Iowa Writes

KELSEY BERRYMAN
Excerpt from "Hanusha"


     Back from picking blue berries in the woods, the girl walked in the door of her house, and started to speak: "Mama, I..." but then she saw her house in disarray. All of her siblings were running around. Casha was throwing squash to the other sister who was gathering them in apron. Her oldest brother was lugging out the table. Her heavily pregnant mother was leaning on the sofa bed while trying to carry several quilts. "What is happening?" the girl asked perplexed.
     "Don't talk... Help Papa round up the sheep, we have to leave."
     "Why?"
     "I'll tell you later... Now, go!" and she pushed her out.
     This girl started to let the sheep out of the pen when she saw her neighbors climbing into their wagon; "Del, where are you going?" she called desperately to the boy who was her age. The boy who she knew that she would one day be matched to for marriage.
     He knew this also and reminded her of this constantly. But that day, he only stayed up in the wagon and called down to her, "Hanusha, we are fleeing."
     "From what?"
     "The Nazis are coming!" and she stood there open mouthed as his wagon departed.
     Her father ran over and started to hitch up the horses, "Hanusha, stop standing there... Your sisters are already in the wagon."
     "But Papa—"
     "Now!" She shook herself at his unusual sharp tone and climbed in next to her younger sister, "Casha, what is going on?"
     "I don't know... This month has been so long... Germany invaded, Papa went to war, Russia crossed the border, Papa came back, I do not know."

     Back from picking blue berries in the woods, the girl walked in the door of her house, and started to speak: "Mama, I..." but then she saw her house in disarray. All of her siblings were running around. Casha was throwing squash to the other sister who was gathering them in apron. Her oldest brother was lugging out the table. Her heavily pregnant mother was leaning on the sofa bed while trying to carry several quilts. "What is happening?" the girl asked perplexed.
     "Don't talk... Help Papa round up the sheep, we have to leave."
     "Why?"
     "I'll tell you later... Now, go!" and she pushed her out.
     This girl started to let the sheep out of the pen when she saw her neighbors climbing into their wagon; "Del, where are you going?" she called desperately to the boy who was her age. The boy who she knew that she would one day be matched to for marriage.
     He knew this also and reminded her of this constantly. But that day, he only stayed up in the wagon and called down to her, "Hanusha, we are fleeing."
     "From what?"
     "The Nazis are coming!" and she stood there open mouthed as his wagon departed.
     Her father ran over and started to hitch up the horses, "Hanusha, stop standing there... Your sisters are already in the wagon."
     "But Papa—"
     "Now!" She shook herself at his unusual sharp tone and climbed in next to her younger sister, "Casha, what is going on?"
     "I don't know... This month has been so long... Germany invaded, Papa went to war, Russia crossed the border, Papa came back, I do not know."
     "Hush," the mother answered tensely. "Be quiet, as Papa drives..." All around them was the same pandemonium, so many wagons vied for room, so many horses strained to run a little faster at the behest of their master's whips. All behind this chaos the sheep and goats trailed, acting more as a buffer than anything else.
     This girl did not know what to do as her Papa nervously flicking the reigns, her Mama tensely sitting there clutching her swollen baby. Her eyes scanned past her two older brothers, barely old enough to be drafted, to her younger sister clutching her potato doll, she saw the loaves of precious bread stacked upon the simple rag quilts and heard a chicken scratch. Next to her was her other sister Casha quietly sobbing into her sleeve. This girl turned her head to her other side and saw her poor younger brother. He was resting his bad leg, crippled from polio. This girl sighed a long exhale and saw the rosary lying forgotten on an apple. She scrambled for it earning a glare from her mother but got on her knees and started to pray silently.
     Just as this girl was silently whispering, "Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners," the rest of the prayer was cut off by a bigger sound. The sound of rumbling. Thunder. But this was not normal thunder it just kept getting closer and louder.
     Until it stopped. The heads of the girl and her sister popped up in unison. The mother hobbled back in the wagon and gave her children a stern look as she grabbed one of their precious loaves of brown bread and walked out with her back straight and proud.
     The girl cocked her and heard a rough accented voice speak to her mother then get harsh. She heard the sound of her mother being pushed and hit the ground and the moan of pain. The girl began to mentally pray as she saw a green uniform walk in the wagon.
     Inside the green uniform was a boy, not much older than her brothers, he had cream blonde hair just like her sister and was pointing a sharp gun at them with his face screwed up in distaste. His clear blue eyes darted around the wagon and then he made a movement with his gun.
     The girl just finished saying in her head, "And forgive us our trespasses," when he harshly called, "You three, the oldest come with me." And she and her brothers carefully climbed out of the wagon.
     "Faster!" The soldier yelled at her and pushed her with his gun. "Get into the jeep with all the other Rats!" he moved her towards a vehicle she had never seen and she let out the last part of her prayer, "Deliver us from Evil," and climbed into the jeep.
     That girl is my grandmother and this is her story of how, when she was younger than me, she was taken to Dachau.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


KELSEY BERRYMAN

Kelsey Berryman grew up in a Southern California beach town where reading has always been one of her great pleasures. What she drew from her readings was a rich breathe of characters living in worlds far from her own environment. Upon reaching adolescence, Kelsey realized she too could create fascinating characters involved in interesting stories and she began writing herself.

This page was first displayed
on March 23, 2011

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