Young Writers Society

Home » Literary works » Short Story » Historical Fiction


Burned Whole

by MillarS


1939

Hidden in the cupboard under the stairs, the gun shots echoed through the quieting house as a family of seven dropped to the ground, dead. After only moments of silence, footsteps thundered upstairs, doors banging as they searched the rooms to find the crying child. It took only minutes in the small cramped house, but Abigail remained still and silent in her hiding spot. Another gunshot echoed through the hall as the house fell silent once more. She heard the heavy feet clambering down the stairs and to the front door. She thought she was safe, that they would go and she could run.”

The door!” yelled one of the German Nazi's, indicating to the small closed entrance to Abigail's hiding space. Scared, Abigail piled herself into the furthest corner from the door as quietly and quickly as she could. When the door opened, she was well hidden amongst the family's winter coats. With a grunt, the Nazi slammed the door shut. Abigail was safe. Quietly, the six-year-old slithered back to her original spot and pressed an ear against the door. She could hear breathing on the other side. Suddenly the door swung open and she was grabbed by the hair on the top of her head and flung into the corridor on top of the bodies of those kind enough to keep her. Crying, she held her hands up to protect her face as a guard slammed a fist into her porcelain ivory-coloured skin, bursting her lip and knocking her unconscious. Blood ran down her angelic face and ran into her chestnut hair. What she would wake up to would be something no child would ever dream of existing.

The train was so cramped, there was no room to sit down. Abigail's feet were throbbing as the little girl remained standing. The blood had been cleaned off of her face just before she had been thrown in with the other cattle, ready to be herded off to a place called “Auschwitz”. She'd overheard many of the guards and Nazis saying something about work and freedom, but Abigail had been fuzzy from the knock-out. She peeped through small gaps between people's legs to see mothers cradling their children close, father's holding the families to them and elderly people without and expression staring at the walls opposite. Abigail longed for her mother, yearned for her father, and started to cry. Holding a slim hand to her mouth to stifle the sobs, Abigail was scared a guard might be in the compartment with them. A bony hand wriggled onto her shoulder, shaking her right down to her toes. Abigail looked up to see a friendly face smiling down at her, one that only belong to a grandfather.

“Are you ok, sweetheart?” he whispered. Abigail shook her head, her soft curls bouncing slightly on her shoulders. He held her closer to his leg and took her hand.

“Everything will be fine, you hear me? I won't let them hurt you, love.” He slowly pulled her to the wall behind him and crouched down to sit on wooden crate. His knees clicked. He offered Abigail a seat on his left knee, which she accepted.

“What's your name, sweetheart?”

“Abigail,” she whispered.

“I'm Bruno,” he said with a smile. “You remind me of my grand-daughter, Heidi. She looked like you, but her blonde hair instead of brown.”

Abigail looked away from him, shy and confused.

“What's going to happen to us?” she whispered.

“The Nazi's are going to take us to a place called “Auschwitz”, where we get to work and have a nice life.”

“But why only us?”

“I don't know. Maybe because us Jews are harder workers? Maybe because they think we are bad? Who knows? But, darling, if you need a friend here, I can be your friend. So could my grandson,” Bruno said, pointing to a little blonde-haired boy who was standing by his mother's side with his thumb stuck in his mouth.

“His name is Bruno, too. He is only seven. How old are you?”

“I am six.”

“Well, I'm sure Bruno will be happy to be your friend.”

They talked quietly for an hour or so, including big Bruno's family at points. Abigail met Amalie, his daughter, and little Bruno. But once they stopped, Abigail seen the terror in big Bruno's face. She knew instantly that Auschwitz wasn't their ticket to freedom.


Note: You are not logged in, but you can still leave a comment or review. Before it shows up, a moderator will need to approve your comment (this is only a safeguard against spambots). Leave your email if you would like to be notified when your message is approved.







Is this a review?


  

Comments



Random avatar

Points: 517
Reviews: 34

Donate
Sat Feb 09, 2013 11:45 am
kasimkaey wrote a review...



This whole piece kinda confused me a little. Don't get me wrong, I completely and utterly understood what was happening but the starting was a bit confusing and very disoriented. Also, the way that you've described the girl doesn't really make me feel for her very much. At the end of the second paragraph when you attempt to convey how terrified she is, there's just too much description and whilst I was reading it, I was very aware of the fact that you wanted me to feel sorry for her and that didn't make me feel sorry for her at all. Quite the opposite really.

And then there's the whole Bruno thing. I didn't quite get why he, out of everyone, would speak to a little girl on her own. And he kept calling her "sweetheart" and "darling". I haven't done history but I don't know whether people of that time would be using such terms of endearment.

I think that writing about the Holocaust is something that has been done a lot but it's something that is very hard to do. You want to write about the horrors that happened in it because they were horrific but at the same time, you want to make sure that your message is put across. At the starting, when you said Nazi's - that's an example of this. You wanted the reader to know exactly what you were talking about so you included that word whereas I would have simply put soldiers and let the reader figure it out for themselves what was happening. It's just little things like that that made me wonder if this couldn't have been written a little better.




