Euthanasia

Submitted for Contest #43 in response to: Write a story about transformation.... view prompt

 What felt worse, how normal things used to be, or how terrible they became?

I laughed when they came. I did your job, I told them. Laughter was the best medicine, but it wouldn’t cure the gaping hole in their chests, which appeared to be true agony, from where blood oozed like the toothpastes they gave us. Just a little pressure, and it all came rushing out.

How could you laugh when you might break at any moment?

How could you laugh when you weren't human anymore?

 

 

Annalise was determined to talk to Aaron, despite the fact that his father probably wouldn't let her meet him tonight. They shared birthdays (along with a remarkable friendship), but when she went to his house for the party, his father was at the entrance.

'Hello, Mr. Hart!'

'I'm afraid that we will not be celebrating with you today. Aaron told me he does not want you to come.' He said it smoothly, but when she glanced at the house, she saw Aaron with the mean boys, the ones who mocked and teased all the young kids. He looked sadder than he had when Mrs. Hart had died. Their eyes met, but when Mr. Hart turned, he quickly looked away. Annalise saw how unhappy he was, and trudged back to her own house.


The fog is going to be terrible tonight. Uncle won’t come. Mr. Hart hates me suddenly. Some birthday! Annalise was dismal.

The cake was ready, and Mama rushed past the simmering Sauerbraten to hide it, as Annalise rushed in, her face flushed poppy-red due to the freezing air. The velvet curtain behind her concealed Vati, his breath hushed, lest the curtain flutter.

They were both going to pretend that they had forgotten her birthday. It was a terrible strategy to duplicate so frequently, but it always seemed to work.

‘Mama, what- ‘

‘Now, now, Schnuki, you know that Vati will be home soon. You wouldn’t want to go to bed hungry, would you? So, let me make dinner peacefully.’

‘But, Mama- ‘Annalise's protest was feeble. But her voice had the slight tremble in it that preceded crying. As she turned, her parents shared a glance and thought together: ‘Happiness before surprises.’

Suddenly, she looked up. ‘Is that- Uncle! Uncle!’ Annalise bounced with joy. Uncle was Vati’s friend, and her favorite person in the entire world. His nature was just like the chocolates he made: sweet and soft on the exterior, but stuffed with even more candy and sweet things inside. She hadn’t expected him to come at all, he was so busy nowadays.

As he appeared, the cold wind whistled in. Something seemed to be amiss. His kind face looked downcast, resembling her own, when she didn’t want to eat her vegetables but was trying to please Mama. It was probably because of the stress of the police job he had been enlisted in.

Vati emerged from behind the curtain- So they hadn’t forgotten after all! - with balloons full of candy and éclairs. It would be fun to pop. He and Uncle looked at each other, talking without words.

Vati’s face, wrinkled with smiles and tension, suddenly sagged. ‘You said you’d tell us days beforehand, Warin!’

‘I did tell you about the inspections! I told you that all the Jews from Vienna have left, but you insisted on staying! There's no time for all that now! I can take Anna, but- but-’

‘That won’t be necessary.’ Vati’s voice was icy.

‘What? You can’t- ‘

‘Dan! Warin!’ Her voice softening, Mama turned to Annalise. ‘Let’s see the decoration!’

The candles on the cake flickered with the wind. Mama smiled, but she looked like Ms. Boesch had when she had given them the Speech.

First, Miss had said that the special kids had left school. After a few seconds, she added that the Jews were special too, so they couldn’t attend school anymore. Jews weren't even allowed on the streets which led to school.  Now, Uncle taught her.

She could still hear him shouting at Vati.

‘Mama, why is Uncle speaking in the forbidden tone? Is it related to the disappearances?’

Every night, more of their neighbours were disappearing. All their belongings were intact; they were the only elements missing from the houses. The street was almost empty now. Mama and Annalise spent many nights trying to solve the mystery. Whenever Vati saw them, he pursed his lips in a disapproving manner. It was probably because Vati hated anything reminding him of the police.

‘They are inhuman, greedy, cruel mercenary villains. You shall never join them.’ His tone suggested not that she couldn’t, but that she wouldn’t be able to.

‘What do those big words mean?’

‘I’m afraid you’ll know soon,’ Vati had said sadly, but why would learning the meaning of words be sad?

Maybe his hatred for the police was why Vati and Uncle were fighting?

 

A loud explosion shook the walls. Mama tried to stop Annalise from rushing out, but she fought her way out. What if Vati disappeared too?

She saw the curtain first. The beautiful velvet, the one thing Mama had asked for on her birthday, was ruined due to red drops. Vati smiled and beckoned to her. Blood, blood, blood. Pain, suffering, agony. He smiled as he clutched his chest, soaked with scarlet. ‘Ich liebe dich, meine kleine Prinzessin.’

I love you, my little princess.

He winced as he lay down, and closed his eyes.

'Vati? Vati?' As the world whirled to an end, her head was spinning. As tears swimmed in her eyes, she shook him awake, the way he did, tenderly, careful not to disturb her dreams, which hung like threads everywhere, drifting through her mind. His face finally looked peaceful, the way it did when he fell asleep telling her stories. A lump formed in her throat.

