She crouched by the window, and separated the wooden blinds just enough to allow her to observe the man loitering at the end of her walk. He didn’t look like he was a Jew, but appearances were notoriously deceptive. That’s why they used to wear the star, so that there could be no question of their contamination.
Her breath caught in her throat. What if she had forgotten to bolt the door? In a flash, she dropped the slat and raced to the door, certain that it would burst open before she could secure it. It was locked. She propped her back against it and tried in vain to quiet her breath, her knees weak and trembling. After a moment, she spun around and peered through the peephole in the heavy, steel, entryway door, a faint hope fluttering in her chest that the man had moved on.
He had not. He was now walking toward her house.
The world tilted sideways in her mind. Lightheaded and sweating, she swore and backed away from the door, eyes wildly scanning the room for anything she might use to protect herself. She no longer doubted that this man was a Jew, an abomination. She could feel his hatred, his jealousy, the vile taint of his very existence.
She wanted desperately to flee, to escape his fury. But where? Her confusion deepened even as her focus on her fear sharpened. Jews are dangerous animals, she told herself. To that, her inner voice–which was oddly similar to that of her grandfather–calmly responded, What do we do with dangerous animals? We put them down.
Suddenly, she knew what she had to do. She sprinted to the hall closet–her bare feet slapping the tile noisily–and frantically searched through the coats, hats, and scarves for the Mauser. Gasping with relief, and she pulled the pistol from the lower shelf and checked that it was loaded.
Ding-dong. The bell ringing sent a jolt of adrenaline through her aching chest. Armed, she shuffled back down the hall to the front door and once again checked through the peephole. A victorious smile came to her lips when she saw the Jew’s back to her, retreating like a coward the way he had come. She freed the locks with a shaking left hand and threw open the door. The man didn’t even have a chance to turn to face her before she fired, splattering blood and bits of brain across the concrete.
It was only then that she noticed the package he had placed on her stoop, and the horrible truth of her error lanced through her madness like a scalpel. With a suffocating remorse, she turned the Mauser on herself, adding two to the tally of lives snuffed out with her grandfather’s service pistol.