User avatar
376 Reviews


Points: 16552
Reviews: 376

Donate
Sat Feb 09, 2013 2:31 am
Trident wrote a review...



Hi again, some more thoughts here:

Hidden in the cupboard under the stairs, the gun shots echoed through the quieting house as a family of seven dropped to the ground, dead. After only moments of silence, footsteps thundered upstairs, doors banging as they searched the rooms to find the crying child.


Your whole first paragraph needs a little work. It actually didn't keep me glued to the story; it was kind of confusing. I think we need complete clarity there. I think it may be better to only see and hear Abigail as opposed to the omniscience you have there.

When the door opened, she was well hidden amongst the family's winter coats. With a grunt, the Nazi slammed the door shut.


I would be careful here using the word "Nazi". I would say "soldier" or some such equivalent.

Crying, she held her hands up to protect her face as a guard slammed a fist into her porcelain ivory-coloured skin, bursting her lip and knocking her unconscious. Blood ran down her angelic face and ran into her chestnut hair. What she would wake up to would be something no child would ever dream of existing.


Just way too much. It's a really bad attempt at making us feel for the girl, but there are better ways to make her a beautiful, innocent child.

ready to be herded off to a place called “Auschwitz”. She'd overheard many of the guards and Nazis saying something about work and freedom


I like the idea of incorporating the "Arbeit Mach Frei" into this, so I don't even think you need to mention Auschwitz. I actually think that would make it much more powerful as we are experiencing the revelation of it being Auschwitz without being told is just completely chilling.

But why only us?


Firstly, this isn't true, there were other groups sent to the camps. But I get it that it was primarily Jews and that the people during that time might have only met other Jews. I think that should be emphasized somewhere in the story.

But once they stopped, Abigail seen the terror in big Bruno's face. She knew instantly that Auschwitz wasn't their ticket to freedom.


This ending needs work too. It's too...gimmicky. It tries to be this huge dramatic thing, but this story is worth so much more. It's like the ending to a chapter where the author feels like they have to make you keep reading. It draws way too much attention to itself.

On writing about the Holocaust

This is a really difficult issue to write about, but you have missed some of the pitfalls that come with it, namely when authors try to make everyone brave and strong. This wasn't the case at that time.

What I think you have done wrong is try to make Abigail this creature of pureness in a way that is much too evident. Obviously she is young and innocent, but that should speak for itself, not be told to our faces by the author.

Also, while the violence was absolutely terrible, it was committed by humans. By making the Nazis these faceless voids, you rob the reader of humanity's role in its own destruction. Humans did this. That's why it's so terrible. They weren't some amorphous blob from a hellish world. They were neighbors and fellow countrymen. There is something inherently disturbing about that and it should be explored instead of having these Nazi archetype characters.

This is powerful, but it is a very touchy area when writing. It is a topic that is so sensitive that it finds itself especially prone to criticism when one writes about it. My advice is to really do your research and be very careful. One wrong word or phrase can make the whole piece seem insensitive.




User avatar
2058 Reviews


Points: 32885
Reviews: 2058

Donate
Fri Feb 08, 2013 11:45 pm
Emerson wrote a review...



Hidden in the cupboard under the stairs, the gun shots echoed through the quieting house as a family of seven dropped to the ground, dead.
This sentence is really disorienting - are the gun shots hidden in the cupboard, are the family of seven in the cupboard?

He slowly pulled her to the wall behind him and crouched down to sit on wooden crate.
To be accurate - there would have been no crates, no sitting room, and barely any room to move or breathe. People died while on the trains, so the smells and sights would be far more gruesome than just this. You can find a lot of material online that details what the trains were like further, and I'm sure you've done some research yourself already, but I know the ability to sit was not possible.

This seems like a really good beginning to a story, you have a lot of potential content. But, the holocaust is extremely difficult to accurately and respectfully portray without having actually lived through it (Elie Wiesel - read everything by him) or having done excessive research on it. I worked on a novel based in a death camp, and did years of research, but it never came close to being able to accurately portray any of it. I'm not trying to discourage you from this project - but understand that writing about something so well documented and emotionally horrifying is not an easy job.

I would suggest doing more research, reading more books, watching documentaries - everything you can - before getting too far into it. The research will change your plot dramatically. I can give you book suggestions and the like if you want, since as I said I did a lot of research myself. If this is something you're serious about, visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC - If you're in the USA - is worth the trip. Although it is not for the faint of heart. I visited it twice and cried both times. If you are not in the USA I can guarantee there are similar museums around Europe.

The writing itself is good, the only thing that stood out to me was the odd structure in some sentences (like the first one) and the info dumping of the character's physical features in the second paragraph. Otherwise, not bad. Keep it up.

Cheers,
Emerson



Random avatar
ela00051u says...


my heart skipped a beatwhen you said the cupboard was swung upon again and the man caught the young girl this is a very very good story if you continue writing id love to read the rest




To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.
— Allen Ginsberg