My heart pounds me awake.
I was dreaming again. Of my past life, my memories. The apartment had been bombed – my home for my whole childhood. For some reason, my past cannot disentangle from me. I cannot seem to leave it where it belongs – in the past.
Before the soldiers arrived, the Americans bombed our city. Sirens wailed and we scrambled for safety. But no place was really safe anymore. The laughter and jubilation that once coated our city walls, shouts and glee leaping up from our outdoor pubs, were gone; they were replaced with shrieks of terror and sadness. What had we come to?
It was Hitler. It was the damn man who thought he could convince every one of us that we were a higher manifestation of God. Well, fuck God and fuck Hitler. We were hateful of our neighbors. We reported each other’s crimes as acts of self preservation.
I never spoke those words. A lady never would. Nor would a man who feared for his life in those dismal days. And everyone feared for their life.
Yet, we were neighbors. And when the sirens wailed and the bombs screamed down upon us, we said prayers together to a God we did not believe in.
The explosion was nothing short of a cacophony of flying bricks. Our building had been hit.
“Get out! Get out!”
Neighbors from the upper floors pounded on our door as they ran down the stairs past our second floor loft.
Papa grabbed his cello. Mutti grabbed her mother’s silver. Lily grabbed the jewelry box. I pushed on the piano.
I awoke gasping and panting.
Henry scoots closer to me and wraps his arm around my shoulder, pulling me close. I allow myself to be comforted by him.
“What is it, Peach?” That’s what he calls me. He’s breathing deeply, still mostly asleep.
“I was dreaming about pushing my piano out of our burning apartment.”
He breathes in one great breath.
“I almost forget about your life before us.”
“I don’t know why you forget. You were there.”