that I would never see my mother again. My only family remaining was going to be transported away from me. I jumped! Pushing past the guns, the men, until all I had left were tears and Ma. I was holding onto her with all my might. Let them try to take her from me!
My mother was stoic, as I screamed, “No! I can’t leave you! No!” The only thing betraying her composed figure were salty rivers coursing down her cheeks. Gently she pried me from her.
“You can and you must.” Then blonde man grabbed my shoulders, pushing me back on the truck.
“You are too young to die!” he said to me as he hauled me back onto that truck. With that said he placed something in my boot with a wink. It was a small box; he tries to pacify me with a box. Their kind takes our brothers, and fathers, with only a 12 hour warning, their kind take children away from our mothers, and our only compensation is a steel box! Not ours mine; of one box I received it. I won’t have it! I threw that box as far as it would go. I only had a simple pleasure of it hitting a Nazi at the back of the head, before a butt of a gun made my world turn black.
A few weeks later we were transferred to another camp, I was excited to go through my Ghetto. I noticed two other women were hanging up a new sign for a new play “Love starts Yesterday” another corny sign. A young man was escorting a young lady home, hey! That’s my brother’s job. Stop! You can’t do that! And finally my lungs busted out as I saw a man painting over our bookstore’s sign. “Stop! That’s my home! Don’t you touch it!” I broke the formation, running that beast I grabbed his shirt pulling him from his stool. His head hit the pavement with a sickening crack. At that moment a bullet buried itself into my thigh and I crumpled over. As everything was about to go black, then the irony struck me. Its just business as usual.