Same Blood

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Once upon a time there was a boy, who lived in a place which no longer exists, in a house that was torn down a long time ago. He wore mismatching socks, and lived in an era where everything was possible, and the world was shiny, and bright, and new.

He danced amongst clouds with outstretched arms, fought evil with his faithful stick-sword, battled his way through tall weaving jungles of grass. He won the World Cup countless times, scoring incredible last-minute goals against his back wall, the crowd roaring in triumph. He drove grand cars along the sidewalk, tooting the horn enthusiastically at his friends, screeching around pedestrians.

His world was his own, and it was beautiful.

And then one day, a girl came.

Her hair was woven from the sun itself, and her eyes were the brightest clouds he'd ever seen.

From then on, his games changed.

Because now, the girl never left his side.

She was Queen, and he was King, and together they ruled their grand kingdom. She was Bonnie and he was Clyde, and they stole millions upon millions, engaging in wild fingergun battles with the cigar-toting police. She was Dorothy, he was Toto, and they ran from the wicked witch forever and ever and ever.

One day, he was Fritz Szepan, and she was Ernst Kuzorra, and they were beating England 3-0 at halftime- when disaster struck. Ernst tripped.

He'd fallen on a jagged rock in the middle of the field, and had scraped his knee beneath his frayed dress hem. As he sat up, mouth crumpled, blood trickled down his leg. Fritz dropped his ball and came rushing towards his bawling teammate.

“Sssssh, sssssh.” He said comfortingly, because that was what Mama said whenever he, in his adventures, was battered and bruised by reality's harsh lines. “It's okay, it's okay.”

Suddenly he was just a boy with mismatching socks, and she was a girl with hair from the sun, and nothing else mattered but right there and then.

“Look.” He said to her, his voice unsteady with the troubles of his friend. “Look at me.”

She raised her head unconsciously, tears rushing from the clouds within her pupils.

He pulled up his stubby trouser leg, revealing a crowded mass of sliced skin, dried into red scabs. Another scraped knee. “See?” He asked, gesturing.

She didn't see. She blinked at him.

There was a strange steadiness to his eyes, usually so far away. “We bleed the same.” He told her.

“I'm just like you.” He said. “And that's that.”

She didn't understand.

Of course he was the same.

They were a boy and a girl, and they both saw things no one else could, and did anything else matter?

Of course not.

After that, he'd called her mother, who'd remedied the situation with showers of affection and a bandage, and she thought she'd forgotten all about what he said.

But she hadn't.

She remembered, all right.

She remembered, when she stopped fearing the monsters under her bed and started fearing the monsters inside of humanity. She remembered, when suddenly all everyone talked about was Juden this and Juden that. She remembered, every time she raised her right arm to a man with a toothbrush moustache and parted hair.

She remembered when she smelt smoke from burning pages, when she heard the tinkle of glass from shop windows. She remembered when she saw the flash of yellow cloth stars, or the brand of a red ink “J”.

But most of all she remembered when she came home from school, one day, and saw that same red blood, the same as hers, mixing with the gutter bilge, splattered onto the pavement, as a man in a brown uniform-

Hit that boy with mismatching socks-
Again and again and again and all she could think

“I'm just like you.”

But he couldn't be-
He wasn't-
He was different-
And yet-

His blood ran the same, deep, scarlet red colour as hers had done on that day that they were Fritz Szepan and Ernst Kuzorra, and nothing else had mattered.

I'm just like you.

Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl, who lived in a place that no longer exists, and they grew up.

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