1944: Year of the Mandolin Wind
By: AC AKA Nyxie
Copyright: 2001 AC DAmato
Disclaimers: These characters are mine! Please do not redistribute or reproduce this story in part or in whole without express consent of the author, me! (Unless you are privately using it Then its all good.) The song "Scarlet Ribbons" was written by someone, just not me. I just know that my mom used to sing it to me when I was a baby. I know Perry Como sang it. "Mandolin Wind" was used with out the consent of the author, Rod Stewart. The song kinda fit, the title fit, so I borrowed it.
Literary Fact: Mandolin: 2 usually mandoline [French, from Italian mandolino mandolin] : a kitchen utensil with a blade for slicing and shredding.
Im using that as a metaphor in this piece. So think of it as a harsh, slicing, bitter-cold, wind.
Love/Sex: Yes there is love. That is what holds it together in my opinion. It is, however, between two consenting adult females. If youre under 18 go find something general. If this is illegal where you live, Im sorry, but you know not what you miss!
Hurt/Comfort: I think there is some of that, but I dont know. If theres anyone out there who can give me the definition of this particular disclaimer e-mail me, and lemme know?
Language: Yes, there is some bad language. Some of it is written in Yiddish, but it comes with a translation. J
Violence: THIS IS A STORY ABOUT WW II AND THE HOLOCAUST! IN THIS PIECE YOU WILL FIND SOME EXTREME VIOLENCE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, MURDER, AND EXTREME VIOLENCE AND CRUELTY TOWARD CHILDREN! IF YOU ARE SENSITIVE TO THIS OR YOU ARE UNDER 18 THEN DO NOT CONTINUE PAST THIS POINT! IN FACT I AM GIVING THIS A NC-17 RATING FOR VIOLENCE!!
Normally violence is not my forte, but in this case it is necessary to advance the plot, illustrate my point, and such things. All kidding aside, Im really a cuddly person and very anti-war. I dont in any way, shape, or form condone or encourage rape. Its a horrible thing that should happen to no-one. However, I feel that it needs to be part of this story to illustrate the true atrocities of war. Im sorry if this offends you, and if it does, I suggest you move on.
Thanks: To my Beta Reader, Erin. Thanks to my towels for keeping my fingers 90% burn-free, so I could type this! To Nat, for my pack of angry Terrapins and all the input into everything I have written.
Comments: All comments can be sent to email@example.com Please no flames, or Ill set my pack of angry Terrapins on you! (Theyre vicious you know?) All positive more than welcome, and if it takes me a while to respond, thats because I got my work hours back.
Authors Note: If this seems to be written in choppy sentences or the like, its because it was supposed to be. Its written from the perspective of a woman who speaks mostly German and a little bit of English. The quotes would be the thoughts of the other character
Prologue: Late-August 1944
"When the rain came I thought
'cause I knew how much you loved the sun
But you chose to stay, stay and keep me warm
through the darkest nights I've ever known
If the mandolin wind couldn't change a thing
then I know I love ya"
"Rebekah!" I screamed as I watched the uniformed men, the Nazis, take my best friend since childhood. The only thing I knew was that Bekah was not going anywhere. Not if I could help it, anyway. Rebekah Joskowicz was my best friend and in more recent years my love, my lover. My mother tried to hold me back, but she couldnt.
Bekah screamed, "Sofia!" She didnt want to go. She knew what was in store for her. As I broke free from my mother Bekah called, "No stay where you are!"
I reached her and the men and wrapped myself around her. I flailed, trying to ward them off, "No, you cant take her!"
One of the larger men seized me and spat out, "Jew lover. You shame your country so well take you too."
Fear embedded itself in both of our hearts. I acted out of instinct and I never thought that I could be dealt this kind of fate. Bekah cried, "I told you to stay "
"I know you did " I replied with tears in my eyes. I took one last glimpse of my sobbing mother and mouthed, "Im sorry."
We were both hauled off to what could only be described as hell on earth.
We were dragged to the nearby train station and thrown quickly into a boxcar already more than full. The door was slammed and bolted shut; we were instantly terrified. I looked up at Bekah and sobbed, "Im sorry I couldnt "
Bekah pulled me into her arms and held me close. She whispered, "I know you couldnt, Fia." She placed a soft kiss on the top of my head.
One of the men turned to us and asked, "What did the German do to get here?" A few of the others snorted in my direction.
Of corse, they could tell that I was German. I had light blonde hair and bright blue eyes; according to my father, I was the perfect Aryan. In contrast, Rebekah was tall, with soft brown eyes and almost black hair. It was easy to see that she was Jewish.
Bekah rested her hand on my head and told them, "She tried to save me. I have been living with her since the war started and they tried to take me. She ran to stop them so they took her too. She is no enemy."
I was glad for Bekahs kind words and comforted by her embrace. I told them, "Her fate is mine " I noticed that they werent as ragged as some of the other Jews Id seen. We found later that this was only their second day on the train and that we were being taken to Auschwitz.
By the third day on the train we were all very hungry and tired. The weather was very hot and it was hard to breathe. There was no toilet and we were given hardly any water. We were forced to relieve ourselves in the far corner of the car, with much embarrassment. I spent much of the ride leaning against Bekah. She sat against a wall and me between her legs. Her arms were usually securely wrapped around my midsection and every so often she would place a gentle kiss on my cheek. For me she was strong.
"How are you, Fia?" Bekah asked me. Her hands moved up and down my arms and her eyelids were heavy from lack of sleep.
"All right." I told her.
She looked at me, concern in her eyes. She told me, "I wish you stayed, this isnt what I wanted for you."
"I didnt want this for you, Bekah, I couldnt let them just take you like that. I love you." I told her. I leaned even closer to her as the train came to a halt. "Im afraid."
Bekah tilted my face toward hers and placed a chaste kiss on my lips. She said, "I am too, but now we have to stand. It will do us no good to be sitting when the door opens, you know?"
I nodded and climbed to my feet. I did indeed know. When she stood up, I kissed her softly again and told her, "I love you." I could not believe she was afraid. She had never been afraid before.
"I love you." She told me as the door was pulled open.
"OUT! OUT! NOW MOVE!" A large guard bellowed as he started to pull some of the people out of the car. We all moved and were herded like cattle into a line. "Drop your belongings and get in line!" He ordered. Everyone did what they were told.
Bekah and I had nothing to drop so we simply got in line. She stood behind me, resting her large hands on my shoulders as the man walked up and down the line. When he came to me he stopped and grabbed my face. He asked, "What have you done to earn this? Surely you arent a Jew."
I dropped my head, afraid to speak. The only thing keeping me from crying was the gentle pressure of Bekahs hands.
He jerked my head up and slapped me hard across the cheek. "When I speak you answer! Is that clear?" He asked.
"Yes." I sobbed. It hurt.
"Good," he said, "Now I asked you a question. Answer it." He placed his hands on his hips and waited for an answer.
I replied, "I loved and tried to save a Jew."
He snorted, "Loved? Im going to assume it was this Jew?" He motioned to Bekah.
"Yes." I was still sobbing; I glanced over my shoulder at Bekah. Her face was impassive, her posture as always, was perfect.
He turned his attention to Bekah and nodded, "Even I can see why. For a dirty rat, she doesnt look all that bad. Still, a dirty rat." He pulled a club and took a swing at her. It connected with her stomach. As she hunched over his knee connected with her mouth. He said, "Rat." With that walked off to torment some other misfortunate soul.
Bekah straightened herself and again placed her hands on my shoulders. She leaned forward and asked softly, "Youre all right?" She ignored the blood on her lips and what I would assume to be a very painful feeling in her belly.
"For now, Bek." I told her as I leaned into her. I just needed to know that she was close to me.
