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Stephen Morgan

Father snapped my wand in two, but the magic remains. If we are to survive tonight, it has to.

Tonight, four Gestapo men enter our house. Under the table, Mother grasps my hand. One of the men identifies himself as "Hauptsturmführer Friedburg" and orders us to forget our dinner and follow him. Father sets down his pencil and stands, leaving behind the sheaf of papers from his next speech at the
Temple. Mother and I stand with Father, but none of us move. We have no doubt where Friedburg intends to take us.

Weeks ago, Father's eyes red but his voice steady, he warned Mother that once the Gestapo learned of his speeches against their practices, they would no longer see us as insignificant. The next time they came, it would mean the end of our family.

"When the time comes," he had said, "do not be afraid. God rewards those who attempt great things. If they have faith."

With a sad glance at me, perhaps suspecting a girl my age wouldn't understand, he'd finally decided to simply embrace me and kiss me on the head.

Now I glance at the two split ends of my now-broken magic wand lying on the ground and hear the words he spoke hours ago.

The winds of aggression stir in our homeland
, Father had shared with the Temple. I can still hear the crowd cheering him on. They wish to make us disappear, as though we will so easily be forgotten. But no man can erase what makes us Jews! No man can take our faith, the very thing that will remain long after we have gone!

Previously a scholar, Father speaks now almost exclusively about the war and what he fears is an impending devastation for our people, insisting that even in our darkest hour, God is still with us.

He wants me to follow in his footsteps as a scholar. But now on my way to becoming a woman, the only thing I have written are stories, nothing close to essays on philosophy and religion. Earlier, as I offered to use my magic to cook dinner so Mother would not have to slave in the kitchen, Father, fed up with my dreams of something he didn't understand, took my wand and snapped it in two.

All that remains is the decision to stand up, he had told the Temple. God rewards those who attempt great things. If we but remain faithful!

I hadn't understood earlier that evening what his speech meant. But tonight, when the guards burst into our home and demand we board a train with no destination, I know. The wand doesn't matter. All I need is a new wand, and God will reward me for the courage to save us. The magic remains, and if I just have faith, so will our family.

"We leave," Friedburg says. "Now!"

Father smiles sadly at me. "Yallah, my daughter."

"It's OK," I tell him.

He takes my mother's hand and reaches for mine. He doesn't understand that upstairs, the very pencil he gave me to write with will be our salvation. "Be strong," he says.

"I will, poppa."

His fingers brush over mine.

God rewards those who do great things, Father had said. If they have faith.




I pull my fingers from his and run for the stairs.

"Sarah," my mother shouts. "Don't—!"

A gunshot fires as I reach the first stair. Courage makes me quick. I dare a glance behind me and know a hint of magic remains. A bullet has passed through me, leaving a smoking hole in the wall.

I reach the top of the stairs and run into my room. I lock the door.

On the table next to my still unmade bed rests the papers containing my next story and a fresh pencil, new because Father claimed it would help me write. I grab the pencil only to jump as the soldiers bang on the door.

I back up against the window and look out at the neighborhood, at the homes of friends that, God willing, we will see again. Across the street my best friend, Beth, peeks out from behind the curtains. No doubt she and her family saw the Gestapo enter our house. They hide because they fear the same attention we've gained. They want to help but don't know how.

The thought emboldens me. Once they see me drop to the ground, light as a feather, they'll know. God rewards those who attempt great things.

It's a steep drop, enough for Father to more than once demand I keep the windows shut. One fall would break my legs, he said. Or worse.

The Gestapo men slam against the door. It's too high. They won't be able to follow me. I open the window, step onto the ledge, and spread my arms.

Magic, God, whatever it is, has to be real. If we are to survive this night, it
must be.

I pause. My finger passes through a small, burned hole where the bullet passed through the dress, not through me.

I shake off the thought. There can be no room for doubt. Only for faith. The magic is real.

The guards blow apart the lock and burst into the room. They train their guns on me but do not fire. That right is for Friedburg, and in he comes, gun raised, but he betrays himself at the sight of me standing on the edge of the window about to jump.

"Don't be a fool," he says. "At least have some dignity." And cocks the gun.


It must be. It must be.

As I hear a gunshot, I wave the wand, close my eyes, and leap.





All That Remains