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No One Said Life Is Fair
Author: Webster

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It was the day before Christmas, nineteen forty-six, in the stump of the bombed out city of Munich, Germany. Ten year old Anna was being rudely shaken awake by her mother.

"It's already five thirty, you have to get in line for the rolls."

Bread, along with everything else, was in short supply. Food was in short supply and along with many other items were rationed. But ration stamps alone were not enough to acquire the needed food. In the case of bread, a pound of unbleached flour was demanded by the baker for every ten rolls. Anna quickly dressed, stuffing her feet into too-small shoes. Outside, the temperature hovered just above freezing as she made the first tracks in the overnight snow.

Three blocks away at the baker a line had already formed. Shuffling to keep warm, Anna waited for the lights to come on in the store. A couple of adults roughly jammed their way in front of her, making up some story of how they were here first. Afraid to lose her place in line altogether, Anna gave them a dirty look and turned her back. Finally it was her turn. Presenting her clipped out ration stamps and the double-wrapped pound of flour, she was confronted with a stony-faced woman placing a sign on the counter that said, "No more bread". Desperately Anna tried to argue her plight, but the woman just told her to try again another day.

Not knowing what else to do, she retraced her steps home, fearful of her mother's wrath. Well, at least she still had the stamps and the package of flour. At home her mother screamed how useless she was and for her to find another bakery and get those rolls, adding the ultimatum, "And don't bother coming back without them!"

The next closest bakery was even further away. The sky had lightened but the clouds remained a low, dark omen of more snow. By now, Anna's cracked toes had started to bleed, cracks open up in her toes. Arriving at the alternate bakery, she noticed the empty cases and shelves. Bread smells were coming from the back, but there was not a roll in sight. Finally, the owner came out, only to tell Anna that all the bread baked today would be for the hospital. He gave her the address of another bakery deeper into the city that might have some rolls left from the day before.

Afraid to come home without rolls, Anna aimed her poor hurting feet further away from home. Tired and hungry, even the token Christmas decorations in the windows failed to cheer her up. Keeping away from gangs of foraging teenagers, she clutched at the lump of flour under her coat. Twice more she got the same message from the bakers -- all the bread was gone. Admitting defeat, she plodded home in the early dark to a certain punishment for failing her mission.

Her last hope was only slightly out of her way. Near her church, she approached the last bakery on her list. A woman came out of the bakery and asked her if anything was wrong. Tearfully, Anna told her the whole story, adding that she couldn't go home without some bread. The woman rose her up off the ground, saying, "Don't cry, I'll take your flour and ration stamps and give you my rolls. You need them more than I."

Jubilant, but too tired to enjoy it, Anna raced home with her prize. At home, Anna placed the rolls on the table. Her mother glared at them with a critical eye. "This is what you bring home for my beautiful flour?", she ranted. "Just for that, get outside and clean the step, somebody might fall on the ice." Frustrated and angry, her mother could find no sympathy for Anna, the chore of surviving in an unfair world bringing bitterness and harsh words on her desolate daughter. The space in Anna's heart where the joy of Christmas should have been was as empty as the bakery shelves.

------- Author's Notes -------

A real life story at Christmas time.

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Comments on this poem/writing:

Terrie* (65.148.213.214) -- Monday, December 13 2004, 04:22 pm

Webster..this was too sad...

so sad to think that this was ever possible....ans to think of the poor child...as i kept reading a tear drop escaped from my eyes...poor Annna..to have had to live a hard life..especially at a time when children shoud show off their cheer and their glow.....( i have never seen Christmas thru the eyes of a child through such sadness) tears my heart...i dislike the idea of thinking what the rest of her life was like..i just hope that as she got older things became better for her...did they????

thank you for sharing your heart.....
webster7 (4.250.54.223) -- Sunday, March 13 2005, 02:02 am

What Happened

She is now my wife and she is fine. Many sad memories but even more good ones.
Terrie* (65.148.233.189) -- Sunday, March 13 2005, 03:01 am

Webster, so happy for you ....this was so warm..

now that is a beautiful testimony. as i am sure many good memories followed as she became your wife.. i just love happy endings..i wish i had one as great as yours to share...God Bless you and Anna...Terrie*
 
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