The Cloth Doll

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story written from the perspective accounts of a Jewish man with his family living in a small village someways away from East Germany; written during the events of WWII. Details the father giving his daughter a little doll and his subsequent encounters with SS Guard with the presence of the doll.
*Written w/ the use of dialogue from characters

Submitted: April 02, 2015

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Submitted: April 02, 2015

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The Cloth Doll

Dan Zuniga

 

 

It was 26 years to this date that I had made my little girl, Anne, her first toy; a piece of disused cloth, stuffed with wool, and fitted with a plaid dress, with two shiny black button eyes that stared out over the world with an expression of such softness, it could melt away the coldest hearts.

Anne, who had never before felt the snugness and love that pulsed off such a small object, wrapped her arms around it, caressing the doll like a child.

Her eyes would light up when she looked upon it, and was so taken by the entrancing eyes. It was love at first sight.

One morning, Anne came down for breakfast, and, making sure the doll was properly seated before her, promptly pulled out a small bowl from the scullery, and then came flowing over to the table, seating the doll in the bowl.

Under the pretense of examining my porridge, I brought it close to my face and chuckled silently. My wife, however, didn’t find this as amusing.

“Anne, put the bowl back and come sit at the table. Your porridge is going cold.”

“Oh please, mum,” Anne pleaded, “Please let Gertrude sit. She’s not hurting anyone.”

I looked over at my daughter in bemusement. “Gertrude?”

Anne stroked Gertrude’s hair. “I think it fits nicely.”

My wife looked at me with exasperation, giving away that she didn’t approve of my crafting of the doll. Then she looked into the sack used to store our grains of rice.

“Thomas, we’re running low again.”

Anne quickly looked up, and then turned to me with pleading eyes once more.

“Oh, please, pa. Let me go into the village with you. I can show my doll to the boy’s. Oh, please.”

As much as I disliked letting my daughter down, I kept my voice firm, without strain.

“Anne, you remember what Daddy said. The village isn’t safe anymore. I don’t want them to harass you. Can you please just stay here?”

My wife and I exchanged dark looks, and then I noticed a plea in her eye too. I knew what she was thinking.

Suddenly my wife spoke up once more.

“You heard Daddy. The answer is no. Now go change into nice clothes. Grandfather and Grandmother are coming later.”

Anne rose up sulkily, then whisked away Gertrude and exited the room.

I looked down at my half-finished bowl of porridge, and then rose to my feet.

“It’s best to be off now. They are usually calmer in the morning after patrolling all night.”

My wife looked hung between grit and tears as she kissed me good-bye at the door, while also placing the sack in my arms as if it were a precious gift.

“Be safe. And remember,” she grasped my arm again as I was departing, “Keep your head down.”

I trudged through the muddy path that led to the road that passed beyond our hovel, past the rolling green hills, and into the village. I sighed as I looked about the landscape, remembering a time when we were free to roam them.

Just as I was leaving onto the road, Anne bolted through the door of our hovel and ran through the mud in her white blouse.

“Wait, pa, wait.” Anne was standing in front of me, panting, and hair askew.

“If I can’t go with you, at least let Gertrude go.” She flung out the doll, spattered with a couple flecks of mud; it was nothing compared to how she looked, though.

“Please, pa. You can have her for good luck.”

I looked down at the slightly soggy doll, then chuckled again, and placed her inside my pocket.

“Thank you, Anne. Now go back inside and wash up. I expect mother won’t be pleased.”

“Good luck, Pa. And Gertrude.” Anne hugged and kissed both me and the doll, then ran back into the house.

I watched her go, and then turned back to the road, carrying the talisman in my pocket.

As I approached the village, I noticed the trucks parked in and around the entrance. Clearly they had set up another checkpoint.

Ever since Hitler’s men had come 7 months ago, they had set up checkpoints all over the fields and over beyond. They had burned down several houses 3 weeks ago, right near my area, and my wife grew fearsome of these menaces. Several of the villages’ surrounding men had banded together to form an underground-operating group known as the “Blood under the Sun,” or B.U.T.S. Mostly the group had grown virtually silent when only a few were really willing to take action.

However, the houses burned recently had belonged to several members of B.U.T.S, and they were now boycotting the entrance to many villages, as they either required a fee, or a strip search.

I dismally looked over the town of Soldemberg, and used to think of the days of old from whence I would be found, running through the market. Those days were forever behind me now, and all I saw ahead, both mentally and literally, were the imperial Nazi empire.