We were marched into a large room and once again lined up. Bekah stood across from me in the line to my right. My eyes met hers and she smiled lightly, as if to say that everything would be all right. We had been separated from the men; some of the smaller children had been ripped from their mothers' arms and taken to God knows where. Other children were allowed to stay, mostly the ones over twelve.
"Take off your clothing!" One of the men yelled. He was wearing a hat that read Kapo.
Most of us did as we were instructed and the ones who didnt were either shot or pistol whipped. It was then I realized that we would no longer be leading a good or happy life. After an hour of waiting we were close enough to the front of the line to see what would be done to us. There were a few women in uniform with shavers. The proceeded to removed all the hair from the women then sent them to the next line.
It was our turn. Bekah looked at me and nodded her head. She stood with such dignity as they took the hair off of her head. I was mortified when they began shaving my lower regions; Bekah just stood still and kept glancing at me. After that was over with we were put into another line to be tattooed. I cried, and Bekah simply winced. After that we were again lined up. Bekah was again behind me; her hands gently rubbing my shoulders. I looked up at her and thought, "What have they done?" She didnt have any hair anywhere none of us did and I couldnt help feeling exposed.
Bekah leaned down and whispered to me, "Youre still as beautiful as you ever were."
I searched her eyes for a sign that she was lying, but I found only love and truth. I smiled at her and said, "So are you, Bekah."
After a while we reached the front of the line and everyone was handed a set of worn clothing. All but Bekah and I.
The same guard that beat us approached us, arms full of clothing. He said, "If you two want to love women like the men do, then we will dress you like we dress the men." He shoved the mens clothing into our arms and pulled my face close to his. He whispered in my ear, "One night, within the week, I will show you how a man does it."
I began to cry and I knew Bekah heard him. She didnt so much as move.
I suppose we were lucky, because most of the others had things that were too small. Ours were too big. The women were given dresses that barely came to mid-thigh. They tried to punish and humiliate us with mens clothing, but instead the pants and longer shirts served to keep us warmer. We were given shoes regardless of size. Bekah and I were given mens boots. We traded, as hers were too small and mine were far too big. Even after we traded they were still too big. As I said before, some of the others were not so fortunate. Their shoes were much too small. We were also given thin, worn, coats. Again they were far too big. We also knew that some of the women wished they were being punished like we were. While it was still warm now, it would not be in a few weeks.
We were marched to a barrack where we would spend our nights. The beds were small and the mattresses were thin and worn. They were on tiers of three, and each bunk would hold two people. Bekah and I ended up on the third tier in the far corner. She climbed up first then helped me onto the bunk. We were given one blanket per bunk, but they werent warm enough to fight the chill of the evening. Bekah opened her coat and pulled me back into it. She wrapped her arms around me and then covered us both.
I turned over and faced her. I let my hands trail up underneath her shirt and rest against her back; she did the same to me. She said to me, "I heard what he said, Fia. Im afraid that when he comes there will be nothing I can do."
I smiled sadly and told her, "So long as you are here to hold me when I return you will have done enough."
"I will always be here to hold you, Fia. I love you and please never forget that." She covered my lips with her own and our kiss quickly turned passionate. Her tongue slid into my mouth and I took the chance to brush mine against hers.
A gun shot rang out in the night, followed by a shrill scream and then wailing. We immediately broke apart and gazed into each others eyes. I asked her, "Will we ever get out of here?"
"I dont know try to sleep." She told me.
I felt her pull me closer as she rolled onto her back. I rested my head on her shoulder and eventually drifted off to sleep.
The days passed and there wasnt much work to be done. The camp was desolate and dull. It was kind of like looking at a solid gray wall for hours. When we first arrived we thought we saw snow, but we soon found that we were wrong. Every day from the time we woke up until well after we went to sleep the crematoriums worked. No, it was not snow we were covered in, it was ashes. Some times you could smell the flesh burning off the bodies, and others you could just smell the decay.
Wed spend hours in the morning and in the evening at roll call. They called your number and you said you were there. One day, half through, the woman next to Bekah, Ana, fell down in the middle. Bekah caught her and the guard ran over. It was the same guard who had promised to rape me when we arrived. It had been five days and he still had not.
He pulled out his gun and asked the woman, "Why have you fallen?"
The woman started sobbing. She said, "Im tired and Im hungry."
The guard smiled and laughed at her. He said, "Thats the way Jews are supposed to be." He hauled her up and pushed her to her knees. He smirked and forced the womans mouth open. He shoved the barrel of his gun inside her mouth and pulled the trigger. The women behind her were covered in blood. Bekahs face was covered in it, but she didnt even flinch. The screams of the women behind her seemed to anger the guard. He shot all five of them almost instantly. I could hear the other guards laughing.
He put his gun away and moved over to Bekah. He narrowed his eyes and said, "You tried to help her now you can help her. After roll you can do what you will with her body and the rest of them. Just get them out of the courtyard."
Bekah nodded, but did nothing else. This seemed to enrage the man; he was used to getting a reaction.
"You think you will not be punished? You will be. I will come for your woman tonight and show her how a real man does it." He spat in her face and walked off.
Bekah waited until he was out of hearing distance and mumbled, "Manzer " I didnt know what she said, as it was in Yiddish, but some of the other women smirked and nodded their heads. I found later that she had called him a bastard.
After roll call I watched Bekah stare at the bodies. She finally took them one by one and stacked them with the rest. There wasnt much else she could do with them. I went to her as she stalked toward the bunk house; I could tell she was upset. I entered after her and asked, "Bekah? Are you all right?"
She looked at me, on the verge of tears. She quickly pulled me into her arms and kissed the top of my shaven head. She said, "I had to help her, Fia. By helping her I got five others killed and now hes going to hurt you "
I broke away from her and took her to our bunk. I climbed up and she followed me; as she slid behind me, I rolled over to face her. I said to her, "If you hadnt caught her, shed have died anyway. Those women would have died anyway."
"But because of me you are going to get hurt!" She explained in a raised voice. She rested her hands on my cheeks and whispered to me, "I never, ever want to be the reason you are hurt and in the past week I have been that twice, now!"
I sighed and gently kissed her mouth. I told her, "No Im here because you are, and I wouldnt be anywhere else. If you think for a moment that I could live knowing that you were here alone, and hurting youre sadly mistaken." I kissed her once more and continued, "He wanted to rape me anyway and its not your fault. I wont tell you Im not afraid, because Im petrified. I will tell you as long as youre here for me when I get back I wont be afraid anymore. In your arms I know I am safe and loved." Again I placed a kiss on her lips, and this time she kissed me back. I could see the tears threatening to pour from her eyes, and I wished she could cry them out. She couldnt, so I cried for both of us.
Before dinner, we lined up for roll for the last time that day. It took two hours and by the end of it we were not only bored, but tired as well. We got in line for dinner and were each handed a half-full bowl of soup, and a small piece of bread. We headed back to our barracks, where we usually spent the rest of the night. Bekah and I sat on our bunk and began to eat.
A friend of ours, Abagail, called up to Bekah, "Me ken brechen!"
Bekah snorted and sipped a bit of her soup. I asked her, "What did she say?"
Bekah looked over with a blank expression. Suddenly she smiled a bit and replied, "She said, You could vomit from this. I think I could if I had anything in my stomach to vomit." She laughed bitterly and then handed me her piece of bread. "You look thin eat."
"No, Bekah " I started, but she placed a hand over my mouth.
"Eat." She ordered. She whispered, "I dont want you hungry, Sofia. I dont eat much anyway, so you have it."
I nodded and took the bread. I gently rested my head against her shoulder and sipped my soup. She draped her arm around me and whispered, "I love you."
It was the middle of the night and I was wrapped securely in Bekahs arms. I couldnt sleep, though. I was too afraid. I heard the door to our barrack open and the heavy thud of boots approaching my bunk. Im not sure why, but I started to shake Bekah; she woke up almost immediately. "What?" She whispered.
