NOTE: I just thought that I'd write something short, instead of those stories that I usually write that end up with lots and lots of chapters (which I realise are never very long, sorry!). This is based on Life Is Beautiful, about how Giosué feels after he finds out what his father did for his mother and him. It might not be very good, but I would still like to read your reviews and see what you think!

This is all from Giosué's point of view.


After I learned the truth, I only talked about my life in the concentration camp once, at a dinner party on my twenty-fifth birthday. They were fascinated with my story, and they all said, "You were so lucky that you hated baths! That dislike for baths saved your life!"

I would just smile, and say nothing, but I knew that they were wrong. It wasn't my dislike for baths that saved my life; it was my father. If it hadn't been for him, I would have never made it through.

I hadn't known what had happened to Papa after the war was over. I had been too caught up with the excitement, thinking that I won my own tank. The American soldier was nice to me, allowing me to ride in the tank. I can't remember his name anymore, but I will never forget his friendly face, smiling as we rolled out of the camp.

And then I saw Mama.

She looked tired, but when she saw me, her face broke into this beautiful smile that I will never forget. I ran towards her, and we hugged for the longest time, both sides unwilling to let go. I had missed her so much, even her nagging. It had been cold and dirty in the bunkers, and I had always found myself wishing that Mama would be there to tidy up and decorate it with pretty flowers. I never told Papa about that, of course, or Papa might have cried. I knew Papa missed Mama too, but it wasn't until much later in life that I realised that being away from Mama wasn't the biggest problem on Papa's mind.

When we finally pulled apart, the American soldier asked us to climb up to the tank again, and so we rode together in the tank, Mama and I. I told her that this tank was mine, that I had won it, that Papa and I had won the game. She looked confused, and I was surprised that she knew nothing about the game. "Don't you know the game, Mama? Didn't anyone explain to you?" I asked. "All that was a game! We earned points and the first to get 1000 points would win a tank! Papa and I were the first! I'm the only child that they haven't found, and so we won."

A look came over Mama's face, a look that I misinterpreted at disappointment at not having won the tank. "Don't worry, Mama, I'll share this tank with you. And later we will find Papa and we can all share this tank. He was distracting a soldier last night so they wouldn't find me. We'll find him later, and tell him that we've won."

And Mama began to cry. I didn't understand why then, and so I just put my arms around her and hugged her tightly.

When we couldn't find Papa, I began to get afraid, but Mama smiled and told me, "Maybe he's still distracting the soldier. We'll find him later." When the American soldier let us off the tank, and drove away, I began to get a little angry. They were stealing my tank! "No, Giosué. They have to borrow the tank to go help others. That's a very important tank, and it needs to be taken care of. They'll give it back to you later when you are big enough to drive it," Mama said, hugging me to her tightly.

"What if they don't give it back?" I asked in a small voice.

"Don't worry, Giosué. Your papa will be there to take care of the tank."

I was just five then, and had no idea what I had just lost. Who I had just lost.

Mama and I stayed with her parents, living quietly. Mama continued to be a teacher as she had been before, and I went to school, learning to play with other children. They all had some story or other that they had heard from the adults about war, but I laughed at them, thinking that they had all been completely fooled by the people who didn't want them to win the game. I told them about the game smugly and how I owned a tank, and that my father was there to take care of the tank until I could drive it. My story fascinated them, and for a time I was happy. Whatever doubts I had, Mama brushed aside with the story of the game and the tank.

By the age of seven I began to think that there had been no game, but Mama insisted that I had won the tank, and that Papa was taking care of it.

She finally told me the truth when I was ten, after I had tactfully suggested that perhaps it was time to write to Papa and tell him that I was big enough to drive the tank. Mama started to cry then, and in her sorrow she told me the truth. She told me that the game had been a story that Papa had made up to keep me from being afraid, and that it had actually been a concentration camp where everyone was made to do very hard work and many people died. She told me about Uncle Eliseo, that he had died at the camp too. Finally she told me that Papa had been killed by the soldier he had been distracting on that last night.

I sat, stunned and speechless. There was just nothing to say for this horror. All thoughts of the tank flew out of my mind as I thought over what I had been through, when I was just a child of five. Suddenly I knew why Papa laughed so hard when I told him all the stories I had heard from the other children at the camp. He had been disguising his tears!

I lay awake that night, unable to fall asleep now that I knew the truth. Somehow it felt wrong, lying comfortably in this bed with Mama next to me, while Uncle Eliseo was gone forever, and Papa as well. Mama confessed that she did not even know where their bodies were.

I thought back on those times. Papa had always seemed to be so excited and happy, but now I knew that he must have felt so worried for all of us. He had probably never even thought about himself, only about Mama and I. He had spent the whole time at the camp telling me not to be afraid, inventing a game to keep me happy, to draw my mind away from the danger that was hanging over our heads. I thought about how selfish I had been, only thinking of my own discomfort.

I began to cry, unable to help myself. Papa must have been so tired, completely exhausted from a whole day of work, and he had even sacrificed his own food ration for me! He must have been so afraid for all of us, but he had to keep smiling, even in the face of death, just so that I wouldn't be afraid. He had done everything in his power to keep me from the horrors of war, and in that aspect he had succeeded: I had almost no bad memories of the war, having been too focused on "the game". He had done so much for us, and I had never known, never thanked him.

My Papa had saved my life in more ways than one, for more than one time. And I had never had the chance to give him a hug, to say thank you, to tell him that I loved him. I had never had the chance to say goodbye.