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After the War, Before the War

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From one camp to another, that's liberation. In this camp Erik still has a number, but he's not tortured. There are no crematoria. He's called a displaced person, not a filthy Jew.

At first, memories half drown him. His mother. His father, who Erik learns was gassed the first day. Then they subside, and even his dreams are rare.

He doesn't make friends. When he came here he was hungry, but not skeletal. He has all his teeth and he's taller than other boys his age. So rumours went round. They think he was a sonderkommando or a kapo in a special section. Some kind of collaborator, anyway.

Perhaps they're right.

They talk about Israel, his fellow Jews. Their state, their home, where they will be safe. Where they will be one people again, united.

Erik has decided that he will not go. He's not one of them, not entirely. He's a new creature, and the new are persecuted as monsters or worshipped as gods. Schmidt's words, but yet not wrong. There's no home for Erik. Anyway, he has work to do, once he's strong enough to do it.

On ration tins of condensed milk, Erik sees the words Product Of Ireland. A small island, far from Germany and Poland, and far from Palestine too. He likes islands. He likes the thought of a place with so much milk that people give it away.

Perhaps he'll go there. Not to eat and breed and grow old peaceably like a beast spared from the slaughterhouse; just until he's a man. A boy could kill Schmidt, but it'll take a man to find him. Someone who can travel, negotiate, manipulate, threaten, and bribe.

When he's a grown monster, a young god, he can avenge his mother. Who was human, and is dead.