"Someones here, Rebekah." I said as the guard reached us.
He climbed on to the bottom bunk and shined a light in our faces. He replied, "Damn right, someones here come now, whore."
I was terrified and I felt Bekahs grip tighten around me.
The officer jerked me from the bed, and I landed with a hard thud. My head and my side hurt, but I left with him anyway. We walked for a few minutes until we reached what appeared to be a shack. Almost as soon as we entered he ordered me to take off my clothing, so I did. I didnt want to die.
"Youve been with a man before?" He asked me. The officer pushed me up against a wall and held me there.
"No " I replied.
He laughed, "So the rat perverted you?" He stalked closer to me as he drew his club. He used it to part my legs. I tried to close them, but when I did he pushed them apart again. He rammed the club into me hard, and I screamed in pain. "I asked if the rat perverted you answer me and keep your legs open."
"She didnt " I choked out. I tried not to look down at the thick club between my legs, but he decided that I needed to see and forced my head down to look. I could feel myself blushing. I was so embarrassed, Id have done anything to just die at that moment.
He pulled the club out of me and started to undo his pants and I began to tremble. He said, "Youll never forget this resist me and Ill take your rat too."
I didnt resist him, and I never forgot it either. As he did whatever he was actually doing, I closed my eyes and hoped it would be over soon. I thought it was when I felt something drip down my leg, but then he started again.
Then there was nothing. No sooner had I started to pray for my death, everything ended. The guard lay at my feet in a pool of his own blood and Bekah stood near, gun in hand. I stared in shock, not really believing what I saw.
"Get dressed, Fia we have to hide him." Bekah told me.
I absently started dressing, still confused. I asked, "What are you going to do?"
Bekah looked at me and shrugged. She was silent a moment and replied, "Put him in the latrine."
"But the officers, Bekah, what if they see?" I asked her. If I was going to die, Id be damned if it would be this way.
"Theyre sleeping or working the crematorium. I want you to go back to the barrack and wait for me." Bekah whispered. She began dragging the guard across the floor.
I shook my head and grabbed his feet and started to help her. I said, "Im not going anywhere without you."
She gave me an exasperated look and whispered, "Fine."
We made it through the courtyard and to the latrine with no problems. I suppose it would have been too much to ask to have it easy. As soon as we managed to get him through the hole Bekah heard something.
"Fia, somebodys coming " Bekah whispered.
"Who?" I asked. How would she know who?
"Take your pants down and sit " She snapped at me. I did as I was told, and quickly. When Bekah was curt, you knew not to go against her. I was glad I listened.
"Whats going on, here?" A burly officer asked. He approached us quickly, with his hand on his gun.
I couldnt speak, I was so afraid. Bekah looked at him and replied calmly; "Sofia had to go to the bathroom. She was afraid to go by herself "
The officer made a disgusted face and then shook his head. He then asked Bekah, "Have you seen Officer Heinrich like youd know his name! Guard, a little shorter than you. Hes blonde, blue eyes and a real asshole? He usually does roll in the morning?"
Bekah looked at him. Her eyes were as big as saucers and I thought she might collapse. I piped up, "He went out the fence "
"Out the fence?" The officer asked.
"Through the gate " I told him with a nod.
The officer rolled his eyes and walked away, mumbling, "Crazy, fucking, Jews out the fence stupid "
I stood quickly and pulled up my pants. I grabbed Bekahs arm and whispered, "Come on, lets go!"
Bekah looked at me and nodded her head. Without a word, she allowed me to lead her back to the barrack.
Bekah and I climbed back onto our bunk and almost immediately melted into each other. I heard Bekah sniffle and I looked into her eyes. She was crying Bekah didnt cry. I asked, "Are you sorry?"
She shook her head and said, "Not about that asshole. Id do it again if I could, but Im sorry I couldnt get there on time. I had to make sure no-one saw me."
I placed several soft kisses on her neck and whispered, "I love you, and dont ever forget that."
Bekah nodded, as more tears streamed down her cheeks. She whispered, "He hurt you and I couldnt stop him. That hurts me more than anything." She started placing tender kisses on my mouth. I was a little self-conscious, as I hadnt brushed my teeth in near two weeks. Bekah didnt seem to care.
I slowly trailed my hand down her side and into her pants. I could already feel her pushing against me, so I took that as a sign to continue. I let my hand travel between her legs; my thumb brushed lightly against her clit.
When I did that, she moaned softly and pressed her lips against mine. She opened her mouth and slid her tongue inside of mine. I felt it brush against my tongue, and missed the way we used to be able to take each other so freely.
I massaged her clit until she broke apart from me. I slipped two of my fingers inside of her and picked up a steady rhythm.
She broke away from me and softly pleaded, "Harder, Fia more."
I complied and added another finger; I thrust harder and she bucked against my hand.
She panted, "God " Her body quivered and I felt her contracting around my fingers. I waited until she calmed down and removed myself from inside her. I kept rubbing her though. I found that if I avoided her sensitive areas, this served to calm her down. She relaxed against me and for once let me hold her. She whispered, "So good to me please, dont stop?"
"I wont. Goodnight, Bekah." I whispered as she drifted to sleep. Soon after I stilled my hand brought it to rest on her back. I knew this was something she needed and it was one of the few things that I could give to her. I too fell asleep.
Three: Early-January 1944
"Oh the snow fell without a break
Buffalo died in the frozen fields you know
Through the coldest winter in almost fourteen years
I couldn't believe you kept a smile
Now I can rest assured knowing that we've seen the worst
And I know I love ya"
Four months after the run-in with the guard we were again packed in a train. Nothing much came of the mans disappearance -they never found a thing. We were now on our way to a womens camp. The name was Sutthof. Things didnt seem to be getting much better. This time in the boxcar, we had a bucket that served as a toilet. The smell was awful and the bodies kept piling up with each day that passed. I think the worst was when they told us where we were going when we stopped for passengers.
Bekah moved to the small window of the boxcar. She asked one of the passing officers, "Where are we going?"
The man snorted and said, "Its an extermination camp that makes Auschwitz look like heaven. They do especially nice things to young women "
It was all he had to say before Bekah shot across the car. She just made it to the "piss pot" before going to the bathroom. I could tell by the look on her face she was mortified.
I was heartbroken. I could not bare to see a woman, once so strong, reduced to nothing more than nerves. I ripped some cloth from my jacket and discreetly handed it to her. She was grateful for that. I think having to make the rest of the trip covered in her own excrement would have killed what little pride she had left.
We were sitting together a while later; I was against the wall and she beside me. Suddenly she moved over and curled up between my legs, burying her face in my chest. She wrapped her arms around my neck, so I put mine around her midsection.
She whispered, "Thank you, for loving me, Sofia. Without you, Im nothing."
I just pulled her closer and kissed her softly. We spent the rest of the three day train huddled together. I was comforting her and she was comforting me.
The train stopped and the doors opened. As we were ushered out of the train a woman began pulling some of the others out of line. The rest of the children were taken from their mothers and the ones that looked the sickest were taken. We knew that we would never see them again. It was colder now, and by nightfall it was frigid. After hours of marching we finally arrived at the sub-camp, Torun, and our barrack. They were a little warmer than the ones at Auschwitz, and the mattresses were less worn. Bekah and I again shared our bunk; like last time it was in the far corner on top.
"Sofia?" Bekah asked.
"Yes?" I replied as I inched closer to her.
Bekah wrapped her arms around me. She asked, "Are you warm enough?"
"No I cant feel my feet." I told her. I couldnt.
"Sit up." Bekah told me. I complied and looked at her curiously as she started to take off my boots. She looked at my feet, mouth opened. She said, "You have frostbite "
I looked down. My feet were an unnatural color and there were sores all over them. "Thats why they hurt " I commented.
