I was too tired and weak to bother protesting anymore. Long had it been since the fight had left me. Now I watched as if an outsider as my limp body was shoved onto a packed train that would take us to our deaths. If we didn't die on the way first.
Time passed me without meaning and the train took off with a lurch. We flew over track, and the effect of so many bodies crammed together was stifling. Perhaps we weren't humans at all, but the other species the Germans talked about and said didn't deserve the air they breathed. Were we not in fact, packed like animals on their way to the slaughterhouse? Surely a human would never be treated this way.
But a distant memory tugged at me of a time when I did mean something. Before I was branded with the name 'Jew' and my former friends turned me out.
A hacking cough from next to me aroused me into motion. Turning my head, the delicate bones in my neck ached. My heart grew heavy at the sight in front of me, but by now I had seen many sights far worse than the one laid out before me.
She looked more like a shell of a person than anything else. Her clothes were threadbare, and her arms and legs weren't much more than sticks. Her eyes were closed, and I couldn't perceive any movement in her at all. Just another one dead, I thought, but just as I was turning my head away from her, her eyelids fluttered open.
Pity overtook me, knowing these were her last few moments, and I turned back to her. "What's your name?" I asked quietly, my voice not much more than a breath of air. But somehow the sound traveled and she gulped once before answering.
"Esther Berge." she croaked out, her sunken eyes staring at me hungrily. "Have you seen my brother, Daniel. I promised I'd keep him safe." she asked, her eyes pleading with me.
"I might have." I replied, not wanting to disappoint her in her last moments. "What does he look like?"
"He has golden blond hair, and the biggest blue eyes. He's only five, but his smile lights up a room." she replied, her eyes dulling a minute as she was lost to memory. Meanwhile, my heart sank knowing that he was too young to have survived.
"You have seen him, haven't you?" she asked suddenly, her eyes clearing as she stared directly at me. I could only manage a brisk shake of my head, my throat closed up. How could I be the one to shatter this girl's last hope?
"He's beautiful, he is. When my mother first got pregnant I was dreadfully jealous. 'He'll be all they care for now' I had thought, but he turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. I promised him I'd keep him safe." Esther said, a faraway look returning to her eyes.
"I don't believe I've seen him." I managed out, hating myself as I did so. I didn't want to be the one to destroy Esther's hopes, but it wouldn't be right to give her false hope. There was no way her brother would have survived, but the words just wouldn't leave my mouth.
Esther remained silent for a long time, and I feared she had passed away....