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Gray World

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There is no doubt in my mind that there is a difference being brave or courageous as much as there is between walking towards death and waiting for it, although both paths lead to the same destination and judge in the end. When someone is brave, they blindly ignore fear and when someone is courageous, they have to overcome it. I wish I was blind. That way I wouldn’t need to be brave or courageous, I would be dead.

I tread in rags, in a string of people all in the same attire I was in. Wealthy, or destitute, refined or vulgar before, we had all wound up as wild beasts now. We might have been different people, but we varied little as monsters. Those that once had glowing eyes, in intelligence, for hope, in innocence, now possessed cunning, cold glinting spheres or dull, sightless eyes that were only capable of following the group.

My eyes were not sightless, not yet anyways. I observed for the last time the place that would set me free, Auschwitz. There was no distinction between the gray buildings, the guard’s gray uniforms, and our gray, skeletal skin. Everything was a variation of gray."Too much of one thing and you start to become it," I thought, staring at my open palms. I wondered if my heart was turning gray too.

Up ahead I could discern the coiling smoke being released from the furnaces into the air. I tried to imagine that they were floating to heaven, but it was cloudy today. Whips of smoke glanced off the gray, storm clouds that strained under the burden of rain, tainted from the pollution of the factory. Before the torrent would be freed, I knew more of the only more water would be contaminated.

Slowing to a stop, we were told to wait in a long line that stretched several fields long leading to one small compartment that mirrored all the others.
However we all knew it was different, it was made to be different.

People looked in dismay at their fate, yet we knew there was no escaping. Encompassing in all directions, stood soldiers at attention. However, once people entered Auschwitz, we were all enclosed in by three old, nearby guard towers and a fence that resembled a thread's durability and thinness.
While I was waiting in line, examining the camp as a painter would with a landscape, I spotted a guard striding over to me. "You are wanted by the captain of the guards. Come with me." I didn't bother to fight as an iron-clasp enclosed around my wrist. I could hear whistles as I was lead inside a small apartment and left alone.

Right away on entering the room, my eyes swiveled to food on a china plate. Ignoring everything else, I pounced on it with an animal's ferocity, shoveling as much food as I could fit into my mouth. As soon as it had vanished, I surveyed the room, scanning for any other signs of water or food. I blinked several times, growing accustomed to the solid colors. I had been used to the mix of black and white and this new world baffled me. The colors reminded me of home, a place I had long forgotten. I found elaborately coated, crimson walls with several portraits of rigid-colored men. Nailed above a roaring fire lay a plain, brown cedar mantle and next to that adjacent to the hearth, stood a single solitary figure.

Forgetting where I was and who I was, I sprinted into his arms, wrapped my arms around his neck, and lost myself in tears. "Elizabeth, please stop," he murmured after a few moments. Shocked at the formality in his tone, I began to realize that his arms were stiff and at his side so I released my hold. "You've always called me Liz and what are you doing here?" I asked, perplexed. "I know, I'll answer the question later, but please sit down, you look tired," he stated, indifferently.

I took a step back and examined looked at him for the first time in several years. Some sandy hair dangled over the side of his face, but a star-studded hat fitted securely on his head restricted any more hair from peeping out. There was not a blotch or stain on the black uniform, but the pins and metals that flickered, emblazoned on the it, drew the eye rather than the uniform. His clothes was not excessively tight, but a swastika enfolded, constricting around his arm was. There was still a faint, red hue in his checks, but his eyes were sheer blue and dull. I remembered what the guard said about meeting a captain. I put together the puzzle and the pieces fell into place one by one until they transformed into a mangled portrait. Something clicked in my head.

My fists curled into bony fists, and my blood boiled. With hot, streaming tears I shrieked, "D*mn right I'm tired, but you don't really care do you? Have you watched our friends and me waste away? We aged too quickly, while you are still young. You were lured by Hitler's temptation, watching us from behind a curtain in this secluded room, avoiding me, your fiance. You could have shown yourself before this, helped me, saved me, but now I'm going to die. What do you really want because I know you don't care if I am tired or not. Ben, look at me!"

Rounding on me with glaring eyes he shouted, "Do you think I don't care when I look through the windows and see you dying? I do, but if showed I cared about a Jew, than I would be dead too. I had to join the Hitler Youth like everyone else, otherwise I would be discriminated and beaten. Only the fit can strong can survive in this mad world and I have the genetics and disposition to be the best."

"The best at what?" I whispered. "Killing? Can you not think for yourself anymore or does Hitler do that for you already? What are in his speeches is not sane! Do you also study his book too, take notes from the teacher just like in high school? You always had to be at top and now you are, but you forgot something.
You forgot that to every high there is a low, a cause to an effect, a reaction to an action. I'm already at my low, but you were there long before me."

"And how am I the one to be pitied? Your the beast."

I opened my mouth to hear the humorless laugh that reverberated around the room not to my surprise. "Your avoiding my question. Why do did you call me here?"

"I'm not sure anymore, but your avoiding my question too. Why am I the pathetic one?" Ben glowered.

"You still didn't give me an answer to my question, but I'll answer yours with a statement. A bitten apple rots at its core. "

A sharp slap across my face had me reeling. He stood stock still, with a cold glint in his eyes, waiting.

I clenched my fists ready to retaliate, but I hesitated as something caught my eye. Looking towards the window were the gray was concealed behind drawn blinds, I saw through the small slits, the start of the storm. I breathed and focused on the real world, the world that integrated black and white together.

Finally I calmly stated, "I am not the beast and neither are you, the theories and beliefs are. What we believe in, is what we become." In silence I listened to the soothing pitter patter of the rain. Steeling myself I explained, " I think I know why you wanted to see me. You wanted to confirm your idea that I had become the monster people had described the Jewish race to be so you wouldn't feel guilty that you had sent an innocent person to their death. Maybe I have become a monster, but not because I'm Jewish and I hope you realize that someday."

Not waiting for his reaction, I escaped out into the open air and fled only into the arms of the guards. I didn't resist and was shoved into the thinning line.
I slipped, fully drenching myself in a pool of water which oddly enough, was clear and clean instead of the polluted liquid I expected it to be. Maybe not all of it had gotten tainted by the factories. There was no use in wiping it off, seeing that I would be soaked by the storm no matter what I did. Instead I spread my arms wide and embraced the onslaught of rain.

Our turn had finally come and we moved we herded into the buildings, sneered at like animals. Tilting my head towards the clouds, I caught my last glimpse of the world before I walked in. Sent from the heavens, a flood of rain poured down in the shape of a teardrop, and in the color of gray.



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