Bekah rolled down the cuffs on my pants and ripped them so they fit. She began wrapping my feet in the left over material. She said, "Should help keep them warmer. Like socks." She finished and slipped my boots back on. She commented, "I did this a while ago. It doesnt fix the problem, but it help a little." She lay back and pulled me close to her.
I was thankful for the body heat, and even the thin blanket we had been given. I whispered to her, "Goodnight, Bekah."
We were awake before the sun had risen. It was bitter cold as we stood for roll call. Here they had us stand in groups of five and they would count us like that. When the SS would miscount theyd start all over. Sometimes they would start all over just to make our lives worse. The food was a little better here; they would give us three meals a day. Sometimes coffee or tea, even butter! Some of the women had all together stopped having their periods. I had stopped, but Bekah had not. I remember some of the officers beating her for being dirty, yet they beat us because they said we were not women. I just didnt understand the things that were happening. We couldnt win.
We were near the fence and some people noticed us. I would guess that they were some of the citizens in one of the nearby towns. Not all people hated the Jews. We were stacking some dead bodies as part of our detail and we were freezing. They started tossing food over the fence. I though about picking up one of the potatoes, but Bekah grabbed me before I touched it. She snapped, "Are you out of your mind!?"
I frowned at her and replied, "Im starving, Bekah! Its food "
She pulled me away from there and pulled me against her. She whispered in my ear, "There are SS and Kapos all over, Fia. If they see you with something, or eating something, or if they find something on you, then you have given up your life."
I felt my lip trembling and I started to cry. I couldnt help it. I sobbed, "They wont know, Bekah. Im hungry, and they wont know."
She leaned down and gently kissed away my tears. She said, "You will have something to eat soon. I promise, when we get out of here I will take you to the best restaurant there is. I will even cook you a mountain of food the size of Olympus, but you cant pick anything up!"
I turned my head against her chest to look at the potato. Abagail had picked it up and hid it on her to eat later. I sobbed into Bekahs chest, "I wont but Bekah, you cant cook to save your life."
"Dont cry, Fia please. Im going to make everything all right, but please dont cry." She begged. The whistle blew and we all ran to line up. She leaned down and whispered in my ear, "I promise I wont cook "
I smiled a little bit.
As we lined up one of the guards yelled at us, "Get into groups of five!"
We did as we were told, Bekah stood next to me. We were also with Abagail, Eva, and Edna. We were put into rows of ten groups, there were fifteen rows, and one SS officer per row. None of us knew what was going on, but we were sure it wasnt a good thing. The same guard shouted, "Take off your clothes! Quickly!"
Again, following orders we did as we were told. Potatoes, apples, and old pieces of bread fell from under some of the womens clothing. They were instantly taken from their groups and lined up across from us. Abagail was taken for the potato. The men moved down the rows, one by one checking us for other things. I looked over at Bekah as she was searched. The color in her face drained as the guard spread her open in front and back. He forced her mouth open then shut. I was horrified. They just moved from person to person, never washing their hands. The officer then whispered something to her that I could not hear. Bekah whispered something back to him; he smiled and they both nodded.
It was my turn and the officer was surprisingly gentle with me. He was quick and not at all intrusive. I was still embarrassed, but I knew that it could have been worse. I could taste the other women on my lips, and that made me ill. Edna was also taken from our group. She had managed to hide a few cigarettes down there. Twenty other women were lined up with Abagail and Edna.
The head officer yelled at us, "This is what happens when you pick things up!" He pulled his gun and shot one of the women in the temple. The rest were knelt down and one by one executed in front of us. No-one dared to make a sound, fearing for our own lives. "Get dressed and go back to your barracks! There will be no lunch today!" He announced.
We quickly got dressed and went. When we got back I noticed that Bekah was missing; I was frantic looking for her. One of the older women, Zara, or Grandmother, came to me and pulled me close to her. She said, "I saw her go with one of the officers."
"Grandmother, I cant lose her " I cried as she held me close.
"I know. Just pray, child." She whispered.
I did pray for hours, like I have never prayed before. I hoped that the Lord heard me.
Bekah came back into our barrack slowly. Hours had passed and it was near time for evening roll. She slowly climbed to our bunk and wrapped her arms around me. She kissed my face softly and whispered, "Im here Sofia."
I looked over to her and started to cry again. I wrapped my arms around her neck and asked, "Where did you go!?"
"Doesnt matter, Fia. I am here now and I am all right." She replied. She held me close and started to rock me back and forth. She said, "Youre all right. I love you, Fia,"
I looked up at her face and realized that it was badly bruised. I asked, "What did they do to you, Bekah?"
"Doesnt matter." She told me. I knew that she wouldnt be talking about it then, or maybe ever. I also knew not to push the subject.
After roll was finished, we lined up for our evening meal. I was surprised when I realized that our bowls were full to the brim and we were each given two extra slices of bread. Our cups of tea were full. We went back to the barrack and I tasted my soup. There was actually potato in it!
"What did that man say to you?" I asked, Bekah.
She shook her head and told me; "He said, Fuck me and Ill give you more food. I told him, Give me and her extra food and Ill do anything you want. Apparently, I did it well because this is more than what was promised." She said all of this quite morbidly.
I looked at her in shock. I asked, "You put yourself through God knows what to get food?"
"You are hungry, Fia. I did what I had to do to make sure you ate, and I will continue to do so. I dont like to see you hurting, and if I can ease your hurt I will." She told me as she chewed a piece of bread.
That was the end of the conversation. I would not argue with her, because I did not want her upset.
Days later more women arrived at camp. They had come from Auschwitz, which had been evacuated. Roumer had it, the war was almost over. Most of them were near death, but some of them were surviving. One of the younger women, Alyson, told us they had been made to march from Auschwitz to here. She said they were given very little food, if any at all.
We were not very strong at this point, but we did the little we could do to help the others. There was a dying woman with a child. The girl couldnt have been more than four; we didnt know how she made it this far. The woman looked up at Bekah and asked, "Take care of my little girl?"
Bekah looked down at her and then nodded. She replied, "Ill take her." She knelt down by the girl and told her, "Kiss Mommy, then you need to come and meet my friend."
The girl did as she was told. Tears in her eyes, she bent down and kissed her mothers frostbitten cheek. She said, "Bye-bye, Mama. I love you." Then the woman died.
Bekah scooped the girl into her arms and carried her to where I was sitting. She said softly, "This is my friend, Sofia. Were going to take good care of you."
The girl nodded and wrapped her arms around Bekahs neck. She asked, "Is Mama coming back?"
Bekah brushed her hand over the girls bald head. She asked, "Whats your name?"
The girl pouted, "Ilse. Whats your name?"
"My name is Bekah," She paused and took a deep breath. She continued, "Ilse, your Mama is with God now. With the angels. Fia and I will take good care of you."
I nodded and said, "We will."
"Can I sleep with you?" Ilse asked. Her eyes were brimming with tears. She said, "I used to sleep with Mama and my sister. Now, theyre both with God."
Bekah replied, "We wouldnt have you anywhere else," she thought for a moment and asked, "I need to know something, though. How did you make it through roll call?"
Ilse asked, "Whats that?"
I moved a little closer to Bekah and replied, "When they line up and call your numbers or count you. It takes a long time."
Ilse thought about it for a minute or so. She whispered, "Sometimes they let Mama hold me, or Auntie and Mama would hold my hands so I wouldnt fall. Auntie didnt come with us. She went with my sister. One time Mama said if I kept standing, when we went home shed buy me new scarlet ribbons to put in my hair. Just like the song. Do you know the song?" She asked hopefully.
Bekah shook her head, "No."
"I do my Mother used to sing it to me." I told her.
Ilse smiled, "Will you sing it to me before I go to sleep?"
"Yes, I will."
