Nina read the words on the pale green card for the last time. Name: Nina Krenkel. Birthdate: 07-08-1924. Birthplace: Vienna. Hair: brown. Eyes: green. Race: JEW.
Then she opened the furnace door, and put it in. The flames flared and ate the words in long licks. It was a ghost-card of curled ash, the words still visible for a moment, slowly fluttering apart in the wind of the fire's burning. Nina watched, transfixed, as her name fell away into flakes on the glowing coals.
“Nina! You did it?”
She whirled to face her younger brother. “I promised. And you promised too.”
“But we never got the fake ones!”
“He said we had to do it anyway. We have to, Gustav. We have to do everything he says.” Her eyes burned. She stood, pulling herself up by her crutches. “You want to go up there and tell him we're not doing it? And let him die knowing that?”
“But Nina—Uncle Samuel—”
“Uncle Samuel is WRONG!” she shouted. “Did you hear what he said? He said crazy. Is he crazy, Gustav? Tell me.” She looked him in the eye. “Do you honestly think Father is crazy?”
Gustav looked at her, his brown eyes wide. “I—” He shut his mouth, and looked down at his shoes. Shoes that Father had made him. “No,” he whispered. “He's not crazy.”
“I know it's scary, Gustav. I'm scared too. But he knows.” Just look in his eyes. Did you ever wonder if dying people can see the future? It scares me, Gustav, it scares me so bad, what he looks like he knows. “He says we're safer if we go. He knows. So we're going.” She stood leaning on her crutches, looking at him; then she held out her hand. He looked back at her for a long time, put his hand in his pocket, and pulled out a pale green card. She took it, and bent again to the furnace door.
She pulled her hand back from the flames and looked up toward the voice.
"Nina. What have I told you about coming down here? And Gustav, too. You should be ashamed!"
Nina stared at the floor. "Sorry, Uncle Samuel."
"Doctor Samuel, if you please. Now come back up to your rooms."
"Where is Father?" Nina asked.
"If, by Father, you are referring to Johann, he has locked himself in the ladies room again. Now come on."
The old lady pushed herself up on her crutches and headed toward the steps. Gustav, bent-backed, shuffled along behind her, the tissue boxes on his feet scratching along the cold basement floor.
Opening: Heather Munn.....Continuation: anon.