In the Arms of War

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Life is like theatre

The conversation between the headmaster, Mr. Klein and Zofia in the Headmaster’s office.

- Mrs. Mak, I have been reported that your son had made an incredible progress in German and mathematics. He seems to be a very smart boy. The only concern, I have to express is his classroom attendance. I mean, the last year, he had absconded the lessons several times and was found by the river feeding ducks. Is there anything particularly happening in your family that pulls his attention away from the school?

- Mr. Klein, I do not know, what to say. The only reason, that I may think of is his dad. He has gone missing. I shall talk to him. I hope, it will make a positive difference in his attitude.

- You remember, what I promised to your son at the end of last school year? I will keep my promise. Zygmunt will receive a sledge for Christmas, if his grades remain distinctive..., but I also demand to see a significant improvement in his attendance. If you wish, I may talk to him personally.

- I understand Mr. Klein. Thank you for your efforts in motivating my son to his school work. I appreciate that. I am also delighted to hear about Zygmunt’s progress. I would love him to be educated and feel secured in future. I will discuss about the issues with him.

- Wonderful. If there is nothing else, that brings your concerns, then I shall see you some time in future. I wish Zugmunt best luck.

The office door is getting opened. Soon after, my mum appears in doorway and the headmaster behind her back.

- Thank you for your coming Mrs. Mak. I’ll see you soon.

- Goodbye, Mr. Klein.

Sitting lose by the door, I could hear the conversation. Luckily, he didn’t notice me when my mum was leaving his office. He might have thought, I am badly behaved.

- Let’s get back home, Laura. Mum refers to me pointing the exit door.

Approaching my house, I can hear auntie Lynda’s talking to our neighbour.

- I am pretty sure they were Jews. This must be a reason of their removal. God knows, where the might have gone, hiding from SS and Gestapo monsters.

Mrs. Ela replied firmly - You would better speak quality as you don’t know, whom may creep behind the corner and report you. You never know, so mind your words. It is not our business.

- Of course, it is our business! Look, what they have done to our country! We are in war, because of Hitler and his Nazi bandits. I know, I should have kept my mouth shut, but it is so difficult not to criticise their actions... I am too anxious right now. I’d better go then. Excuse me...

Auntie Lyna is not our relative. She has entered our family through the marriage to my uncle Leon. She has a complicated personality, but occasionally she makes us laugh unintentionally. She is a low growth person and her round body posture reminds me of dumpling. I know, it sound horrible, but this is how our family members describe her, especially younger ones.

I remember the one, exceptionally entertaining episode, that occurred to her in front our eyes!

One day, auntie Lyna decided to climb the pear tree situated in our huge garden to collect some fruits. Unfortunately, her clothing wasn’t suitable for this sort of task, so not long after she had climbed the tree, we heard screaming. We all run out of the house, we followed the noise coming from the garden and then we witnessed absolutely terrific view. Auntie Lyna was hanging down by her dress, kicking her legs out and carrying on screaming: “Get me off the tree! Help me! Help me somebody, please!” She was close to tears. My dad and her husband placed the ladder in way, she could reach it. Eventually, she managed to get herself off the tree and come down to the ground.

That evening, we couldn’t stop laughing. We were amused, whispering that she fully deserved, what had happened to her.

Auntie Lyna possesses some negative features, which are unacceptable. She is incredibly nosey. She is also a dreadful gossiper. That person has no scruples to betray someone... This is the reason, we don’t respect her. Occasionally, the auntie receives some bullying from the younger members of our family.

Auntie Lyna has a strong character, full of self confidence.


Today, Mr. Melan chose me for the role of lady Macbeth. I am so excited, that I cannot wait to get back home and share these great news with my family. My mum will be pleased! After the school, on the way back home I stopped at the market and managed to sell my four drawings and one painting. I have earned some money for a new book, J. W. Goethe, “ Sorrows of Young Werther”.

I begin to notice, that world that I am surrounded by, has some colours. The autumn leaves have fallen. Lots of red, golden and some green shades appear on the ground. When I was a little girl, me and mama used to pick them up for making collages.

This afternoon, I need to start some preparation for the role at the theatre.

Approaching my house, I see the German troops’ car situated just outside. Oh my God, the soldiers must be inside! I hope that everything is alright!

Entering the house...

- Mama? I call.

- Laura, I am here in dining room...we have guests...

Coming in the dining room I witness two soldiers sitting at the table.

