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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write in the HISTORICAL genre (05/03/07)

TITLE: I Did Not Cry...
By Kaylee Blake
05/08/07


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“Whatever happens to us, do not cry. Do not give them the pleasure. Please, don’t cry, my love. Be strong. Promise me.”

“I promise, Mother.”


The train ride was quiet. Besides the occasional sob of a woman and the small whimper from a child, the only thing to be heard was the terrible, haunting click-clack of the wheels as the train sped along.

My mother sat beside me, her back rigid, her hand clutching mine, but her face calm. And she did not cry.

Neither did I.

The train screeched to a halt and the guards in green uniforms, with inhuman black eyes, appeared from nowhere. “Draußen, draußen!” They didn’t raise their voices, but rather bit off the German words with intense disgust, making the beautiful language ugly and harsh. “Schnell!”

Mother increased the pressure on my hand until it hurt.

But I did not cry.

We were ushered out of the train and onto a wooden platform. My nostrils were immediately assaulted with a terrible stench.

Burning flesh.

I wanted to vomit, but I would not show such weakness. I wanted to cry, but I could not. I had promised Mother.

I spotted a small gray house with window boxes full of cheerful flowers. A simple sign hung in the house’s front yard. “Sobibor,” it read.

The rumors were true.

And yet I did not cry.

A man in a white coat spoke to us. “You are all here to work for the Reich. First you will be separated according to your sex. After the women receive haircuts and you all drop off your belongings and undress, you will take a disinfectant shower. Then you will be given new clothes and shown to your barracks. Now go quickly. We haven’t time to waste.”

I did not believe him.

Nevertheless, I did not cry.

Guards moved in, separating the men and women. Panic began to rise from those who had been in denial. It wasn’t really happening. It couldn’t be.

Oh, but it was.

Many people screamed when they were separated from their loved ones. Many cried.

But not I.

After being led into a very large building, we were commanded to form a line. The line wove to a cashier window where our money and valuables were handed over. Next, our suitcases were taken away. Then we were commanded to undress, continuing assembly line style. Shoes formed one enormous pile, coats another, then our dresses, and undergarments…and so on until we were naked. Stark naked. It seemed, to me that we would be leaving the world with only that which we had come in.

But cry, I would not.

Everyone was then prodded into another, smaller building. There, our hair was shorn from our heads. My brown locks fell to the ground and were swept up into the mountain of others’, becoming one, becoming common. No longer mine.

Our nakedness was complete.

Still, I did not cry.

We were thrust back outside, but this time, we found ourselves in a pathway. A wooden fence about seven or eight feet high sheltered us. But the barbwire that ran up the sides of the fence told me that perhaps the pathway was fenced to keep us in, not prying eyes out.

The men were there as well, as naked as ourselves. Instead of joyous exclamations to find each other alive, no one made eye contact at all. Perhaps everyone was afraid to find their loved ones in the same horrible state.

A man in the familiar green uniform instructed us to follow him. He would lead us to the showers. Four guards behind our company urged us forward.

A brick building loomed at the end of that horrible walkway. All 150 of us were shoved inside.

We waited.

When the sound of hissing met my ears, I knew my hunch had been correct, but I did not cry. Just squeezed my mother’s hand.

It was no disinfectant shower we were receiving.

We were being gassed.

And still, I did not cry. Not even when my mother fell to the floor, in a heap. Not even then.

I would not cry, I could not. I had promised.

I knelt beside her and held her limp hand. The screams of horror started to fade in my ears. My vision blurred, my head grew heavy on my shoulders. The invisible gas stung my eyes, but I did not cry.

I merely lowered my head to my knees and let my world go black.


