He had a little dog once. He saw it sitting in the gutter when he and Papa were walking home once. He had offered it a crust of bread, and it had trotted over to him, and he had petted it meekly on the top of its head.
"Can we keep him?" he asked Papa.
He had gathered the dog in his arms, and its little head had rested softly on his shoulder as they hurried home.
That's what approaching the girl reminded him of. A loaf of bread in his pocket. Heart throbbing in his chest. And so, so afraid she might run away.
He stopped a little ways from her and cleared his throat. She whirled around, horror in her eyes and hands raised to protect her face. He suddenly felt angry, yet he didn't know why.
"I'm not going to hurt you," he said.
"All the others do. Why are you so different?" She pressed her lips together.
They must have beaten her. And why hadn't he noticed?
"I brought you this." He offered her the loaf of bread.
"I don't want it."
"Why? You're hungry." He could see her ribs jutting out beneath the battered prison garments she wore. Her face was pinched and her cheeks sallow. And her elbows were almost as sharp as her tone.
"I'm not taking anything from you. You're the one who called us animals, and now you're coming to feed us as if you're a zoo visitor. I don't want your bread."
"Please..." he began. She was so thin. "I'm sorry."
The girl only turned her eyes to the stars.
"At least give it to your sister."
She slowly faced him again. He took her hand and wedged the bread between her cold fingers, withdrawing quickly before she could flinch away.
"I'll give it to Ziske," she said.
He nodded and fled before he could say another stupid word. And before another officer could see him.