Another person might have given up. I started again. This time I didn't write about real things and I didn't write about imaginary things. I wrote about the only thing I knew. The pages piled up. Even after the only person whose opinion I cared about left on a boat for America, I continued to fill pages with her name.
After she left, everything fell apart. No Jew was safe. There were rumors of unfathomable things, and because we couldn't fathom them we failed to believe them, until we had no choice and it was too late. I was working in Minsk, but I lost my job and went home to Slonim. The Germans pushed east. They got closer and closer. The morning we heard their tanks approaching, my mother told me to hide in the woods. I wanted to take my youngest brother, he was only thirteen, but she said she would take him herself. Why did I listen? Because it was easier? I ran out to the woods. I lay still on the ground. Dogs barked in the distance. Hours went by. And then the shots. So many shots. For some reason, they didn't scream. Or maybe I couldn't hear their screams. Afterwards, only silence. My body was numb, I remember I tasted blood in my mouth. I don't know how much time passed. Days. I never went back. When I got up again, I'd shed the only part of me that had ever thought I'd find words for even the smallest bit of life.
From The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Copyright Nicole Krauss 2005. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the WW.Norton. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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