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Symbol of Living

Symbo s of Living Jessie Kieffer

“It’s hair. Human hair.”

“No way! Gross! Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure,” I muttered, not taking my eyes off the mangled mass that spanned the entire length of the stone-cold exhibit wall. Strands of red, brown, and gray lay tangled with a couple loose braids in a monstrous heap. The hair was used to make fabric. “Haircloth,” they called it.

Silently, our feet shuffled along the pathway, then turned the corner.

Shoes. Thousands of shoes, in various states of decay. They lay scattered, some even doll-sized. My gaze landed on a particularly large shoe. Likely a man’s. The brown leather stitching still looked vibrant in contrast to the tan lifeless pile. Did he wear those to his job? To dance with his wife?

We passed more and more symbols of living. Glasses, suitcases, prosthetic limbs. Heat pricked at my fingertips, which had fallen numb in the dead cold. Why are these people’s things being displayed like some sort of artwork?

Unanswered questions reverberated inside my body until we stepped out into the stinging, bitter air. Impassively, I glanced at the large type plastered above the doorway.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Flash Fiction


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