You’re going to Auschwitz. You’re at the ticket office in the Krakow station because for some insane reason you decided that the best way to approach Auschwitz is by rail, but happily, you’re not alone in your delusion.
You are two people on this mission. Nobody should make this journey alone.
You’re at the station and the trains are waiting. Auschwitz, you say.
Oswiecim? The ticket clerk asks.
Yes, you agree, for this is the real name of the town that some Nazi transliterated.
The ticket clerk fixes you with a glittering eye. Single or return?
You look over your shoulder. Is this a one-way journey?
Your companion is cringeing. Aaargh. Why did we come here?
Yes please. Two tickets. Djenkuje.
You look at your companion.
Your companion looks back at you and nods. The journey takes two hours to cover thirty or forty miles.
It seems appropriate in a horrible way, but five years later, when you talk together about it, the question is just as shocking as it was back then.
Single or return?
This probably doesn’t occur to anyone who lives in Oswiecim, or to the ticket clerk, but for both of us, it has resonated through the years.
Why? I don’t know.
Single or return. Think about that.