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Emma Sue

United States

Aspiring journalist and author. Always looking for critique and friendships.

Message to Readers

I hope you enjoy and are able to feel the emotions of the characters. The time period should really stand out. Let me know what you think!


April 19, 2016

The smell of a baguette roasting above slowly fading coals drenched the kitchen so heavily that the three women cooking inside were falling asleep standing on their over-worked, blistered feet. Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien" played on the phonograph in a corner somewhere in the tilted house. The three women, sisters, worn and tired from a long day at work, danced around holding dull knives and carrots. Their voices could be heard from outside the house and any passers-by would stop to listen. The sisters had been ordered to make a carrot soup for the hundreds of women sewing garments in the warehouse just across the small dirty street. 

Every day the three sisters prepared five large pots of one meal for the three hundred seamstresses: grey steaming slop. It wasn't that the sisters were bad cooks. They were given instructions. They used the best, freshest ingredients they could and yet they had standards to follow that turned their jaw-dropping creations into heaps of thick liquid meal. As the three sisters prepared meals made from week old vegetables and under cooked meats, again, the freshest ingredients they could get, they prayed thanking 'their gracious God' for blessing them with a job away from blood stained needles and disease infested bedrooms. Each of them knew they didn't deserve such work, but not one woman was going to complain. They were content away from the smoke and conflict in their tiny stone kitchen. Each was housed in their own room, a luxury few found then in the back streets of Paris.

Margarette, the youngest of the three sisters, often overworked herself. The few times the master of the house found it in himself to lift his thunderous body and slug into the kitchen, he always showed up while she was sitting down. "Levez vous!" the master would yell in hopes that he would not have to threaten to fire her immediately. Despite her devout catholic sisters, Margarette spent her time "praying" counting the seconds until she could look up without her sisters giving her that look of 'we know'. She figured they knew about her lack of religion, but she tried to cover up her tracks as best she could.

Lucy was the oldest of the three. She always had a dark, rotten smile of chipped teeth spread across her face. Despite the grime of poor oral hygiene, Lucy had the prettiest smile within a two-mile radius. Every Saturday Lucy would sneak into the masters study and grab a handful of chocolate from the locked drawer in his desk. She had taken a mold of the key the first week she began working with him when she was only fifteen years old. She was his favorite of the sisters and he used to allow her a piece of chocolate whenever she would like. One day, when he opened the lock drawer to find not rich, petite chocolates but a box of cheap bonbons, he took away the key from her. Little did he know about the molding kit she had been given by one of the seamstresses across the street.

The war gave Emilie, the middle of the three, quite the fright. Every time she was sent out to the market to fetch more cheese or milk she kept her hands over her head in fear of those heart blasting sounds she heard all around her. She knew she probably shouldn't even bother, but it was the placebo of safety that counted.

Together, the three sisters were inseparable. The day the master came to take away Lucy after finding out she had supposedly helped herself to the entire lot of chocolate, normally kept locked away, Margarette and Emilie stood next to her holding pots and pans above their heads. The master should have fired all three of them on the spot, but the women would not move and he wouldn't bother with it. It was that day, the day that Emilie went missing, when everything changed. 

By then the coals had completely died and the baguette, once cooking and rotating on a spit, was now gone. A boy running through town was screaming at everyone to seek shelter and stay there. Lucy had just awoken from a nap and ran across the hall to shake Margarette awake. Hearing the news, Margarette and Lucy went not into the shelter underground but out into a world of cobblestones and a sky crying black smoke and metal bits. Men in uniform marched about screaming at the locals, "get inside, take cover! Aller à la sécurité!" The two cooks ignored the tight pinched faces and continued to march through town. They tried to picture Emilie, usually scared of the men in their uniforms, standing tall and running through town confident as a dog chasing a squirrel. They knew, however, that this image was only a fabrication of their own minds.

The smoke in the skies began to fade and the women were scarred from shrapnel and burns. They headed home to take cover. The sun was drifting to sleep when movement caught their eye. "Emilie?!" They screamed. They ran towards the warehouse across from their home and looked inside through the large hole in the wall. The building was almost completely demolished, but there in the middle of the room stood Emilie with the bag of chocolate her sister had been scolded for stealing just hours before. "I was worried about all those seamstresses," she said. " I wanted to call them out. I only wanted to show them of a bit of sweetness. Give them each a piece of chocolate as they escaped the building. But I was too late. I'm sorry Lucy." The warehouse was suddenly in flames and Emilie was surrounded by the red and orange tendrils of heat. A tear ran down her cheek and an explosion went off over their heads. 

It was a few days later that the bodies of the three sisters were found. Even the master had not been able to make it to safety. Everything was demolished and covered in grit or ash. The once freshly roasted baguette that the women had been preparing for the master was now a pile of dark earth. It was a time of terror, heartache, and community as the survivors came together to attempt to clean up the after-math. It would take months to find everyone and bring the area back to the way it was. As adults crawled out of torn up shelters, children walked through town calling out for the ghosts that once cared for them. One child stumbled upon a phonograph that had managed to resist the horror around it. The sounds of Edith Piaf filled the air once again.


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