November 9th, 1938
“Look, Matya, off in the distance near the horizon, do you see it?” The man asked his wife calmly and certain of the future. She walked up from behind and grabbed him by the arm, wearing the same yellow star on her blouse that he wore upon his suit. Matya nodded and then squeezed Jacob’s arm out of fear, a need to feel secure.
“Yes…yes I can see the plumes of smoke from the tanks and trucks. They’re coming right for us, aren’t they? We need to get the boys, pack, and leave as soon as we can there’s still time!” Matya tried to pull Jacob into the house from the balcony of their estate in the woods but he stood firm. He instead turned around and grabbed his wife in for a hug to soothe her nerves for the coming torments they would face.
“Matya, our time has come. If we are not captured here, then it would happen while on the road. You were right, we should have left Germany years ago, I alone bear the blame for this, but, we can still save the boys.” Jacob wiped Matya’s watery eyes with the handkerchief he wore on their wedding day and gave her a somber smile. “Get Joseph and David, tell them to hide.”
“But, what will we do?” Matya asked shakily and Jacob took her hand and kissed it.
“We shall go and meet our guests and welcome them to our home. Now go, I’ll meet you outside.” The two then kissed and Matya rushed to the boy’s rooms and called for them. While she did that, Jacob opened a box he took from under their bed and held up a shiny revolver inherited from his father.
David, the younger of the two brothers was the first to answer his mother’s call.
“Mama, what’s wrong?” The young child asked, those innocent coffee brown eyes of his nearly broke his mother, but she managed to hold it together, albeit barely.
“David, my child, fetch your brother and go to the storage room on the second floor.” She then produced a key from her dress pocket and gave it to the bewildered boy. “Give this to your brother, tell him it opens up the ‘room’, he’ll know what that means.” David nodded slowly and hugged his mother closely before she pulled him off of her and hurriedly began walking to the front door.
“Mama, where are you and papa going?”
“We…we are greeting some guests. Now, go be a good boy and do what mama asked you, alright sweetie?” The little boy nodded and ran haphazardly to find his elder brother. Once he found him in the mansion’s library and relayed their mother’s message, Joseph’s face went through several sickening colors. His eyes widened and he dropped the book he had been reading, took the key from David, and ushered him to the storage room on the second floor. Inside the dank and stuffy room, Joseph locked it from the inside and ignored David’s questions. He quickly removed a small carpet and a hidden trapdoor was revealed, a little room enough for a couple of bodies to hide snugly in. Before the duo hid the compartment, they heard men shouting outside and tiptoed towards the window to see the commotion.
“Hello, Mr. Schultz! Mrs. Schultz, it is a pleasure to meet you!” A German captain shook Jacob’s hand and gave him a big smile. “Well, that’s enough pleasantries, I think you know why we are here. You even came out so prompt, that is just-” He paused, pulled out a notebook, and searched for the family in his registry. “Ah, it appears your two young boys are missing. Now, where are they so that we may escort the four of you to your new…home.”
“That is mistaken, our boys died years ago, an automobile accident,” Jacob said quickly, tightening the grip on the revolver behind his back.
“Haha, you lie Mr. Schultz. Men! Search the house, find the boys!” Jacob abruptly pulled the gun out from behind his back and aimed at the captain, firing his weapon. But, the captain was too quick and managed to direct the bullet towards the sky and punched Jacob in the throat before gut-punching him to the ground. He spat on the family patriarch and back slapped his wife causing her to stumble to the ground. In a fit of rage, the captain kicked their ribs and heads with his steel-toed boots as his men surged into the house, destroying it in their search for the boys.
The two boys screamed as they saw their parents being berated and beaten. Joseph managed to pull himself together, however, to pull his sobbing brother into the hidden room and closed it, placing the discarded carpet on top of it. Even after the soldiers broke their way into the storage room, the boys went undetected. The soldiers were then ordered to burn the mansion down by the captain.
The two Schultz brothers held each other and sobbed next to each other as the house burned around them, they wailed for their parents.
Three years later
There Matya stood at the charred ruins of her family’s home, alone. She attempted to search for Jacob but knew he was most likely ash now, like many she had met during her time in the camp. Her time in that abysmal and loathsome place had broken her body and left mementos for her to never forget them: a numerical tattoo, a shaved head, scars from blades, burns, and atrocities committed upon her that are better left unsaid. In the end, her body once full of vigor had now been completely decimated. It was a wonder her psyche had not shattered, however.
“Joeseph? David?” She said.
She looked blankly at the burned-down mansion, there was nothing but a sudden movement caused her emaciated body to charge forward, awkwardly towards the figure.
“David!” She shouted. The figure stepped out from behind a blackened pillar and was indeed revealed to be her little boy. He was covered in muck and dark red stains painted both his tattered clothes and pale skin.
“Mama!” He rushed towards her and the two cradled one another, letting years of pain between the both of them leave their bodies.
“David, my love, where is…?” Matya asked, hopefully.
But, David could only shake his head at her question. She, in turn, nodded, sadly realizing that the wave of death that washed over Europe had consumed her boy, her darling Joseph as well.
After silently embracing each other for a while, the two wandered down the road and left their home, in search of another, if there was such a place now.