I am a leafPublished
Momma always told me that if I didnít eat right I would turn to skin and bones.
I always tried to make momma happy.
But I am a leaf, so think I can see the bones through my flesh.
We never have enough to eat.
Some say I am lucky to have survived our first coming to camp.
Someone else says a German law prohibits the Nazi from killing anyone until we turn 18.
But since when did German law protect a Jew?
I saw them shoot many men, women and children when we got off the cars, people they say werenít strong enough to work.
I must look strong. They let me live.
But the men in uniform always yell at us, whipping us to do more, beating the women -- even my mother.
I donít know how to make them stop.
I feel as if I have failed momma.
Life wasnít easy in the ghetto before we came here.
But momma seemed to worry less.
And we didnít see the men in the uniforms much, if were careful.
In those days, all I had to do was give momma a hug to make her smile.
Then, one night, I heard terrible voices outside: people shouting, glass breaking, the smell of fire oozing under our door with the smoke.
I even heard someone moaning.
I never saw momma so scared.
She tried to tell me she wasnít; but she shook.
No huge or kiss could make her smile after that.
When the men in the uniforms pounded on our door and told us we had to leave with them, I got as scared as momma was.
We went right away. So the Nazis didnít beat us like they did others on our blood.
Momma clutched me, whispering the whole time that everything would be all right.
I didnít believe her. Yet I liked hearing her say it.
So the train ride in the box cars to camp didnít see as terrible as it really was.
When we arrived, soldiers waited for us, picking and choosing which of us would go right and which of us would go left.
Those that went left we never saw again.
The soldiers yelled at the rest of us and pushed us into old buildings that smelled like a factory.
I was scared and hungry, and didnít know at the time how much worse I would feel later.
Momma looked pale, and did not hug me back when I hugged her.
She seemed to see something I could not see.
She kept saying we are already dead.
That scared me more and I cried.
A soldier hit me for crying.
This made me stop.
I learned quickly not to call attention to myself, to make myself invisible if possible
So day in and day out, I tried to keep as quiet as possible and to stay unseen.
Maybe deep inside, I never felt much more than a leaf anyway, through which anyone could see.
I took comfort in momma eventually coming down, through this seemed as unnatural as her moaning had been.
Then, in the middle of a very cold night, momma died.
I woke to find her staring up at the bottom of the bunk above hers.
I wailed so loud everybody heard me throughout the camp.
Soldiers came and beat me and told me to shut up or they would drag me out and have me shot.
I was all skin and bones.
I asked them if they believed a leaf was worth the bullet?
I might have died just then, but others pulled me aside.
I moaned in their arms as if in my mommaís.
Now days and night no longer matter.
The cold doesnít matter.
The beating and hunger doesnít matter.
Momma was right.
I am more and more skin and bones
And know that soon I will go to see her.