Roll call. As if these soldiers really cared exactly how many of us skeletal cattle were left. If that were true, we would have been done hours ago. I stamped my feet, praying I hadn't been seen, with what little strength I had retained; thanking God that I was at least in the middle of the pool of prisoners, and not in front. The rain drizzled steadily and moistened the hollows where my cheeks had been, caressing with its chilling touch, easing me toward death. Attempting to keep my mind off the cold wind that had started to rouse itself, I thought back to when I had liked the rain, back to the days of listening to the comforting rhythm it would make as it danced on our roof and raced down my windows. Muter would always make hot chocolate whenever there was a thunderstorm. Then we would all sit in the living room and watch its awesome power light up our awe-filled eyes. Hot chocolate. The breathed words felt foreign on my tongue. I closed my eyes and discretely licked my lips, hoping to taste the warm sticky residue the words had left, vainly hoping to smell the sweetness of the liquid chocolate. A sudden gust of wind tossed me from my daydream, causing the alien clothing wrapped around me to try and tear itself to its own selfish freedom. The great breeze licked my ear, taunting my helplessness, reminding me of the time I had once enjoyed it. How I had once savored the rush of its breath against my skin. I had always loved how it could wake my hair from its docile slumber and refresh me with its gentle, yet exuberant coolness. I shivered; my abstract friend had become an enemy, freezing me with its cruel strength, biting my skin, assaulting me with its harsh slaps and rough hands. I stared down and huddled against myself; pictures of my family and friends, shimmering in the puddle below me, clouded by time. Muter, laughing as she baked, smelling of cinnamon and vanilla. Tate, pretending to be an airplane while I rode on his back. Schwester, my reserved older sister, with her sweet smile. Kusine, with the mischievous grin he would always give me, even when we were in the ghetto. Ghetto swept up a whole new wave of memories. Tate being dragged out to the train station. Kusine begging me to run off with him, tears damming up, ready to burst. Muter, cold and still, lying of the thin, simple floor of our temporary cell. Schwester being beaten and hauled away with several other weary marchers, leaving me alone. The wind beat me again, but I was too weak to care, too burdened to notice. Now no hair flowed and played in it, shining like dark sunbeams. Why, I wanted to scream, the urge to cry perhaps once strong, but I knew no tears would flow from my hated numbed eyes. I had used them up years ago. Why couldn't things be as they were before? I had committed no crime, done nothing to deserve this level of brutality that had suddenly been forced upon me. But that was then, and this is now, I forcefully reminded myself as the last few happy images filtered through my mind before they too were stolen. That was back when I was human, a person worthy of dignity, back before the chains and gates, wires and whips. Back when I had a name, but now I am just a number, another in long row of almost lifeless digits. Almost lifeless.
October 9, 2011