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After liberation in May 1945, Daniel, a 14-year-old Latvian Jew, is treated in a field hospital in the British zone of partitioned Germany. A survivor of various concentration camps, Daniel fights to recover from starvation and disease. Racked by nightmares, a nearly nightly occurrence, Daniel finds sleep almost impossible. Through his love of nature, and pre-war memories, Daniel struggles to find comfort. He forms an intriguing bond with an older German gentile, another survivor. Later on, as he joins a theater troupe, Daniel tries to move on with his life, yet still searching for the whereabouts of his mother and two sisters. Poised on the cusp of a new life, young Daniel makes his way to the country that will become his new home.
As Daniel staggered into the latrine, he saw a ramshackle halfmirror nailed haphazardly to the wall. Composed of lattices of wood, it was the only part of the hospital that looked like a construction afterthought. Either it was the first time it had been put in there or he never noticed it before, having other pressing things on his mind.
Daniel gasped. He looked like a fifty-five-year-old man. Everything about him reeked of lifelessness – from the opaque hazel eyes to the stooped posture resembling a fading, elderly gnome in the final throes of osteoporosis to the branches of bones sticking out through brittle veiny skin. Even his ears protruded with an extraterrestrial freakishness he found alarming. There was nothing youthful about him. His complexion was cadaverously sallow. No, it was worse than that. The flesh was imbued with a color no presumably alive human being could have. All vestiges of innocence were summarily robbed from him and what remained was the hollowed out hulk of a frightened, damaged old man-child.
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