Perfect Innocence

by | May 14, 2010 | Stories | 0 comments

When I was a child my mother told me it was imperative I always did what an adult told me to do, so I always obeyed. My actions now haunt me, engulfing everything in their path like a gigantic wave eating a tiny boat. Looking at my reflection within the mirror, I see my eyes replaying the horrors I have witnessed, like a picture being painted in my iris: the evil deeds I was formed to do. Interminable flashbacks paralyse my limbs, and attack my body with jolts of nausea which no amount of retching can relieve.
My vision is becoming blurred; I glimpse my Menorah [1] and plead with God to save me from another conscious nightmare; I feel her again, her hand ripped away from mine: my mother.
She kept telling me she loved me; she was crying; I wanted her to stop; her tears made dirty skids down her face, and everyone was pushing and making lots of noise. The people scared me because they were so skinny that their arms were as scrawny as the barbed wire that kept us captive. I tried to go with mother; I wanted to leave the ghetto too, but there were lots of big men with big guns, and one slapped me across the face and took my three mark coin. I fell to the ground, and shivered. Goose bumps stood up in unison like an army on my arm; I pretended they were the Nazis. The bumps then went, and I hoped liked the goose bumps, one day the Nazis would leave too. When I looked up, everyone had gone apart from Abigail. She was lying on the ground; her eyes open, her legs in funny positions. She wasn’t moving. I thought she was sleeping. Her fingers jutted out as if playing the piano. Then I knew she wasn’t sleeping; she was acting. She didn’t move when I told her the dribble coming from her mouth would make her shirt damp. She was good at acting.
Nightly my mother would risk her life for me, leaving the ghettos to sneak me stale bread; a delicacy to anyone in the camp, apart from me, for a man would frequently sneak me buttered bread in exchange for answers to his questions. We met almost every day, and I liked speaking to him; he told me I was good.
‘Are you eating enough?’ he once asked; I said I was. Despite this, as usual he handed me a slice of bread. He held a 3 mark coin within his fingers.
‘I’m sure you know the rules of the ghetto do you not?’
‘I do sir,’ I replied, shoving the bread in my mouth. It always tasted better than the crusts my mother scavenged for me.
‘Then you know it is forbidden to sneak out at night to get food,’ he said rather too theatrically. Suddenly the bread seemed like it had expanded in my mouth, and it scratched down my throat. I nodded.
‘You say you are eating well; how is this if there is little food?’ I said nothing because I didn’t want to tell him. My mother had said sneaking food for me was a secret, and if told, she and Abigail would get into trouble.
‘Your mother will be proud if you answer; didn’t she tell you always to do what you were told?’ I wanted to please my mother, and I really wanted the coin he had promised me; so I told him.
‘My mother and her friend Abigail are really brave; they break the rules to find me food…they keep me alive!’ He gave me the three mark coin, and I looked at it. When I looked up, he had disappeared.
My menorah fades back into view, and I’m able to breathe again. My flashback has calmed, so I’m free for a while. I used to be confused why my mother just left and never thanked me for relaying the information the man had asked for. I’m no longer confused. I was conned as a child: broken: shaped: formed. I tried to be perfect…to make her proud… but it killed her.

[1] Menorah: the Jewish candle stick.


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