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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Taste (07/15/10)

TITLE: Cabbage Soup
By Patricia Protzman


Darinka heard a gunshot, turned to see a woman slump to the ground, and hurried to her side. Anna lay dead, shot in the face. The Auschwitz guard’s reason—she did not come outside the barracks fast enough. Darinka arose, called the guard a filthy dog, and fainted. The butt end of his rifle slammed into her forehead.

“Take the Jewish slime with you or I will kill her,” the guard snarled as he grabbed Felicia’s arm and pushed her toward Darinka.

Darinka moaned, put her hand to her forehead, and wiped away blood. The Nazi guard, with a murderous scowl, stood nearby with his gun aimed at her and Felicia.

“You two, no cabbage soup for two days.” He spit at them and strode away.

“Oh my friend you should have never angered the guard,” Felicia whispered as she and Darinka stumbled toward the weathered building. “You are hurt and we will not get our cabbage soup today or tomorrow.”

“I can no longer stand by silent. We are half-dead already. You and I have survived this death camp for three years, Felicia. We are dirty, lice infested skeletons. Instead of nineteen, we could pass as fifty-year-olds.”

Once inside the rickety dormitory, Felicia assisted Darinka to a straw-covered area of the floor, reached for a dirty rag, and tore away the cleanest part to make a bandage for her head wound.

“I do not think he fractured your skull, but you have a deep gash. The wound should be washed but we have no water.”

Felicia lay next to Darinka, closed her eyes, and chuckled, “Why do they call it cabbage soup? Sometimes I see a piece of stringy cabbage afloat in the water. Once in a while there is a soggy cube of black bread, or a thin slice of salami.”

Darinka grunted and said, “My mother made the best cabbage soup in Germany. Her soup could not be compared to this watery scum we receive here.”

“Tell me the recipe, Darinka.”

“Brisket, beef broth, three or four cups of shredded cabbage, onions, tomatoes and tomato sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and raisins. Let it simmer for three hours. Mama served it with boiled potatoes, strong horseradish, and dark bread. Yum, it is wonderful. How do you make your cabbage soup, Felicia?”

There was no answer, Felicia slept. Darinka closed her eyes and dreamed of food.

The Jewish women awakened an hour later to a guard’s bark, “Get out, get out, we are leaving this place.”

Darinka and Felicia struggled to get on their feet, staggered outdoors, and waited with the others.

A guard prodded one woman who slumped with his gun and threatened, “If you don’t want to be shot, stand.”

The woman stood and swayed. The guard instructed the prisoners to form a line and follow him.

Before they entered their vehicles one bellowed, “Do not speak. Keep your mouths shut or you will be shot.”

He and the other Nazis scrambled into their trucks. The prisoners wobbled after them with a jeep close behind.

Twenty minutes later, Darinka collapsed to the ground. Felicia joined her.

“Felicia, I can no longer stand, you better go or the guard will shoot you, too.”

“I will not leave you. Besides, I am weak and tired also. Let our suffering end here.”

Darinka shielded her eyes from the mid-day sun, pointed toward the road, and said, “Others have succumbed and the guards speed this way to shoot us.”

Felicia and Darinka crawled to the grass as they raced by. Ahead and behind them, they saw tanks and trucks surround the Nazis who exited from their vehicles with hands in the air. Soldiers rushed toward the women.

“We are the Soviet army. We have come to rescue you.” A soldier said in German.

“I praise God.” Darinka whispered.

“Yes, praise God.” Felicia repeated.

Russian soldiers carried the women to vans and placed their thin bodies upon stretchers. At the hospital, doctors and nurses provided baths, treatment for lice and wounds, and dressed each woman in clean clothes.

Because the women went without proper sustenance for years, nutrition commenced with liquids. The hospital staff would introduce meat, vegetables, and other solid foods in the near future.

Later, Darinka and Felicia sipped chicken broth. Darinka smiled, glanced at a nurse and said, “I have forgotten the taste of food but there is one request; I will eat anything but please do not give me cabbage soup.

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This article has been read 399 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Theresa Santy 07/22/10
Well done.

I felt like I read an entire book in under 750 words!

You had everything a story requires, and I was locked in suspense and emotion.

I absolutely loved it!

I stumbled on one minor point:

(A guard prodded one woman who slumped with his gun and threatened, “If you don’t want to be shot, stand.”) It almost sounded as if the woman slumped with the gun.

However, the entire piece was brilliantly done. I was hooked from the very first sentence, and loved it to the very end.

Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/25/10
This is such a heart wrenching story. The world needs authors like you so that we will never forget what happened.
Lollie Hofer07/27/10
This was a well-written story. Your characters were real and I could feel their pain. Great ending.
stanley Bednarz07/27/10
Wow! So many great stories. I think this one had so much emotion, written tightly. I almost feel sorry for the judges picking a winner in our division.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 07/30/10
Congratulations for placing in the top 15 of your level and in the top 30 overall.