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I remember the morning my first mother died.
I sat at her bedside, legs crossed, staring at the floor. An aching sensation tore my chest, my heart constricting under its weight. I couldn’t bear to look at her, so I focused on the little gray granules dotting the white floor. For a moment, I lost myself in memories. Of her comforting me after those spiteful kids had shoved me to the ground, laughing. Of her consoling me after I was rejected twice from art school, barring me from my one passion in life. Of her laughter, so brilliant, so radiant.
She groaned. I looked up, and my breath caught in my throat. Her body reeked of death. Her skin, once glowing, had become sickly and pallid. Her hair had shriveled to weeds. Even her eyes were filled with dullness-- muddy eyes of someone crushed by life.
The tumor on her chest was a mountain, stifling her utterly. In half a year, it had almost doubled in size. I’d tried to tell her then to go to doctor Bloch, just in case. She’d laughed and brushed me off, and I hate myself for not trying harder. If I’d managed to convince her, perhaps she could have been saved.
She’d gone through several rounds of iodoform chemotherapy, and her throat and lungs were so scorched that she could scarcely breathe. She could only stare at me, her face contorted in pain, silently blaming me.
As I sat there, unmoving, staring at her as she neared her inevitable death, I realized how utterly useless, helpless as death stretched out his hand and wrested from mother beauty, health, and sanity. All I’d ever done was cause her more pain; I’d recommended the chemotherapy. To repay her kindness, I had prescribed her poison.
I wanted to scream, to lash out at someone, anyone, and yet I sat there, numb, staring blankly at the floor. I could do nothing.
Just as when those kids had shoved me. I couldn’t fight back. They were too strong.
Just as when that administrator blandly informed me that I’d failed the test for the second time. I gave up. It was too hard.
Just as I cringed from every challenge, as if inadequacy was an excuse for cowardice.
That day, I resolved to become strong. To do something. I never wanted to lose anything or anyone again.
Now, four years later, I see my second mother wasting away.
I lie in a small hospital bed, my uniform by my side. The room looks much like the one in which my first mother died, with nondescript, whitewashed walls. Its only distinguishing feature is the large plastic symbol pasted onto the wall denoting its status as an army ward.
I sit up as I hear footsteps beyond the door. Moments later, a small, balding man in a white coat enters, holding a large clipboard.
“Colonel,” he says. “You are cleared for duty.”
I smile. Finally, after months of anguish, I can return to the front lines. Now, more than ever, my country needs me.
“Not that it matters,” the man adds.
I freeze. My heart feels leaden as I croak, “Pardon?”
“We lost,” he sighs. “It’s over.”
“No. No!” I cry. “That’s not possible!”
He gazes at me sympathetically. An eternity seems to pass before he sighs again. His eyes are dulled, muddy, and I immediately recall my mother’s eyes before her death.
My country is dying.
“How?” I whisper. “We were holding strong on all fronts, even winning skirmishes!”
Somehow I knew the answer before he spoke.
“We were betrayed. By them,” the doctor says through gritted teeth. “I always said we shouldn’t draft them into our armies. Those immigrants, all they did was leak our secrets! How else could our forces have been crushed so easily?”
Immigrants. The tumor in the chest of my once-glorious nation, taking all of its resources for themselves. Those bastards aren’t true citizens; they are countryless, loyal to only money and power. The kids that shoved me all those years ago were the sons of a wealthy immigrant. Now, they run the largest bank in the country, stealing from my nation’s people. The admissions officer at the art school? An immigrant too. I’d wager he took one look at my application, saw my heritage, and disqualified me instantly. Nepotism runs rampant among most every one of them.
“It kills me,” the doctor says slowly. “Watching them living comfortably with all of their wealth as we stand in lines to beg for meals.”
That muddiness in his eyes is gone, a raging fire in its place. I watch, amazed, as hatred somehow has resuscitated the spirit of man without hope, a defeated man. He’s right: rolling over like cowards is not the way of my people. Only through action can we inflame the spirit of the nation again! The immigrants are rich, strong, and powerful, but we are determined and numerous.
I cannot sit idly as my country dies as my mother did. This time, I will fight!
Taken from the diary of 29-year-old Adolf Hitler, 1918