FORGOTTEN CHILDREN/working title only

 

It was cold, so cold. Jakob could feel his fingers stiffen and become rigid; his feet become slabs of ice with no feeling at all. He lay beneath the bodies, the small corpses and waited. They did not keep him warm. They too were rigid but would never be warm again.  He was 7 years old and had never before seen death. The wait seemed interminable, and he wanted, he really wanted to leap up and confront the executioners.   But he couldn’t. He heard the words echoing through the snow-encrusted forest, German words that he couldn’t understand. He was still a little unsure what had happened. He had travelled in a truck with his sister, Mina and his cousins, Lukas, and Julius. His mother and father had cried at the gates of the ghetto when he had left, the proud Kaminskys now reduced to begging for their children’s lives. He wished he could have stayed with them; whatever was happening to them, it couldn’t be worse than what had happened to him and to Mina. 

The German officer nearest the pile of limbs in which Jakob was entangled came closer, looking for any movement, any tiny hint that one of these ‘Jewish pups’ had survived. Jakob lay so still he felt his muscles freeze into position, his eyes closed, and his face turned to one side so that no air escaping from his mouth turned into telltale steam in the icy cold. The shiny black boots covered in a thin layer of frosty crystals were awfully close now. The officer was standing on Jakob’s sister, standing on her face as if she was part of the forest floor. Jakob wanted to vomit, but he must not, he could not. He had to survive to tell others what had happened. He had lost sight of his cousins in the massacre, but German soldiers were making the rounds of the mounds of corpses, shooting at random twice or three times to ensure that no witnesses would remain. Luckily, they had begun this on the far side of the pile of bodies and not on Jakob’s side.

He heard the approach of an engine, struggling a little in the cold atmosphere and a car door opening and closing nearby. He heard an authoritative German voice, clearly that of an officer, calling out to someone nearby. He opened one eye cautiously and saw a blond girl with long, glistening plaits standing rigidly amongst the remains of their group, the tiny corpses, the blood, and watched through a slitted eye as she walked ...

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Christina FITZPATRICK
Nov 14 2021

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Comments:

A very powerful start. I want to read on.

Rod Webb
Nov 27 2021