Saturday, March 24, 2018

To the German soldiers, we must appear as local people

I woke up the next morning by a rotating flash of sunlight. It reflected back from the handlebar of a bicycle that passed by the side of my tent with a sudden squeak. Leaning forward to gain speed, Rochelle was already turning the bend into the dirt road, which made me leap into my feet in a hurry. I had to catch up to her before she disappeared—or else, she would set out for a three-day journey all by herself. 
In haste I snatched a few provisions and packed them into a bundle—wild mushrooms I had picked up last night, leftover bread, some nuts—and grabbed a bike that leaned there, against a tree trunk, not even caring to whom it belonged. Someday I would ask forgiveness. Not now. 
Meanwhile, another bike creaked into motion behind me, and someone shouted, “Wait!”
I glanced over my shoulder. It was the boy. 
“Stay here,” I told him. 
“No way,” he cried. “I am coming with you!”

The first couple of days, the three of us glided down the slope through a rocky terrain, which deflated the tires. This was supposed to be an easy ride, but doing it nonstop took its toll on us. Rochelle hummed some song at the beginning, but by now—fighting against gusts of wind—she grit her teeth and just breathed through the effort of pushing the pedals. 
The boy looked all pale and haggard. The skin of his inner thighs became red from the constant rubbing between them. Lifting one knee up to spin the wheel, forcing the other one down, and then over again, again, again... 
The thirst formed cracks on my tongue. A crust of salt formed over my upper lip, mixed with dust. It became thicker no matter how much I tried to lick it away. My shirt became drenched in sweat. It used to fit tightly over my body, but now it hung loose, disclosing how much weight I had lost.
Once we got to the river Seine, the clouds broke. A ray of sunshine wandered across the distant landscape, till it hit a German road block. 
“We must freshen up before we get there,” I said.
And the boy asked, “Why?”
“Because what?”
“Because,” I said, “to the German soldiers, we must appear as local people, coming to the market from a village close-by. All clues suggesting that we’ve come from afar must be blotted away, somehow.”

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Marriage before Death

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"What the reader sees is how their relationship survives the horrors of war making their love for one another all the stronger. Through their eyes we see the terrible sights, sounds and smells of war, something no one ever forgets... This is Uvi Poznansky at her masterful best." 
-  Jess Steven Hughes, Author 

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