Remy staggers into his infirmary room, feebly attempting
to slam the door. He collapses onto the bed, the aches of
exhaustion throbbing through his body. Tseidel enters. She
takes one look at him, then closes and locks the door.
She watches him punch the pillow. Over and over. All the
while uttering French epithets even as his efforts take their
toll on his stitches and bandages. She sees blood on the pillow,
and immediately grabs his wrist before he can throw another
His body curls around the pillow, vainly trying to suppress
wracking sobs. She takes her head in her hands. As she draws
his head to her breast, she strokes his forehead soothingly.
Tseidel stretches out on the bed, pillowing Remy's body on
her own. His tears dampen her throat. Sadness wells up within
her, as deep as his own. They are his friends. They have no
way of knowing, no way of understanding. Peaches should not
make a grown man weep so, they will think.
She had tried to warn him the first day the guards offered
fresh fruit. And the first day, he had listened, in spite
of the gnawing hunger in his belly. Even the second day, she
had managed to coax him away. The truth was, Tseidel admitted,
by the second week, she would have taken the fruit herself
if it had been offered to her first.
It wasn't easy to be content with bits of undercooked bread
and burned soup. He had tried so hard. Until the day they
had brought peaches. Peaches and fresh cereal. Cold milk.
He could remember the condensation on the pitcher. Ice cold.
He remembers a half-hearted attempt to share with Tseidel
and Nicola. Nicola was too nauseated. And Tseidel? Tseidel
simply said she didn't care for peaches. He had never even
noticed how carefully she watched him enjoy every bite.
The guards came to him that night, demanding payment for
the special consideration he had received. While dragging
him kicking and screaming across the compound and into their
beds, they promised better treatment, depending on what Remy
had to offer them. Sometime in the still-dark hours of early
morning, he was shoved roughly back into the prisoners' quarters.
Tseidel was awakened by the sound of Remy crawling across
the rough wooden floor.
He never spoke of what happened. It wasn't necessary. At
the morning roll call, the ribald jokes and playfully affectionate
touches the guards displayed made it clear what he had been
subjected to. Weeks passed. Again, the hunger grew. The others
needed blankets, medicine. Candles to keep the rats away.
Nicola would be having their baby soon.
And no one was going to come to his rescue. He had come to
accept his situation. And with acceptance, came the harsh
reality of the camps. If you wanted something, if you wanted
to survive, you had to be willing to make sacrifices. The
next day, he gave his orange to Nicola, for the baby. A somewhat
less tattered blanket went to Tseidel. Penicillin to the young
orphan boy two cots down. Again, Remy's body went to the guards
of New Genosha.
Tseidel looks down at Remy's face. In sleep, he relaxes,
losing himself to nothingness. She wipes the dampness from
his eyes and face, then slips from the bed. She returns with
fresh bandages, and dresses his wounds, careful not to wake
him. With a sigh, he rolls over. His hand reaches out to emptiness.
Remy frowns, stirs restlessly. Tseidel climbs back into bed
and eases under his arm. He settles against the warmth of
Continued in Chapter
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