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“Cut your bread for he who hungers.”

Rayzel Reich by her grandmother, Mrs. Jenia Reich

Uddie is my friend. I met her the first day I was sent to sell our dishes on the black market. She showed me the best places to sneak through the fence. Pela is my friend too. The second time Mammu sent me to sell something, I met Uddie at the corner. With her was a smaller girl, with one long dark braid. She kept twisting it with her fingers, half hiding behind Uddie. “This is Pela,” Uddie said quietly. That was it. We don’t talk when we are going to the marketplace.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I used to have other friends, back in Kshanov. That was a long time ago. Those were the friends of a child. A different child.

I am not a child now. I am a person. Uddie is also a person. So is Pela. They are my people-friends.

Sometimes we sit together, and talk.

This evening, like every evening, I sat on the cot and took all our clothes. I went through every inch of them. I pulled out every louse I could find, and killed it with my nails. When I was finished, Mammu did not need my help. I went outside and waited in the cold until Uddie and Pela came. Then we came inside and went back upstairs to our room.

We are sitting on the floor, in the corner of the room that belonged to our family. We sit near the sheet, as close as we can get to the stove behind the sheet partition. And we talk.

“Do you think we will live?”

Pela asks this in a low tone, and stares at the space between us.

It is not a question one asks one’s parents.

It is too real, too terrible, and it would cause too much pain.

But here, among ourselves ...

To one’s friends, one speaks of what is real, and what is important.

Because it is so real, we can speak of it. Because it is so terrible, we must speak of it.

“I don’t know,” I say.

It is impossible to think that we will not get out. But it is impossible to think that we will get out. The Germans will never let us out. They intend for us to perish. They are the mighty rulers of the land. They control everything, everywhere.

We all know this.

 

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