An Apple in Auschwitz
My hands scrape against barbed wire and part of my skin is torn to show the red gunk inside. It does not matter. Nothing matters anymore. My feet take a tentative step forward and my body quivers with anticipation, the anticipation for a kiss, that solitary reprieve a woman of my condition could ever hope for. Another explosion from the periphery or the back or the front; my ears can no longer recognize setting. Nor do my eyes which is fogged by the mist, the debris, the rock, the blood the flows freely. I imagine myself I bomb-sight, a mere dot amongst thousands, distinguished solely by my funeral march— slow and determined contrasted by those screaming for salvation around me, those shouting for dear life. It doesn’t matter… nothing matters anymore.
This, my story starts with a crash, a sudden explosion which with the cruelty and ferocity of God’s hand swiped away thousands indiscriminately—torturers and tortured alike. We are the nameless dead. We are the numbers of the fearful that will march forward to stun the world’s history.
It happened when I was inside. Inside, the chamber, my limbs shackled to the wall, a knife ready for my skin, a man smiling. Now, I remember that man and his songs. I remember the way he cut me just deep enough to tear the skin from my body, yet retain my form. And throughout the operation, I remembered a lover. Long lost yet not forgotten.
We were on the train together to Auschwitz. I only saw his eyes, they were a grey of a day-less expression, he was lost like I was. He was a friend. The who whole journey in that cart of women with vaginas bruised by rape, first menstruations, a child’s faeces, a child’s carcass Standing on weakened legs we made our five-day’s journey to our own eventual graves. I survived solely because of his eyes which peeked from a hole of his compartment to mine. We never slept, hardly blinked, our eyes focused, purposed on each others. In my heart, I named him Gabriel. He was my angel. Days, weeks, well, you could never tell, passed in Auschwitz. Our rations dwindling, our comrades. Our hope dwindled away. In those days I kept him in my heart, the man with grey eyes: the man who cried with me to Auschwitz, my angel, my salvation. Until finally, the day came when I was to be brought to the chamber…
A shallow cut, the man with the knife called it, all the better for the Arian exploration. He called it bringing out the colour in me. I looked a little pale he said, his hands rested on the red of my body. I imagined how Gabriel’s hand would have felt if he touched me, touched me as a woman, if we had the time to make love. It wouldn’t hurt… “It won’t hurt, Fraulein. Just peeling away dead skin. Just peeling away your skin.” He looked at me, with his blue eyes, and I scoffed. Hope those eyes meant to Hitler, yet damnation for me. Again I imagined. I imagined Gabriel looking at me, stroking my hair in the sunlight, his lips barely touching mine.
“I love you,” he would tell me. And nothing would matter. Everything would cease to exist, except for his lips and mine. The guns would stop. The men would stop. We would be in a cottage in the countryside, enjoying each other’s company. Fantasy and fascination.
And o what fascination he had with my breasts! What fascination! “Fraulein, mein fraukinder, those breasts are too much for you. Let me fix them.” And he did. He cut my beasts open, spilling blood, spilling yellow blubbering fat, spilling the milk it held. He touched me afterwards, he touched me in my phantom breasts. He was touching my ribs. Then he sang: “Ich bin Auslander und spreche ser gut Deuche! Ich bin Auslander und spreche ser gut Deuche! Spreche schneller. Spreche schneller. Ich bin Aulander…” Boom! In a moment, his body was on the floor, the knife stuck inside his body, his face still held the smile, the door slightly opened. Finally I spoke, words for the drama houses, “Yes I am a foreigner. I am an Auslander. I am still alive. I am alive.” With maniac laughter kept in my throat I pulled. I pulled. I pulled so hard until my hand broke in ways unknown to man and slipped from the cold steel which kept me to the wall.
Gabriel I am coming.
Blood drips. Perhaps the doctor’s operation was not so successful. Blood hammers in my head. Blood is blood. From the corner of my eye, I finally see the men’s ward, the barb wire covering it, now torn by the explosion. I see hope, for the first time in a long while, my body feeds off hope. A step. Maybe two more. I can take it. I can hold on to the sanity before the pain takes over, debilitating my faculty of hope. Yes. I can his eyes in the distance, and again I think to myself that nothing else matters. Nothing else matters, but the sight of his grey eyes. My Gabriel, save me. Save me.
In my memory, everything is magnified. In my memory, everything is perfect. In my memory, I see him standing beside old men in the train. His body serendipitously pushed to the corner so that he might see my eyes. Hazel, their color. In my memory, he remembers my hazel eyes as I do his grey ones.
In my fantasy, those five days we spent in the train, are spent in some secret forest. We lay naked and eating off God’s bounty. In my fantasy, he whispers to my ear. He whispers, “I love you.” And I whisper back.
In my hope, he loves me still after so much time in this place. Why didn’t the Americans come earlier with their bombs? Why didn’t the crash happen earlier? In my hope, Jews are freed from the German camps whole and intact much like from a refreshing summer vacation. In hope, he is still alive, waiting for me, searching for me. In hope, he loves me.
“Ich liebidich, mein Fraulein.” I hear. Frantic, I search purposelessly around me. Is he still alive? No. All this is fear. In fear, the Americans will fail. In fear, all surviving prisoners of Auschwitz are sent to Dr. Menangle, and his chamber. In fear, all Jews are to die by Arian hands.
There is so much more to life than fear. Beautiful things lie for those who have the courage to step forward. Just one step forward, and the bounty of memory, fantasy, and most uniquely especial, hope are yours.
And in this final hope, I fall.
My face hits the ground. My body lays numb. My eyes are looking at his. His lips meet mine.
And I am in Eden, my body once again beautifully pale lies prostrate in the grass with the man I love. It is morning and an apple lies in my hand, I bite it and offer it to him, he smiles and says it’s forbidden to eat from fruit of such redness. Red. The color of blood, of war, of sin. And I say, “It doesn’t matter Gabriel. Nothing matters but your perfect Grey eyes.”