The darkness on this cold night is blinding. The silence is so loud it would shatter any mortal’s ears. I alone can hear the unheard shrieks and forgotten cries of the poor souls held captive at the Auschwitz concentration camp. I wander through the barrack of the site and feel the silent pain of the people these walls imprison. Their cries for help are trapped inside, for if they give up and let it go, they lose their hope. That very reason is why I have made this journey tonight; someone at this camp has given up, has lost their hope.
The barrack, which I was told to go, is so full of empty people. They are drained of all strength, motivation, and energy. The only thing left in them is a small glimmer of hope for a release, earthly or otherwise. The hope, which glows dimly in the center of their chest, is what marks them different from my target. I flow through the room, leaving a trail of spine-chilling air behind me. I can’t help but notice the shivers of the people as I go by. I can’t help but notice the bones that protrude into the paper-thin skin of the starving people. I can’t help but notice the weak limbs of the overworked slaves held captive by these cruel villains. The people, though they are aware I am near, cannot see me as I flow through their barrack.
I continue to scan the numbingly cold room, looking for my task; the reason I’ve made this journey. Finally, I spot him; a small boy, no older than twelve, with thin black hair and sickly skin. To the eyes of a human he is no different from anyone else. I, however, can see something that humans can’t. He has no glow in his chest. He has lost all of his hope. I watch his body force him to breath, force him to live. That’s how the mortals can tell that I am near. They see the body fighting to perform the necessary functions to survive. I, on the other hand, see the soul and the hope. The soul, which has given up, is ready to be taken, almost fighting to leave the body. And the hope has faded to nothing.
I reach in with my long slender fingers and grab the boy’s thin, frail arm, covering his tattoo representing the identity he was assigned the moment he arrived at this camp. That tattoo which stripped him of his freedom, his basic human rights, and, over time, his hope. At my bone-chilling touch the boys sunken-in eyes flutter open. That small action alone requires him to muster any energy he has remaining in his failing body. His eyes widen with fear and confusion when he sees me. I bring a finger to my lips, signifying for him to remain quiet. The expression in his eyes shift from fear to understanding as he gets up to come with me.
We walk by all of the weak and broken people who we will be leaving behind. As we walk, the boy begins to color again. Red flushes back to his skin, which covers his replenishing muscles. His bruises and cuts from long, relentless beatings fade away. His hair is no longer thin and stringy, but thick and full. As we reach the door, the boy stops. He looks at his arm, which no longer contains his identity in the form of a tattoo. Instead, his arm has his name, Jakob, in a blazing gold. The golden writing fades into his skin, flowing through his veins, transforming the pale sickly boy who was defined by a tattoo, back into Jakob. Jakob, a strong, healthy boy filled with excitement and the longing for adventure. All of the glowing letters flow together, right to the center of his chest, restoring his hope. The golden light, that didn’t exist moments ago, is burning brighter than anyone else’s in that dark room. He has finally gotten his release.
We both turn, once more, to take a final glance at the boy’s sickly, starving, broken body, which is still laying in the frozen room. It will not be discovered until morning; the only proof that I was ever here. The body, which will be identified as a number imbedded into the skin on the forearm, will be discarded and forever held as the captive of that tattoo. Jakob, however, is however no longer identified by a number. He was set free the second that tattoo faded from his skin. Jakob looks up at me with eyes now full of hope and a smile on his face because he knows he will never have to be that sickly, starving, broken boy ever again. With that thought in his head, we disappear, hand in hand, from that horror-filled camp.
I bring Jakob to a room full of light and warmth. A room full of happy, lively people. Jakob scans the room, and jumps in delight. He lets go of my hand and runs toward the outstretched arms of his father. His father and I lock eyes for a moment and I nod at him out of respect for an old friend. He returns the gesture before embracing his son. He picks Jakob up and spins him around. I watch them hold each other, but only for a moment because I know I have to go; my job is finished. I turn to leave when I feel a tug on my sleeve. I glance down and see Jakob looking up at me. He tugs my sleeve harder and motions for me to come closer. I lean down as he reaches up on his toes to meet me. Jakob brings his lips to my ear and whispers, “thank you.” I pull back, shocked at the words he just spoke. He smiles at me one last time before he runs away. I watch Jakob disappear with his father, knowing that he is now in a better place.