Mary resting on the couch, crippled by the illness that was consuming her, moaning in discomfort and despair. She looked unrecognisable, her once rosy cheeks and round, oval face was now gaunt and skull-like with dry, sallow skin. A combination of hunger, lack of warmth and the sickness she was plagued by had left her frail and underweight. Perspiration formed on her forehead, tears filled her bloodshot eyes and her skinny body trembled in agony. "May the Lord have mercy, take me now" she sobbed hysterically, tears cascading down her face, yearning desperately to be free from the pain that tormented her. Mary admitted tearfully she no longer had the strength to keep fighting, the inevitable end was near and she would gladly welcome it. In death, she would find freedom from the chaos of war, the constant aching hunger and the daily fight for survival.
My mother, Helena, stood beside her, gently wiping away the sweat from Mary's face, her hands trembling anxiously with each soft wipe. "I want to go home" pleaded Mary, "I don't want to die here" she whimpered helplessly, her eyes darting around the room as if searching for an escape route. We were living in an old, weather beaten cottage, with crumbling rock walls and a dirt path scraped into the soil, which led to the rotten wooden front door. It was our safe haven, hidden in the center of a forest, surrounded by grand, old trees, the cottage was isolated from the chaos of the war that was ravaging the cities around us. We had no choice but to hide, Mary knew we couldn't return to our real home, our family was being hunted. Our entire clan was being persecuted, not because we'd been discovered as witches, but because our father was Jewish.
I stood in the doorway of the living room, gnawing anxiously at my fingernails, dreading the moment I lost my elder sister. In a brief moment, all the happy memories we shared flooded my thoughts, a smile formed on my lips, then I realised we wouldn't be making any more together and I felt a sudden throbbing ache in my heart. "Johanna" Mary softly muttered, reaching out her hand to me, "come here". Rushing to her, I softly took her hand in mine, "what is it?" I asked in a whisper, a lone tear rolling down my cheek. She opened her mouth to speak, then tightly gripped my hand, her eyes widened with shock and for a moment she was motionless. I shot a look of concern at Mother, she was looking at Mary with an intense gaze, "she's having a premonition" she explained.
Mary released me from her grip, she was breathless and frantic, looking up from the couch at Mother, she insisted firmly "you all need to go. Get out of here, all of you". I witnessed Mother's face fall slack and drain of color, she began pacing the room, shaking her head in disbelief. "What did you see? What did you see?" She questioned
"They're coming, they know we are here" explained Mary, "Mother, you, Johanna and Gunther, need to go"
"No" spat Mother, "I'm not leaving you"
"I'm already dead" Mary screamed furiously, tears cascading down her cheeks, before she looked at me and snapped "get Gunther!". I stood paralysed by fear, biting down hard on my lip with dreaded anticipation of what was too come, assuming the worse, acknowledging the possibility that I could soon be dead. "I...I..I don't know where he is" I stammered nervously, unsure what to do next, wondering if we'd lost Gunther like we'd lost Father.
"Mother, I seen them come, I seen them kill us all" wailed Mary, "do you want to witness the death of your daughters?". Mother sat beside Mary, embracing her lovingly in her arms, she ran her fingers through her eldest child's hair and mumbled "I can't leave you, I won't"
"I don't know how long you have, please just go" begged Mary, her eyes glittering from her fallen tears.
Chapter 1 finished.
Author's note: Hope you enjoyed this chapter, I know it was short, but I just wanted a brief introduction to the story for the first chapter. Please leave a review and let me know what you think.