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It was late, later than she liked to be out on the streets.  She found it much easier to blend in during the day; at night, especially late at night, everyone's suspicions were raised.  Who was she? the passersby might ask themselves.  She cannot be a soldier.  She is too young to be an officer of any kind.  And then, there is something about her looks.  Blonde hair, yes, but...is her nose, perhaps, a bit too pronounced?  Is there an angularity to her features that one finds more often in the eastern peoples?  In the...semetic peoples...perhaps?

But Shosanna made it back to the théâtre without incident.  That didn't mean that she closed the door behind her easily, or that she lit a cigarette with fingers that were not shaking; but she did make it back.  And as she sat and smoked in her favorite seat - in the center of the twelfth row back - Shosanna remembered an unseasonably warm night perhaps twelve or so years ago.  Her brother Amos had decided that it was the height of hilarity to steal her favorite doll, a very fashionable English lady; Shosanna's mother had even made her doll a small parasol, to go with her lacy dress and darling little shoes.  But it wasn't enough for Amos to steal her doll; he had to hide it, in locations ever more difficult for Shosanna to find.  On that warm night - the trees still bare but the smell of spring in the air - Shosanna had grown increasingly more desperate, as each place she checked turned up empty.  Mrs. Belvedere was not in the well bucket, and neither was she in the chicken coop; the larder turned up empty of anything but food; she was not even in the crooks of any tree branches.

Finally, Shosanna went to her father.  "Papa," she cried, "Amos has taken Mrs. Belvedere again and I cannot find her anywhere."  Her father looked at her in his way, that long long look that always made her confess if she had been naughty, and he slowly stood.  He went to Amos' room.

"Amos," he said in his grumbling low voice, a voice that had always reminded Shosanna of distant thunder.  "Where have you put Mrs. Belvedere?"

"No, Papa!  I haven't taken her stupid doll!  I've never taken her stupid, silly doll.  Shosanna is just forgetful, you know that, she's left it lying someplace and can't remember where it is."

"But that isn't true, Papa!  Amos has taken her, he has hidden her!"

"Amos," her father intoned.  Sometimes Shosanna wondered why he was not a rabbi; she would pay much more attention at the synagogue if she were riveted by such a voice.

But Amos would not budge, and finally her father announced that it was late, and they would look for Mrs. Belvedere in the morning.  "But Papa, it might rain, she might drown!" Shosanna cried to no avail.  Morning, Papa said.

So Shosanna had waited an interminable amount of time - hours, it seemed - and climbed out her window.  She thought it had grown even warmer, and there was a strange joy that bubbled up inside her as she stalked around the house, to the barn, clear down to the road and along the fence there.  How beautiful a night it was!  Even if it only came about because of the great tragedy of Mrs. Belvedere's abduction, wasn't it worth it, to be outside like this, under the gently pulsing stars, easily able to imagine she was the only person awake in all of France?

Shosanna hadn't found Mrs. Belvedere that night, though her doll had mysteriously turned up the next day, resting innocuously on the shelf of a bookcase.  Papa had handed it to her without a word, and Amos escaped punishment; but, now that Shosanna had involved their father, neither did he ever steal her doll again.

She eventually lost that doll; she could not even now remember if it had simply fallen apart, if she had given it to one of the younger girls in the village, if it had been packed away someplace, abandoned when her family had sought refuge in the house of Monsieur LaPedite.  But she never forgot that night.

Shosanna stubbed out her cigarette, staring ahead at the dull white screen.  What was she doing, scurrying home at night like a rat?  She might profess her name from sunrise to sunset as Mlle. Emmanuelle Mimieux, but at night, when the stars quivered in the firmament and she might imagine herself to be the only one in Paris not sound asleep, then she would be Shosanna Dreyfus.

She marched out of the théâtre and down the street.  Two men approached her; not Nazis, she didn't think, but Vichy dogs, so it made little difference.  "Where are you headed, miss?" they asked with a thin veneer of politeness.

"To buy some bread."

The taller of the two laughed, and there was something noisome in that laugh; she could imagine a rapist laughing such a laugh as he attacked a little girl.  "There are no boulangeries open this late," he said.

Shosanna didn't pause.  She straightened her spine, she tossed her hair over her shoulder, and she winked at the dogs as she passed them by.  The shorter elbowed the taller, his laugh boisterous and endearing, and for a moment she was sad that he had chosen to surrender.  But they let her go.  She knew they would.

There were no boulangeries open that late, and precious else either.  Shosanna walked up one street and down another, hours and hours, wishing she had a parasol to tip against her shoulder.

January 2017

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