Erik crouched under the table. Around him, he saw the work boots of those prisoners lucky enough to have them. Others, too many others, wore no shoes and Erik’s stomach clenched as he noticed open sores on bare feet.
“On all other nights we need not dip our herbs even once; why on this night must we dip them twice?” The voice of one of the elders rang firm in the quiet, even though all gathered were doing their best to not draw attention or notice to themselves. A gathering such as this would be punished harshly and the fact that so many were present proved that the spirit of the Jewish people was still intact – at least somewhat.
Drawing his knees to his chest, Erik rocked back and forth, plagued by visions of death and despair. If his memories could be trusted – and he knew too well that they could not – this was his second Purim at the mercy of the Nazis.
A voice rose to answer the elder’s question, “To remind us of the mortar and tears that our ancestors used to build Pharoh’s city.”
Erik closed his eyes. As young as he was, it hurt his heart that there were younger children here. None too young, though – the Nazi’s had little use for the very young ones. The thought blocked Erik’s ears and he reached up to rub them, automatically rubbing his head, which ached, always ached, from his attempts to use his powers as his keepers bid.
Where was God’s mercy now? Erik wondered. Where was Esther? Where was Mordecai?
A loud noise outside stilled the room as if by magic and those gathered held their breaths. After a long moment, the elder waved people towards the door. “Go now,” she whispered. “Go and keep the faith. We are God’s chosen people, He will not forsake us.”
Too late. Erik thought bitterly. Too late.