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Iris: Part 1
Across the street, he was leaning against a brick wall, toothpick in mouth and sunglasses on. Brooklyn was watching him from a café, sipping on a cup of rose tea. She was sure that this was her guy, and as she watched him, she knew he was watching her. Now if only she could catch him somehow… then she blinked and he was gone. She cursed her humanity and got up from her table, grabbing her umbrella as she walked out into the sunny afternoon. At least, she said to herself, she knew who to look for next time.
Tzipa was cold, numbly cold. Her fingers were numb and her toes weren’t any better. She sat shivering next to her mother, Shira , under an over-turned rescue boat. Water had washed over the deck of the ship and flown under the small boat, freezing the escapees it harbored. Tzipa didn’t know how long she had been crouching in the dark before she was reminded what a bad plan this was. First, Shira came up with a brilliant plan to escape the ghetto the Nazis forced them into, but now they were pushing their luck by running away to England?
It was crazy, Tzipa was sure they would be caught, but she wouldn’t let her mother know that. Tzipa would go wherever her mother went, she was her last family member left. The rest she hadn’t seen since the day they were sent Dachau, a labor camp in Germany. She reasoned that it was a miracle that she and her mother had survived, and she should be thankful. Light flooded over the crouching mother and daughter, and Tzipa looked up to see a sailor standing in front of them.
He geld out his hand, helping Shira and then Tzipa up, both drenched.
“Geeze, you two must be freezing!” He looked back at them and said, “Here, I’ll be right back.” He turned and walked through a nearby doorway, and came back with two thick, wool blankets. “These should warm you right back up.” The sailor gave them a wide smile and handed the rough but dry blankets to them. “We’ll be docking in English ports in a bit, about an hour, hour and a half. So, you might want to get your things ready…” but he trailed off once he saw they had no things. He stood before them for another awkward moment more, then nodded his head and went back to his chores.
Shira turned to her daughter with a raised eyebrow. She looked very funny, wrapped up in her huge blanket. Tzipa watched her for a bit, remembering how her golden-brown hair used to be before malnutrition had turned it brittle and gray. Her bight cinnamon eyes were still the same, full of ideas and creativity. This was what had kept Tzipa going for the last year, how amazingly optimistic and spirited her mother always was. Even when they were forced to do hard work on empty stomachs, or had to stand hours on end in the cold of the morning, she was always looking forwards. And now, all of it had paid-off. They were free. It was only a matter of time before the Allies would triumph over the Nazis’ reign. Tzipa couldn’t wait for that day.
“You all right, moeder?” Tzipa asked her mother.
“I’m just fine, liefde van mijn.” Shira looked patted Tzipa’s hand, holding it for a moment and said “We’re fine. Now go explore the ship for the last hour we have left on it, and we can meet back here when the land is sighted. I would like to talk with the captain.”
“Okay, mum.” Tzipa watched her mother walk away, then turn back and wave her hand at her. Tzipa smiled and walked down to the other side of the ship. She leaned on the edge of the boat, watching the rivets the ship left in the water.
After a bit, she heard a small rustle, and turned to find a boy, looking about seventeen years of age, watching her. He was tall, and was leaning against the rigging a few feet to Ashlin’s right.
They stood; watching each other, until the boys rough voice broke the silence.
“Aren’t you going to ask me my name?” He said, not looking up from the deck floor.
“What do you want?” Tzipa asked, and felt the danger of this boy, feeling the scars the last few years had left on her all too clearly. He looked normal enough, dark hair, light skin, donning the uniform of a sailor. He was chewing on a tooth pick, and his head was bent, so she couldn’t exactly see his eyes, which annoyed her.
“Aaah, a cut to the chase girl, aren’t you?” He stepped towards her, making Tzipa tense, ready to run.
“I- I think you should stop where you are.” Tzipa tried to steady her voice as much as she could, but irrational fear was starting to close up her throat. “Who are you?”
“It won’t matter in a moment, love.” The boy was now right up to Tzipa, and she could feel his breath on her cheek, and now she was out of her mind with fear. “It’s a pity you have to end this way,” He said in a doting voice, like he was talking to a child, “Else I think August would have had fun with you.”
At this he looked up into Tzipa’s eyes and she gasped at what she was looking at. The boy had no pupils. It was as if the irises had swallowed them up. The iris was a perfect circle, but it had no definite color to it. Stings of brilliant colors were left squirming like worms in the pit of the iris, as if they were still looking for the vanished pupil. The boy didn’t look blind at all, like the pupil was simply a removable object, redundant to his sight.
“Like what you see?” The boy smirked at Tzipa’s gaping face, kissed her cheek, slipped his arm under her knees, and in one swift movement threw her over the edge.
The thought of screaming hadn’t even crossedTzipa’s mind before she smacked head-on into the icy water. Her wool blanket filled with water so quickly, Ashlin didn’t have a chance to flail to the surface, and was sucked down beneath the waves she was admiring just a minute ago.
She fought as hard as she could against the weight of the blanket, but she was too tangled and desperate to find her way out and up. Ashlin flailed and kicked, giving all her energy to get back to the surface, but soon she knew her lungs would betray her. She felt the overwhelming despair consume her at the imminence of her death. She had made it out, through the hard work and beatings, and now because of a stupid, freaky-eyed boy it was all in vain. She thought of her mother was she gave up the last of her air and let the water swallow her body. She closed her eyes and she heard her mind slam shut with muffled thud, and through her eyelids she saw the light of death shine from above her.