The Iron Road

Submitted into Contest #114 in response to: Write a story that involves sabotage.... view prompt

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Historical Fiction Fiction

 You think it’s easy, don’t you? Being a narrator and all. All I have to do is say what I see and put it down in a way that sounds nice and keeps the reader captivated. But you are so wrong. I have lived through it all. I have seen things that I can’t talk about and usually am not allowed to share my feeling on because no one cares about me, the omniscient narrator somewhere in the clouds. Well, I can’t take it anymore! I’ve seen too much to remain a distant presence. This isn’t about me, but I watched it all which is more than you would be able to do. So sorry if my commentary bugs you but I’m sick and tired of your ignorance…

This took place in 1943 in the Warsaw Ghetto, Poland (for those of you who don’t know). After most of the Jews had been deported there were over 60,000 of them left; they knew what awaited them, so they chose to do something that didn’t make history as much as I think it should have.

 They chose to fight back.

***

 Zofia sat with her back against the wall, her bare feet submerged in an unknown liquid. Well, I know what it was, she was in a sewer, she should have been able to guess but perhaps it was better that she didn’t know.

 She wore a worn-out brown coat full of holes, caked in dirt and dried blood and gloves that were unravelling at the seams, exposing her fingers. She let out a shaky breath that formed a cold little cloud as she finished fastening her long brown hair into a tight plate.

 Footsteps could be heard in the distance before a tall man with curly, blonde hair appeared. I could see the bags under his eyes, but she couldn’t; it was too dark and would have been a waste to light a match anyway.

“Borys,” she breathed.

 I guess she was trying to conceal the shivering from her voice, which was pretty pointless, in my opinion, as everyone was blooming cold.

“I brought two,” he said roughly.

 Straight down to business. But could you blame him?

I wish I could say that after sifting through his thoughts I found some ounce of hidden emotion, but that would be a lie. I think it might have dissolved when they beat his girlfriend to death.

Zofia stood and reached to accept the two children that had been clinging to his hands like a lifeline. I had watched him find them; two scruffy children hidden underneath a flap in the floor. They had almost screamed, but even at that age they learnt some common sense and chose to follow Borys instead.

 “What are their names?” she asked.

Yes, I was wondering that too, because I definitely didn’t know them at all.

“Like I know,” he responded gruffly. “I didn’t have time to find out their life story. I have to go, there might be more.” He vanished into the darkness, his steps fading out.

 He did care deep down. He must have, or else he wouldn’t have brought them to her. But he was being wise by not forming attachments as they would most likely die soon, anyway. I have noticed this, over time. The people who don’t create an attachment to others don’t morn, yet the sad thing is that when it’s their turn to go, no one mourns them either.

 “What are your names?” Zofia asked, turning to the two young boys who had huddled together.

One’s head was shaven, but he had wide eyes and the other had tufts of black hair and a scar across his cheek. I had seen him get that. He was stealing bread from an old beggar a couple months ago and she had wacked him with her cane. It had bled for a while, but he wasn’t sorry for it; he had food for a couple days which was all that had mattered.

 “I’m Marcel,” said the boy with no hair. “And this is Lech.”

 She grunted, sitting back down.

 “Well Marcel and Lech, you will have to stay here for a while,” she told them.

She didn’t know what to do with them, I could tell. She never had any siblings so was no expert in dealing with children. She moved her hand, motioning them to sit. They didn’t, preferring to hover in the almost non-existing light; Lech chewing on his fingernails and Marcel dancing from foot to foot.

Zofia scrounged round, trying to find a topic of conversation. I noticed people do this a lot. Sometimes I wish I could help them in that area, because I know so much that should be talked about but isn’t.

“Where are you from?” she asked.

She didn’t really care either. But they had to wait for Borys to return with the pistols they had gained access to; bombs too if they were lucky.

“Poland,” said Marcel. “He is too.”

“Are you related?”

“No.”

No, they weren’t related, that I knew too. Marcel had never had any family that he had known of, I knew them though. A father who was a salesman and a mother who taught at a school. Both decided to abandon the child because he “cost too much”. They could have kept him though, I had done the math myself, but there are many sick people in this world and his parents had been some of them.

Lech had family. A mother and an uncle. He didn’t know it, but his mother was scrounging for air at a camp for “Juden” , as they say, the doors locked and carbon monoxide gas being poured out of what looks to be shower heads. His uncle is doing his back in carrying artillery, tears falling down his cheeks as he remembers the smell of his mother and his father’s creases when he laughed.

“Why are we here?” asked Marcel.

Zofia hesitated for a moment, looking at the children Yes, they were children, but they were experiencing something that was never going to make the bedtime story books.

“There are bad people in this world…,” she drifted into her thoughts.

“The Germans?”, he asked.

She cleared her throat. “No. Not the Germans. The Nazis.”

She rubbed at her numbing feet and tried to inch them away from the puddle they had been swimming in.

“You know what is happening, ah? They are trying to get rid of the Jews…get rid of us; that’s why we’re here. But…but there is a worse place they want to take us to.”

The children didn’t look stunned. I know they weren’t because at that moment all Lech could think about was when he could next get his hands on some more bread.

 “We are fighting back,” continued Zofia. “We have formed a resistance against them.”

“What are we doing to fight back?”

“We try to sabotage their plans.”

Marcel, knowing the answer to this question but asking it anyway, said, “What plans?”

Lech spoke, his voice gravelly and his eyes clouded with a granite. “Their plans to kill us.”

“Yes,” she said, sniffing as her jaw hardened. “But remember…iron doesn’t bend that easily.”

October 05, 2021 08:26

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2 comments

Aden Waynefield
01:47 Oct 14, 2021

Your story starts out with a witty and clever intro, but then switches to a scenario about the Holocaust? Not the right tone I would choose.

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Beverly Riddle
14:55 Oct 11, 2021

I love how you put the narrator's thoughts into it. You never really get to see that in stories these days. Great story by the way!

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