Breaking Down Walls

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Chapter 5

I sleep. And I sleep. And I sleep. Fourteen hours. I have never slept so well in my life.

What has Willem done to me?

I got back around eleven last night and have slept halfway through my shift, but no one bothers to wake me. They all know how little I rest and how much I work, so they cover for me and let me enjoy the first good sleep I’ve ever had. I wake with a pounding migraine and a note from Margie telling me to take my time. So I do.

I shower slowly. Brush my teeth slowly. Change into my nursing uniform slowly. I pour myself a cup of coffee and read Shirley’s fashion magazine while my hair dries. It’s two thirty when it’s finally mostly dry, so I pull half of it back and pin the nursing cap into my hair.I walk slowly into the infirmary, mindful of my migraine. But those efforts are thrown out the door when all three girls practically tackle me and yell out a constant stream of questions.

“Chill, guys,” I moan, “My head is pounding. One question at a time, please.”

When I told them I was going out with Willem (again), they were not happy. They didn't trust him, understandably. But as the week went on and my date loomed closer, they grew more excited than I was. Their precious Anna, finally going out with a man, hopefully joining the world of womanhood.

Shirley chimes in first. “You don't look like you have a headache. You’re glowing, my girl.” She eyes me suspiciously.

“How was it?” Cat asks.

“Tell us everything!” Margie squeals.

“OH MY GOD DID YOU HAVE SEX?” Shirley yells.

“No! Dear god, no! Why would you think that? And keep your voice down.” Everyone is staring at us. We amble outside for privacy.

“Anna, you have sex glow. Doesn't that look like sex glow?” Shirley asks the girls.

“Definitely sex glow,” Margie agrees.

“I don't know. It’s different than sex glow. I think she has totally fallen for him. I think our Anna is in love,” Cat says softly. Everyone gasps.

I blush. “We didn’t have sex. And I’m not in love. We rode his motorcycle­”

“His motorcycle?!”

“Yes, his motorcycle, out to a field in the country and stargazed. That’s it.”

They’re all silent until Shirley snorts. “He didn't even try to put any moves on you?”

“Well, I mean­-I don't know...”

They all slowly smile. “Anna, did you get your first kiss?” Shirley asks.

“W-­well how do you know if it was even my first?”

“Please. I know a lip-­virgin when I see one,” she pauses, then her eyes widen with realization. “So he really kissed you?”

“Yes...” I reply hesitantly.

They all scream.

“How was it? Was it bad? It’s always awkward the first time. Usually horrible,” Margie chimes in.

I squirm as I think of Willem and me. “It was actually perfect.”

“Tongue? No tongue? What about his hands? Was there hand action? Could you feel-”

Cat cuts Shirley off. “I don't think Anna wants to get into those details,” like she has read my mind. “Let’s just leave it at it being perfect and Anna is head-­over­-heels.” She smiles at me.

“So was it all kissing, or did you guys even talk?” Margie asks.

“We definitely talked a lot,” I reply.

“But how? How could you even understand each other?”

“I don't know. It just worked. He spoke some English and I spoke some Dutch.”

Cat sighs dreamily. “That is so romantic.”

I smile shyly. “Has he, um...come around today?” They all shrug and shake their heads.

“Maybe he’s busy. He’ll probably come by later...” I reassure myself.

But he doesn't.

And not the day after that.

And not the day after that.

It’s Tuesday and I’m ripping my hair out. Was I wrong about him this whole time? Was he just using me? Or playing me, for fun? Or maybe it was just charity? What if I scared him?

My glow is gone. I can’t sleep. I work constantly. And I’m choking on worry.

I walk outside for a break around noon. My hands won't stop shaking from the caffeine and lack of sleep. I’m praying the sun will help with my jittery nerves. But of course it’s overcast today. My defeated sigh is replaced with a gasp as I am pulled roughly to the side. Before I can scream, someone’s lips are on mine.

The most familiar lips.

I wrap my arms around his neck as he wraps his around my waist, lifting me off my feet.

I pull away first, breathing out, “Willem.”

“I could not wait no longer. I had to see you,” he breathes heavily before kissing me again. His tongue searches for mine. I moan and melt against him. He finally sets me on my feet and pulls away to see my face. “I sorry gone so long. Busy. Germans close. I try contact with you, but very busy for that, as well.”

I place my hands on his chest. “I thought I scared you away,” I admit shyly.

