Melissa Dawson walks down a brightly lit street, full of sunshine and smiling faces. She's on her way to work, knowing if she arrives late again, her boss would surely fire her this time. Maybe not, she thinks, all I have to do is take him out to dinner again. Tom Kilmer, heir of Kilmer & Son bank, is a very young and foolish man and Melissa does not feel very moral doing what she does although it isn't her fault she's consistently late.
She takes a short cut. Weaving though the busy square that she would normally avoid, she stops to buy a cup of coffee. I have time. Thank goodness I left thirty-minutes earlier. Once she receives her change, she absentmindedly drops eight Zloty at the feet of a haggard young man in a tattered, faded green coat.
Melissa smiles kindly at him. “God bless you.”
The man scoffs. “Oh, God has blessed me alright.”
“What do you mean? He's the reason you're here. You really should not say his name in vain.”
“Mmmhmm, He's the reason I'm here – here sitting in the dark, starving, and surrounded by urine. I should be jumping for joy.”
She recoils. “You know, you can't blame Him for your being...here. It's your own fault. Did you mess up with money or something?”
The man throws the money at her face, furious. “This is not my fault! I have been robbed! I am intelligent beyond standards. Fate is twisted in this way, that I end up here!”
“What's you name?”
“Well, Eli Mencher, at least be thankful you are alive!”
“What is wrong with you lady?! I think I'm only lucky to be alive!”
Melissa shakes her head. She has been a very religious person since she was born. She had gone to the Catholic church every Sunday in her childhood in Italy, going often to pray for the war to end. She could not believe this mutiny. The man continues.
“Yes, I will thank God. I'll thank Him for the Germans who made my brother Levi dig his own grave and get a bullet to his head. I'll thank Him for letting me watch. I'll thank him for the merciless Gestapo who strangled my father for the corn we would not give him. I'll thank God for letting my mom get abused by the Germans and receive typhus. I'll thank God for leaving me in this wretched world ALONE!” Eli, choking on the words and tears, could not contain himself.
“I'm sorry for that, but—”
“Don't talk. That day when my family and I were sent to Auschwitz, it was bright. The sun shined and the wind had blown calmly. But my whole village wondered, Where is He? God protect us, God bless us. He must not have heard, I hate to say that, because everybody except me was...killed. We hadn't had a choice either to leave our homes or not. On the train, I wanted to die. Not because it was a hundred degrees in there, not because I wanted to be with my father. I didn't want to be there because the Germans made me feel like crap.”
“What can I do for you?” Melissa asks this silently, sincerely. She doesn't want Eli to explode again.
“You can give me my life back. They have taken away everything good in my life. I can't stand that everyone can just let that go. They don't know what it was like.”
“It's been ten years Eli.”
“Forgive and forget, huh? When I was sixteen, I was a believer. I knew God protected me and guided me through everything I did – schoolwork, girls, everything. But the one time I needed Him the most, he wasn't there.”
“Forgive and forget, Eli. Forgive and forget.”
“Just goes to show that when you depend on a person the most, they let you down. You can only trust yourself.”