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Danzig

Had to write this for english class.  Started off as a character description, but sort of… evolved.  Now I can’t use it as part of my assessment – damn!

When the train pulled into the grimy station, she was the last off.  Scarf wrapped protectively under her chin, buttoning her coat up with gloved hands, her young eyes surveying the platform, she stepped out.  Her thin shoes made a light tapping sound as she walked through the station.  Her head, she kept down, pushing pieces of blonde hair out of her face.  Unlike most of the people in the busy station, she looked for no familiar faces.  Her destination was the most important thing to her as she strode past the trains, past the thick stench of the engines, and out into the fresh air.  Into Danzig.

There, she lifted her eyes, scanning cathedral spires and rooftops, watching the birds soaring, hearing the wind caress the trees.  She reached for her gloves, pulling the haggard material over her hands, seeking warmth.  Her gait was slower now, having escaped the train station, and she walked at almost a dreamer’s pace.  Her eyes were never still, roaming near and far, taking in a city freshly emerged from the summer.  The cool wind was at her back and she pulled her coat around her, ignoring the patches where the material had worn thin.

Her stomach rumbled suddenly and she remembered that she hadn’t eaten in a while.  She had not noticed throughout the entire train ride – over four hours.  But the nervous pounding of her heart, that paranoia that caused her to look over her shoulder at every grey-coated stranger that walked past, had deadened her hunger.  Now that she was out of Austria, in the safety of Danzig, the free city, she could breathe again.  Every passer-by looked friendly, their smiles warmed her heart.  She soon found herself a small café, a backstreet trattoria.  The coffee was warm and thick and her fingers picked apart a pastry as she stared out at the city.  Although Poland was backward – more backward than Austria – there could be derived from Danzig a sense of comfort.  Perhaps it was the absence of a threat.  Perhaps it was the unfamiliarity of the city, the ability to discover.

Out of the café and into the chilly, autumn streets, she pulled an old piece of paper from her pocket.  There were so many creases – from where the item had been folded and refolded – that it was almost impossible to read the address.  But she knew it by heart anyway.  She only kept the paper for comfort.

On the main street, a paper-boy was hollering the day’s news.  His cries echoed through the streets and the small alleys branching off it.  More Jews arrested in Austria!  Radio station at Gleiwitz broadcasts anti-German message!  Honiok found dead on the scene!  Before continuing on, she quickly threw a few coins into the paper-boy’s basket and had a paper thrust into her hands in return.  She folded it under her arm and kept walking, the dead leaves of autumn crunching under her feet.

She counted the house numbers carefully, pulling out the piece of paper to check every now and then.  The house that matched was of dark wood, the windows covered with thick curtains as if trying to keep the city out.  Her knuckles hurt when she knocked slowly, three times, on the heavy door.  The woman who answered was tall and gnarled with age.  She was invited in by a beckoning hand, nails like talons.  “Yes, I’m expecting you.  You are the right person, aren’t you?”

“Anne-Marie Lowenstein, yes.”

“Come inside.  The autumn wind is cold.”

Anne-Marie looked behind her, at the trees with their dishevelled, browning leaves, at the shivering streets of Danzig.  Then she looked back in front.  Her eyes hit the one spot on the wall, the symbol that made her heart leap.  Hanging from the stair rail in the old lady’s house was a swastika.

“No.” she backed out of the house, refusing to meet the lady’s eyes.  “No, you’re working for Hitler.”

“No sense in denying it.” The lady admitted.  “He’s coming soon enough.”

Anne-Marie shook her head.  “No.  No, he never will.”  Her feet carried her back onto the porch, onto the street and finally, out of sight of the house.  Her heart was beating wildly and her pace had quickened almost to a run.

As she passed the paper-boy once again, she could not help but hear: Hitler invades Poland!  Government falls to the Nazis!  War declared in Europe.

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About E.K.M.

Studying at university, passing the time until a publishing Talent Scout comes to pick me up and whisk me away to a world where I can be an author without having another source of income. If only.

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