It was inevitable that they would come but not when that time would be. She no longer listened out for footsteps or voices. She wasn't afraid. There was little to live for after they had murdered her husband of nearly forty years. For the first time in her life she was thankful that she was unable to bear children. Her death would upset no one. She and Raf had lived a solitary life on the smallholding. They were content to survive on whatever they had grown and sold. The livestock had been slaughtered long ago. Having to kill the dog was the hardest; Raf had taken care of that, for which she was grateful.
Not knowing when her next meal would be, she forced herself to eat something. On the heavy, wooden table she placed a tray with rye bread, olives and cheese with a glass of red wine to wash it down. It could be her last supper. As she sat, a wry smile appeared on her face. What did it matter if she ate or not, it was only delaying her fate.
She had considered taking her own life or even attempting to escape, but they would certainly find her, knowing the area as they did. It was like a knife twisting inside her that her neighbors, people amongst whom they had lived amongst for years, could behave like a pack of wild dogs. As a young girl she had never heeded her father's warnings. He would tell her repeatedly that, as soon as hardship reared its head, their neighbors would turn on them and make them their scapegoat.
She considered taking something from her home. A memento, like a brook or a photograph. She opened the solid oak dresser door whose creaking usually reminded her it needed an application of oil. From the back of the shelf she extracted her diary. When her hand felt the tablet of chocolate, she extracted that too. That will keep the wolf from the door, she thought as she slipped it in the pocket of her dress.
She froze then turned around to face the door from where she had heard a gentle tapping. So, it was time. She calmly packed the diary and chocolate into the canvas bag, picked up her coat from the chair and opened the door.
"It's you," she murmured, as she recognized Janek, the firstborn of her neighbor who she herself had delivered into this world.
"Come quickly babka. We promised Raf to take care of you before he was taken."
Linda Casper hails from Yorkshire and, after a long career as a high school teacher, she has recently begun to write and has had many short stories, poems and travel articles published. Linda has a keen interest in gardening and is a judge for Yorkshire in Bloom.