Chapter 01.07

William fingers her while he’s inside of me.

One hand wrapped in my hair, the other around my fingers.  She lies there quietly, and sparkles.

I do not lie there quietly.

He shakes me to my toes, and I shiver with anticipation.  Henry could never do this to me.

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Chapter 01.06

My mother nearly died when I showed her the ring.

I didn’t want the ring.  I didn’t mean to take it.

But it was beautiful, and its red stone sparkled so intensely.  Even to this day, when I look down upon it, the strings in my heart leap into my throat.  She is perfect for me.

Have you ever considered the possibility that stones will speak to you if you listen carefully?

And that was what happened that day.  A faint hum licked my earlobes, and I simply could not say no to her.

Hindsight is always far too clear.  I kick myself every day for letting her seduce me into saying yes to Henry.

She, in her scarlet beauty, wrapped with a string of silver, was like a poppy poison.  Wisps of, “say yes!” penetrated my chest and squeezed my heart.  And now, she is the chain that ties me to the man I do not love.  She reminds me every day that I can neither leave him nor the child.  She binds me.

Mutti wept when she saw it.   “Noooo,” she wailed.  Because nothing good could come from an engagement with an American soldier– not if you are a young German maiden as I was.  (I fancied myself a maiden, what says you to that?)

I did not know what I had done.  It would be several months before the gravity of the situation would sink in.

But at that very moment, on the first day, I was ecstatic.

What was the worst thing that could happen?  I could wear her for a while, and give her back, telling him that I had changed my mind.

But I underestimated the strength of my mother’s convictions.

Chapter 01.05

If I’m to be brutally honest with you, it was my intention to make Henry fall in love with me.  I was bored and it was a game I played against myself.  If one tactic did not work, the next might.  A competition, if you will.

But all of it worked.  I would catch the sparkle in his cheeks when I stood up from the piano bench.  I felt his warmth penetrate my hands when he would grab them up and twirl me around.  And when he leaned in to smell my hair, I would let him for moments longer than I probably should have.

He was kind enough.  And attractive enough.  And while we’re playing this honesty game, you and I, the truth is that I didn’t mind so much.  His attentions were vibrant.  They were pure.  And they were the first I’d had in all too long.  It’s hard to find the attentions of a man while the city was being bombed to pieces.   Everyone, myself included, was too consumed with being afraid and staying alive.

To have the lieutenants in our home, after the several year drought of social interactions and stress, was almost too much for my young heart.  I marched on, giggling aloud when his giant, awkward missteps moved me to smile.  I pursued it, allowed it, encouraged it.

He bought me gifts, which I accepted.  Much to the chagrin of my mother, who knew what I was doing but could not stop me, I accepted them with a smile and a blush.  They were beautiful, and I had not had new things in so long.

My favorite gift was the green diary.   It smelled of smoke and tears, but it was in perfect condition otherwise.  I think he rescued it from a destroyed book store.  I can imagine his glee when he stumbled upon it.  Like a child through the window of a candy store.

Immediately, I set myself to writing in it.

 

Chapter 01.04

Hitler was dead.  And even though we were occupied by an enemy army, we were finally free again.

Well, everyone except Papa.  He was lost.  Life was separated into two parts for him: before and after.  Kind of like how my life is now.  Before America and after.

His before life was one of pleasures and music.  The orchestra and cigars.  Philosophical discussions.  His cello.  After life was filled with city ordinances, rebuilding his once beautiful city, and creating new jobs.

The soldiers’ lives were filled with repairing the bombed out buildings.  Making courtyards safe again.  Overhauling a functional marketplace.

Lily’s life carried on where she left off: she continued to make sour faces at my attempts to make people smile, irrationally living out her fears in every moment she was awake, and constantly pestering Mutti for attention.

New freedoms, however, were my new life.  I befriended them.  I showed them that we were human.  When we were tense, I pounded out waltzes on the piano.  I learned how to play poker with the soldiers.  I flirted.

There was nothing more to do.

 

Chapter 01.03

Lieutenants Henry Roy and Frank Green were stationed with my family after the Americans took our city.  They were placed with us by Captain Sherwin Wood.  After the bombs dropped for the final time in Munich, an uncanny silence seeped through the hills and valleys.   All was painfully quiet.  Like death.  Perhaps we were all dead.

The permeating surreal silence was broken by an unfamiliar creak of foreign tank tires rolling in.

Papa was terrified.

Captain Wood’s fist pounded on the thick door.  I thought it might come off its hinges. Maybe that was just us.

Papa opened the door.  He had no other choice.

“These men will be staying with you indefinitely.  You will feed them, clothe them, and honor them, or they will make your life miserable.”

So we did what any sane family would do.  We took them in.

 

Chapter 01.02

William asked me again about my life back home.  When we talk, I fall into his eyes.  At times I find myself lost for words.  I pretend that it’s my lack of understanding the English language.  But that’s not truth.

I understand it.  I’ve been speaking it since I was a child.  And that seems like many moons ago.

By the first time the news broadcasts came over in English, I could already understand it a bit.  Because our house guests, the soldiers, taught us well.  We had to figure it out.

It was terrifying at first, those soldiers.  But I was young and naive and hopeful.  I thought I could fall in love with one of them.  That was Henry.  Because love, my friends, is a far more powerful activator than war.  It was easier to fall in love back then.

Chapter 01.01

“The baby won’t sleep, and I’m fucking tired of trying to rock her.  I can’t believe I came clear across the Atlantic for this.”

“He’s snoring again.  It happens every time we drink. I can’t sleep.  I don’t love him.”

“I miss my Mutti.  Even back home in our war-torn city, I had my mother and father.  And my crazy sister. (Bless her heart.)  And I didn’t have so much work, so many expectations.  I had help cleaning the house.  And if I was back home, I would at least have some help with the baby.”

“We’ve been having friends over on the weekends.  They love the baby and we let loose some.  I am beginning to feel free again.  Thank heavens.”