Her face was yellow and sagging and her eyes were bloodshot. Her body was frail and malnourished. Her features were gone, and her hair was mercilessly cut into ugly tufts. Bruises and scars covered her, markings from the camp guard’s hobbies. She looked like she had received pain no one in the world could endure. And the star on her shirt explained it all.
It explained, why that fateful day, she had been dragged away by the Nazis. She had just been in her house, with her daughter, son-in-law, husband, three grand children, and a family friend. All of them were enjoying a warm summer evening. Her family was stuck inside, only able to look out a window at the stars. They had lost the family business in the Night of Broken Glass. They had their belongings confiscated and were barely scraping by. Yet they were happy. Happiness was the one thing the Nazis would never take away.
They heard a knock on the door. Immediately everyone froze, silent, even her six year old grandson. It wasn’t a knock that a friend would use, polite and subtle. It was a loud, banging knock that continued on without pause. This was a knock used by people who wanted to intrude.
Her son-in-law rose, hands shaking, and walked over to the door. He tried to put on a brave face for the rest of the family. At least he would be remembered for trying. Just before he reached for the door handle, he paused, hesitant. A shout from outside the door yelling to open the door and put hands up confirmed her family fate.
Just as her son-in-law had opened the door, the Gestapo barged in. They #### ## #### ######## ##### and pistols. Their ugly uniforms, signs of fear, ruined that happy night. The first thing they did was grab her son-in-law by the arm roughly, and shove him against the wall. Then they kicked him hard. They kicked him once, twice, and again, until he fell weak to the floor. Then they came for the rest of her family. They shoved the dishes stacked neatly off the countertops so they shattered on the floor. Just like the family’s hope. They tore papers and books off the desk, threw them to the ground, and stomped on them.
She lowered her head as they grabbed her. She was tired and frail, but she was treated no differently than her son-in-law, neither were her grandchildren, or her daughter. The family friend was shot on the spot for crying out. The sounds from the gunfire echoed around the bare room. Tears welled in her eyes. The family friend was loyal and kind, and they didn’t deserve this treatment. No one did.
They were grabbed by their shirt collars and thrown out onto the doorstep. They were thrown out of their very own home. The grandmother looked at the sorrow filled faces, and out of the blue, despite of her own sadness, she raised her croaking voice.
“The one thing they cannot take from us is our happiness. We cannot let them take that. If they do, they take everything from us.” She looked at the faces, but now there was a glimmer of hope intertwined with the sorrow. Her son-in-law sat up straighter, despite the gash on his leg from the Gestapo. All three of her grandchildren attempted to smile. She relaxed. All was not lost, after all.
The rest of the time in between now and where they were headed to was a blur of pain, sorrow, despair, and knock knock jokes. The nine year old specialized in telling them over and over with different inflections to make them entertaining. She was the one that never forgot, not even for a moment, that she couldn’t lose happiness. The others had forgotten at moments, but remembered most of the time. It was the only hope they had.
She remembered the one specific day, when they arrived. There were whispers of Auschwitz, but she did not know what it was. She only knew that her family had to cling to hope and happiness to survive. That was the day that they were dragged out of the crowded, smelly boxcars. The day that she was shoved into a line with the females, the males in another line. She was separated from her son-in-law, and two of her grandsons. Her granddaughter and daughter stayed with her. They all walked into a long procession, where systematically their hair was shaven. She was numb from it all.
When she was first shoved into the boxcar, she thought it was disgusting. Now she saw that it was really in much better condition than the camp. ##### and unnamable rotting things littered the ground, mixed in with mud, and who knows what else. Her head was bleeding from the merciless head shaving she had been given. Everyone’s eyes were sunken into their head and their bodies malnourished and bruised.
She decided to ignore the terrible camp surroundings, and tried in vain to remember some of the knock-knock jokes that her granddaughter had told her. Her ill memory could not remember them, however, and she had to make up her own as a doctor pushed her into a line. Showers, someone whispered. Death, whispered another. She did not know what to think, her head was whirling, so she followed the line of others like her. She was asked to ##### along with everyone else, and she did. Her feet now mingled with the disgusting things littering the ground. She moved forward, realizing that she had lost sight of her daughter and granddaughter. She prayed that they would be all right.
She walked until she was at the point where she is now. Where she is going to enter the shower chamber, and find it filled with deadly gas. Where she is going to realize her fate. And also where she is going to smile one last time, because the one thing the Nazis weren’t, aren’t, and never will be able to take from her is her happiness.
What do you think? Should I write more? What could I do better?
Be honest, I'd rather see a sincere frown than a fake smile.
"Everyone wants happiness, no one wants pain. But you can't have a rainbow without a little rain."
"Sometimes people not to block others out of their life but to see who cares enough to break the wall."
"If you test a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing that it is stupid."