Greetings, my name is Chava, meaning "Gives life". My mother used to tell me she named me that because I have the sweetest spirit that could bring the coldest of glass to life. If only I knew just how true that was.
She used to laugh at my confused expression before tickiling me. We laughed together until our sides ached. The sound of happiness was the best way to describe it. A precious, innocent, sound that I now wish I could go back and bottle up. Because I would never hear it again.
I dreamed of being a mintral, like my father. He often played for the most down of souls, lifting them on the wings of music, soaring them to hights that only his music could take them. I had many dreams, you could say, but none of which came true. At least not in ways I could've ever imagined.
It all started when the German Army invaded our city. Everyone greeted them with smiles and accepted them in, what I viewed, the most peculiar manner. But being only nine at the time, what did I know? Yet a feeling of dread and warning follwed me throughout that peroid. And it worried me.
It wasn't until we were placed in camps that I began to realize, what was happening.
"Forward march!" A German SS officer barked at our line, "Keep moving, you filthy dogs!"
His voice sliced through the sound of jostling bodies, irritating my head. But somehow I mangaed to stir up enough motivation to continue, through the crippling hunger and fatigue. I heard one of the soldiers marching alongside us inquire to another, "There's too many of them. What do you propose?" I don't know what I expected, but what the replying officer said sent a chill of paralyzing fear throughout my body.
"Shoot them." It was a simple two words, but it changed my life.
My mother had long since been seperated from me, and even though I worried about her every day. I couldn't help thinking she was safer not being with me. I desperately tried to tell my father, who jogged next to me, what the SS officer had said. But I spoke to late.
Chaos errupted. A cacophony of noise that caused an unmistakable rise of fearful tension. Neighbors, friends, strangers, collapsed all around us. We continued to march ignoring the corpses that would soon be left in the dust of yet another graveyard. No one really cared, but an umbrella of terror hung above us all. Not for one another, but for oursleves.
I was so wrapped up in the noise and my thoughts, that when my father collapsed beside me, I barely noticed. But when I did, panic shook me. Ignoring all common sense, I fell to his side. Concern overwhelming me. I slapped the man, as if that would help. I shook him, I yelled, I did everything I could to get him to respond. Emotions pooled over in hot angry tears.
People continued to run, not bothering to go around my father's body. I'd seen this happen before, and all that was left were emaccaiated corpses that were unrecognizable. In a desperate inpulse to protect him I threw myself on him. But I was swpet away with the mass of frightened bodies. Ripped and torn between people, my body scrame in exruciating agony.
I heard an angry voice yell at me as he passed, "Run. Or die!" With no other choice I began to run again. My body bruised and aching. A feeling of resignation swept over me, and all I could assume was: My father was dead. I am alone. The gunshots had stopped, the chaos had simmered down, but I don't think the ringing in my ears would ever leave.
I was never able to keep track of the days, they seemed to pass in a furious blur of pain and hunger. At this point I had resigned to my eventual fate: Death. There was nothing left for me, and there was no hope of getting out. Though sometimes I found myself pondering on what my mother had named me, and I often found myself coming to a conclusion of puzzlement.
It wasn't until September 4, 1942 that I finally learned the meaning of my diseased mother's words.
The camp had just experienced yet another selection, as they called it. This event often sperated several people from either life or eachother. Though I was thin, I still reserved enough strength to be of use to the SS officers. So I was sent back to work.
We were digging several deep trenches when I noticed the boy that worked alongside me. His hair was matted to his forehead, not with sweat but with blood, his body thinned to the point that he was nothing but a walking corpse. He looked on the verge of tears, though I doubt he could've summoned any even if he tried.
Being in a concentration camp we were discouraged from commincating with one another, not that anyone would talk to you even if you tried. In this case I found myself completely ignoring this suggestion.
"Hello?" I whispered in his direction, my voice a hoarse noice that scratched at my throat. Digging his shovel deeper into the dry ground, he ignored me. "Hello?" I tried a little louder, he glanced in my direction.
"What do you want?" He hissed,
"I just wanted to know if you were ok." I whispered still digging, the boy looked slightly shocked before his expression hardedned again.
"Mind your own business." He mumbled,
We worked in silence, a cascade of dirt showered on the ground above. I wasn't about to give up.
"What's your name?" I asked with a little more confidence,
He continued to dig, ingnoring me. I was about to ask again before the hesitant answer came.
"Bunim." I gave a smile, hoping to lighten his solem mood. "Well, hello Bunim. That's a good name. My name's Chava." Bunim gave the faintest of smiles at this remark, just like a whisper in the hills. Soft but noticable.
"Nice to meet you Chava."
I smiled brighter at this, though careful to keep my head down, as to not attract unwanted attention. He laughed, "Why are you talking to me?"
"Because it sounded better than just working." I replied honestly,
He gave me a wary look, his eyes glazed over. Almost as if glistening sheets of glass had swept over his soul. "What a strange girl you are. But I thank you for talking to me, I love the sound of a friendly voice, and yours shall be the last I hear. As I will soon die." The glassy look was unmistakable now,
"Don't say that! Say that now and you shall surely die!" I hissed,
"There's no use. We're all going to die." He looked down in dispair,
I searched desperately for something to say that might rescue this boy from the drowning depths of resignation. There was something that mother used to say, but I couldn't quite remember. What was it? I racked my head, but nothing came. Sighing I dove head first into what I said next, only I didn't speak it, it sort flowed out in a melodic stream that sliced through the pain, terror, lonliness, abandonment, torture, hunger, lost dreams and hopes.
I feel the lonliness after death,
Death that need not have been-
I hear the screech of brakes,
And see the muddy shoes removed,
Lying beside the still form,
The too-quick boy.
It makes the heart sick,
As an old moon upsets the morning sky;
Or stills the heart,
As does the shriek of wind through chimmneys;
Through old cellars,
Rattling through insecure windows.
I feel the lonilness after death,
Deaths that need not have been-
I hear the muffled cry of millions,
The battle shriek in martial music;
I hear the scream of bombs,
And see the small feet flying.
Though I saw the look of cold glass dissipate, throughout my time in Germany the glassy expression reappeared. Like an unwanted image that haunted my dreams with a vigor that was undiniable. It wasn't until I lay in the white expanses of the hospital beds that I realized something. All of the expressions were painted on the faces of the children. Could that mean...? I couldn't finish the thought, because before I could I found myself facing my reflection. And there it was. Like an invader. The glass in my eyes shimmered innocently, haunting me. All the children had the same look. The Children of Glass and I was just like them.
Author Notes: I know this is a very touchy-feely subject, but I feel there's always something to learn from any story. So I wrote this. Yeah, just random.