Noteworthy Prompt #5
He smiled, eyes shining, then took a newly sharpened pencil and pushed the point down on a paper that was scattered over a cluttered desk top. The pencil tip broke then he said, "It may save someone's life. That's all I'm saying."
My husband used no words this time, just an action. Pencil tips breaking is the prompt this week. I must admit, this one gave me a hard time. It took five days for me to write a story to go with this prompt, it was a challenge. If you're just starting out, like I am, some of these prompts might be giving you a hard time, and that's OK.
During those five days, I may not have been writing, but periodically throughout my day I was thinking about it. Putting different scenarios together, and seeing which ones worked well with each other, takes time.
A good story takes time.
I was told by my husband, that this story was worth the wait. I'll let you decide that one.
Broken Lead Pencils and Healed Hearts
By Anuschka de la Court
“Schwein!” there was nothing but disgust in her voice, but her eyes told a different story. Anita knew the young German woman only shouted and hit her with the wooden club when the soldiers were around. When they weren’t, her actions were decent and Anita could tell she hated being there. This young woman hated the soldiers just as much as she did, but she was on the other side of the barrier between them.
“Probably just protecting her family.” Anita knew they didn’t belong in the nightmare that was WW2, they were kindred spirits, hoping for a better world.
It was in her nature to always see the best in people, but these past three years too many horrific things had happened, too much loss and it was increasingly difficult for her to see any kindness and humanity in people.
“There is always hope,” Her Mama would repeat each night in the darkness of the camp, “Remember, nobody can take this away from you.” But in the trauma and chaos that surrounded her, the naiveté she had hung onto for most part of her childhood was gone. Too much suffering had trespassed into her world and she was forever changed by the intrusion. The innocence of hope just couldn’t live in this hellhole, but Anita clung on to her Mother’s words, because it was all she had left of her Mama.
“Why are they doing this?” She asked the young blonde woman as she cleaned broken pencil leads off an officer’s desk one day when they were alone. “My family has done nothing wrong. They were kind, giving and loving and now I don’t know where they are.” She tucked the broken pieces of pencil into her apron pocket, while the woman looked back towards the door.
“Hitler hates Jews,” the blond whispered turning back toward Anita, “I don’t know why.” She touched Anita’s arm gently almost guiltily seeking forgiveness and said, “But I don’t.” Footsteps in the hallway broke the brief moment of friendship and connection and Anita turned quickly away and began to clean the other desk. A German and a Jew were not allowed to be standing so close and she knew there would be repercussions for herself and this woman who had befriended her.
“One day, you girls will change the world.” Memories of her Papa saying this one night before the evening family prayers came to her as she lay in the flea infested bed.
“Men have made such a mess of this beautiful world that God created,” her Papa would say often to her and her sister Sarah, “and one day you will fix it with God’s help.”
“Yes Papa,” she had answered him simply in her youth, and in her innocence she replied, “I will write stories that will teach people what God wants them to know.” He supported her dream of writing stories, even though there was a war raging around them. He brought home pencils and paper for her when he could, so she could write stories of love, hope and peace.
“How Papa?” she now cried out softly in the darkness of her miserable existence. “How can I do this?” In her innocence of long ago Anita could believe his words, but now she couldn’t. It was in memory of him that she stole the pencil leads from the office; trying to hold on to the hope that one-day she may write words to inspire.
They had stripped them naked and hosed them down as if they were pigs that had rolled in the dirt. It was humiliating. The cries of the desperate woman around Anita were deafening.
“My God! Help us!” were the majority of screams that rang out in prayer, but not for Anita. In the chaos of the unknown, she visualized the dream she had of her father the night before and it gave her great peace. This vision, she believed was from God, was a gift to give her strength for this moment in time and she held onto it with all her might and faith.
Anita stood naked cowering in a dark room. Her father arrived with a bright, beautiful light that could light up a whole block. He brought her pencils and paper then wrapped his arms around her and told her not to forget that she was Gods light. “Through you Anita, Gods light will shine.”
She could feel her father's presence with her now as the soldiers closed the door to the chamber they were in. Approximately 60 anxious naked women squished up against one and other. As she was shoved into the back wall of the chamber Anita spit out the pencil leads she had saved.
“Jerusalem, get up and shine,” Anita calmly spoke out her fathers favourite verse in the book of the prophet Isaiah, “because your light has come, and the glory of the LORD shines on you. Darkness now covers the earth; deep darkness covers her people. But the LORD shines on you, and people see his glory around you.” The women around her began to calm down, and then they repeated the words of Isaiah over and over again as Anita wrote down her final words.
Elke walked slowly into the chamber where so many people had died. She didn’t know why she needed to see it before she left, the soldiers forbade it, but she snuck into it anyway. At this point she didn’t care what the consequences would be.
“I need to make peace before I leave,” she knelt down on the concrete floor inside the chamber and prayed.
“God forgive me,” there were some awful things done there and she could hear the ghosts of those women screaming out to her. Tears streamed down at the thought of all the bloodshed caused by her people. She didn’t know how God in heaven could forgive her for playing along side that evil. Fear kept her playing that horrible game, but she knew God had wanted her to be bold, and steadfast in her morals even if it would have cost her, her life. But she had a daughter at home to protect and there was no one else to look out for her.
“Forgive me Anita.” She whispered and as Elke opened her eyes and wiped the tears away she saw three broken pencil leads and she knew Anita had been in that exact spot. There was a secret kinship between Anita and herself. Elke knew the signs of a writer at heart, because she was one as well. She hated the thought of Anita not being able to write, so it was she who broke the pencil leads on the officer’s desks before she brought Anita in to clean them and it was she who looked away and prayed that her friend would be able to hide them safely from the officer’s eyes.
“My friend, forgive me.” And as her gaze lifted, and she stood up to collect the three pencil leads, she saw the final smeared message of her friend.
“I forgive you.”