Went to a writer's group meeting yesterday. First time I've gone to this group's meetings. Different from other groups I've participated in - this one was a series of prompts and exercises. I was in a bit of a mood going in - Father's Day weekend for a recent widow is no laugh matter; several social/annoying things happened at Shabbat service in the morning, and one of our service leaders made a "somebody really should" statement of the writing variety and once I hear someone say "someone really should" I usually can't unsee the idea until I've had a try at it. We did a word association map for one exercise, then wrote something based on part or all of the word map. I picked a section of the map that had some references to knives and fancy dress balls to write from. I'm pretty proud of what I wrote in 15 minutes but it's pretty clear that I was in a "mood."
The night of the long knives came and went as a plague on the first born of the land. Men perfectly healthy went to bed only to be jerked from sleep with knives against their throats. Here were the leaders of men, thrust against walls at the point of a stiletto, there the young men only following their orders, and over there again the family men who didn't exactly plan to pursue this path but perfectly content where they'd found themselves. At the end of a blade, deep in the depression years, taking their payslips home at the end of the week feeling they'd done a good job, and a little extra for mother in the kitchen. The years of children, church, and kitchen. The good women. Most of them not owning a fancy pair of shoes or a party dress, for who had time? The children needed their mothers at home, the men away at work.
The children of course, were not silent. Soldiers burst into their homes, dragged their fathers out of bed. Mothers clutching their husbands, children wailing for their papas. The ones who understood left quietly, reassuring the children on their way out - it's a special exercise, I couldn't know about it beforehand, otherwise I would have told you. Hush child, I'll be home in a few days. They knew they'd be lucky to make it to the end of the block, of course, but let the children hope for a little bit longer, before all hope fell away and their eyes opened to the hatred their own fathers had taken part in.
Others didn't understand, resisted and fought against the soldiers who came into their homes. They'd believed in the banners and flags, they'd stood and cheered, they'd enjoyed seeing fear cross the faces of those who understood. Now they themselves fought back in fear. Fear of losing their lives for who could possibly know what comes next? Wagner wrote of Valhalla, their wives faithfully attended church; surely there was something to greet them when the heart stopped quivering, trying to pump blood flowing onto floors, and truck beds, and sidewalks.