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This article has been read 1371 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Teri Wilson05/10/07
Oh my gosh. I am sitting here bawling my eyes out. I don't even know what to say about it. This entry was heartbreaking - particularly with the repetition of the phrase about not crying (which is what MADE the story). I am overwhelmed. I think this is wonderful, despite being heartbreakingly difficult to read.
Christine Dunn05/10/07
You portrayed this horrific scene movingly. There was a poetic quality to your prose with the echoing refrain throughout.
Joanne Sher 05/12/07
That last line, my dear, is absolutely perfect. I figured you would end with your "refrain" - but that was so much more effective and poignant and overwhelming. Absolutely excellent and as haunting a piece as I've ever read.
Dara Sorensen05/12/07
Incredible! I know I cried a bit as I read this piece--you definitely connected well with the reader--at least this one ;-)
Patty Wysong05/12/07
wow.
You really captured her determination--I could feel not only her steely resolve, but her mother's as well. Good terse descriptions, matching the voice. Excellently written.
Patty Wysong05/12/07
I forgot to mention the intensity. This part of history always moves me and this piece is no exception.
Shari Armstrong 05/14/07
One of the darkest times in human history - you reminded us why we can never forget it.
Sara Harricharan 05/14/07
WOW! You are definitely in your element here! Amazingly written and so sad. I like the repeating line and the tone of the MC. I had to take a moment after reading this. Awesome job, Writer!
Misti Chancellor05/14/07
Wow! That story shows how sad things were then, but how brave so many of the people who endured that were. I didn't see anything to corrrect. Good job!
Jan Ackerson 05/14/07
Unmistakingly moving, this brave little child!

The only problem I have with pieces like this--and it's probably just me--is, who's writing it? The dead don't write...It's just my hyper-literal self kicking in, sorry.

It's very moving, I could almost see a slideshow of black-and-white images with each paragraph, and violin music in the background.
Bonnie Way05/15/07
Wow - haunting, effective. Very good writing. You portrayed this so well, particularly with the repeated phrase, the simple descriptions, the narrator's knowing what would happen yet facing it bravely.
Benjamin Graber05/16/07
Wow... Moving, heartbreaking story. Excellent job!
Brenda Welc05/16/07
I too am at a loss of words for this. The goosebumps are not stopping. Very well written story here. i can only imagine the feelings and emotions you put into this. God has blessed you with the vision to write this piece.
Purity Snowe05/16/07
Totally great. I really liked this ... in a yucky sort of way. Good work!
Jacquelyn Horne05/17/07
OH, MY! What an impact! Very well written.
Dara Sorensen05/17/07
Congrats on your win Kaylee!
T. F. Chezum05/17/07
Congrats on a very well deserved win - Great job.
Marilee Alvey05/17/07
The title grabbed me, but the moving tribute to the slaughter of Jews kept me transfixed. Thanks for telling a story that needs to be repeated. As Satan works his tricks on the world, rising up people who say this never happened as the last victims leave this world for the next, we need to tell their story. Satan also tells us that we are good enough and that all will go to Heaven, but then again, I digress. Wonderful writing skills shown here. I want to read more of you!
Sara Harricharan 05/17/07
***CONGRATS!***
Joy Faire Stewart05/17/07
Congratulations! This is a very deserving win. Excellent job!
Stevie McHugh05/17/07
Beautifully written. A deserving win! Congratulations!
Bonnie Way05/17/07
Back again to say Congratulations on your win - you totally deserve it! Good job! :)
Catrina Bradley 05/17/07
Way to go Kaylee!!! Awesome piece, well deserving of your EC.
Amy Michelle Wiley 05/17/07
Wow, well deserving of the placement. I'm writing a novella set in Ravensbruck, so this is also close to home. Well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 05/18/07
What an excellently written story--the pictures you painted with words linger in the mind long after--a mark of good writing. Congratulations on a well-deserved win.
Edy T Johnson 05/18/07
Big congratulations, Kaylee! And, thank you for your comment on my historical story as well. I appreciate it.
Venice Kichura05/19/07
I agree--chilling & painfully haunting! Congratulations on a very well-deserved win!
Angie Thurston05/23/07
BRAVO!! Excellent from beginning to end.