The man stared at the splintered wood scattered across the floor.  Everything was broken into tiny pieces.  He looked to his left.  There was a gaping hole where the front window used to be.  Now, bits of shattered glass were the only reminders of what had been there for so many years.

                He thought of how he used to look out into the street and see the neighbors every day.  They would be outside in their garden when it was springtime, or enjoying the sun when it was too hot to stay inside a stuffy house.  He remembered children playing when snow littered the ground.  He saw children raking leaves in the short days of autumn.

                But that was gone now.

                The man wandered over to the other wall, over to where the pictures had been.  He reached out with one bony finger and touched the empty place on the wall.  It was the only thing he wanted to remember.  The only thing he needed to remember.

                And it wasn’t there anymore.

                The picture was gone, along with all of his family’s antiques, jewelry, and valuables.  The only things left were in ruin.  Lamps were overturned, and mutilated books littered the floor.  All of his family pictures had been ripped away from the wall, and smashed violently to the floor.

                He looked down as his sneakered feet crunched over something.  He was walking on broken glass.  But there was something under the shards.  The man stepped back and stooped down.  There, beneath the glass was the picture, lying dead and abandoned like a corpse.  He carefully picked up the faded photograph.  Three people were there.  On the left was a woman.  She was neither young nor old.  Her smile seemed to fill up the whole scene.  She wore a simple blue dress, and her dark, curly hair was pulled into a bun at the top of her head.  Her blue eyes were alight with a happiness that she would not feel again.

                “Jill,” he whispered.

                The man looked away.  There was another girl in the picture, too.  She was about ten years old, with long, brown pigtails and pink, blushing cheeks.  The girl was smiling too, only it was a shy smile.  She was holding onto her mother’s other hand.

                The man tore his eyes away from her and this time looked at the person on the right.  It was a man with dark hair and brown eyes.  He was smiling too.  But not as much as his wife.  The man’s arm was around her shoulders and she was laughing.  She was clutching his sleeve, as if he could protect her from the camera’s flash.  But there was nothing he could protect her from anymore.

                The man in the picture wore a brown coat.  The same coat was now strewn across one of the ripped sofas in the parlor.  The man looked toward it, but didn’t pick it up.  He didn’t have the strength.

                He stood up with the photograph still in his hand.  He slid it into his pocket to keep it safe.  The other pictures were still buried in glass but this one was his favorite.

                The man slowly walked into what had been the side kitchen.  A smashed milk carton lay on one side of the room, with a few drops of milk spilling out.  The faint smell of old milk stayed within the room.  It didn’t travel to the other parts of the house.  All of the chairs were overturned and the table was actually lying in a heap at the center of the room, mangled and broken.  His home was in ruin and they would be back soon. They always noticed everything.  Even the extra person in all of the pictures.

                They would be back for him.

                He left the destroyed kitchen and grabbed his brown coat off of the ruined sofa.  He then wandered to the hole where the front window used to be.  The man’s feet crunched over the noisy glass as he walked.  He shivered against the cold wind that the hole let in.

                In the distance, the man saw people.  But they were not worried or fearful.  They were not hiding.  They were not running or crying, and so the man knew who they were.

                He sat cross legged on the floor where he still had a good view of the intruders.  He eased the brown coat over his shoulders just as he saw the red and black symbol of a swastika on the soldier’s jackets.

                He took the picture out of his pocket and waited.

 Jennifer Christensen For Beyond Sanity Publishing


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