One paragraph story... August 27 edition

The bodies lay heavy on me. I can hardly breath under the weight, but Mama says I should take small breaths, anyway. I hear the marching- so many boots on stone street. I hear it through the skin, and bones, of all the bodies. The arm of Manault, who lived only one street over from me, is now the frame of my view of the grey fabric of the men moving past. I see no faces, hear no voices, just the sound of stomping. And hands on rifles. Far off, I hear the squeal of tank treads- beyond that airplanes. Our home had been raided- they thought we were hiding someone, Zeidel, the jewish girl that never looked at you even when she was talking. She was not there. We had not seen her. I had not thought of her since the bombings. One month. Two month. So long of time. Mama picked me up and ran us out the back door. I cried to her, “Mama, I can walk. Mama stop.” She shushed me. She was crying. Many blocks we ran, behind buildings, alleys. In a house I did not know, we hid in the basement. I asked where Daddy was. She said, “He was coming. He was coming for us later.” Told me to be brave. To be strong. I wanted to tell her I did not know what that was, but I wanted to cry. She was making me want to cry. She told me that Brave boys don’t cry. I didn’t understand. She took my hand and we ran through more empty streets. Only sound; crying, and humming. A metal humming. Then explosions. Somewhere explosions. We stop. I stop and then Mama stops. A mountain in the street. A mountain. People laying on top of each other. Not moving. A mountain of people. Mama whispers for me to crawl under the people. She lifts their bodies; moves their arms. I inch inside and she tells me she will be back. Be brave, she says. I am brave, but I don’t want to be. When her foot steps fade away, under the popping noise of guns. And far off explosions. I hold my breath. I wait for Mama. I wait for Daddy. I am a brave boy. I want to make them proud. More squeal of metal treads are moving. This time closer. I put a hand over my mouth. I wait. I am brave.

James C.