Somehow we made it through afternoon roll with Ilse. She did as she was told and stayed very still in Bekahs arms. I was beginning to feel ill almost every morning. I would usually throw up on the way to morning roll and be very tired all day. After lunch Bekah disappeared again, with the officer. She would go every so often and we would get extra food when she did. As the time passed she would have less bruises on her face, but more pain in her lower regions. This upset me.
At evening roll, Ilse was again still in Bekahs arms. This time we werent so lucky, and neither was Ilse. We had a different officer for our row and he was not anything like Richter. He had told Bekah his name that afternoon. That day, Bekah said they talked instead. This man was hulking, and burly. He lacked the emotion of the other man.
He smirked as he came upon us and asked, "What is that?" He grabbed Ilses chin and jerked her face up.
I replied, "Shes a baby."
"I dont like it." He replied as he yanked Ilse from Bekahs arms, and let her fall to the ground. "I dont like Jew babies." He pulled back his foot and drove it into Ilses ribs.
The girls screams were enough to shatter my heart. I could tell by the look in Bekahs eyes that she felt the same way.
As the officers foot connected with Ilses face she screamed again and tried to cover herself. The officer didnt seem to care; he just kicked her again and again. I could not belive that he could ignore her screams like that. Finally, after she had been silenced, he jerked her up by her arm shoved her into Bekahs arms. "Do whatever you want with her. Shes good as dead anyway."
Bekah looked at Ilse. Her eyes were wide and her breathing was quick and shallow. She held the girl close to her body and we both waited.
I went to get dinner for us that night. I took Bekahs and Ilses bowls to be filled. I was hoping that maybe she would eat. When I returned she was semiconscious. I asked her, "Want to try some food?"
"Naahh " She mumbled as she tried to move closer to Bekah.
I handed Bekah her soup and bread. We ate in silence. I dont know what Bekah was thinking, but I was wishing that Ilse would be better. I suppose it was hours later that her eyes opened up. She asked in a whisper, "Will you sing me the ribbon song?"
"Yes " I told her softly. I gently brush my hand against her forehead and kissed her cheek. I started to sing to her,
"I peeked in to say goodnight
And then I heard my child in prayer:
And for me some scarlet ribbons,
Scarlet ribbons, for my hair"
Some of the other women knew the song. From various places in the bunk they could be heard singing as well.
"All the stores were closed and shuttered
All the streets were dark and bare.
In our town, no scarlet ribbons.
Not one ribbon, for her hair.
Through the night my heart was aching,
Just before the dawn was breaking,
I peeked in and on her bed,
In gay profusion lying there,
Lovely ribbons, scarlet ribbons,
Scarlet ribbons for her hair"
As we started the last verse Isle took her last breath. I think it was for us too, that we kept singing. It was one thing that held us together. One thing that the Nazis could not ever kill.
"If I live to be a hundred
I will never know from where
Came those lovely scarlet ribbons,
Scarlet ribbons, for her hair "
And it was finished. The song and Isles short life. Bekah, being Bekah silently took her out. I figured that she would put the body with the rest, but she did not. She got down on her hands and knees and began digging a hole. She dug for hours, until well after dark and didnt finish until most of the camp was sleeping. She dug until her fingers bled. I stood next to her until she was finished. She placed Ilses body into the shallow grave and started covering her. She picked up a nearby stick and scratched the Star of David into the ground and bowed her head for a moment. This was something that she would do every day afterward.
Bekah turned to me and said, "She deserved better than the big hole. Fia, she deserved better than to have her ashes scattered to the wind. She deserved her ribbons " She started sobbing where she stood.
I pulled her into my arms and pulled her head to my shoulder. I softly kissed her cheeks and whispered, "You have the biggest heart, Bekah, and you are such a good woman. I love you so much."
She continued sobbing, "Sofia, I didnt want her to die, and I couldnt save her! She was just a little baby and I let her die "
I pulled Bekah into our barrack and to our bunk. Once we were both in bed I pulled her close to me again. I whispered to her, "Youd have both been killed. Its not your fault, Bekah."
Bekah cried herself to sleep that night and she was miserable for a few days after that. She swore that if we ever had a child, that she would protect it no matter what. That it would always be safe and loved. She swore that if her little girl wanted ribbons, then shed have them. Mostly, she swore that we would get out of this living hell.
It was cold that day. The day that we found how heartless the Nazis could be. An SS officer yelled to us, "Today you will be clearing the main camp road. After breakfast we will start the march."
None of us thought this to be a big deal so we went to have our breakfast. We sat in our barrack , eating; Eva, Bekah, and I were together on the bunk Eva had shared with her sister, Edna. Eva smirked, "Weve done worse than shovel snow."
Bekah nodded and swallowed a bit of bread. She replied, "Hauled bodies, contracted diseases, sores, blisters, and frostbite. Weve seen our friends and family die, and weve almost died. Most of us have either been raped or prostituted ourselves for food. Yeah, this ought be easy."
I shook my head and finished the last of my broth. I rested my head in Bekahs lap and said, "They never tell us what were going to be doing, Bekah. If I were you Id prepare for the worst they can give us." I placed my hand on her side and it was then I realized how bad off we were. I could count Bekahs ribs by touching them; nevermind the fact that I could see them through her shirt.
"I think youre right." Bekah agreed. Sighed and then shook her head. Her hand rested on my head and she said, "Be strong, Fia. I dont want anything to happen to you."
"I will be." I told her. The whistle blew.
We were handed shovels and we started marching. It was bitter cold and we were getting exhausted. As some woman began to drop the SS men would draw their guns and shoot them. Some of the stronger women began calling out, "Gait, gait! Gait, gait!" That was, "Come now!" We all knew once we fell our lives would be forfeit. We were afraid.
Grandmother Zara had been struggling for some time now, and no encouragement could get her to keep up. She was just too old and too sick. When she fell the SS man did not draw his gun, but a rope. She looked at him and pleaded, "No! No! I dont want to die this way here please dont Ill do better!"
Her pleading did nothing to help her cause. The man just grinned and tied the rope around her ankles. We stood, our mouths agape, watching the scene play out. We didnt know what the man had in store for her and truthfully, we did not want to know!
He took her and tied her to the back of the car they were riding in and he took off full speed. I couldnt believe what I was seeing or hearing! Zaras screams were almost unbearable to hear! He made great show of pulling her up and down next to us so we could see exactly what she looked like. By the time he was finished she was unrecognizable! Bekah kept a stiff upper lip about it. Most of us were silently weeping; others were so numb to the violence that they just did not care!
When we made it to the starting point, they ordered us to shovel. We did shovel, like our lives depended on it. They did depend on it. We shoveled for hours and hours until we finally made it back to camp. They left Zaras body tied to the back of the car and dragged her all the way back. When we returned she was long dead. That night we all cried for her; all but Bekah. I dont know what Bekah did, because she was not there. Richter came and took her away that night.
"Oh I never was good with romantic
so the next few lines come really hard
Don't have much but what I've got is yours
except of course my steel guitar
Ha, 'cause I know you don't play
but I'll teach you one day
because I love ya"
I thought she was dead. I did nothing but cry for days and days. Without my Rebekah there I was nothing at all. I had no will to live. I did not want to survive, unless Bekah was there with me. Days later she hauled herself into the barrack and to our bunk. It was late at night and I was almost asleep. She crawled in behind me and molded herself into me. "Bekah?" I asked.
Her response was to trail her hand down my side and underneath my shirt. She whispered to me, "I need to feel you, Fia." She brushed her lips against the back of my neck and moved her hand to my breast.
I couldnt have stopped her if I wanted to. I did not want to. I didnt know what she had been through and I didnt know if I ever wanted too. I whispered, "Then feel me. In the night Im yours and yours alone." I was all hers, if only in the night.
I turned myself over and I faced her for what seemed like an eternity. There were bruises and cuts all over her face. I said to her, "Rebekah, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on."
She looked as though she might cry, but she did not. She asked, "Do you love me?"
