On this date in 1942, Anne Frank received a diary for her 13th birthday, a diary she named Kitty. Here’s a bit of flash fiction to mark the occasion…
by Renee Carter Hall
She stands in the echoing marble space, before the rows of candles. The wall behind the flickering cups reads Bergen-Belsen. Her dress is red and white plaid, her hair iron gray, her eyes black as ink when she turns. Something about her rustles, and she smells of old books, of a room locked for years.
She stares at the flames, her voice a dry whisper. “I loved her, you know. I loved her, and I could never tell her. She told me everything, and I could say nothing in return.”
The patterns across her papery skin are faded but still true, works inked in a young girl’s hand, dreams of a bigger world where no one has to hide.
She carries them all, and they are heavy.
“I wish… sometimes…”
She reaches toward a candle. A curl of smoke rises, the edges of her nails burned black. With a soft cry she draws back, and when the tears spill over, the writing on her cheeks blurs and fades.
Her voice trembles. “She had no idea. No idea what she made. All she wanted was someone to listen.” She longs for the thoughts that were never written, longs to have kept the secrets of a full life. She aches with blank pages.
In the time it takes to light a candle, to assemble a prayer, she is gone. Outside the museum, a flock of pigeons startles into flight, their gray wings beating like loose pages scattered to the wind.