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The Satin Ribbon
I could swear that Hitler could hear the very creak of my bones when I breathed, if I breathed. It was dark, the sickly kind of dark that chills you even if the weather is warm. The air around me was musty and it reeked of Jew. If he could not hear me, for sure he could smell me; the sweat dripping from my body, a mixture of agony and dirt filling up my pours. It was weeks. I counted every second of it, died inside a little more every time my heart reached another beat. Just kill me now. I wanted to scream. The silence was eating away at me; it was sinking into my bones and poisoning my mind. Perhaps this is how Hitler thinks. Perhaps he is consumed by the thousands of unwanted thoughts that fill my mind right now. Am I going crazy like him? These things spun through my mind, like a child's swing set, blood soaked and hell infested. I should have stayed, admitted defeat. What good is living if you have been sucked dry of all life?
I have nothing anymore. My home was diminished to ashes. It started with a piss-colored slur on my front door in the shape of a star. It ended with a letter addressed to my wife. I cringe at the thought of it, yet still, everything comes back to me plain as day. A letter, stiff and dry. My wife, seven months pregnant. The screaming, the shock, the tears. All the many tears, like streams of acid pouring from her eyes, scalding her face. Then the knock, piercing needles of ice echoing through my door. Frozen silence and the taste of lingering goodbyes. They came in a shadowy rush of green and took my oxygen. I sleep not a moment without hearing the relentless crunch of boots on my yawning wooden floor, and the blood curdling scream of my wife. I was in the back room, secretly working on a present to give my only daughter the day that life would fill her lungs. Money was a drop of rain in the desert, and the only thing I had was replaced by a tiny white crib and the small red bow I was typing onto it as I watched the little girl of my dreams die. They kicked her, swift and hammer like right in the stomach, spitting on the two people I lived for. I should have called out, should have defended her, all I could do was crouch behind the door and grasp a red satin ribbon. I couldn't even cry, for I was standing still as time moved forward dragging the near-death body of my wife.
The emptiness inside of me is unmistakable, but unrealistic in the eyes of Hitler. He sees not the images of a smiling baby girl, nor feels the touch of my wife's hand holding mine. Hitler feels no pain for he has never had to sew his heart back together. To this day, I have no string, only needles. I could wish a hell so great upon this man that he would go blind with the pain, but he is not human, and so, he would feel nothing. Hitler is a demon, a shadow, and the only ghost who haunts my past as much as my present. Descriptions are fictional at this point, for a man with no soul and no heart is one indescribable in any language. You could no more bleed the hate from that man, than you could burn the Jew's out of Germany without scaring the world.
That's what he did. Hitler left a huge burn mark on the world. A dark shadowy space that used to represent life. He scarred the world forever, and refused to look at the ugly mess he made.
I could make comparisons all day, and you would never understand what it was like to sit beneath the ground, fitted tightly into a space no bigger than a coffin. There was only enough air to withstand dieing, but never enough to reach a position of living. I was cut off from humanity and the things people take for granted. It was freezing cold, all the time, but I wore only the house clothes I had on that day they came for her. Time, sunlight, fresh air, and sound were nonexistent. The only time I knew was the seconds my mind counted, and the only lights were the colors that hid behind my eyelids when I closed them, sound was my heart thumping never a word, only air being moved through my lungs.
Every day, every second, every moment of my existence I was dripping with a mixture of hate, loss, and disbelief. There were few times when I didn't wait for the arrival of the Nazi's. Like death, it was only a matter of time until they found me. Amidst the steady pulse of nothingness, there was still complete inconsistency. Things changed dramatically and without notice, most of them happened inside of me, until one day I felt something else. Something that didn't occur in my mind, it was the strangest thing. I felt the long lost touch of something soft.
There was a leap, a jump, a flight through midair executed perfectly, and it all happened in my heart the moment I felt the satin ribbon in my pocket. I pulled it out, not needing any form of light to see in my mind what it was. The ribbon was in perfect condition, I stroked it constantly and without noise.
Today the ribbon is brownish red, frayed at the ends, and smells of tears. But then, then the ribbon was so much more. It was a fresh coat of paint, covering the yellow curse. It was the sound of a heartbeat coming from my only child. It was the smile from the one person I ever loved. But mostly it was hope, the only thing keeping me alive.
