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Of Trains and Fireworks
By D. Reichsbahn
Mason clutched mother’s hand, his steps quickened to keep up with her adult pace. There were so many people approaching them, he felt fear mix with the excitement of a new adventure.
Firecracker pops filled the air and he heard a few cries of surprise and yelps of alarm. He loved fireworks but could not see over the heads of the people as mother pulled him up the hard steel stairs and into the trains’ interior.
“Mommy, stop. I want to go see the fireworks.”
“Shush Mason. Not now.”
Tears filled his eyes. How could she be so mean? He heard more pops and cracks and pouted in defiance of her words. The fireworks were still going on and he wanted to see them. He yanked from her hands grasp and turned to exit the train. There were so many people behind him he didn’t get a foot before they roughly jammed into his small body. The young child pressed back against his mother’s wool coat while a raven-haired girl fell at his feet and he watched in disbelief as the crowd stepped upon her tiny arms, torso and face until she was no longer visible.
Mason looked up at his mother, “Mommy, they’re hurting her.”
“That is not your concern, Mason.” She pulled her son close to her body. “You stay near me or you’ll be next.”
It was getting warm and he wanted to take off the heavy coat and hat. It was futile even to attempt to raise his arm or move his hand more than a couple inches from his body. In fact, the pressure of the other people’s bodies was beginning to hurt, with each second bringing them closer, squeezing and squishing into his small frame.
“It’s hard to breathe mommy.” Tears ran down his cheeks. The excitement he once felt of a train ride, now replaced by pain and grief.
The scraping of the trains steel doors as they closed shut was so shrill; it caused his ears to pound and his head to throb. This wasn’t fun anymore and he wanted to go home. He embraced mother’s leg and held it firmly against his frame. The sobs grew louder. Mother raised his head up, fingers under his chin and wiped the tears from his face.
“Don’t fear Mason, we are going for a visit to a camp in the Ukraine where we will receive yummy food and a nice place to live. Won’t it be fun working with mommy each day”?
Mason’s face brightened at the thought of food and being able to work alongside his mom. He just knew the Ukraine would be the most exciting adventure of his life. Now content, his face broke out in a huge smile and his eyes twinkled in anticipation.
He was fast asleep when the train pulled into Auschwitz-Birkenau.