When she turned, Mama smiled, even as Annalise took in the blood pouring from her, the way love did.

'Mama!'

What is happening?

Why are Vati and Mama looking like they are sleeping?

Behind Mama, there was a faint click. There was something whimpering quietly, like the lone wolf in a story, who roamed the streets, howling despite knowing it cannot bring anyone closer. Uncle was sobbing quietly, a small device in his bloodstained hands. A gun.

Was it him? But how-

How could a man who made chocolates for her have given people she loved pain?

Was this a play for her entertainment?

She giggled hysterically. She was suddenly scared that if she did not call them out right now, they would not wake up.

'You can wake up now, I know you're acting!'

Uncle came up beside her. 'Uncle, nice play, but tell them to wake up. The act's over. I want cake.'

'It's not an act, Schnuki.'

She wanted to argue, but something stopped her.

If it was an act, why were they as still as the fish Vati sometimes brought for dinner?

Where was all the blood coming from?

'I did this, Anna. It was me.'

A click. He was still doing something with his fingers to the gun-

‘Happy birthday, Lisa.’

'Uncle?'

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107 comments

Not expecting the drastic plot twist at the end! An exciting read, very minor grammatical errors, that's all. But, keep up the good work!

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Pragya Rathore
04:12 Jun 03, 2020

Thanks a ton, Niveeidha! :)

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No problem :)

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Arya Preston
13:52 Jun 04, 2020

I certainly didn't expect that ending! Also, the characterisation is done really smoothly right from the beginning. Truly heartbreaking story!

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Pragya Rathore
13:55 Jun 04, 2020

Thanks! Please like it :D

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Vj Hamilton
22:51 Jun 03, 2020

Great similes - "His nature was just like the chocolates he made: sweet and soft on the exterior, but stuffed with even more candy and sweet things inside" and "There was something whimpering quietly, like the lone wolf in a story" You work up to a powerful ending.

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Pragya Rathore
03:17 Jun 04, 2020

Thanks a lot, Vj!! :p

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Zilla Babbitt
18:22 Jun 03, 2020

You asked me to read, so here I am. This was done well! I can visualize easily and there's an air of mystery about it that was hard to shake off after reading. A few things... 1. How does the title actually relate to the story? You could have the uncle justify murder by calling it euthanasia, as an idea. 2. What is the time period? During WWII? Setting that up in the very beginning helps smooth the story out. 3. "Finding out the mystery"? I mean, I still don't really know the time period, but I don't think this "mystery" is that hard to ...

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Pragya Rathore
03:19 Jun 04, 2020

Thanks a lot, Zilla!! :D

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Rhondalise Mitza
04:40 Jun 02, 2020

The twists in your stories are twists to the heart, Pragya, but you pull it off smoothly.

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Pragya Rathore
04:43 Jun 02, 2020

Thanks! Learning from the best!😉

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Rhondalise Mitza
04:44 Jun 02, 2020

:) Reedsy is a great community to learn and grow with.

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Pragya Rathore
04:45 Jun 02, 2020

Touche ;)

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Agnes Ajadi
06:37 Jun 03, 2020

I love this story! Most especially the end. You are a great writer. Keep writing.

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Pragya Rathore
06:46 Jun 03, 2020

You're so sweet! Thanks a lot :) Please like it!

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Elliott Laurence
23:36 Jun 02, 2020

Well done. The opening sets the tone and stays on track for a startling ending.

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Pragya Rathore
04:07 Jun 03, 2020

Thank you so much Elliott :)

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22:03 Jun 02, 2020

Wow! This was quite a story! I loved the ending.

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Pragya Rathore
04:06 Jun 03, 2020

Thanks a lot Helen :D

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Jane Andrews
20:45 Jun 02, 2020

I think the power of this story is in the way that the reader cottons on to the sad reality of what is happening before your protagonist does. Telling it from a child’s eye view works so well for this: her head is so full of birthday surprises that the shock of her parents’ death (for the reader) hardly registers with her until it’s too late. Very poignant.

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Pragya Rathore
04:03 Jun 03, 2020

Thanks a lot, Jane!! :p

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Aimee Pieper
16:21 Jun 02, 2020

Holy moly! This was such a twist! This entire story is a transformation. I really didn't expect the end. I think this is implied, but does this mean that Uncle was a member for the Gestapo or another police force under Hitler's reich? I love historical fiction, especially set during World War II. It is hard for me to read them sometimes, but still. Very well done!

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Pragya Rathore
17:20 Jun 02, 2020

I imagined him as a Gestapo member, but it's open to interpretation... Thank you so much :D

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Lynn Penny
15:44 Jun 02, 2020

Awesome story! You did a great job building up a good plot.

