TITLE: ROOTS SO STRONG
GENRE: Historical Fiction
Emil was dreaming of his wife’s hair the morning the prison camp went silent.
A shout woke him. He rolled over and grabbed at the last wisps of his dream as it drifted away. The way she shook her hair loose at bedtime. The way it always smelled like sunshine, even in the dark of night. A minute longer in his dreams with Ileana’s hair and he could cope with another day in this piss-hole.
Then another shout, this time outside the hut.
Heart pounding, he leapt out of bed, kicking the tangle of blanket aside. He ran through the now-empty hut without stopping to pull on his shoes. He’d only been late for roll call once; the backs of his legs still carried the marks of that mistake.
The prisoners weren’t lining up. Instead they clustered in knots just outside of each hut, madly whispering.
Over the heads of the other prisoners, Emil saw nothing. No sleepy-eyed soldiers shuffling through the mud. No one bellowing for roll call. No guards at the gate. Nothing apart from the whispers of the prisoners. The Germans had vanished.
“It’s a trick,” a man muttered.
“You’re suspicious of everything.”
“Why should we trust them?” the first voice insisted. “A trick!”
“Non, c'est bon chance!” someone exclaimed, a shade too loud. The shocked silence exploded into frenzied babble.
“What does he mean?”
“An opportunity? We’re prisoners.”
“But where’d they go?”
“They’ve gone back to their Kaiser.”
“S*** on their Kaiser!”