[. . .] the ways in which individuals take responsibility for themselves or others
The following is set during WWII Germany during the purging of Jews. Because of their forbidden love, Liesel and Werner must sacrifice their love for the safety of Werner’s family – who is of Jewish descent. Liesel, upon completing a letter that ends their relationship, she must confront her mother, Rose – whom she had been deceiving since the beginning of the war.
A German Girl and Her. . .
It felt as if my soul had loved him for a thousand years. When I would look into his copper-sage eyes their half-moon would capture my heartbeat and throw it out into the wind, as a gift for other lovers to soon catch. We would sit and speak of the hollow tree in the wood that the men wearing the yellow star would hide in, speaking of a time now gone and a life that once was.
The blossoming love of the German girl and the boy wearing the yellow star.
We would sit under the pale moonlight reflecting off of the pool and stare into each other’s eyes. The sound of our heartbeat’s palpable tick overcoming the sudden booms and busts of the fighter planes dashing overhead. We were safe. Safe only when I was in his arms and hidden within the trees’ line away from the searchlights.
When the door has shut and I was alone, alone in the bedroom, the rush of anxiety and fear of the unknown floods my bloodstream. The sudden booms and busts of the fighter planes seem so much closer – close enough to rattle every bone and joint in my frame. Fear.
With every passing second of every passing day, the men donning the red flag of death draw closer and closer to Werner and I’s sanctuary. Every second, they are closer and closer to yanking him out of my life and sending him to the tunnel of soot that seems to encompass the sky and let the empty names of the dead settle into the flowery wallpaper of the German home.
No. No. I cannot do this anymore. I am a German girl, he a Jew with a yellow star pinned to his chest. We cannot run through the darkened streets in search of a place to share our love. He will be caught. He will be killed. And it would be my fault. No.
After the moon had read his bedtime story to the sun, I crafted my letter. I wrote of our deception – of how our families didn’t know of our love – how I had lied to every being who had asked where I was every night. I hoped that Werner would see the affection concealed in my words and the light I wished to attain for his family. Examine your soul I tell him, open your heart and let us stop taking part in this foolish game we call love. We are children, unaware and unworthy of the love that has deceived us and our families. We belong playing games, not running from the floodlights that kill you. There is a force that claims “Aryan” to be supreme and they will come for you. I have to put an end to our love.
A German girl and a Jewish just don’t belong together. Despite my soul calling Werner’s name, I cannot risk his life – his family’s life.
After the sun had sung it’s morning song to the moon, my letter was complete and within it, lay the rippings of a love blossomed much too soon in a garden overrun by weeds.
“Leisel, come down and help your helpless mother cook breakfast,” said Rose in German, “you have been much too cooped up in those four walls!”
I sat with the letter in my palm, the perspiration from my hand staining the ivory envelope with a crinkle of yellow. Tears start to gather in my eyes as the guilt of my deception runs waves over my eyelids and overfills my mind with salt spray.
“What is wrong with you, too much pepper in your soup?”
I shake my head.
“Speak girl, you must tell me what is wrong.”
I shake my head.
It is only then that she notices the crinkle of paper encased in my white knuckles. She grabs the letter before I can let out an ounce of protest. She begins to read aloud, as I can feel the bitterness grow in her gut and the anger that pours into every vein of her stature.
“Before you speak, mother, I must say this,” as words seem to tumble out of my mouth like a script, “I always knew, deep inside, it was wrong, I felt deep inside somewhere – this feeling like I loved him and at the same time couldn’t have him.”
Mother was silent for a moment, she ran a hand through her shimmering hair and sighed, “ You must never tell of this Jewish boy to anyone – no one can know.
I showed this letter to my boy wearing the yellow star, and never saw him again. So now I wait for the fighter planes’ booms and busts to fade and wonder of the life that could’ve been between the German girl and her Jewish boy.
It felt, now, as if my soul had been torn in two. One half left within this emotionless cast named Liesel and the other embedded into the chest of a Jewish boy – never to be found again. Yet, I find solace in the fact that his copper-sage eyes are still alive and awake with the freshness of every new day, and not rotting at the bottom of a pit or settling into the flowery walls of a German home, disguised as soot.
I am a German girl who loved and lost a Jewish boy.