Mama refers to me: - Dinner is ready. Mr. Alex and Mr. Otto are joining us today.

What a surprise... I am thinking.

[Conversation at the table]

Mum: - How was at school?

Me: Good.

Mum: - Good? And that’s it?

Alex is staring at me eating his tomato soup.

Me: - I got picked up for the role of Lady Macbeth by Shakespeare.

Mum: - This is fantastic news then, not just good news! My darling, that’s wonderful! It is very strong character and important role to play. How about your artworks? Have you sold any today?

Me: - Yes, a couple of drawings and one painting. I’ve got enough money now to buy a book that I want. I have met a wealthy gentleman in the city. He was speaking with French accent, so I assume, he was French. He bought my painting.

Mum is smiling with pride in her eyes. - You are a lucky girl my sweetheart. Well done! I have made biscuits. After dinner, I’ll make some hot drinks and we will have them to celebrate your success!

Otto: - Well done you! You must be really talented! Alex and I joined the Wehrmacht. We didn’t have choice. All the young men had to join the army.

Alex: - I wanted to be a surgeon. Both of my parents have died. Studying would take me many years to complete and I needed money to live. Luckily, I have grandparents. They have always been great support for me.

Otto: - You may still become a doctor, when the war is finished.

Alex: - Maybe, but I want to have family first. Grandparents left me the house in Bavaria. I have to look after it. I intend to rent it. The money, I receive from renting, I will pay for my study.

Me: - May I ask, how your parents die?

Alex: - It was winter. Dad was driving. Mum was with him. The road was slippery. Father turned left and the car began to spin. He lost control. The car fell down to the river.

Mum: - I am sorry to hear that.

Alex has become subdued. I shouldn’t have asked. I am feeling sorry too.

Alex: - It happened so long ago. My granddad said to me once, that it wasn’t an accident. Apparently, father had some enemies. He had discovered something important, a serious incident, which could have destroyed someone’s reputation and career. Granddad knows more, but he would keep it in secret to protect me. Grandparents brought me up, then the war began. They have been doing well. I miss them and am looking forward to seeing them soon, I hope.

Now, it’s the time, we need to go. Thank you for dinner.

Alex and Otto stand up firmly from the table, put their hats on. They both are walking towards the door, then Alex turns back and approaches me saying: - I am curious about your drawing. Could you let me take a look at your artworks some day? My father used to paint amazingly well. I have kept his drawings of human anatomy and landscapes somewhere. They evoke my reminisce of childhood. If you don’t mind...

Feeling a little bit embarrassed I say: - Yes, of course. Mama is looking at me, rising her eyebrow, smiling furtively.

Alex: - Awesome. I shall see you another day.

The men disappear behind the door.

- He was watching you with spark in his eyes, when you were talking about your role at the theatre and the artworks you sold. Have you met him before? Mama states suddenly.

- Yes, once in the city... It is time for me now to go to my room and begin my preparation for the lady Macbeth role. My reply sounds cold. - Don’t forget, we are enemies, father’s fate is unknown and we still don’t know, what is going to happen to all of us.

- Yes, perhaps we are enemies. He is a soldier, but also a man. Mother states.

- Goodnight mama.

I have no more to say, so I am going to my room, light my candle and begin to read ‘Macbeth’. I forgot to ask mama, if she would saw a dress for me for that role. I will sell more drawings and give her money for material.


The man is breathing heavily, clumsily traversing barefoot through the dark forest. On that cold and damp night, the moon is his only guardian, looking down at him, providing with light. The man is listening to the forest, every rustle of leaves, crackle of branch, sing of owl makes him feel uncomfortable and suspicious. There is nowhere to go. The forest never ends.

The man has no jacket, no scarf, no hat. Despite of that, he is sweating. The swear comes from fear. From time to time he stops, looks around and listens to the sounds of the forest. Is there anyone following him? Yes, of course, the wind is his companion, blowing at his face, reminding him that he is alive, giving him thrills.

Suddenly, the man can hear flapping wings. The owl appears in front of him flying smoothly between truculent branches. The man follows the bird, perceived, that is support from Lord in heaven. Both, the man and the own become pilgrims, mutual companions. After hundred yards following the bird, the man finds the way out...

All of a sudden, in the moonlight, fields of wheat appear. The owl flies away, because it is the end of his leading. The fields are not quite lonely standing in front of the man. They are embracing farmhouse and barn, visible from the far distance.

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