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Pragya Rathore
15:53 Jun 02, 2020

Thank you so much, Lynn!!😊

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Harken Void
09:44 Jun 02, 2020

I agree with what Brooke said. While I liked the concept of the story and the twist ending, it was very confusing to read. Half the time I didn't know who was who and which character was speaking. Are Vati and Uncle the same person? Who is Waren? You wrote that you don't like to use the word 'said' because you think it undermines dialogue. Well, not putting 'said' in your writing undermines the clarity of the whole story which I think is even more important. Additionally, the POV from which the story was told felt chaotic a bit, jumping a...

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Pragya Rathore
13:26 Jun 02, 2020

Thank you so much for being so honest!! I'm very sorry to hear that my story was so unclear to you, Harken. The foreshadowing might have confused you, so please read it once more. Please tell me precisely what part or which dialogue confused you and I'll edit it straight away. As you might have noticed, the story was from Annalise's POV, so all the characters were named after what she called them. Vati is German for Dad. Uncle's name was Warin (not Waren as you wrote). You see, you might feel that the PoV was chaotic because it was. The ...

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Pragya Rathore
06:29 Jun 03, 2020

Reading my own comment made me realise that I'm very partial and biased with myself, so thanks a lot for pointing my errors out! I owe you one :D

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03:47 Jun 02, 2020

I loved this story, and the twist at the end! I would recommend using quotation marks (") for your dialogue instead of apostrophes ('). Along with that, you should put "Mama!"Annalise said, instead of just putting the dialogue. One more thing, your story was amazing, but kind of confusing/hard to read. I apologize if I was harsh, but I do it while trying to help! Overall, this story was fantastic and I would love to read more of your works! Keep writing and stay safe! -Brooke

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Pragya Rathore
03:49 Jun 02, 2020

Thanks a lot!! I really like that you're being honest with me... I didn't use words like 'said' because I believe it undermines the power of dialogue, but I will next time!You can check out the other stories too!

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20:59 Jun 01, 2020

Wow, this really took my by surprise with that twist at the end. Really really well done! I find the Holocaust such a powerful event to write about. You really hit hard with the line, "the blood pouring from her, the way love did." Beautiful.

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Pragya Rathore
03:14 Jun 02, 2020

Thanks a lot Margaret!

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Z. H.
18:44 Jun 01, 2020

I really like this story! The twist is wonderful!

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Pragya Rathore
18:45 Jun 01, 2020

Thanks a lot, Z.H.! Positive reviews mean a lot!! Please check out my most recent one too!

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Daryl Gravesande
13:59 Jun 01, 2020

You're such an AMAZING writer. I can see why this story is so popular. From the twist ending to the characters, all of it, perfect! You should continue with this style if you aren't already! It suits you. You are great at making twists without forcing the issue or making it predictable. That's very rare in writing! Love to read more!

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Pragya Rathore
14:11 Jun 01, 2020

Thank you so much, Daryl.... Hoping to perfect plot twists like you!😊

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Daryl Gravesande
14:13 Jun 01, 2020

Ha, no, I'm an amateur. Believe it or not, that was my first story that had a plot twist like that, lol. You seem to have tons of experience and you make it flow so well with the story in a way that doesn't feel forced. You are the better writer too!

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Pragya Rathore
14:14 Jun 01, 2020

You're being too modest... Your polished story and characters certainly caught everybody's eye! This is just my thirdstory here...Once again, thanks a ton.

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Daryl Gravesande
14:38 Jun 01, 2020

Now, now. You gotta give yourself credit. You are an improving writer every day and watching you grow with your stories and characters is a joy to watch unfold!

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Pragya Rathore
14:49 Jun 01, 2020

Thank you so much... You have no idea what that means coming from you!

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Daryl Gravesande
13:40 Jun 01, 2020

I have a new story! Tell me what you think!

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Pragya Rathore
13:54 Jun 01, 2020

I definitely will, but tell me what you think about mine!

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Daryl Gravesande
13:54 Jun 01, 2020

Gotcha! I'll read it now!

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Vrishni Maharaj
10:50 Jun 01, 2020

Amazing story!!! Beautifully written :)

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Pragya Rathore
11:13 Jun 01, 2020

Thanks a lot Vrishni! :p

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Miles Gatling
03:44 Jun 01, 2020

I loved the story, it didn't feel boring at all. That's quite a birthday party, nice work!

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Pragya Rathore
03:46 Jun 01, 2020

Thanks Miles... You're right but I felt that her birthday was a crucial part of the story...I take it that 'didn't feel boring at all' is not sarcasm? 😄(Just kidding, thanks.)

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02:56 Jun 01, 2020

I really love this story, especially the beginning. It was so descriptive, that I wanted to read more. The end was also really great. Bien joué!

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Pragya Rathore
03:07 Jun 01, 2020

Merci beaucoup, mon amie! Thank you so much, Kelechi! I really liked your stories too

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03:14 Jun 01, 2020

Pas de problème. De rien. Je suis contente parce que tu es contente.

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Pragya Rathore
03:42 Jun 01, 2020

Puis tu es une de mes meilleurs amies! Merci pour ton affection! By the way, sorry for all the French to all the non-French speakers...😊

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