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A Type of Hunger
The Nazi soldier, with his perfect, ironed uniform, looked at me with a smug grin. “This is how much you’re worth,” he said, pouring the slop into my small, fragile bowl. It wasn’t much, as it was mostly water - which I desperately needed more of - and the rest of it, who knows what it was.
“I am worth something,” I said to him. A type of hunger rose in my throat. The hunger I felt was not for the food, but for freedom. I’d never been as hungry for something in my life.
“Do not speak!” the soldier snapped, knocking the bowl out of my feeble hands. I would have cried, but I hadn’t the strength, nor the will. I hadn’t eaten in days, and this only made it worse.
“I am worth something,” I said again, but quietly enough so the soldier didn’t hear. I recovered my bowl, which now had a piece missing, and then I looked in it; not a morsel of what should never have been considered food was left.
I let out a long, overdue breathe, and just fell to the ground. I no longer hand the push - or reason - to stand. I probably could have stood and walked, but what’s the point? That’s just it - life in this place has no point.
I was completely lost in thought, but I could have sworn that I heard that soldier say, “That’s where you belong - the ground.”
I tried to ignore his remark, but I couldn’t help but mutter quietly, “I belong on two feet, standing straight up, just like you.” He didn’t hear me, for he just kept throwing more ugly comments toward me. I decided to completely shut him out, for I was too weak to defend myself against more useless beatings.
Instead, still laying on the filthy ground - which truly was horribly filthy - I concentrated on a fly that was persistently circling around my head, and who would randomly land on what was left of my bowl. I was jealous of the fly. It had a choice of when to leave. It has total control over its freedom, but I hadn’t either of the two.
The fly sustained my interest for quite a while longer, but soon, reality creep its way back into my head. I sat up - which was unbelievably hard - and looked at the world that surrounded me. There were hundreds of people in the camp, but not a single word escaped their mouths. The only thing that broke the silence was the laughs and taunts from the sinister soldiers. Their shiny, brushed teeth made many unwanted appearances since they constantly smiled at our misery.
A type of hunger that seemed to linger in my stomach, caused me to think of one word: hope. I hungered to smile, but with the current conditions, smiling was an impossibility. Another impossibility was escaping this place. High walls surrounded this place of quarantine, and numerous soldiers circled them continuously.
“Get up,” demanded that same clean-cut soldier.
“Why?” I protested.
“Get up!” he repeated.
“On two legs, you mean,” I said to him. His eyes got big, and I knew that I was pushing his patience.
Slowly, reluctantly, and with much effort, I rose to feet. Then, oddly, I began to laugh. I’d just only noticed that I was the exact same height of the soldier. He was no more or no less equal to me as I was to him. However, the laughter did not last long, as I realized something else: it was only here - in this very concentration camp - that I was not equal to the soldier. He was, without question, more important, although he was no less human than I was.
“What are you laughing at?” he snapped, and then he slapped me right across the face.
“At how oddly equal we are,” I replied calmly.
He was about to slap me again, but another soldier grabbed his hand and said to him, “Put the nuisance in line.”
The other soldier walked away, pushing and shoving people if they weren’t exactly straight in the line.
“Come with me,” my soldier demanded, grabbing my arm, and dragging me to the end of a line of which I had no idea what the line was for. “Stand,” he said.
The line, I noticed, contained only people who’d caused a problem for the soldiers that day. A small building was at the beginning of the line, which I figured, was where these people were waiting unwillingly to go. I heard a shrill noise coming from the building, and then a gun shot, but I was so far away from it, I couldn’t tell what the shrill noise had been.
But then, my attention turned to the person who standing in front of me. He was a terribly skinny boy who was staring up at me.
“Hello,” he said quietly so the soldiers wouldn’t hear, but loud enough for my ears.
“Hello,” I returned. A type of hunger struck me suddenly. I hungered to help the little boy escape, but that was an impossibility. I wanted to give the boy my future rations of food, but that was an impossibility. I wanted to cure the type of hunger he felt, but like everything else, that was an impossibility.
“We’re going to die,” the boy said suddenly. He then pointed at the small building. “There…..that’s where it will happen,” he finished calmly.
A type of hunger that was stuck in my throat did not allow me to reply to the boy. I was speechless as the soldiers led one person into the building, and no later than five minutes time, they were leading yet another person in.
As we inched closer to the building, and as the line became increasingly smaller, I finally realized what the shrill noise had been: screaming. The hard truth finally hit full force. But the harder truth to face was the fact that the little boy would die right before me, and I would be right behind him.
“Looks like it’s my turn,” he said. The soldier took him by his arm into the building, and quicker than I was ready for, I heard the screams of that little boy. I lowered my head, and I thought I would cry, but my dry eyes couldn’t even manage that.
“It’s your turn,” said the soldier, smiling.
He took me by my arm, and walked me into the building. There was a single chair, and a single soldier holding a gun.
A type of hunger rose on my lips, and then I said, “I wish I was that fly.”
Then the soldier sat me in the chair, pushed my head back so hard that it made me scream, and he shot the gun.
I wasn’t hungry anymore.