Heinrick ran. His staccato footsteps echoed on the cobbled street stones. He swerved into an alley, a short cut to the university. Nazi propaganda posters stared at him. His fingers ached to rip them down, but he didn’t have time.
He had to find Margo and stop her. Already, his nose stung from the burning paper. Joyous music and laughter made his heart stutter-step. How could Margo be there?
Stumbling from the alley, he saw it. The fire leaped high into the night sky. Students danced around it like crazy animals, tossing books, watching hungry flames consume them. Heinrick’s eyes searched the crowd and found his sister.
He shouted, “Margo, stop!” Some boys tossing books stared at him with cold eyes. Margo turned and saw Heinrick and picked up a book; it hung heavy in her hand.
Heinrick closed the gap between them and screamed over the cracking of the fire, “Margo, this is wrong.”
The fire’s wind lifted his sister’s long blond braids. Her blue eyes were red-rimmed. She raised the book up, but stopped to glance at its title in the firelight.
Heinrick pulled at her arm, but she resisted. With a tiny smile on her face, Margo lowered the book and handed it to Heinrick. It was his favorite book, All Quiet on the Western Front. She said, “You can keep this one.”
She turned and grabbed another book from the huge pile. He swallowed his horror. How can she do this? She loves books, like I do.
But, as he watched, a young boy appeared silently beside Margo. She cautiously passed the book to the boy. He stuffed it inside his shirt, covering the bulge with his jacket and ran from the fire. She did this again and again.
Heinrick smiled. He understood why Margo was at this book burning. Tucking his book inside his shirt, he said, “I’ll be back.” Then, he took off holding the book next to his heart.
This is a fiction story written for the Trifecta Writing Challenge, Number 96.
My inspiration for this story came from Angela Amman’s recent post, Let’s Get Uncomfortable – Banned Books Week. I thank her for making me think and do some research, which led me to the horrible book burnings done in Germany in the 1930’s.
Later, the German poet, Heinrich Heine, whose work was burned, wrote, “Where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people.” Source Wikipedia
You’d think we’d learn.