Queue of women cowering, weeping, screaming. He could see them in the distance. He ran when the soldiers came. He was fourteen years old, and his mother told him to ‘just go, save yourself’. He ran along the back lots of the village. The soldiers were rounding up everyone. The front door had been smashed in as he leapt out of the back window. As he reached the copse behind, he collided with another boy his age.
“Lev,” he said, “Drop down, quick.”
The soldiers were busy elsewhere. They were not looking for them.
“What was the last thing your mother said to you,” he asked Lev.
“Bengy, she shouted be lucky! What do we do?”
“Should we not join the runaway soldiers. They will look after us.”
They got up. Bengy saw that Lev had a rucksack. “What have you got there?” he asked Lev.
“Supplies, water. I will share! Promise!”
They found a spot where they felt the soldiers would not see them. The lines of women were being divided up, into small queues of three or four and told to bunch together, each told to hug the one in front. The soldiers then slowly pushed them back, so these small clusters were lined up on the edge of the ravine. There were dogs barking and officers blowing whistles.
“My god,” said Lev. “They are going to kill us all.”
A shot rang out and one small cluster was thrown back and dropped down into the ravine.
“They are saving bullets,” said Bengy. “God judge them!”
“I can’t watch,” said Lev.
“Let’s go find what’s left of our soldiers.”
“Wait!” said Lev. He opened his rucksack and pulled out a school exercise book and a pencil.
“What are you doing?” whispered Bengy.
“I need to draw a map.”
“There will be a day of judgment. Our soldiers will need to know where to find our families and get them justice.”
Bengy watched Lev draw his map. There was the village. The crossroads. The paths across the fields and small squiggly lines depicting the ravine there. And there he put a cross.
“I can finish that later,” he said as he closed the book and returned it and the pencil to the rucksack.
“I know the best way,” said Bengy. “Do as I say! OK? When I say run, we run. If I say drop, we lie down. OK.”
“I trust you,” said Lev. “I am lucky. My mother assured me of that. We will be fine. And we will return.”
Four years later, the officer told them to stay back. He took Lev’s map and walked off with his men. The two boys were now soldiers, young men now. They drank some tea. An hour later, the officer returned.
“They should have had your map,” he said. “The terrible evidence is still there. They have been digging in the wrong place!”