It was just before winter and people had an uneasy feeling about what would be coming at them. Winter was never easy and even more so in war. Little children were playing on the empty streets as I looked out of my window. Oh, how I longed to play with them, but I had to stay inside and save calories. Eventhough had some bread-cards left, nobody knew whether we would get our portion of food and it was already about 0 degree, counting in the European Celsius, of course. I was not entirely sure about that though, since we sold our last thermometer at the black market. But I was guessing so, because my sister, Lena, was lying on the bed, her skin steadily turning blue as she tried to get herself at least a little clean with the snow she had collected outside just a few minutes ago.
"Everyone is dead, everyone is dead, only Marie they left." She mumbled almost singingly.
She came closer to me, her body blue, naked, barely any flesh left on those bones. Lena wrapped me into her cloak. She did that every evening. I tried to tell her, that I was already warm enough and that she should keep those to herself, but she didn't want to listen. Instead she layered me up with all the pieces of clothes she had left. Luckily we had some extra pieces, since Mama died last week and also left us an extra bread-card. But I felt guilty seeing my sister using all that extra clothing for my sake.
When Lena noticed herself in the mirror, she slowly teared up and started screaming. She did that every time. "Oh, what a misbuilded being I have become. What an ugly monster!" She hit herself a few times against her own stomach. I tried to tell her that it would only increase her calorie consumption, but she never listened to me. I was shocked how it didn't even move me. My sister used to be a very beautiful, kind child after all. She was celebrated and well known. But war changed everything. It made her steal, it made her take the life of others, it made her sleep with wrong men. And hunger did the other part. Making her ugly and weak.
While Lena was crying she picked up her scissors and cut off her hair. She looked at me: "Is this alright? Yes? I am so sorry I couldn't get any food today, but those bastards didn't have anything left for us! At the black market they wouldn't even take my soap. THE GOOD SOAP MAMA LEFT US TO SELL WHAT ELSE WAS SHE GOOD FOR? Why wouldn't they take it, Maria, why would they reject me?"
I was a little worried about the scissors Lena was holding. On the other hand I knew she would never leave her little sister alone on purpose. Not in winter. Not in war. We survived this once, I tried to whisper, we can do this again. Encouragement, though, never worked, because we all knew, the whole time, that every hope we gave ourselves, every optimistic thought we told – they were all lies. Lies that kept us alive. But sometimes they just didn't work out and hope couldn't compensate the hunger. Now was such a moment, I noticed, when my sister took out a kettle and started to melt the soap. Again she turned at me: "Everything is going to be fine, ok? I will make a great meal today." She shouldn't do this, I tried to communicate, she would just poison herself. But she never listened. Lena sprinkeled her hair into the soap. Her warming glance, the one she had while singing lullabies to me, when I was a kid, was about to fade. My sister took a spoon and ate a little from her odd soup. She swallowed it with force. Immediately she puked on the floor. I hated seeing her like that, but all I could do was trying to roll my eyes to express how predictable that action was.
Lena started crying. My older sister was shaking and screaming and shivering and hewing the ground aimlessly. Slowly her cry turned into a desperate laughter. She looked at me. She laughed. She seemed determined.
I had only seen that look once, when the letter came, telling us how sorry the goverment was to lose a great soldier and friend to the German army. Mum and sister looked empty, but Lena had something in her eyes, that made her look confident at the same time. That's when she promised to protect me with her life. With all her might. And that look there. Facing me right in that moment. Was the same and I knew she was doing the right thing, Yes, I tried to tell her, I tried to scream at her, I tried nodding but why, god, why couldn't I move? Why did she never listen? My sister came up to me, whispering: "I'd rather kill myself than giving in and eating my own little, dead, sister. I am so sorry. I knew your death had a purpose. I know you wouldn't want it to be in vain. I am sorry. I am weak. I can not do this." That's when she began stabbing her guts just like I did with mine.