He scoffs. “Scared? No, not you. You are scary like flower,” he smiles at his joke. I shake my head and succumb to the urge to bury my face in his broad chest. I wrap my arms around his waist and he wraps his around my shoulders, squeezing me tightly. We sit in our embrace for a while.

“I practice English. You hear it?” He breaks the silence.

I feel guilty for not practicing Dutch, but I smile up at him anyway. “Yes, you sound like you could be a full­-blooded American,” I say sarcastically.

He flicks my head.

“Ow! Jerk!”

“Mean person,” he shoots back. I giggle. It hits me hard how much I’ve missed this man. I’ve missed the way he talks, the way he makes me laugh. Makes me feel. I bury my head back into his chest.

“What wrong?” He tries to look down at me, his lips brushing my forehead as he speaks.

I shake my head. “I just missed you,” I murmur.


I shyly look up, but don't meet his eyes. “I, um, missed you.” I realize then how unnatural it is for me to voice my affection. I’ve never done it before.

He smiles crookedly at me. His emerald eyes glisten. “Good. I did thought I only one feel that.” He rests his forehead against mine, I reach one hand around his neck and the other rests on his chest, right above his bullet wound. His hands slide down to my hips.

“I forgot to ask you before,” I say, “How is your wound?” I pat his chest gently.

“Better,” he says softly. “Not much feeling now.” His thumbs rub my hips. “Anna?”


“I ask you something?”


“It was dark, but... you arms, those­”

“Anna!” Me and Willem look up as someone yells my name. “Anna, are you almost done? I need you to change this guy’s bedpan so I can smoke!” Cat comes out of the tent and spots us right away in our embrace. She freezes and a slow smile forms on her face. “Oh, hello. I didn't know you were meeting up now.”

“We weren’t. I mean, it was­”

“No worries. I’ll give you a few,” she says with a wink and skips back into the tent.

“Cat?” Will asks.

I nod. “When can I see you again?”

“Friday. I take you out. Be special night,” he wiggles his eyebrows at me.

That’s my eighteenth birthday. I pray he doesn't know. “Oh? You’re going to make me wait that long?” I ask jokingly.

His mouth turns down at the corners. He brings a large hand to my face and rubs his thumb across my lips before gently kissing me. His other hand pulls my hips against him. I bury my fingers into his hair. It’s soft. Just like this kiss. This long, tender kiss. His hand moves to my lower back. Barely my lower back. More like the early curve of my behind. He’s sneaky. I tell him. “You’re sneaky.” I rest my hand on his forearm.

He smiles a little and cocks his head. “Sneaky?”

I trail my hand to his on my low back. “Bad boy. Sneaky.”

He nods in understanding. “Sneaky,” he repeats. “When I in there,” he gestures to the infirmary, “I did watch you. All time. And I watch this...” He wiggles his eyebrows again, moving his hand a millimeter lower.

Resting my hands on his chest, I blush and avoid his eyes. “I’m sorry,” I say, “I just don't understand what you see in me. Those things you say...I just don't see them.” He places his hand under my chin and lifts my face up.

His eyes are green fire. His expression has no humor. “You are beautiful. Inside and outside. I tell you before: I see you. I always did. Stop pushing away when I care for you.” He looks hurt. He’s right. It’s just my knee­-jerk reaction to push away.

“I’m sorry,” I say again, “I’ve cared for you for a long time, too.”

He raises an eyebrow, his face relaxing. “Really? I must know these things. Do tell.”

I poke the side of his head and blow air out of my mouth.

“What is that?”

“Your head was blowing up. I thought I should let out some air.”

He laughs. And I laugh because I love his laugh. “My funny girl,” he says, then kisses me.

I break away. “I really have to go­”

“No!” He pulls me back in his tight embrace and buries his face in my neck.

“Willem,” I groan as he gently sucks on my sensitive neck skin.

“Mmmmm. Why you so...” He looks at his hand, where a word is written down. “Sweet?”

He smiles at me.

I smile and shake my head. “God, you’re so cute.”


“Look it up,” I try to pull away. “I really have to get back to work.” He whimpers as he loosens his hold on me. “But Friday night for sure. What time?”

“Six. Here.” He grabs my hand and kisses my palm. Tingles shoot down my arm.

He disappears as I enter the tent. Cat is waiting for me on the other side with a smile breaking her face. I sigh. “That was adorable,” she says.

“Please don't.”

“Anna is in love.”

“No, I’m not,” I say softly.

“It’s written all over you face. Stop arguing. I’d love to talk about this more, but I need to smoke or I’m going to die,” then she rushes past me outside.

Thank god. Now to the bed pan...

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