"You know I do." I told her.
She asked, "Sofia Theresa Reinhardt, will you marry me?"
I cried. I did not know what else I should, or could do. All I knew, even now, is that I loved her more at that moment than I ever have. I replied softly, "Yes, Rebekah, I will marry you. I love you."
She smiled. It didnt seem to bother her that I had not been able to brush my teeth in months, let alone get more than a half-assed bath. Her lips met mine with passion I had never, ever known could exist between two people. I knew if we were too loud we would wake the others, or maybe even alarm the officers that patrolled nights here. She seemed to know that too, so we swallowed each others moans.
Her hand slid down my stomach, to between my legs. She brushed her fingers against my clit and I decided that I would not come alone. I did the same to her and her other arm tightened around my waist. We briefly separated for air, and then resumed our kiss. As I slid two fingers into her, she did the same to me. We both began thrusting against each others hand. Her breathing was quick, and I knew mine was. She thrust harder and so did I; we were both at the edge. I came first and she followed, moments after.
She pulled me close to her, after removing her fingers. I removed myself from her, but continued rubbing her. She rested her head on my shoulder and whispered, "They hurt me, Fia."
I closed my eyes and prayed that I hadnt heard her say that. The truth was, she did say that. I asked her, "What did they do to you, Bekah?"
She whispered, "They put me in machines, and I couldnt breathe. They cut me to see how much I bled, and they beat me to see how long it would take a bruise to form."
I used my other hand to wipe the tears from her eyes; I kissed her forehead and said, "I didnt want that for you."
She rolled to her back and I went with her. I rested my head against her shoulder and continued her massage. She said to me, "They hurt me. You dont ever hurt me you love me and no-one else can?" It was more of a question, really.
I told her, "There are a lot of people who love you, but no-one could as much as I do. I will never hurt you " She was asleep and soon I was too.
Shortly after the incident with Bekah, Richter stopped calling on her, but continued to give us extra food. I was not sure why, but I think she had grown on him. Morning roll call ended and we were having our breakfast. I had been throwing up more than usual, and lately, I was constantly hungry. Well, hungrier than I normally was. Bekah would give me some of her food at lunch, just to make sure I ate. Everything seemed calm for us; there was no work to be done, but the crematoriums were working overtime. That much we knew. I sat on an empty bunk, and watched Bekah speak to one of the older women. I was suddenly afraid, when I felt a heavy wetness between my legs.
"Bekah!" I screamed.
She and the older woman she was talking to came running over. They both looked at me strangely. Bekah asked "Whats wrong, Fia?"
"Im wet " I told her.
Bekahs jaw dropped and her face went pale. She admonished, "That is not something that needs a public announcement! Its personal!"
I realized what she thought, and I was mortified. I quickly corrected, "Not that kind, Bekah. I look at my pants." I was blushing and I knew it. I climbed off the bunk and Bekah cocked her head.
She asked, "Did you have to go that bad?"
The older woman, Nana, slapped her shoulder. She looked ashen as she told me something I couldnt have even imagined. She said, "I think youre going to have a baby."
Bekah clenched her jaw. I opened my mouth, but no sound came out. I finally asked her, "Do I look pregnant to you?"
Nana shook her head and replied, "Youre always hungry and youre always sick."
Bekah snarled, "Look at where we are, woman! Everyone is always sick and we are all hungry!" I could tell by the look on her face, and her tone of voice she was very angry.
"Have you been with men?" she asked me.
I shook my head, "No I mean yes I was raped a long while back and " I could feel a contraction starting and I sat back down again.
"Sofia " Bekah whispered to me. She sat down and started stroking my hair. She said, "Im so sorry for all of this." It always amazed me how in a heartbeat, she could go from a snarling harpy to being gentle as a kitten.
"Not your fault "I breathed out. I shot her a pleading look; I needed help, and quickly.
"Do you know what to do, Nana?" Bekah asked.
Nana nodded her head. She replied, "Ive done this before and during my time here. Sofia, I need you to lay back against Bekah. Bekah, against the wall."
Bekah nodded and sat against the wall, and I leaned against her. I asked, "Now what?"
Nana softly told me, "I need you to take your pants off."
I blushed again and complied. I wondered how many other women this had happened to. I suppose being with no food you dont gain any weight.
"Open your legs and hold your knees." She told me.
Bekah made a poor attempt to lighten the mood. She whispered in my ear, "Weve been here once or twice for different reasons, havent we?"
I elbowed her and growled, "Bekah " I did as I was asked. I closed my eyes as Nana checked whatever she checked down there.
Nana said, "Youre quick half there. It shouldnt be long now."
I winced as another contraction ripped through me. A few women had assembled to see if they could help, but they couldnt.
A girl, Hedi, left and came back with an old dress. She said, "It was all I could find to put the baby in."
Nana nodded and asked, "Can you find something to cut the cord with?"
Hedi nodded and left again.
I guess it was an hour later, Nana told me to push. I was frightened, but I knew Bekah was right behind me. I pushed, and I pushed hard. Nana nodded her head and told us, "I can see the top of the head. Hedi, bring the dress."
Hedi did, and I pushed once more. It hurt and I felt something push through. Nana told us, "Hes out."
She wrapped him in the dress and tied off the cord with a piece of cloth from it. She laid the baby boy on my chest. I knew then, why I never knew I was pregnant. Our baby boy could not have weighed any more than a pound. Nana severed the cord with the head of a shovel as Bekah helped me clean him off.
Our baby let out one scream and was then silent. He was alive for all of five minutes and he died in mine and Bekahs arms.
I started sobbing and Bekah tried her best to comfort me. She held us both close to her and asked, "What do you want to call him?"
I shook my head and told her, "You give him a name, Bekah I want you to do it. He was your little boy too."
Bekah kissed the side of my head and she rested her hand on the babys small form. She said, "Call him Benoni. Like in The Torah, Child of my sorrow. Benoni Jacob."
I whispered, "Benoni Jacob Joskowicz."
She asked, "What about your name?"
I whispered to her, "He has a good name, like his Mama. You "
Bekah, I knew, was trying hard not to cry; trying to be what she thought was strong for me. She held me closer to her. A bit of time passed, and they cleaned me up as best as they could. Bekah said, "Say goodbye to him, Fia. We need to take care of this."
I cried harder than ever. I pleaded, "Dont take my baby, Bekah!? Let me keep him, please!?"
Bekahs face hardened a little bit. I could tell she was fighting to hold back her tears. She said firmly, "No, this has to be done before anyone finds him."
I dont remember how, but she won. She took our little boy outside, along with the shovel head and again started digging. I know our little boy is buried next to Ilse. I know because I walked past and saw her star, and next to it, a smaller star with a cross underneath. For that I loved Bekah. I knew that the officers did not care what you did with the dead, but it was a punishable thing to mark their graves with The Star Of David.
Bekah promised me it would hurt less in the morning. It did not hurt less in the morning. I dont think it did for either of us. In two hours I was given the knowledge I would have a baby, the gift of his life, and the pain of his death. Some of the other women told me they had seen this sort of thing happen in Auschwitz and Belsen. I had even heard of it, but I never thought it could happen to me.
For weeks I was withdrawn and more depressed than usual. Bekah tried her best to comfort me, but she couldnt even comfort herself. In the end, we were all we had. Every night after that, I would cry myself to sleep, because I didnt know what to do. She pretended she was fine, but I knew she wasnt.
Bekah did not sleep much after that. When she did, it was only if I would hold her. Though, she never told me, I knew why she was hurting. After Ilse, she swore that she would protect our children. She promised ribbons and she promised safety. All of these things she could have provided, had we not been in here. We were here, and she couldnt get us out as long as there was war. She felt as though she failed me and our baby boy.
We were eating our lunch; Bekah was missing again and I was a little worried. To make things worse, we could hear bombs going off around our camp. I wasnt sure who was doing this or why; I did know that it could either be a good or a bad thing.
