Dead in the Russian Snow

When we first moved here, mother took the blue mirror cross that hung over her bed in our old house and mailed a nail for it in the new bedroom of me and my sister. We had to leave the center of town because mother started hosting the black American soldiers. The villagers kept harassing her, so she found an abandoned farm farther from town and closer to the military base. Ever since mother got the letter that father lay dead in the Russian snow, my school mates grew distant from me. Irmgard and Ulrike used to be my best friends, but now they say they can’t go pick cherries with me. They say mother is now a fallen woman. I am the oldest, and I help watch my younger sister, Yvi, while mother laughs all night long with the soldiers. I miss father, and mother says it’s alright to cry as much as I want. The soldiers give me chocolate bars to comfort me.

At school, the other children said they had no sugar and no flour and no chocolate. They ate cabbage. Just watery cabbage soup. They dreamt of cake and cookies and bread and butter.
“We have all that,” my sister told them proudly. “The black Americans bring lots of supplies to our mother.”
“That’s because your mother is a whore. Your father probably wasn’t even frozen in the Russian fields before she started being a nasty whore!”
“Shut up!” I shouted. “My mother’s not a whore! And we eat cakes made with a dozen eggs and honey and half kilo of butter every day! We still have meat! You wish your house smelled of Thueringen sausages!”
The school yard was silent.
“I’m sick of seeing your dirty rags and of listening to your empty stomachs.”
I grabbed Yvi’s hand and we marched home to the farmhouse full of food, laughter, and father’s handkerchief still rests under my pillow every night.

4 Responses to “Dead in the Russian Snow”
  1. Thank you for the comments! Actually, this is inspired by the story of my husband's family in Germany after his grandmother's first husband was killed in Russia in WWII and she had to fend for herself and six children. Now that these siblings are getting older, the memories and truths are starting to surface about the reality of their experiences.

  2. Alida says:

    Did I mention that I love it?

  3. Alida says:

    This is amazing, Stephanie! What a Russian world you created. Were you channelling??!!

  4. Wow. I love seeing this story in print. I like it that without getting into details, we know what is happening for the narrator and her sister, to the town. Again I love the line: "…and listening to your empty stomaches."I am amazed at what differing values this piece provokes. Thanks for posting it!

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