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In the Attic

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In  the  Attic

I very rarely entered the attic of my mother's house. The attic is dark and cluttered. It's always seemed a forbidding place to me.

But I had a dream. In the dream I climbed a steep ladder -  both feet dragging, it took all my strength to climb from one rung to the next.  Something drove me to keep on climbing, all the way to the very top. I woke in alarm with raspy breath and scalding eyes.

The dream would not leave me. I tried to push it aside but it only became more real, felt more urgent. Finally I did climb to the attic. It took a great effort to stay calm, I breathed deeply. When I reached the attic I knew exactly where to go. The dream led me to the photograph album. I had never seen it before though a part of me knew it existed, that one day I would find it, look at it.

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The photograph album belonged to my mother. She was a very strong person.  As a young woman she had been through the war. My father died at the front and she was left alone with me. The city was bombed, she fled to the countryside and back again. I know that the women were raped by soldiers. Yet she always claimed the worst was the starvation. That is the only thing she would talk about and about that she talked often.  She described the clawing in the gut, the craziness that went with the pangs. All her life she repeated - 'When you are hungry anything is possible.' As she grew older she would say it in a sing song way, repeat it, like a prayer or mantra, often swaying from side to side -'When you are hungry anything is possible.' And then she would add -  'I had to do it. I had to do it.' Over and over again.

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