Bekah came into the barrack quickly and climbed onto our bunk. She whispered to me, "Fia, listen to me, we are going to be in a lot of trouble."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
She whispered, "You hear the bombs? Those are the Americans and the British; theyre trying to take the camp. Richter called on me and told me this. He says that tomorrow at dawn they are going to march us all back to Auschwitz for death, so we must hurry and escape." She pulled me close to her and kissed my cheek.
"Why did he tell you this? Dont you think he has some kind of motive?" I questioned. This didnt make any sense to me. A German, a Nazi no less, is telling a Jew the plans of an army!
Bekah sighed and said, "His mother is a Jew and his father is German. He doesnt look like a Jew, so they have him here in exchange for keeping his mother safe. They took his mother, Fia. Hes going to put our numbers on the dead list after roll, tonight. Were going to hide after everyone goes to bed."
I finished my lunch and pushed Bekah back. I laid down half on top of her and asked, "Where?"
Bekah sighed and said, "Rest now, Fia." She closed her eyes. I knew I wouldnt get anything more out of her. I also knew that I would not like where wed be hiding.
It was dark when Bekah woke me up. I noticed that a few of the bunks that had been occupied hours before, were now empty. Bekah whispered, "The entire camp is asleep, we need to go now."
I swallowed hard and nodded. Honestly, I had considered just going back to Auschwitz. I figured that maybe wed be better off doing what we were told, but one look in Bekahs eyes told me all I needed to know. That I would follow her to the end of the earth, to hell and back, if she asked me to. So I got up and I followed her.
The Camp was asleep. Even the crematoriums werent working! I held on to Bekahs hand and she led me toward the latrines again. I figured she had to go first, before we hid. We stopped and she turned to me. She said, "I know you arent going to like this, but were hiding here."
"Bekah! You know what people do in there?" I whispered, albeit harshly.
She rolled her eyes at me. She replied, "Yes, but its the only place they wont find us. If they do check they can only see so far down and to the side."
"So if they look here we duck?" I asked. I was going to be sick.
Bekah shrugged and said, "Kind of. We also move all the way to the corner. They cant see over there. I checked this afternoon. An officer thought I was going mad "
I shook my head and nodded, "All right, Bekah."
I looked over and she was taking off her clothes. I gave her a funny look and she asked, "You want your clothes to smell like that?"
I shook my head and started to strip. She took my clothes and put them in a small hole; she covered it quickly. I asked, "Now what?"
"Im going to lower you in, then Im going to get in, then were going to pray that nobody has to go " Bekah replied with a grin.
"Hmmm, Bekah. Lets just do this." I said. I tried to hide and amused grin, but I failed. Looking back, I dont think its that funny.
She nodded and helped me onto the wooden board. She then stepped up herself and took my hands. She said, "Put your feet in and slide down into it. I got you."
I did as she instructed and found myself lowered into what had to be four feet of waste. The stench was horrible and the feel of it was worse. No sooner had my feet touched the bottom, I started throwing up. Bekah followed me in and she did the same.
She guided me to a corner and wrapped her arms around me. She promised, "Only for a day or so. Well have a shower when we get out."
I didnt know how she planned to shower, but I believed her.
I dont know how long had passed, but I heard voices above. I looked at Bekah and she pulled me closer to her as she moved against the wall. Two of the holes became darkened and "in use." As liquid hit liquid I started to heave. Bekah turned me around and held my face to her neck. The women left and she let me go. I threw up for what seemed to be the hundredth time.
I asked, "Why did you do that?"
"My hand is disgusting. I didnt want to put it on your mouth." She replied.
I was thankful that we were only covered to our bellies and I kissed her lightly, "How long."
"Not too Richter said theyd be all out by tomorrow morning. He told me where the German housing was and where to find soap and toothpaste. Even a toothbrush." She whispered to me.
"He could get in trouble," I pointed out.
Bekah sighed, "No he cant. By dawn hell be dead."
"What do you mean?" I asked her. I was slightly confused.
"They killed his mother, and his father died in World War I. He has nothing left, and he said he couldnt live with what he has done to his own people. He told me hed be dead after tonight. He thought by helping us he could do a little good, and earn his mothers forgiveness." Bekah explained.
"Do you forgive him?" I asked.
Bekah nodded, "Yes."
"Even after he raped you and hurt you?" I asked, again.
"Yes because of that we ate. Because he hurt me, we are safe for now." Bekah replied.
"Why you?" I asked her. There were so many things that I would never understand about Rebekah. Even though we were safe and we did get extra food, I would never forgive that bastard for what he did to my wife! To this day I hate him!
Bekah pulled me close to her and told me, "He said I looked like his mother. He also said that I was fighting for someone here, and you were German. We had a lucky combination."
I said, "Okay."
I accepted this answer, but in the back of my head, I asked myself a question. I asked, "Just what kind of man would rape a woman who reminded him of his mother?" A sick one, or a demented one, perhaps? I just didnt know. I didnt want to know, and I still dont want to know.
Time passed slowly, that night. When morning came we heard gunshots and screaming. I was terrified, and Bekah was oddly calm about it. We heard footsteps approaching and Bekah and I kneeled down to our necks in the waste. It was so awful. We saw a light work its way in the latrine and we were so still. Someone was lowered head first into our hiding spot. It was a girl, maybe fifteen. She looked around for a moment and then spied us.
Bekah motioned for her to be quiet. She whispered, "One word and I snap your neck. Youll wish you were with them." It was more of a snarl. I had never heard Bekah speak that way and it frightened me. I never knew she could be anything but gentle. I suppose that maybe bad times bring out the worst in people.
The girl nodded and called up the guard, "All clear! Theres nothing!" I could tell by the tone of her voice she was terrified.
We heard laughter from above and the girl was dropped head first into the latrine with us. One of the officers, peered down. I recognized him as the man who killed Ilse. He couldnt see us, as Bekah promised. He waited until the girl looked up before he spoke. He said, "Have fun in there youll starve to death before you get out!" The girl started crying as he walked away. Seconds after that, she started throwing up.
Bekah motioned for her to come toward us. She did, and I realized she was too small to get out on her own. I asked, "Whats your name?"
She whispered, "Rashel. Who are you?"
Bekah replied, "Im Rebekah and that is Sofia. Were going to get us out of here." She seemed so sure of that.
"How old are you?" Rashel asked. She seemed to be curious.
I said, "Im twenty-three. Bekah is twenty-five. How old are you?"
So for the rest of our stay, we had company. Rashel was friendly enough, despite our current position. Bekah spent the next day holding me and popping out of the toilet to see what was going on.
Morning came, and Bekah said, "Its time to get out."
I looked at her and asked, "Are you sure theres no-one out there?"
"Yes, I am sure. Fia, Im going to help you out first, then Rashel. Then, Ill need you two to help me out, okay?" She asked.
I kissed her on the forehead and nodded. I grabbed onto the seat of the latrine and Bekah pushed me up, as I pulled myself up. I could tell she was struggling, because her arms were unsteady. Before this, she used to sweep me off my feet as though it were the easiest thing in the world. Next, she pushed Rashel up and out. I pulled the girl, so that Bekah wouldnt have to do all of the work. Finally, Bekah gripped the seat and began to pull herself up. Rashel and I grabbed her arms and pulled her. With a lot of effort and a little time, Bekah was out of the latrine.
Rashel looked at both of us and simply wandered off. To this day I dont know what happened to her, and Im not sure if I ever will. It is one vision that stays in my mind. A slip of a girl, covered in waste, walking off to God knows where.
Bekah came and put an arm around my shoulder. She said, "Well take a shower, and then wait. Its all we can do, I think."
"All right." I nodded and followed her toward the German housing.
