I Remember The Children That Used To Live In Our Basement

My parents died when I was 8 years old in a horrible house fire. I don’t remember much from the day it happened other than my father pushing me out through my bedroom window in a flurry, and my face meeting the soft grass in some shocking way that felt so much like a nightmare.

I remember him quickly fumbling around and saying, “I’m going back in for your mother, just stay out here” and the way I sat there as firefighters and a police officer gathered around me moments later, but never my parents. They didn’t return out of the fire. Sometime after the horrid mess was extinguished, they said they found the bodies and I crumbled to the ground in a heap of a child who lost everything.

My grandfather was formerly a German in WWII who never spoke of his past, only that he was a guard at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp and he started when he was seventeen years old. My father had once used the word “conscripted” in his explanation of this occurrence, and that my grandfather hadn’t chosen to be there, which was understandable, but I didn’t come to truly understand until I was much older. I had been told prior that “my grandfather was a good guy, he just got thrown into some bad things when he was over there in Germany.” After the war, he had fled to America and resided there for years to come in Eastern Pennsylvania.

At 8 years old, I was welcomed into the home of a very old man with back problems and a tone that could scare any child if he were to raise it. I missed my parents awfully and the time he gave me to recover and grieve was virtually nonexistent, as I found that, unlike my Grandfather, I was an emotional torrent who just wanted Mommy and Daddy back in my arms.

My Grandfather proclaimed that I would be homeschooled from now on and I helped out around the neighboring farms owned by people who were very close to himself, and I couldn’t say that I ever got used to all the labor he forced me into. But even though he was a bit of a tough cookie, he had a caring side as well when he would tuck me into bed each night, kiss my forehead and say, “Isaac, you will grow up to be a soldier in your own skin. You’re a brave young man.”

About the author

Maggie Louise is a horror author/cartoon illustrator from small-town Pennsylvania who mostly focuses on short ...

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