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Vignette: And Never To Be Written

By Alex Wallace

On the Sea Lion Press Forums, we run a monthly Vignette Challenge. Contributors are invited to write short stories on a specific theme (changed monthly).

The theme for the 53nd contest was The Next Generation.


Hanna remembered how cold it was when her family left home. They had sold the car and most of their belongings; the rest they had hired help to bring it all to the train station. She gazed over the countryside as the train made its way to the final stop.

They’d be taking buses to Vati’s farm. He had been there for years, back only for a select few holidays, helping build their new home, their new community.

“It will be beautiful,” he said. “You will have so much land to roam about, so many animals to chase, so many flowers to smell.”

Hanna and her little brother Klaus were so excited.

. . .​

Hanna remembered being afraid, huddled in her mother’s arms, as the trucks and armored cars in their group formed a laager around them. She covered her ears with her hands as the gunfire raged.

Mutti cursed the partisans.

. . .​

Hanna remembered playing soldiers and partisans in the fields outside of her new town. The children of this town would go out and throw rocks at each other. They would build forts out of tree branches.

Once, Hanna had absconded with a shovel from her family’s barn to dig a trench in the field.

“Hanna,” said Vati, “don’t. You must never dig in that field.”

“But why?” asked Hanna.

Vati paused. “Because I said so.”

. . .​

Hanna remembered poking Klaus and their various friends with the swords that Vati had given them. He said that they were made of rocks.

Hanna couldn’t think of any rock this light, though.

. . .​

Hanna remembered ducking behind an abandoned, wrecked truck outside town, pretending to shoot at her friends. She was the partisan and her friends were the soldiers.

She saw a red star, in peeling paint, on the door.

. . .​

Hanna remembered asking, since the children of the town loved playing soldiers and partisans, where the actual soldiers and partisans were.

“The partisans all went east. You don’t have to worry about them.”

“And the soldiers?”

Vati just gestured to the iron cross he had on his nightstand.

. . .​

Hanna remembered being taught to make bratwurst in the community center. It was a big building that had been used for something during the war, but she didn’t know what.

She was sent by her teacher, Frau Becker, to the closet, to get some napkins to help clean up. She didn’t remember which door that was, but she didn’t want to humiliate herself.

She opened what she thought was the closet. Instead, she found a large room.

She walked in, and found that its walls were dotted with shower stalls.

She went back and asked Frau Becker what the showers were there for.

“Oh, it’s nothing. They were for soldiers during the war.”

. . .​

Hanna remembered all of that as the partisans held a gun to her head, screaming to her about the evil that her country had done in this land.

The children had been playing with their swords when the partisans came on their horses and their motorcycles. They were rounded up and marched to the town square.

Some of the adults were already corpses on the ground.

Vati and Mutti and many other adults were lined up with their hands in the air as the partisans aimed their guns at them.

All of the townsfolk were marched to the field where the children played.

Three partisans held several shovels. They were distributed to the children.

“Dig,” said one of them, pointing to the ground.

Hanna dug. Beneath only a few scoops of dirt, she found something white.

She knelt and picked it up. She screamed.

It was the skull of a child not much older than her.

“Just wait until you find out what those swords are made of!” yelled a partisan.

Another one pointed to Vati.

“He’s the one who did this.”

. . .​

The partisans marched everyone to the community center. They crowded as many people as they could in front of the shower room.

They grabbed Vati and shoved him into the room. Mutti screamed. They shoved her in there too.

Knowing what was best for them, Hanna and Klaus stayed quiet.

The partisans explained in great detail what that shower room was really for. Hanna couldn’t believe it.

Then she heard the sound of gas.

Then she heard her parents screaming.

Then she heard her parents choking.

Then she heard nothing.

When they opened the door, she knew the partisans were telling the truth.


Alex Wallace is the editor of the 'Alloamericana' Anthology


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