In An Empty Alley

In An Empty Alley

A Story by Megan S.

Contest submission on another site.


My hands were shaking. I had to go away to save them all. How was my going away saving anyone? I felt my knees tremble at a sudden thought, about to give way.

I was all alone.

Dad had told me that he needed me to go to America, to go be with my uncle. He needed me to be safe, he said, until this was all over. I didn’t understand any of it- I was only eight- but he’d insisted it was for my own good.

He’d simply pointed at my patch, the Star of David emblazoned for everyone to see, and said, “This is only the beginning, Lea; it is going to get much, much worse.” Then he’d wrapped me in a hug and promised to follow me when he could. I asked him why not now. If it was safe for me, why was it not safe for him?

 “We have friends here, Lea, and I stay to make sure they are safe or away from here.” So here I was. Alone at eight years old, I was walking down a street with people who threw insults at me, and kids who openly shoved me when they got near enough- all because of the star, my patch, my being a Jew.

Now I understood what Dad meant. This was no place for a little Jew girl… or any Jews.

I was shoved again, causing me to fall and scrape my knee; I just stood up and started to run- up the street, into an alley, behind a house, and into another alley, until I suddenly ran smack dab into something.

Stupid Dad, stupid Mom, stupid brothers who think they know everything. All of them were going to regret ever making me mad! I was running away. That’d show them. I was nine now! Didn’t they realize I was practically a grown man? Ugh. I shouldn’t have to go to school.

Dad didn’t go to school, and neither did Bernie, but they all insisted that I had to. I wanted to be a German soldier, but of course they said no. No. No. No. That’s all they knew how to say.

I was huffing, air straining in my lungs, and I started to wonder if you actually had to run when running away. In all the books the kids walked, so maybe not, but just as I was about to stop… Bam! I stumbled back a couple steps and looked around, wondering what I could have run into. When I looked down, I finally noticed the little girl lying there in a heap.

I bent down, upset even more that I had to help a girl, because didn’t every boy know that they all had germs except Mommas and old ladies. I started to mumble an apology- until I actually looked at the arm I was holding. The yellow star glared out of me, and I let her hand go at once, sending her tumbling back into the dirt.

“Why you stinking Jew, watch where you’re going next time!” I sneered- grimacing for a moment. When had that happened? My best friend had been a Jew at one time. That was before all this happened, though, I reminded myself and started to walk away.

“I hate you.”

The voice was small, broken with tears, but I heard it. I turned around and saw her just sitting in the dirt- hands in her lap, her face turned downward.

“I hate you,” she said again, and then angrily, “I hate you so much! You’re the reason Papa sent me away, and you’re the reason that I’m all dirty, and you’re the reason that I’m sad, and you’re the reason that my friends can’t stay here, and you’re the reason that… that… that-” and then she just started to cry.

I stood there staring at her for a moment- surprised. No Jew had ever talked to me like that before. No little girl or little boy at all had ever talked to me like that before. And how on earth was I to blame for her dad sending her away or her friends couldn’t stay here?

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I never met you or your dad, and I bet I haven’t met any of your friends either! So how am I to blame?” This girl had no right to talk to me like that and accuse me of things I never did!

She looked up at me then, and I saw for the first time, but not the last, the face of something broken. She opened her mouth to speak.

“You’re a German,” she said.

“You’re a German,” I said. “You’re a German, and the German’s are the ones who did this to us.”

For the first time, I felt the complete and utter loss of my entire family. I felt so far away from Papa that we might as well have already been in different countries. Momma was dead. I grabbed the top of my star patch, ripped it off, and threw it at him, though it flittered to the ground a bit away from him lightly instead.

He just looked at me for a moment. “My name’s Alec. I’m running away,” he told me, and I looked at him lost. Why was he running away? German’s had everything. Nothing was wrong for them. “Mother and Papa are forcing me to go to school and I don’t like it.”

I just sat there, still staring at him blankly. “Where are you going?” he asked.

“To America.”

I looked at the small, broken girl in front of me. She was going to America. She was so little, so alone, and yet she was doing something so big- moving away from everything she knew.

“Well,” I said, “America’s too far away for me, and I’m starting to get hungry.” I reached down, took her arm, and helped her up- this time without dropping her back to the dirt. She was looking at me completely confused, but without commenting, I went back, picked up her patch, and handed it to her.

“If you don’t wear this, you’ll get in trouble. I hope you make it to America. Good luck.” I started to walk away, but she yelled to me.

When I turned, she asked, “Where are you going? I thought you were running away, and that’s the way you came, from!”

“Well,” I said again, “I figure if you can go to America all by yourself- even though you don’t want to, and even to you want to stay with your Papa… I figure I can go to school even though I don’t want to.” I turned again, and this time she didn’t call me back.

I held my Star of David close. I decided that just like all Jews weren’t the same, I guess all Germans weren’t either. Today one had given me something special… I didn’t know what it was, but when he’d called me brave, something had changed. We might not be friends, we might not even like each other, but we- in that moment- found that we were no longer enemies, but simple human beings.

© 2011 Megan S.

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Simply magnificent

Posted 9 Years Ago

Geeeze... Megan, this is incredible! And no reviews? You have a wonderful gift, and you are actually trying to use it, rather then just vent... or entertain. I'm awed, and will tell you, I think you will continue to mature into a truly gifted writer.

The back and forth narration was intriguing and made for a fascinating read. On a more mundane note; the BIG line breaks could, I think, be small, real minimal; maybe centered, with extra space above and below. It gives it too much of a cramped feel.

Posted 9 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on June 17, 2011
Last Updated on June 17, 2011


Megan S.
Megan S.


I'm a simple teenage girl from podunk Arkansas trying to get by in the world of high school. I started writing as soon as I could, and I've never quit. Over the years, what writing means to me has cha.. more..

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