I Was Anne Frank

Kate Bernheimer
Photo by Glauco Zuccaccia on Unsplash

I was Anne Frank. Miep had not come to the Secret Annexe for many days. I (Anne Frank) quietly walked down the staircase, at the end of which was a door to outside. This was not the way the real Secret Annexe worked. The real Secret Annexe was reached by a staircase behind a bookcase. Here, there was a second little set of stairs that I carefully took in my black shoes. I turned past the door that was behind the bookcase and took those stairs. When I reached the bottom, I opened the back door. This led to a back alley. There it was dark, nighttime, and raining. I looked down and on the pavement was a very large rain puddle. Oblong, like our old bathtub had been, though now we bathed in a bucket. The puddle brimmed with dead bees. Streetlights reflected off the water in the puddle and also off the wet pavement. The bees were how I knew Miep, who brought us rations and books, had not come for many days. I (Anne Frank) already knew this, because she had not come upstairs to the Secret Annexe, but seeing the puddle filled with hundreds of dead, yellow bees confirmed this. The bee puddle was entirely undisturbed. I poked my toe into the puddle a bit—with one of my black shoes I nudged the dead bees. They were so dead. I wore the black shoes, drab stockings, a drab skirt and drab shirt and drab sweater—I was Anne Frank. I peered around the alley. There wasn’t a soul. I suppose I would have gone back up to the Secret Annexe if I had known how to, but I stood in the alley for hours, wondering where all the bees had come from, for it was winter.

Kate Bernheimer is the author of two story collections, How a Mother Weaned Her Girl from Fairy Tales and Horse, Flower, Bird, both published by Coffee House Press, and a novel trilogy. She also edited the World Fantasy Award–winning collection My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales and the World Fantasy Award nominee xo Orpheus: 50 New Myths, both published by Penguin Books. She is an associate professor of English at the University of Arizona.