18 May 2018

Published May 16, 2018 by rochellewisoff

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As always, please be considerate of your fellow Fictioneers and keep your stories to 100 words. (Title is not included in the word count.)  Many thanks. 

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100


The uniformed matron smiled. “Take off your shoes and tie the laces together so you can find them more quickly after your shower.”

The doors clanked shut behind the child. No cleansing water sprayed from the nozzles. 

Cold tile chilled his bare feet. Naked, he shivered and gasped his final breaths.  

“Mama! Mama!”

His desperate, silenced voice rattles my soul.    

Could he have been another Einstein?

Perhaps he’d have been a storyteller whose words delighted thousands.  

The shoe is crumpled and the eyelets are rusted. It fits the palms of my hands—the only evidence of a candle snuffed aborning.




132 comments on “18 May 2018

  • No, no, no! You went there, Rochelle. This is very heart wrenching. A lovely write, yes. But very difficult to read. But, the reality was much more disturbing than the fiction, yes?


    Liked by 2 people

  • Oh, sniff! My mind sees this in vivid detail and color… Like a flashback from some long ago life… The effect is chilling… From all the years listening to the memories of survivors makes this piece feel all too real. Leaves me affected in a way that’s not easy to put into words….

    Liked by 1 person

  • Oh Rachel! This broke my heart. 😥 I am an avid reader and one of my favorite genre is historical fiction and WWII remains one of my favorite themes to read on. Every time I read one of these books, I am left feeling that the cruelty and suffering was so unimaginable and so pointless and yet, what stands out for me is the undaunting nature of the human spirit and how love triumphed even in the midst of the abject darkness. Well done my friend.


      • Dear Kasturi,

        This is why I disable auto correct on every device. 😉

        As a Jewish baby boomer, I grew up under the shadow of the Holocaust. Many of my parents’ friends, including my mother’s boss had the numbers tattooed on their arms. The stories of cruelty are horrifying indeed. I, too, have been an avid reader on the subject. There is a lot to be said for the human spirit that overcomes.

        Thank you for such an affirming and wonderful comment.



        Liked by 1 person

        • Cannot even imagine what it must be like to have those numbers tattooed on your arms, a constant reminder of one of the darkest phases in the history of mankind. 😥



  • I liked your take.. It is very sad but reality of what happened in Germany is. I figured people will look at these from a lot of different angles but I will write mine before I read any of them. Also… the story behind the boots: my friend was at his dad’s home (just turned 90) cleaning out the house. His father grew up during the Depression so he was of the mindset you never through anything away. These were his boots… ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Sneaker LeBeau,

    What a heart-wrenching story. I read it twice and it broke my heart both times.

    On a lighter note, I’ve had people tie my shoe laces together while I was still wearing them. No wonder I still take baby steps.

    Nilsson Schmilsson

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Nilsson Schnilsson,

      I’ll have my eye on your shoelaces this weekend. I suspect it has something to do with your eye-hand lack of coordination.

      Thanks for the heartbreaking comment. ❤


      Sneaker LeBeau W(T)F

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Sneaky LaBeau,

        I have a feeling I’d better wear slip-on loafters or sit across the room from you this weekend. Otherwise, it might take me twenty minutes to hobble to the lecturn to give my presentation.



  • Unbearably sad, Rochelle. That opening line sent me in a different direction – the smiling matron fooled me for a moment. How could they smile? And yet part of me believes some of them did, that it was part of their job, trying to keep the inmates calm as they entered the ‘showers’. I’ve heard the Nazis turned to using Zyklon B gas because shooting Jews had proved ‘bad for morale’ – they wanted a more ‘hands off’ way to kill people. It’s the calculated, industrialised nature of the gas chambers that’s so chilling. How one set of human beings can sit and plan how to wipe out another.
    Your story was so well written, so chilling, you had me close to tears. Well crafted story.


    • Dear Lynn,

      It’s unfathomable to me that anyone with a half a conscience could do what they did in the guise of ‘doing their job.’ But then, fear can do some terrible things to people. As for Zyklon B vs bullets, those Nazis certainly were analytical and efficient, weren’t they?
      Thank you re my story. This is one of those that came simply and easily. (And we all know it’s a subject that’s near and dear to my heart.)



