The boy in the stripped Pyjamas.


We were all cramped up in the hut, I was barely able to breathe, but none of us were allowed to leave. Papa and Josef were both squished up against me, along with a lot of other boys, fathers and grandfathers. There were no windows in our hut and everything smelt really bad, the door was shut so no air was able to flow through the room.

I shut my eyes and imagined life over the fence. The ability to roam freely, and wear different clothes that get washed all the time.

In that instant a flash of fresh air clouded the room, sighs of relief was heard throughout it. I opened my eyes and saw a soldier standing in the door. He pointed his finger at me.

"You come here!" her yelled.

What did I do I thought. Everyone just looked at me and Papa gave me a sorrowful look.

When I reached the door the soldier lifted his hand, I flinched back, afraid that he was going to hit me, but he motioned for me to go to the truck that was parked outside.

I slowly walked out to the truck.

"Too slow," was all I heard before I felt a hard hand hit my head, forcing me to fall over. I was scrambling to me feet but the soldier grabbed my shirt and lifted me to the truck.

The drive was dark, and I wasn't sure at all where I was going. The door quickly opened when we stopped. The soldier came back around and grabbed me again. Dragging me to this huge house.

We stopped at the front.

"There is a job for you to do inside here."

I followed the soldier inside to the kitchen and he turned to look at me.

"We need someone to polish these glasses, someone with tiny hands." He pointed to my hands and then to the glasses.

I nodded and he handed me some paper napkins. I picked up the first glass and he started walking away, then he turned and said, "If you move from that seat there's going to be trouble." Then the soldier walked away.

A little while later after polishing some more glasses, I could hear footsteps from outside the kitchen. I was afraid it was the soldier coming to tell me I haven't done this right.

The footsteps stopped but I didn't look up from the glass.

"Shmuel!" Someone said. "What are you doing here?"

I looked up and smiled as I saw my friend Bruno, standing there.

"Bruno!" I said. I was so happy but confused, what's Bruno doing here?

"What are you doing here?" repeated Bruno.

"He brought me," I said to Bruno. I pointed out the door, even though he wasn't standing there, I knew he was in the next room.

"He?" Bruno asked. "You don't mean Lieutenant Kotler?"

I didn't know the soldier's name, but I guessed we were talking of the same one.

"Yes. He said there was a job for me to do here."

Bruno looked down seeing all the glasses.

"What on earth are you doing?" asked Bruno.

"They asked me to polish the glasses," I told him. "They said they needed someone with tiny fingers."

I lifted my hand to Bruno to show him and Bruno just starred at it.

"I never noticed before" Bruno said.

I was a little confused, it was just my hand.

"Never noticed what?" I asked him.

Bruno held out his own hand to mine, so that they almost touched.

"Our hands," he said, "They're so different. Look!"

I looked down and saw a big difference. My hands were just bone compared to Bruno's.

"How did it get like that?" Bruno asked.

"I don't know," I said. "It used to look more like yours, but I didn't notice it changing. Everyone on my side of the fence looks like this now."

It was true everyone on my side of the fence used to be different, but now I'm thinking of it, we all look a little like just bones and skin.

"I'm very glad you're here," Bruno said speaking with his mouth full of chicken that he had just cut.

The chicken looked so good; it had been so long since I had had chicken.

"If only you didn't have to polish these glasses, I could show you my room," Bruno finished.

"He told me not to move from this seat or there'd be trouble," I told Bruno.

"I wouldn't mind him," he said. "This isn't his house, its mine, and when fathers away I'm in charge. Can you believe he's never even read Treasure Island?"

I wasn't really listening to Bruno, all I could see was the pieces of chicken that Bruno was eating.

"I'm sorry Shmuel," Bruno said, "I should have given you some chicken too. Are you hungry?"

Of coarse I was hungry I thought.

"That's a question you never have to ask me," I said sarcastically.

"Wait there, I'll cut some off for you," said Bruno.

"No, if he comes back-," I said, looking back and forth form the door. I was so afraid of the soldier coming back.

"If who comes back? You don't mean Lieutenant Kotler?" Bruno said.

"I'm just supposed to be cleaning the glasses," I said looking at the slices of chicken.

"He's not going to mind," said Bruno. "Its only food."

"I can't," I told him, shaking my head. "He'll come back, I know he will, I should have eaten them when you offered them, now it's too late, if I take them he'll come in and-."

"Shmuel! Here!" yelled Bruno, giving me the chicken, "Just eat them."

I starred at the food and looked at Bruno, I was so grateful for everything Bruno had done.

I shoved the chicken in my mouth and finished it only a few seconds later.

"Well you don't have to eat them so quickly," said Bruno, "you'll make yourself sick."

"I don't care" I told him, smiling at him. "Thank-you Bruno."

And at that moment the soldier Bruno called Lieutenant Kotler appeared in the kitchen. Bruno starred at him, but I quickly reached for another glass and began to polish it.

"What are you doing?" Lieutenant Kotler yelled, "Didn't I tell you to polish those glasses?"

I nodded at him and picked up another napkin.

"Who told you that you were allowed to talk in this house?" lieutenant Kotler asked, "Do you dare to disobey me?"

I almost dropped the glass I held when I replied. "no sir, I'm sorry sir."

"Have you been eating?"

I shook my head, what would he do to me? I knew I shouldn't have taken the food.

"You have been eating; did you steal something from that fridge?"

I opened my mouth to say no but I couldn't find the words. I looked at Bruno for help but he just stood there.

"Answer me!" shouted Lieutenant Kotler. "Did you steal something from that fridge?!"

Tears were welling up in my eyes, "no sir. He gave it to me," I said looked at Bruno. "He's my friend."

Lieutenant Kotler looked at Bruno, "Your…?" He hesitated. "What do you mean he's your friend?" Do you know this boy Bruno?"

Bruno's mouth opened but he didn't say a word.

"Do you know this boy?" repeated Lieutenant Kotler.

"I…he was here when I came in," said Bruno, "He was cleaning glasses."

The soldier looked as though he was just getting angry.

"That's not what I asked you. Have you seen him before?"

I wondered what Bruno would say, would he lie, say he didn't know me.

"Tell me Bruno!"

"I've never spoken to him; I've never seen him before in my life."

Lieutenant Kotler nodded. But I was stunned. Why did Bruno lie about me?

I just looked at the floor.

Why does this have to happen to me?

What's going to happen now?