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Buses and Broken Hands
As long as Jewish people have lived nothing but strife has flung
itself upon our doorstep. Our fight did not end with WWII.
We, the sons and daughters of Abraham, continue living and breathing in existence.
Throughout my entire life I continued to feel like a living gun range- with those around me itching to take the shot.
I'd moved to Decatur in the summer of 2008.
Bus 12 was stuffed with brats (myself included) yet most were relatively harmless.
Sure, we had sailor's mouths barking endless sweears and teens snuck a smoke in the back; but there was an unspoken law: no judgement.
Of course, this law failed when the high court of 17 year olds deemed the situation appropriate.
"Lord of the Flies" had nothing on us.
A rolling society with a peoples court- and only one of the pack was french (ironically, me).
Over my time on bus 12 I made my way up in the ranks. At 11 we were Gods...of the smaller children and those that were deemed "freaks". Never once had I let my secret slip.
Protocol for my family was simple: stay out of everyone's way and nothing bad would happen.
However, when the yearly holocaust lesson rolled around I found myself depressed.
The images of burning children with melting skin caused me to smell it in my mind's eye.
Vomiting and moving on would have served me well.
I couldn't. Their faces, the way my teacher "tsk"ed.
"Tsk"ed as Jewish men and women were sorted into the gas chambers.
As if Nazies were merely being naughty by committing senseless slaughter.
For some reason, either because of my own morals or the will of Adonai- I felt hot tears smooth themselves over my face.
My secret slushed out of my body like an unclogged drainpipe.
"Sweetie? Is this too much?" Oh, no.
This is where it ends.
A million eyes settled on me with childish fascination.
In that moment I knew my options.
Create an excuse or take it.
Own it like a badge on a thousand coats, sewn with yellow fabric and black stitches.
"My family fled from France," I stuttered, unrehearsed words never meant to be spoken slipped from my vault.
Kids lit up; a real jew! In the flesh! How exciting!
The sheep in the room transformed into an elephant, complete with tassles and henna to make it fit for a circus.
All at once the weight of my identity bolted me to my seat.
I never imagined the truth could break your wrists.
I never imagined the truth would corner you on the bus and grab you by the back of the head.
That the love of my father earned me the status of an outcast.
He looked into my eyes as he did it- and at 11 years old I had never felt so alone on a bus full of people.
How did things like this happen?
My wrists crumpled into my lap and I slumped foward as the bus hit the breaks at the railroad tracks.
Tears, for the second time that day, met my eyes.
One day, I would grow up and prevent these things.
One day, there would be a world where I could live with my peers without fear.
"Until then," I thought, "my hands will stay broken."