It’s white outside. The sparkling snow reflects the sunlight into the lens of my Leica M6. I look through it, observing the frost on the ground and the icicles on the branches, seeking out their imperfections. I can’t find any. It’s impossible for nature to be imperfect, especially at a time like this. As I focus on a giant pile of leaves adjacent to two trees, it peaks my suspicion. Leaves don’t accumulate like that; someone must’ve touched it. I snap a quick shot of the scene and then slowly tread towards the assemblage of leaves. My calves tense up and my breathing becomes irregular as I remove them from the pile. I gather the last couple of leaves, but then a sharp sting fills the knuckle of my index finger. Blood starts to flow down my hand, and then I realize I scratched myself on a rough wooden surface on the ground; it’s a door. I gently place my ear on it and knock a couple of times to hear the reverberation on the inside; no further reaction. The door handle is missing, so I grab a frozen, medium-length stick and place it between the cracks. I push the stick down to lift the door, but the weak thing snaps. I need something stronger. I grab a branch, jab it between the cracks and begin putting all my weight on it. The door gradually lifts and then plummets. I take out a box of matches from my bag, and then let myself slide into the bunker. I scratch the head of the match on the wall, and the flame springs to life. As I get used to the dim surroundings, I start seeing objects: a wooden rocking chair; a bed with a stained mattress; and small dining table in the middle.
“Please. Please, don’t hurt me,” a timid voice requests. I turn around and see a meagre figure crouched in the corner behind the bed. I lean in with my match, and start seeing his face; it’s a boy. “Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you,” I say. “Come out and show yourself.” He stands up, revealing his bruised rib cage and bloody legs. “How did you find me?” He asked furtively. “You weren’t hard to find. Tell me your name.” “Why? What are you going to do with me?” I seat myself in the rocking chair across from him and say, “I don’t mean you any harm. My name is Mark. I’m fourteen years old, and I live right next to the forest. Now it’s your turn.” Hesitantly he says, “My name is Eran. I’m twelve, and I ran away yesterday. So for now, I live here, in the forest.” “What happened to you?” “I’m Jewish.” His response startled me. “Why did you run away?” “Because I have no where else to go.” “Where are your parents?” “Dead.” “How?” “Shot. No hesitation.” His long, brown hair falls in front of his eyes and he speaks laconically, trying to conceal his emotions, but the fear and hatred in his voice is obvious. “Where are your parents?” “My dad is at home.” “Your mom?” I shake my head. “She’s no more.” “How?” “Breast cancer.” His stare turns to the floor. “I’m sorry.” I don’t reply. “Do you believe in God?” He then asks me. “No.” I said without doubt. “Why not?” “If God existed, there would be no war.”
I have sinned. I have committed murder. Murder is a sin, but killing is a righteous act.
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