The Tailor's Son

by James C. Wolf

The ash on his cigarette had grown to nearly two inches. He hadn't moved since he'd lit it. Klaus stared at the window, but saw only his reflection. Saw through his reflection. He saw his father, a tailor, serious and skilled. Klaus wondered when his father last cut a bolt of cloth. He saw himself, a fourteen year-old boy, pressing pants in his father's shop on the Spree River just outside Berlin. Klaus wondered how many lifetimes ago that had been.
Four hours had passed since a nurse had come to tell him about Eva. She was doing fine, the nurse had said, but Klaus fretted anyway. Eva was all he had. He remembered the time when their eyes first met, she was so scared. That was early spring. Was it his third or fourth spring in hell? Klaus wasn't sure. The devil passed by many times, but had not knocked. Until...


His father woke him early one morning and told him to pack a bag. Not too much, warm clothes, an extra pair of shoes, leave room for some dry food. Klaus had seen families from his synagogue disappear over the years until the synagogue was set ablaze. He wondered if this is what had happened to the families, that one day they woke up and packed. His mother looked at him, her face was set, a mask covering something he wasn’t sure of. He packed quickly, just the things his father had told him. He could hear his father outside. Klaus buckled his bag and grabbed a piece of hard bread from the kitchen and turned to the door. His mother stood there watching his every move. She grabbed him and hugged him hard. She released him and pressed an envelope into his hand. “Bewahre es sorgfaeltig auf “ Keep this safe, she said. “Und was ist mit Dir?” What about you, Klaus asked. She said they only had money for one… that they’ll sell their belongings and follow. Klaus had no words. He looked at the envelope and stuffed it into his pocket.

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