From Darkness

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Chapter 3: Sad

Today was going to be a good day for Uli. Not only was he going to escape his house for a whole Sunday afternoon, but it was also his best friend’s birthday. Ivy was turning seven years old. Uli was older, he had already turned seven in January, as he loved to remind her.

Although it was April, the snow still hadn’t melted. He was playing outside, running in the frosty air. His house had a river that flowed through the backyard, but this year it still had not heard of Spring, it was still frozen.

Something caught his eye, and with a thin branch that he picked up, he poked it. It was a frozen bird that lay covered in snow. Uli felt sad for the poor bird, if only he had been able to save him. His father probably would not have allowed the creature in the house, but he could have hidden it in the shed. Sorry little guy, he thought. And that’s when he heard it, his name shouted at a distance. Mr. Werner, Father, was angry again.

He ran back to the house as quickly as he could.

“Are you deaf, you little shit?” his father yelled while grabbing him by the hair.
“Sorry Vater, I didn’t hear you,” he whimpered.
“Sorry? You’ll be sorry now!” and he slapped Uli hard across the face. “Now go get me my tools like I told you to!” his father pushed him away. Uli immediately headed for the shed, crying yet trying hard not to. Father hated crying.

He came back in the house a minute later, with the tools and still crying.

“Oh look at this! You’ve given me a girl for a child!” his father bellowed to his mother who had just come in with groceries. She kept her eyes downcast and stayed silent. His mother was not one to argue, she barely ever spoke with her husband, lest he hit her with his belt like he always would.

“Come on Uli, stop crying and wash your face, we’ll head to Ivy’s house in a minute,” she said while putting the food in its place.

Uli went to his room and the thought of going to Ivy’s birthday party cheered him up again. He wiped the tears off and grabbed the birthday gift he had made for her. It was a drawing of him and her at Ivy’s favorite spot at the beach.

~

“I just can’t believe it, my little princess turning seven already! Oh, how time passes by...” Peter said to Simone as he helped her finish the cake and food preparations.

“It seems like just yesterday I held her in my arms, a tiny baby!” she smiled sweetly.
“And Kristian, soon twelve, before we know it he will be a grown man and leave us to start his own family,” Peter said with both pride and sadness in his voice.

Life was going well for the Köhlers and the rest of Germany, for that matter. The economy was flowing, healthy, no more printing false money. They were calling it the Goldene Zwanziger or Golden Twenties.

It was a golden era indeed, and not just for them, but the rest of Europe and North America were also thriving. On the radio and newspapers it was always good news, people were content. But despite the happiness, people had not yet forgotten about the war. A war that in hindsight seemed pointless and unnecessary. Peter and Simone could never forget, especially Peter. It had left emotional scars that would never heal. And although he now had an excellent job in a large fishing company and could always afford to buy all the food his family needed, and even expand their house, he was never the same man. Never whole again.

Ivy had heard stories of the war, a war that had ended two years before she was born. She had also heard that up until three years ago, times had been very tough and very sad for her family. But she didn’t really understand what it all meant. Neither she or Kristian could really remember it. As far as her memory went back, everyone she knew had always been happy.

Someone knocked at the door and she ran to it like she’d been waiting for this moment. When she opened it, her friend Julia and her parents had arrived.

“Happy Birthday!” Julia said while her mom also congratulated Ivy and told Julia to hand Ivy her present. It was a box wrapped in pink with a bright pink bow on it. “Oh I can’t wait to open it, thank you!” Ivy said excitedly as she and Julia ran to the fireplace, Simone and Peter came to the door to greet and welcome in their guests.

A while later more friends from school and friends of Ivy’s parents arrived. Then Uli and his mother arrived, and that’s when the party was complete for Ivy.

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