The soldiers were all either smoking or sleeping when I walked up to the checkpoint. I thought for a moment they would just let me pass through unchecked. However, one stopped me just before I reached the other side. I gripped the doll tightly.

Hier drüben, Hügel Jew (Over here, hill Jew). “

I didn’t understand what he said, although he laughed and gestured to his hand. I reached into my other pocket, and, without taking my eyes off the Nazi soldier, extracted two Euro, which I placed in his hand. He pocketed the money, and, allowed me to pass through the town, shouting after me a phrase I didn’t understand.

Upon entering the square, I rushed over to the line of markets, hurrying away, keeping my head down due to the several groups of more Nazi soldiers who stood, leering at the scared townsfolk.

Ten minutes later, I was upon exiting the town, when the Nazi soldier whom I had payed was blockingmy path again, laughing, and extending his hand.

I reached into the almost-full sack and extracted a handful of rice, which I mistakenly flung a little too hard into his hand. Several grains got into his cap and down his chest through his jacket. I held my breath, not daring to breath.

The Nazi soldier drew back the end of his rifle and swung the end around into my temples. Blinding pain swept my body as the Nazi soldier hit me again, this time near the ear. I heard a sickening crack that sounded like I had broken something, and yet looked up, blood pouring out of a cut, that the rifle had snapped after the couple of blows delievered.

The Nazi soldier turned maniacal, and hoisted the sack full of raw rice up out of my still clutching soldiers. He kicked me in the stomach, stopping my defensive efforts, and dumped the sack into the muddy stream that flew into the town.

As I watched every grain fall out, I knew I had to sustain anger. The other Nazi soldiers were watching with amused looks on their faces, although could turn hostile a t any moment. Yet the thing that stopped me from attempting to kill the soldier wasn’t the penalty I would face if I did. It was the little doll that I felt for as I was getting up.

I reached into my pocket, and, without a second thought, started to trudge back home, while I examinded the doll. The Nazi soldier had attempted to come after my departing figure, shouting after me another insult, or at least what I thought was an insult( Drückeberger!“).

When I returned home, I was to find my wife and daughter, both sitting at the kitchen table, quietly, awaiting my return. Upon my entrance, my wife looked up releieved for the slightest moment. Then she looked up and down at my disheveled appearance and ran to me, tears flowing.

"Oh, Thomas! What has happened!“ She wept into my arms.

I remarked to her gravely, "I had some trouble at the checkpoint, and when I accidentally flung a little bit of rice onto one of them . He got very angry, and then started to beat me, with the result being that he dumped our rice.” Tears of shame and humiliation filled my eyes too. “I’m sorry.”

She looked up at my bloodied and dirtied face, and whispered, “I just glad you’re okay.” She placed her lips to my forehead and lightly kissed me.

Anne rushed over, and she looked on the verge of tears herself.

I stooped down, with some difficulty, and looked into her green eyes, and said, “Daddy’s okay. He’s a little bit hurt, but I’ll be fine.”

Her eyes leaked, yet she wiped them away, and said, ‘I wish I had been there to protect you, pa. At least Gertrude kept you company.”

I cracked a smile, and pulled out the mud-splattered doll out of my pocket, brushed it off slightly, and handed it back to Anne, saying, “If it weren’t for Gertrude, Daddy probably wouldn’t be here right now.”

Later that night, as I settled down to rest, I thought of the cruelty of the Nazi soldiers and the pure evil that emanated from them. I turned to my wife. She looked over at me, and seemed to read my mind.
 

“I didn’t understand what is was that they thought for before. I thought they were really all just rogues.” I said thoughtfully. “I understand, now, though. This isn’t about the equal pleasure of vengeance. This is about doing what’s right.”

“But Thomas,” said my wife anxiously, “If we went with them we wouldn’t be safe. We can’t put Anne through any more than this.”

I smiled again. “Anne would bring them good luck. I think so, don’t you?”

My wife looked lost for words, and then she herself began smiling.

“Should we leave tomorrow, then?”

“Yes. We should rise early, pack only the necessities, and then leave. Now, let’s get some sleep.

That last night was the last night of fear that we had to face until tomorrow.

Early the next morning, after packing only that which we thought was of the greatest value, I, and my wife and daughter departed for the Blood under the Sun group, with the doll following suit.

That doll had served me, and now, it would serve the freedom fighters so we could reclaim our country.


© Copyright 2018 Dan Zuniga. All rights reserved.

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