Saturday, 22 June 2013

'Black Snow' by Amanda Woodard


They took you away this morning, meine liebe, my love. They said you were too sick to work, unfit, unessential. And I didn't know at the time. I didn't know where they would take you or what they would do to you, but I knew you would not come back.
He grabbed you, the soldier, and took you out of the line they had stood us in, and shoved you into another one, and you screamed my name. “Please! Don't let them take me!” you cried. I reached for you, but the soldier struck me down.
Zuruckbekommen! Get back in line!” he shouted. “Or you're next!”
And I did. I gathered myself and stood back in line, and I cried silently to those who could not help me, to those who bore tears of their own.
God, please, forgive me, meine liebe, for being a coward. I was too afraid to follow you where I knew darkness would swallow us both. Please, please, understand that I hate myself for letting them take you away.
I didn't know how to let myself die.
They have me shoveling mud now, another purposeless task to keep us busy. Though the hot summer sun beats down upon us, it starts to snow. Black snow coats my boney hands, my uniform, the handle on my shovel. It cloaks the sun in shadow. And for one glorious moment, I am too stupid to understand. I don't know. I don't know, at first, what they had done to you until a woman near me begins to sob.
Confused, I go to her to offer comfort. “Was ist los?” I say. “Why are you crying?”
“My sister—my sister!” That's all she says, but she points at the snow, and at last, it dawns on me like the surrounding blackness, the unveiling of your mysterious prison. Your secret hiding place in the dark.
I fall to my knees, but I am too shaken to cry. I just stare at the ground, the little bits of you that are left.
“Get back to work!” yells the soldier. “Aufstehen!” But I can't move. I just start to breathe. I gasp in the smoke of the dead until I choke and vomit from it, so that I might taste you, fill my lungs with you, hold you close to my heart one last time.
I see the barrel of the gun in the corner of my eye, and I know I should move—my very life depends on my mobility—but my body has finally surrendered to the horror that faces me. Only after I betrayed you did it finally let me go. I am so, so sorry.
As the gun clicks, one last warning—or, perhaps, just an announcement, a clear annunciation of what's to come—I shut my eyes tight and look past the darkness and force myself to see your face. I'm coming for you, meine liebe. I will never leave you again. 

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