Dearest Readers and Writers, thank you for stopping by for this month’s It’s Snowing: Short Story Prompt 7.2020. For this post, I am linking up with Dee at Grammy’s Grid for her 21st Short Story Prompt and link up party. As Dee explains, “this is a creative writing exercise for fun and without a lot of editing. Just start typing and see what you come up with!”
Dee has released all of the prompts at once for 2020 and you would think I would use that to my advantage. But no. Here I am on the 9th, the last day that the link up is open, typing furiously in order to get my post finished. I did at least start this story a week ago, though! Click on this link to see the short story prompt list for 2020. And you can read some of my other short stories here and here.
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Short Story Prompt 07.2020
This month’s prompt reads…The children stared at the sky just as… I had several ideas for this piece. One based on a childhood memory of a UFO my mother, sister and I saw on Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee back in the late 60s or early 70s. Others about wishing on stars or seeing the Northern Lights for the first and only time. But in the end I was drawn by something I remembered from one of the many historical fiction books I’ve read.
Dee’s Short Story Writing Advice
- Start with the beginning sentence prompt below
- Create a story or as many as you like using the prompt
- Add your story post to the linkup below
- Check out stories from others, see how they compare to yours
- I’m sure the others would appreciate a comment from you
Remember, no story is too short! The prompt is posted at least a week before party starts. And she adds – ‘plan ahead.’ Now, if I just would!! All entries are shared on social media if share buttons are installed.
So with that housekeeping out of the way, here is my story for the short story prompt 07.2020.
The children stared at the sky just as..
the flakes began falling around them. It was just October, so snow was unusual but not impossible for this time of year. But it just didn’t feel cold enough either. Thank goodness. They had tumbled out of the cattle car and onto the wooden platform at the makeshift train station some 20 hours after boarding in Gdansk. Although it was a distance of only 480 kilometers, less than 300 miles, the train had moved very slowly and made frequent stops to pick up more ‘passengers.’
They had been forced to leave their home in the middle of the night with just the clothes on their backs. But the mother had been able to think clearly enough to pile onto her children layers of clothing – sweaters, tights, several pairs of socks. And more of the same on herself. She had packed some bread and cheese in the sleeve of one of her sweaters but thought better of giving it to her daughters on the train. Surrounded there by others who were possibly more desperately hungry than they.
The train had rumbled across the Polish countryside throughout the night. The only water they had to drink fell from the ominous dark clouds that seemed to hang permanently above their car. Drops slipped down through the cracks in the top of the cattle car where the women and children were poised like baby birds with their necks stretched, mouths gaping open hoping for a few drops to rain to run down their throats. Strangely, the rain seemed quite capable of soaking their clothes but did little to quench their thirst.
From their home in the northern part of the country, they could have been sent farther north and east to Siberia. To camps whose rumored atrocities had reached their small hometown. But they were lucky…this train had taken them to the labor camp in Auschwitz where the winter would be milder.
Orders in German and Polish were barked at the new arrivals by armed guards with snapping German shepherds at their sides. Dazed noncompliance was met with a sharp rap of a baton to the head or worse. The anguish of crying women and children was almost inaudible below the din. The mother held her daughters close as they trudged in the dark toward the direction of some small tables set up on the platform.
There a woman in a pair of faded striped pajamas took their names, and other information, while a man in uniform conducted a cursory examination of the three. Checking their eyes, looking into their mouths. Apparently they passed inspection as he pushed them along to a station situated behind the first row of tables.
The mother was directed to roll up her sleeve, first in German and then, when she didn’t respond, in Polish. With the layers of sweaters under her coat, it was difficult to push up the sleeves high enough. The waiting tattooist in stripes scolded her for wearing so much clothing. But when the stale bread and cheese dropped out from beneath the multiple sleeves, the tattooist smiled. Then snatched it up while casting a glance at the guard beside her who seemed temporarily distracted by a commotion elsewhere on the platform. The mother gently guided her daughters forward to receive their tattoos as the girls swallowed their sobs.
Those passengers fortunate enough to be tattooed, were divided into groups for showers and housing assignments. Women were separated from children. The mother clung to her daughters, the three crying and shivering as waves of shock and cold assaulted their bodies. What words could the mother speak that would calm her children. What could she say that would help to strengthen them, soothe them, give them the will to survive whatever came next, and after that?
The mother stroked her daughters’ waist long hair knowing it would soon be shorn. She held their quivering bodies praying for health, safety, their very lives. She whispered her ‘I love yous’ in their ears and promised to look for them on the other side of the showers. And then she glanced up. The clouds that had followed them from home, were no longer hanging overhead. The sky was lit with a million stars.
The mother pointed to one particularly bright star and told her daughters to make a wish. And to think of her every time they looked into the heavens until they could be together again. She kissed their cold noses, and helped them to shed the first layers of their clothing before sending them in the direction of a woman guard who was herding the children toward the shower building behind them.
Her oldest daughter blew her a kiss. But her youngest daughter stretched out her arms again toward their mother only to have the guard shove her along. The mother pointed up to the sky again at their star. The girls looked up at the sky one last time then cried “pada śnieg” – “it’s snowing”. It seemed to be true. But could it be? While large, ash-colored flakes had begun floating down upon the passengers, the sky overhead was still clear and it was too warm for snow.
Several years ago, we visited Germany in October. It was a wonderful trip and I would gladly return to Germany again. We tried to see as much as we could in the few days that we were there including a visit to Dachau prison camp.
If you have been hanging out with me for any time, you know that I have an attachment or deep interest in World War II and the Holocaust. Some of my most beloved books and movies are set in the time period. And The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is my favorite book.
While visiting Dachau was a chilling experience, it was a camp where mostly political prisoners were held. I hope someday to visit Ravensbruck, Terezin and Auschwitz, camps where women and children were taken. It is almost as if I must go to pay my respects. In homage. Almost like a pilgrimage.
My housework awaits me. Off today from helping with Lucia and Cami and have much on my to-do list to conquer. Thank you for spending a few minutes of your busy day here with me.
Hugs and kisses,