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by Shaara
Rated: E · Short Story · Children's · #583613
A young girl's failure to understand prejudice

Herr Klein's Gift Shop

It was a blizzard of chocolate that day, when I toured Klein's Gift Shop. On the huge Christmas tree centered in the middle of the store, were the most beautiful snowflakes made up of white chocolate. They were covered in wax paper, but you could still see the delicacy of their design. They entranced me, and I stood staring at them, wondering how someone could fashion chocolate into such works of art.

Herr Klein's Christmas tree also had tiny chocolate elves, all molded and elaborately clothed in icing. Kisses tied up in shiny, red and green foil gave the big fir lots of cheerful color, and at the top there was a giant dark chocolate star, each point dipped in frosting to hold a different colored candy.

My best friend took me with her to see it that first time. We tramped through the snow of an early winter's storm just to enter thatshop, but when I saw all the sights inside, I stopped fussing about the cold and the damp. The decorations, a festival of color, took my breath away.

Remembering back to that joyous holiday visit, when Janna laughed and eyed all the chocolate with such greedy, yearning eyes, it seems so unfair that Janna won't be here with me this year. But she won't be feasting on my mother's fruitcake or the gingerbread men we used to bake together. We won't be playing with her Hanukah dreidels, and she won't be able to tell me the story of her Menorah of Lights, because they have taken her to a place where the Jews must live from now on, and my parents have told me that I can't go visit her.

Janna loved the Christmas tree of Herr Klein's. Last year we kept going back to see the tree filled with chocolate, day after day. It was our special place. The two of us talked about it endlessly.

On Christmas morning last year, when I opened the package Janna had wrapped for me in pretty blue and gold paper, I found she'd given me one of Herr Klein's delicate white chocolate snowflakes. I shared the treat with her. It tasted just as wonderful as it looked.

But I'm not going back to Herr Klein's Gift Shop this year. I'm sure the chocolate has gone bad.

I never cared that Janna went to Temple instead of the church where my parents and I went. Janna and I were best friends. It never mattered to me that she had a Menorah instead of a tree. Why does everyone else think it makes such a big difference?

I don't understand why they made Janna go away. I miss her.

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