      Liked by 1 person

      • There was an excellent film a few years ago called Conspiracy, a small, talky film starring Kenneth Branagh and Stanley Tucci about the Wannsee Conference, the Nazi party meeting held by Reinhard Heydrich in 1942 where the Final Solution was part organised. It’s the chilling banality that’s most striking – the meeting could be between any group of mangers and pen pushers in a large organisation, but the subject matter … I don’t know how closely it’s based on known facts – Heydrich made sure any records of the day were worded ambiguously, coached in known euphemisms rather than explicit wording – but the film makes it clear that these huge decisions that determined millions of lives and deaths was organised on an industrial scale, involving complex layers of bureaucracy. A well organised death machine. It’s on Amazon Prime if you’re interested – a hard watch but truly good.
        Your story puts the personal back into this horrific, large scale destruction and is all the more moving for ir


        • I might look that film up, Lynn. Although, I’ve seen many films and read so much…still much to be read. But what I don’t understand is how anyone can deny the Holocaust. The Nazis had set up such an organized and analytical death machine…even filmed their “accomplishments.” I don’t see how anyone could say that the Jews created a hoax. Really? And all those ugly tattoos. Such a conspiracy. Brilliant. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

          • I know, it’s extraordinary, perverse, sickening that anyone could be a Holocaust denier. As I say, the film is harrowing, chilling but gripping too. The great architect of it all – Heydrich – was assassinated not long after, which would be a comfort were it not for the horrific reprisals the Nazis meted out. All too heartbreaking to think of


  • ‘First you must learn how to smile as you kill, if you want to be like the folks on the hill.’ There’s a line from Dickens’ ‘Hard Times’, where he refers to The first Epistle of St. Peter, which states that your enemy the Devil goes about like a roaring lion, looking for whomsoever he may devour. DIckens then explains that Satan wouldn’t have so big a fan club if he’d always admit his true colors right away.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Such stories just rip at my soul, not because they were written, but because things like this truly happened. The further tragedy is how many Einsteins did they so casually snuff out? How much better could the world have been if those lives had continued on to bear fruit? This one really moved me. Thank you, Rochelle.

    Liked by 3 people

  • Dear Rochelle,

    I’m speechless. So brilliantly told. I still have writer’s block, so can’t think of anything further to add; your story said it all. It’s quite impossible to get inside the heads of those who would send children to their deaths like that, whether they were destined to be Einsteins or not.

    Sorry I didn’t have time to chat last night. I hadn’t heard for a few months from the particular person who’d messaged me, and I always worry about him living somewhere that’s a bit politically unstable (we won’t mention the country by name here!).

    All best wishes,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sarah,

      No need to apologize about time. I completely understand I would do the same in that situation. (Would and have. 😉 )

      How can anyone do what they did? So much potential…no matter what the child’s gifting. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, my friend. I hope your writer’s block crumbles soon.



      Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    Your knack for bringing a story to life just gave me a pain in my heart. Beautifully and tragically done. No, we must never forget. That such horrors happened to people of all ages. Lives snuffed out for nothing.

    Lotsa love,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dawn,

      I’m amazed at how many stories there are out there. Just when I think I’ve heard it all, another comes to my attention. Horribly tragic, but proof of the indomitable human spirit. Thank you



      Liked by 1 person

  • The smile and the lie that open this story are so convincing, which makes the result all the more chilling. It begs the question, how could they?, knowing full well what they we doing.
    You tell us so much – we can see the gas chambers, feel the child’s fear, and you provoke us to think. So well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    With a few short words you brought to the forefront the agony of a young life snuffed out by an evil borne of ignorance and hate. The mother in me feels the excruciating pain of her loss of control and watching her child die. I actually teared up as the little boy screamed his final words. This is fantastic and tragic all at the same time.

    Sincerely, Renee

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Jaya,

      I’ve never been to Germany, although I’ve often thought about going and touring the camps. At the same time I think it would be difficult. Thank you for your kind words.




  • Tragic, Rochelle and so well told. I believe these events (not stories) have to be told and remembered for two reasons. Firstly to honour those who died so cruelly and secondly because remembering is the only way it might not happen again.
    Thank you for writing and sharing. It can’t have been easy, but it is necessary.
    Hope you have a wonderful weekend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lucy,

      The stories tear me up, honestly. I visited the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem in 2006 with a group. There are things I saw that I can’t speak of without breaking down. At the same time, when inspired, these are stories I have to write. I guess my way of saying, “Never again!”
      Thank you for your kind and affirming comments.




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