We entered the building and looked around for a while. Finally, we came to the place Richter said to go to. Bekah cautiously opened the door, and stepped in. She said, "Look "
I followed her gaze, to an unmade bed. On it was a toothbrush and some baking soda paste, two sets of clean clothing and soap. Next to it was a note, which I picked up. I read aloud to Bekah:
I know now what I have done, not only to you, but my own people. All I can say is that I am sorry. You may wonder why I raped you, and beat you. I will never be able to answer that question for you. You may wonder why I am doing this. I can tell you honestly, that it is because I am dead and I was trying to find forgiveness in the eyes of my mother, and our God. Perhaps I could have done things differently, I will never know. I am sorry.
-Officer Randolph Isaac Richter"
Bekah looked at me and smiled a little bit. She picked up the bar of soap and lead me to the bathroom of the small chamber. I smiled back as she started running the water. She took my hand and held it under the shower head. I said, "Water "
She looked down and away from me as soon as I spoke.
I asked, "Whats wrong, Bek?"
"Do you want to go first?" She asked. Her voice was barely a whisper, and I could tell by her tone of voice that there was something wrong.
I replied, "I want to go with you."
She looked at me and asked, "Why?"
I told her, simply, "Because I love you so much it hurts."
She looked at me in the eyes and she shook her head. She was silent for what seemed like and eternity. Then she spoke, "Just because you love me does not mean you have to want to look at me. Im ugly. Inside and outside, Sofia, I feel ugly."
Her words were spoken with such honesty and conviction that my heart broke into a million pieces. I pushed her into the stall and took the soap from her hands. Slowly, I began washing away almost a year of dirt and grime, and God knows what else. I was so gentle with her; I treated her as though she were a China cup, and shed break if I handled her too roughly. I did this, because I knew she would, and this is what she needed right now.
I whispered to her, "You are so beautiful, my Rebekah. My wife, my beautiful, wonderful wife. I love you " I started working the soap into her hair and over her face.
As I did this, she took the soap away from me and started to bathe me. She wasnt gentle, but she wasnt rough. She seemed numb to everything that had happened. She told me, "I love you. Youll never know just how much."
After we were finished bathing, we just stood in the shower. Bekah held me close to her, kissing my head and cheeks. I wasnt sure what to do for her, because she seemed so distant; I did the only thing I could do. I just let her hold me.
We curled up together, after brushing our teeth. We were warm and safe on Richters cot. I did not know what to expect from our lives, and I couldnt have guessed what she was thinking. I was on my stomach; half on her and half on the cot. I felt her breathing slowly and evenly, so I knew she was sleeping. There was nothing for me to do now, aside from sleep. So I curled up closer to her, and drifted off into a peaceful slumber.
"I recall the night we knelt
Noticing your face was thin and pale
I found it hard to hide my tears
I felt ashamed I felt I'd let you down
No mandolin wind couldn't change a thing
Couldn't change a thing no, no.."
A couple of days passed and the people we saw were just as bad off as we were. Finally, British and American troops came to us, and helped us. They gave us food, but Bekah would not let me eat much of it. I found out why. The people who ate and ate a lot, died. According to a doctor that came, our stomachs were not working and we would have to eat little bits.
They took us to a shelter, where they cared for us. We started eating more: bits of good broth, then biscuits and bread. We were given some potato, and eventually, we could eat meats and not die from it. We found out that Rebekahs family had all been killed, and that she had no place to go. She did have a place to go. She would come with me, back home to my mother and sister.
One evening, Bekah knelt beside me. I knew she was praying, but I didnt know what she was thinking. I did kneel beside her and I said a prayer of my own. I said to myself, "God, if you are listening to me, give me the strength to make it home. Give Bekah the strength to cry, and give us many happy returns to each others hearts."
When we had both finished I asked her, "What are you thinking? What do you feel?"
She reached out and touched my face. She said, "Youre so pale and skinny. I feel like I let you down and I let our son down. I feel like I let Ilse down. I feel ashamed that I let you down. I think that I want to go home, but I feel that I am home. I feel like you are my light and the best thing in my life and that I cannot ever lose you!" She started to sob, so I pulled her close to me
I held her to my chest and rocked her back and forth. I whispered to her, "Its alright to cry. You never let anyone down, Bekah, and you never let me down. You should not be ashamed, you have nothing to be ashamed of."
She cried for hours and hours. I just held her and rocked her and kissed her. She was so fragile and I knew she was frightened. I knew how much she was hurting, and I couldnt take that hurt away. I loved her and I could not make her stop hurting. That hurt me.
Epilogue: July of 1946
"SOFIA!" Bekah screamed out in the middle of the night. Her body was covered with sweat, and tears were streaming down her cheeks. For the past year she had been waking up several times a week, sometimes a night, with nightmares.
I quickly gathered her into my arms and rocked her back and forth. I whispered, "Its okay, youre safe and Ive got you."
She buried her face in my neck and continued to sob. She said through her tears, "Dont let them hurt me, please! Fia, dont let them take me!"
I kissed the top of her head and gently rubbed her back. I assured her, "Nothing is going to hurt you Ive got you." I gazed out the window of our small apartment, and shook my head.
She cried, "The Nazis they theyre coming "
I told her, "There are no Nazis here, baby. Were in New York, in America. There are no Nazis " We had moved to New York a few months after the war had ended. Rebekah could not function in Germany any longer. She was constantly afraid of being sent back to a camp of some kind.
She asked, "No Nazis?" Her arms encircled my waist, and squeezed tightly.
"None, youre safe," I asked her softly, "What did you dream about, Bekah?" She lifted her head and I placed tender kisses all over her face. Looking at her in the moonlight, I couldnt help but think how beautiful she was.
"It doesnt matter, Sofia. I love you." She said as I lay back with her in my arms.
She rolled on top of me and I didnt know what to expect. We had only been intimate once since we were liberated. Even then, she would not let me touch her. After several moments she said, "Im going to make love to you, now. Theres nobody who can tell me I cant and nobody to fear. You dont have to be quiet and neither do I "
I nodded. Her words sent a flood of wetness down between my legs; I was ready for her right then. It had been so long since she had initiated anything other than a short embrace.
Her mouth covered mine in a searing kiss. Her hand trailed down my body and stopped between my legs. She broke the kiss and said, "Youre ready for me now. Do you know what that does to me?"
I shook my head and replied, "No "
Her fingers rubbed against my opening and then up to my clit. I arched into her touch. She husked, "It makes me feel like I am human, Sofia. Like you still want me and need me. I love that, Fia, I love it so much." Her lips brushed against my throat, and then against my collarbone.
She was so gentle with me and so tender. I knew that this is what making love really was. It was showing someone how you feel, as well as telling them. Touching them with such a sweet and tender need, that they wanted to cry. Right then, I was in heaven with Bekah, but I wanted to cry my heart out. I never in my life felt so loved.
Her lips brushed against my chest and then my belly. Finally, she reached my center and she began placing the softest kisses there. She whispered to me, "You taste so good."
I felt her tongue glide down the length of me. I moaned and I silently started to cry. My entire body reacted to her loving touches, and caresses. By the time she sent me crashing over the edge I was sobbing.
She crawled up my body and lay on top of me, her arms supporting her upper body. She kissed me softly and I could taste myself on her. I wanted to taste her. She whispered, "I want to be good to you never hurt you."
I pushed her over to her back and covered her body with mine. I said to her, "Darling, you are the best thing I have ever had. Even with all weve been through I would never, ever change a thing."
She smiled, and I loved her. I loved her with all that I had to give and then some. I loved her like there would never be another tomorrow; like this was our very last goodbye. After that, we both fell asleep content and secure with the knowledge that our love would keep us together forever, no matter what tomorrow would bring.
"Lost, yesterday, somewhere between
sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond
minutes. No reward is offered for they are gone forever."
Complete: Friday, August 24, 2001
© 2001 AC DAmato
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