Peter sat in his pen, bored and lonely. He hadn’t seen his Papa in a few days. “Don’t worry, little one,” Papa had told Peter. “Soon we’ll be safe. I just have to buy the right papers.”
But now Peter wondered where his Momma was. When she had put Peter in the pen and told him to take a nap, her face looked pinched. After she kissed him, she left quickly, forgetting to place Horsey in the pen with him. Peter put his thumb in his mouth, but he couldn’t get comfortable without Horsey.
Peter heard a voice. Was it Momma? He pulled himself up and stood holding the rail of his pen. No, these were loud, commanding German voices. The voices came closer; German soldiers entered the room with Momma’s friend, Charlotte.
“No, you are mistaken. This is my house, and my little boy.” She picked Peter up. “Here are his papers. See, he’s named Elbert, after my dear, late husband.”
“Those nasty Jews do not live here anymore,” she said with a shudder of disdain.
The soldiers left.
Charlotte held Peter tightly. As tears rolled down her cheeks, she said, “Your Momma is gone. Now you must call me Momma. Thank goodness your father left these papers here before those German pigs picked him up.”
This story is in response to Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge. This week’s challenge uses the painting above as a prompt. The artist, Else Berg and her husband, Mommie Schwarz were both Jewish artists living in the Netherlands when WWII broke out. They refused to wear yellow stars. They either did not go into hiding or they were betrayed (the accounts vary). In either case, they were picked up in November 1942 and murdered at Auschwitz.