by the Wandering Author
Alex stood in the tiny cabin, staring at the spilled crumbs of what was once his grandmother's life. He'd always believed she died before his birth, but when he had to go through his mother's papers as she lay dying, he learned she lived until he was almost fourteen.
A frantic search through whatever records he could find revealed little else, but did lead him here. Grandma must have been deserted by everyone, not just her daughter. No one even bothered to wash up the last few dishes stacked in her sink.
A sad scent, the peculiar odor of an abandoned home, filled his nostrils as he sifted through the papers scattered across the floor. In his haste, some of them slipped from his fingers. He needed to understand the secret that haunted his family.
His eyes lit on a crumpled, worn photograph, of a girl with dark hair and a wry smile. Hours later, he found what he sought. A brittle document, with a picture of the same girl, pale and unsmiling, pasted above his grandmother's name, and a few particulars that revealed she'd been a prisoner at Dachau.
He crouched there, unmoving, for hours. So much made sense now, his grandmother's isolation, his mother's own strangeness, even her sardonic amusement and disgust at what he'd become. Still he crouched, until at last a single, hot tear dropped to the back of his hand, rolled across the swastika tattooed there, then was chased by another, and another....