Posted in Stories, Writing

Leaving What We Knew

Papa burst into the kitchen, out of breath and jacket askew. He immediately grabbed an empty potato sack and started snatching items off the counter.

“What are you doing?” said Mama, rising to her feet from her place at the kitchen table, the fabric she’d been basting together left forgotten. Papa didn’t answer. Mama placed her hands on her hips and stared at him, her eyes commanding him to stop and look at her. Finally, he did.

“We have to leave now,” he said, tying the bag and giving it to Mama. “They’re coming.”

As though he had spoken a tainted invitation, the door came crashing down. Five men wearing stiff soldier’s uniforms and carrying big black rifles entered the kitchen. Ruth let out a tiny shriek, but Mama grabbed her shoulder.

The men, like spreading parasites, quickly began pulling open drawers and cupboards, taking everything in sight. Papa asked them to stop, but they only laughed. One man passed close by my chair; I shrank back as far as I could, trembling. He stepped away. I dropped to the floor and crawled under the table, where I huddled, frozen with fear.

I watched as the men continued to tear apart our home, breaking the worthless, stealing the valuable. They tore apart the picture I had drawn for Papa only days before. In the chaos of it all, I saw a little silver spoon from our cutlery drawer fall to the floor, unnoticed by the rampaging men. I reached out and grabbed it. Suddenly, it was very important that this was the one thing they wouldn’t be allowed to have or destroy. This was mine.

Papa grabbed Misha and Ruth, who had still been haunting their chairs, unmoving, and pushed them towards Mama, standing nearest to our closest escape route.

“Take the children and run,” he said. “I’ll come later.”

Mama didn’t even blink an eye; she only nodded brusquely and herded Ruth and Misha out the door.

“They’re leaving me behind!” I thought desperately, but still I couldn’t force my body to inch its way out from under the safety of the table. “Come back for me!” My eyes burned with tears, but then Mama turned and held out her arms to me.

“Come, Susan!” she commanded urgently. The sound of her voice melted my fear, and, like a baby, I crawled to her. She picked me up, but I squirmed in her arms, not willing to leave Papa behind so easily.

Sha, bubeleh, Papa will come later. Now, we must run.” And so we ran, faster and faster, out into the streets where fires had already been catapulted at houses and unholy screams lashed out from the dark, the wicked hands grabbing, ripping, maliciously tearing into life.


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