Sunday, June 19, 2011

December 24th, MCMXLI.

It is Christmas Eve and the blizzard has finally loosened its grip. The left over crisp breeze strikes a minor chord in the chimes suspended over the porch. The skies are clear, if drab and off-white, and the skeletal branches of the leafless trees scratch at it as they sway in the wind. Smokestacks billow a dark and sooty brown just above the horizon; its fumes complement the wintry decay. Far off and deep in the wood can be heard the faint voices of children lost in their play. Their joyful giggling and laughter transfigure the scene, if only for a moment, until the overwhelming silence drowns them out again. Throwing a snowball at his older brother, the youngest one misses and hits a gray cinderblock wall instead. Noticing this unnatural edifice amongst the pure white snow and tender ferns for the first time, the boy looks up past the barbed wire and sees a guard at his post. Struck by the soldier’s stillness, looking off into the abyss, the child cocks his curious head to the right. The boy’s arms dangle to his sides, while his crimson mittens open wide toward the world. The guard, noticing life for the first time, turns his head and unconsciously smiles at his little admirer. The boy, feeling understood, snaps his body to attention and salutes the soldier. The child now realizing his friends are far off, and hearing them call for him, returns to his previous forgetfulness and runs toward his companions. His little footprints in the snow fall before a heavy wrought iron fence. Its epigraph reads: Arbeit Macht Frei.”


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