The door slammed shut, and she could hear the sound of boots thumping down the corridor. Then silence. She had once enjoyed silence, but it was now shackled to a sense of apprehension that twisted her insides. She turned her attention to the heap of clothing that had just been dropped before her. How long had these awaited delivery to the sorting room? Had they lain discarded in another chamber, forgotten and growing cold, or could she slide her hands into their midst and still feel warmth—some vestige of that humanity stolen by those boots in the hallway? Did it really matter? That warmth would soon fade, and she would feel nothing then but an absence. She focused her attention on the business at hand, and after a moment of searching, selected two matching shoes from the pile. These she set neatly side by side on the plank counter marked “footwear.” Taking up the worn stub of a pencil, she began her list for the day: One pair of girl’s shoes, brown, size two. She glanced down at her own feet shod in tattered remnants and remembered the slippers that she had worn into that place. It had embarrassed her to leave the apartment in her house slippers, but it had all been too rushed for her to find her shoes, and mother had not been there to help her. She wondered: Who had sorted her slippers? Where had they gone? After selecting another article of clothing, she wrote her […]

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