Speaking of The New Yorker
Once upon a time there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists. Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in a house across the field from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. They collected the world in small handfuls, and they were never unfair to each other, not once. When the sky grew dark, they parted with burrs in their clothes and leaves in their hair.When they were ten, he asked her to marry him. When they were eleven, he kissed her for the first time. When they were thirteen, they got into a fight and for three terrible weeks they didn’t talk. When they were fifteen, she showed him the scar on her left breast. Their love was a secret they told no one. He promised her he would never love another girl as long as he lived. “What if I die?” she asked. “Even then,” he said. For her sixteenth birthday, he gave her a Polish-English dictionary and together they studied the words. “What’s this?” he’d ask, tracing his index finger around her ankle, and she’d look it up. “And this?” he’d ask, kissing her elbow. “ ‘Elbow’! What kind of word is that?” And then he’d lick it, making her giggle. When they were seventeen, they made love for the first time, on a bed of straw in a shed. Later—when things had happened that they never could have imagined—she wrote him a letter that said, “When will you learn that there isn’t a word for everything?”
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl whose father was shrewd enough to scrounge together all the zlotys he had to send his daughter on a boat to America. At first she refused to go, but the boy also knew enough to insist, swearing on his life that he’d earn some money and find a way to follow her. He got a job as a janitor at a hospital and he saved as much as he could. But, in the summer of 1941, the Einsatzkommandos drove their armies farther east; on a bright, hot day in July, they entered S. At that hour, the boy happened to be lying on his back in the woods, thinking about the girl. You could say it was his love for her that saved him. In the years that followed, the boy became a man who became invisible. In this way, he escaped death.