Papa

 

It was too much. I should have known.

He’d worn long sleeved shirts for almost fifty years, since the Allies liberated Buchenwald. And so they invited him to come. This new museum, with its hall of portraits so high you had to crane your neck. A pile of shoes and a boxcar, like the one he rode after Kristallnacht. “Get me out,” he gasped.

We waited outside for the walk light. Construction workers poured tar onto new pavement, near the numbered sewer grate. That putrefying smell. His face blanched as he crumpled to the ground. And I knew he was gone.

ce-grate.jpgFriday Fictioneers: 101 words.  Photo by C.E. Ayr

35 thoughts on “Papa

    • lillian November 19, 2015 / 2:16 pm

      This actually comes from a visit we made years ago to the Holocaust Museum on Washington DC. We were sitting on benches in the exit area and a woman came walking out with an elderly man who had tears streaming down his face. She had her arm around him and was saying “It’s alright, papa.” I’ve never forgotten that moment and this picture somehow clicked with that moment — and then the story flowed.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Caerlynn Nash November 19, 2015 / 3:21 pm

    The pain of some memories never goes away. What a compelling story. Nicely done.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian November 19, 2015 / 3:47 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated.

      Like

  2. ceayr November 19, 2015 / 5:17 pm

    Terrific piece of writing and a great story.
    You said so much in so little.
    Potent and poignant, full marks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 20, 2015 / 8:53 am

      Thank you for your kind words. Much appreciated.

      Like

  3. micklively November 20, 2015 / 2:01 am

    I’ve been to Buchenwald. I can understand why he might suffer so on his return.
    Good piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 20, 2015 / 8:54 am

      I’ve never been. Your words mean so much more because of your trip there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • micklively November 20, 2015 / 8:56 am

        I went to Dachau too. I still have nightmares.

        Like

      • lillian November 20, 2015 / 9:08 am

        Just cannot hit “Like” for this. They are places to visit to give testimony to those lived these nightmares. Thank you again for your close reading of the piece.

        Liked by 1 person

      • micklively November 20, 2015 / 9:14 am

        I was there in 1990: not so long after the wall came down. They said that Buchenwald housed mostly communists, trade unionists, pacifists and similar, and relatively few Jews. I was unsure whether that was an Eastern Blok take on the facts.

        Like

      • lillian November 20, 2015 / 9:32 am

        hmmmm I did some historical research on this…but history is told by and written by humans. And sad to say, lived by some.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist November 20, 2015 / 2:41 am

    Moving story and so sad at the end. It must be hard to revisit these types of sites. It is hard enough as a tourist to see them let alone if you had been one of the inmates.
    C- it is probably just me but the only place I stumbled in the reading of it was the phrase We waited for the walk light. I could not work out what a walk light was. I guess we call them pedestrian light so as at that point I did not know we were out on the road I was thinking torch, night tour. I think though it is just me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 20, 2015 / 9:01 am

      Thank you for your kind words.
      C – ah, you nailed it and caught me on the one sentence I struggled with. Truly I did. Yes, I think there is a cultural difference here but your quandry of not knowing where the characters are is correct….again, I struggled with that. I’m wondering if I change it to “We waited near the exit to cross the street”. …. that would eliminate the cultural difference and let you know you are outside, by the museum. Thoughts on that?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist November 21, 2015 / 7:31 pm

        You could go with something like Outside, we waited to cross the road. I think your suggestion above may put you above the word count and is it necessary to know that you were near the exit, just that you had gone outside as requested. Funny that you had picked that sentence yourself as a potential point for confusion. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Margaret November 20, 2015 / 3:11 am

    This is so sad. I can feel the narrator’s pain, and Papa’s panic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 20, 2015 / 9:02 am

      Your emotional response tells me all I need to know here. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. AnnMarie Roselli-Kissack November 20, 2015 / 6:20 am

    Lillian,
    What a beautiful and somber piece. I think sometimes about those associated with war or atrocity in any way – when they visit a slick and well-presented “memory” of their real horror(s) – what horrors immediately run through their heads and hearts.
    am:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 20, 2015 / 9:05 am

      Yes. The “slick” repositioning….presentation….in a sterile place…exactly. Those 4 simple letters put together, PTSD, and the depth of their true meaning….running up against an actual visual portrayal.
      Thank you for your thoughtful reading here AnnMarie. On to my second cup — a bit late this morning but the pot is still on.
      Have a wonderful weekend my friend.

      Like

    • lillian November 20, 2015 / 9:05 am

      Thank you Patrick. I appreciate your reading and your response here.

      Like

  7. gahlearner November 20, 2015 / 4:31 pm

    Heartbreaking and powerful. C–It should be Kristallnacht. And the walk light gave me similar troubles as Irene, I also thought it was dark and they were still inside.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 20, 2015 / 4:44 pm

      hmmmm thought I looked up that spelling. So glad you mentioned it — corrected immediately upon seeing your thoughtful and thoroughly appreciated reading.
      Okay…also changed the wording on that sentence. As I mentioned to another, that sentence was my bugaboo and caused me trouble writing it. I suspected there might be a cultural problem with “street light” — and now realize I was right to be concerned about the sentence. Just changed it….and hopefully it’s more clear in terms of them stepping outside. Still has the power, I think. Take a peek if you have a moment. And again, many thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

      • gahlearner November 20, 2015 / 4:51 pm

        Yes, that makes it clearer. Kristallnacht is the German spelling. I’ve seen it written Crystal Night in English.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. rochellewisoff November 22, 2015 / 9:18 pm

    Dear Lillian,

    Stunning piece. I’ve been to Yad V’Shem, the Holocaust museum in Israel. Powerful experience.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 23, 2015 / 5:33 am

      Thank you Rochelle. Your words are so appreciated. I must say, I’ve very much enjoyed joining this group! Thank you for your spearheading it! It’s opened an entirely new “side” to my writing.

      Like

  9. rogershipp November 29, 2015 / 4:08 pm

    Some moments are not meant to be re-lived. I have not been to the Holocaust Museum. It is a place that I want to experience. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian November 29, 2015 / 4:40 pm

      You must go if you have the opportunity. It is a somber and at the same time uplifting place.
      Very glad you liked the story.

      Liked by 1 person

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