The Wildezine

Water

Annie McCasland, Guest Writer

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Liesel Kraus grasped her mother’s hand as they stood among the throng of people standing in the mile-long line. A man in a forest green uniform was interspersedly yelling the words “links” and “rechts.” Liesel and her mother could not see why. Liesel’s tired hazel eyes stared at an anthill.

“Rechts.”

Liesel and her mother took a step forward.

“Links.”

Another.

“Sie, links. Sie, rechts.”

Liesel looked up and saw an old, limping woman make her way towards the open gate on her right. A boy who seemed to be in his late teen years walked to the gate on his left. Her eyes moved back to the anthills.

Another step forward.

An hour passed without Liesel noticing. She was no longer looking at anthills. She found herself looking at a pair of polished black boots. Her gaze moved upward and she was staring at a man with wrinkles around his eyes and a thick handlebar mustache. He pointed at her mother.

“Rechts.”

Her mother walked toward the right gate. Liesel held her hand and followed. The man yelled in her direction.

“NEIN. SIE, LINKS.”

She flinched and looked back at him, then her mother.

Her mother felt a wave of panic, then uneasy acceptance. She knelt and looked at her daughter. A tear rolled down her red cheek. She kissed her forehead and whispered “Gehen. Stark sein. Ich liebe dich, mein kleines entlein.” She let her daughter go and continued toward the right gate. Liesel watched her mother until the man yelled again.

“SIE. LINKS. JETZT.”

She hurried over to the left gate. She paused to look back toward the right before entering.

Liesel was but fifteen years of age. She had olive skin and green eyes and deep brown hair that hung in unruly ringlets. She was small but not weak.

She followed the crowd of people and obeyed the directions of the large men in green.

“BEWEGUNG.”

“HALT.”

“ZIEH DEINE KLEIDUNG AUS.”

“BEWEGUNG.”

“HALT.”

She entered a large room with a grid of pipes and faucets across the ceiling. She looked around at the healthy bodies with empty eyes. Eyes without hope. Some eyes were devastated, some were filled with rage, some filled with fear, some entirely emotionless, like they were trying to numb themselves from the hysteria that the confusion would result in, or accepting their fate.

A man in green stood outside the doorway to the room and turned a knob. Liesel could hear a substance filling the pipes. She did not know what it was. Gas or water? Death or life? Burning skin or a last moment of cleanliness? The substance completed its course through the creaking iron tubes. Liesel clenched her fists and prepared for her end. “Ich liebe dich Mama.”

It was water.

 

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1 Comment

One Response to “Water”

  1. eli casavant on May 29th, 2018 2:46 pm

    i liked how the suspense built up in such a short story. i am very impressed that the author was able to craft the level of suspense so quickly. i also liked that even though the commands were in german, it still gave off a sense of urgency due to the use of all caps. i also liked how we do not know the fate of the mother, however i am guessing she was sent to the gas chambers. very well done .- eli

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