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I heard a door opening. It slammed against the wall. I knew what to do. I stopped fixing the bed. My hands trembling, I opened a small part of the zipper that encircled the mattress. Blinded by fluff, I crawled in and closed it. I tried to think, but all I could do was remember when we removed all of the round metal coils from the mattress and overstuffed it with scraps of clothing that I had cut up the day before. It took a full week.
My memory was cut short by voices.
“Where is the girl?”, asked a voice that instantly put into my head the
image of a corpulent man who was used to people telling him he was right.
I strained to hear the reply.
“She...passed away four months ago”, my mother’s quiet voice answered.
The man grunted, showing he didn't believe her and that even if she was telling the truth, he could care less.
I heard heavy footfalls coming closer to me and the bed I was concealed in. They stopped. I forgot how to breathe.
I am going to die, I thought, He will see the zipper and find me and kill me.
Silence. CRASH! I heard wood splintering. He cursed. More silence followed. Finally, the footsteps receded. I hear a door slam. My lungs started working again. And stopped. My mother is as good as dead. I am an orphan. I am alone.
After counting to ten thousand, I opened the zipper just barely enough to see. Nobody was there. I opened it more. Just enough for my head. My shoulders. My chest. My abdomen. My legs. Me. I was out.
It was dark out. I stumbled over the broken chair and tried to get up. I fell again. I laid there, not even trying to get up. I fell asleep with my mother’s words echoing in my head.
She...passed away four months ago...
Sunlight streamed in through the window. I heard birds singing. It seem cruel that the world was so happy. I got up. My head was throbbing. I slowly made my way to the window and pulled hard on the cord that closed the curtain.
I walked to the kitchen and opened a cabinet. There wasn't much in it. Stale bread. A half open can of tomato soup. A black carrot. Three bags of rice. Two green potatoes. The soup looked edible. The can opener broke months ago, I cut it open with a knife. There was mold in it. It was the best soup I’ve had in a long time.
I then sat on a chair staring at nothing. I felt numb.
I’m going to starve to death.
I’m going to get sick.
They will find me.
Why wasn't I scared?
I did everything that I would have done yesterday. I got dressed. I fixed the bed that I left undone yesterday. I scrubbed the floor. I did the laundry and hung it in the kitchen to dry.
Then I walked into the bathroom. No. No. NO. They didn't take her. They didn't shoot her. They left her. They drowned her. She was tortured and murdered. While I was in the room next door.
Epilogue: Sarah (the girl) was found about a month after the Holocaust ended. She was severely dehydrated and hadn’t eaten in over a month. She was sitting on the bathroom floor staring blankly at her mother. She died later that day in the hospital.