In the morning the ceiling is patterned with leaves. There is an oak
tree outside the window that rustles like fresh linen. Steady now,
would say, as she cut the material in a straight line. Hold it tight. If I
relax the sheet will crinkle.
There are boots moving in the kitchen. They are Mr Rosenheim’s
boots. It is okay. I could always tell when
returned by the sound
of his boots.
Thud, thunk. Thud, thunk
. Mr Rosenheim’s boots are
lighter, and in the morning he drags his feet.
upright, back straight, head high, arms at his side. If he met other
men in uniform he would raise a hand to his brow.
Guten tag! Seig heil.
The floorboards are cold and my breath mists before me. Outside
the dog barks,
, just once, but I ignore him. Winter is coming.
said I would be safe here with the Rosenheims.
join me once she’s settled the shop. It’s been ten days but I’ve heard
I take the pail from the barn. This is what is expected of me. I
must milk the cow and sweep the floors. The grass is wet with dew
and the breeze smells sweet.
could tell where fabrics came from
just by their smell. Here, she’d say, holding it up to my nose. I breathe
in. There is dust and musk and soap.
, the dog barks. A mangy brown thing all covered in last
night’s dew, not like the sleek Alsatians
fellow men in uniform
. Go to the roof. The attic, quick! Steady now,
The ladder is old and wooden and a splinter drives into my finger. In
the attic it is cool and dark and cramped. There are boots moving
. I do not know these boots. These boots
have steel toes.
There are shouts and screams and bangs, and then another.
holds me tight for many hours. She smells of soap and cotton and
orange peel. I look up at her but the small window has shadowed her
face, so all I can see is the glint of her eyes. There are more shouts
and glass shatters and now I can smell burning wood. The boots race
back out into the streets,
, but we do not move. Only later
press her face to the small window. I stand behind her,
peering out. The streets are littered with shards of broken glass,
glinting like crystals in the dark. I think it is beautiful but
started to cry.
I find the cow in the paddock and she murmurs a greeting. Her
teats are full and warm in my palms. It does not take long to fill the
Seig Heil 2