Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer
Approaching Stalag VII A — Moosburg — 1945
He walked and as he walked the cloth of his trousers stuck to his skinny legs as the rapier cold tried to eat of his skin.
The tree on the hill to the side of his ice-pecked eyes felt too the weight of this most bitter of winters and it creaked, but he did not hear it. Though, nonetheless, he looked at it and he imagined it’s shiver.
“It is awfully cold. It matters not if the sun is out there is ice on the ground all day”, he muttered, in recollection of the last letter he had sent home from the camp. And his throat it tastes of bits of the inside of his mouth and the snow he has sucked from his sleeve.
He remembers his parents and he remembers their house in Wanganui. The railway tracks that slid as cold case-hardened iron nailed reassurance just behind the back-yard fence. And he remembers the smell of boiled potatoes and butter and wilted mint.
This war has been good to him. In that he had not felt the lead that pushes through skin and fragments inside of meat. He is alive and that was the greatest thing about just about anything at this moment as he squinted at this fucking nothing tree.
But then he has an image, a thing that aches in his head. A friend lost but then found. A man with a family – as all we have. Not a friend, but an acquaintance, a boy/ man with whom he’d played a few hands of Bridge.
The snow is a many faceted thing, its purity so clearly showing the intruding filth. His body, this boy from a farm, he that loved the smell of oil that sleeps in wool, diced down and into the icy mulch beneath the tread of a benzin breathing tank.
Frank had looked upon this ruin and he had tried to cry. But ropes bound in his throat and the liquid drew into itself and pulled his eyes almost but closed. And he walked on and his toes froze in his boots and he pounded his fist at his thigh. And he said…
“This thing, this truth of who we are. This rot which foams and spits on all our branches. I will find you. I will end you. I will.”
Hundreds of millennia later and on a far away planet Francis stands and feels the ice-welded glue of her finger upon the trigger.
“I have tracked you through both time and the space between it. Now you die”, she says as, without further hesitation, she fires and a finely carved missile carves through the putrid mist and opens away its fat head like a bit of bitten fruit and it crashes down unto its cracking knees.
“Thank you…”, it whimpers as whimper it fucking well should and it folds down and into a ratcheting foetal ball.
And Francis kicks its flabby belly with the tip of her boot and she staggers backward as she feels the weight of its death.
“There ya go we did it, Franky. Took a few thousand years but we knocked the bastard off”.
Thank you, David… I based this on a story my Grandfather… the real Frank… told me. Actually, I plagiarized the line… “It is awfully cold. It matters not if the sun is out there is ice on the ground all day” directly from a letter he wrote home to his mother from a prison camp in Ukraine. And I hope you are right… maybe the future has a little glimmer of hope 🙂
I love the vivid imagery throughout this piece, Hari. Francis followed through on Frank’s wish, even though it took a long time. Maybe things will be more peaceful now.