I know not how long I was down there, nor do I remember the soldier who rescued me from the dirt hole beneath floorboards. All I remember is pain. Sunlight left me blind as I remember still today, for it's intensity after so much dark was unbearable. The air was so pure it got caught in my lungs and left me lightheaded and dizzy. Sound flooded into my ears and ate through the silence. I recall screaming in pain, and falling over from the recognition that this, in fact, was my own voice, and it worked. People grabbed at my arms and I thought they would take me to him. One man threatened me, another deemed me crazy, but the third man told me just 2 words, two words that sucked all the pain from my body and left me numb, Hitler's dead. he whispered in my ear. I collapsed, bent in half with a burst of life crawling beneath my skin for the first time in forever. There was no feeling left in me, and the only thing I could do was grip the satin ribbon with all of my might. The realization that my nightmare was over (or so I thought) was one of sheer euphoria, but it ended rather abruptly.
I recall half tripping half being dragged to a seat and finding it impossible to get up. Apparently my bones had gone brittle, and my body very weak. Someone gave me something to eat; I forced myself to eat, and choked as the food was pushed through my dry throat, but with no avail, for it came back up almost immediately. I had just finished coughing up a mixture of food and blood when I heard the name of my wife. I jerked my head backward with a motion so violent you could hear my thin figure cutting through the air. Yes that's his wife. one of the men commented. I looked around until I found the source of the words; something in his eyes told me everything I needed to know.
There is no recollection in mind as to how I managed it, but somehow I got up and walked away. I left, and did not look back; I kept my eyes on the two feet below me and concentrated on walking ahead. It was in those steps taken from my previous hiding place that I started moving forward again. I swept up my past into one giant dust pan and threw it as far over my shoulder as possible. Except, for some odd reason, I kept the little red ribbon, regardless of the dirt that had accumulated on it, and the skin oils that had altered it's ruby color.
Life, despite many things, went forward, but I chose to go with it this time. As you might know by now, things were very different. The world was changed, as if covered in a new layer of skin. I picked myself up, and started as new a life as a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust can afford. It was all good until someone knocked again several years later. I knew from the moment that I heard the wood creak; it was not going to be good. Of course, this time, there would be no Nazi's coming to fulfill the word of their brainwashing mentally deranged leader, no the uniformed men who came to knock this time were in a way, worse. I forced myself to open the door, and found in exchange, a pair of men, both wearing the same kind of polished boots that killed my wife.
They told me that although she had died, the kick had not killed my daughter. I was told that she survived the concentration camp life, and is considered a miracle to all who know her story. However, though others may know her story, she does not. I was informed that she lives not far from where I reside, and that she has been brought up by a foster family. The men handed me a slip of paper with her address on it, and left without goodbyes. For several hours I simply sat at my table staring at the paper. I examined every bit of it and peered deeply into the places where ink pierced the page, looking for some answers. Without even recognizing it, my hand reached for the red ribbon faithfully in my pocket. I pulled it out and slowly switched my gaze from the address, to the satin ribbon and back again countless times.
Suddenly, it all came back in a ghastly flash. The men, the kick, the knock, the crib, the hole, the dark, the sadness, the fright. Everything was there lain out in front of me, as if documented through a photographic memory. I jumped up from the table sending my chair cascading to the ground just as the Nazi's had sent my wife to the floor. I seeped through the front door and ran, no questions asked, all the way to the address printed on that paper. When I arrived, there before me lay an elaborately decorated house, with a well kept lawn, and clean fingerprint less windows. The sight of the house alone should have been enough to send me to my grave, but I paid no mind to the small mansion in front of me, for there, at a piano, in the room encased by the window sat a girl. She was tall and had flowing dark hair, just like her mother. Doing the math as best I could in my head, I found her to be eleven years old now. She was beautiful, graceful, and played with an air of importance just as her mother had many years before. Then the rest of the room fell into place in my mind's sight, and I noticed other people. There were in fact, a whole group of people arranged in various places around the room, all of them mesmerized by her glorious melody. For a moment I just stood there, breathing heavily, watching the scene in front of me. Then the playing stopped, and they all clapped and cheered and a few of them came over to hug her or pat her back. A thought struck me, these people were not just her audience, they were her family. My daughter, the miracle child, survivor of the Holocaust was there, with her family. I slipped the red satin ribbon from my pocket and stroked it just as I had many years before. This is how life works, time keeps going, and with that I did the most astonishing thing of my life. I took the frayed ribbon and proceeded to tie it in a perfect bow to their white mail box, and as I did, a single tear slipped from my eye and shivered down my cheek onto the ribbon. I secured the knot, dropped the paper in the gutter, and walked away with the satin ribbon whispering softly in the wind behind me.