In the Arms of War

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Crossroads

Today at school, Mr. Melan told me, that my vision and creation of lady Macbeth during introduction of the characters was correct and I have a perfect sense of empathy. I need to practise dialogues. Mama agreed to make my costume for the performance. She helps me today to sell some of my sketches and paintings.

Looking up the sky, the clouds are white like snow. The Sun is stubbornly hiding behind them. I can see the iron birds, one by one flying over. Sometimes, I imagine them dropping bullets down to us. I have a fear, my imagination is playing up with me. I wish, it was all over.

Looking around, I can watch people rushing. Some of them are wearing posh clothes, but majority are poor. I’m glad, that my mama can make dresses. She always copes with finding a good quality materials for good price.

Last time, when I brought mum here, the French man, who once bought a couple of my artworks, had returned and purchased two of my drawings! He seems a nice man. He introduced himself to mama and told her, that I am very talented. He has come back here today.

I can see him again now, walking towards the bank. He appears so busy and concentrated on something. He’s running a business in Gdansk. Mr. Roche sells accessories for women, also some creams. He would like to open French café with croissants, but the economic situation here is so unsteady. He has promised mama to deliver some French dressing materials from Marseille next time, when he visits his country. He always wears suits and his shoes are precisely polished.



***



Alex is looking furtively at me, while eating his meal at the table. Mama says that he likes me.

Suddenly Alex asks me: - How was your day at school?

Me: - Very well. Thank you. We were reading aloud our script and discussing in a group, how we imagine the characters.

Alex: - This tomato soup is so delicious! I have never eaten anything better than this.

Mama with shy smile on her face: - Thank you. When you finish, I will give you a piece of cake.

Alex: - Nice! The next door neighbors are moving to Cologne for one month. Did you know that? They asked me for staying over nights sometimes to keep their flat warm. I’ll be the next door, if you need me. They will say goodbye to you before they leave.

Mama: - Did they say, when they are leaving?

Alex: - Next week, I understood.

Mama: - I need to tell you something too. I’ve got a job as a babysitter. I thought I’d earn extra money. It’s just twice a week. I may be asked for staying over night too.

Me: - That’s awesome mum, but who’s going to look after Wanda when I’m at school?

Mama: - I’m allowed to take her with me. Zyg can cope on his own.

Alex: - I’ve finished.

Mama: - Great, I’ll bring a cake.


[Ten minutes later]


Alex: - Laura, may you show me your drawings and paintings? You agreed to do so.

Me: - Yes, of course. I keep them in my bedroom.

Alex: - We shall go there, if you want or you can bring them here. It’s up to you.

Mama is looking at me with smile on her face.

Me: - I think, it would be better, if I bring my artworks here.

Alex with flirtatious eyes: - Ok Madame, I’ll wait here. By the way, the cake is gorgeous too. What talented women are living here! I am so lucky!

Mama: - Thank you. I’d better go and leave you then. Goodnight.

Alex and I are staying completely lonely.

Alex: - Your mum is really warm and carrying person.

Me: - I know. She is coping well without my dad. It’s not easy with three children. I am adult and attempt to help her as much as I can, but I’m so busy studying and working occasionally.

I’d better go and bring my artworks...

Alex: - Yes, please! I cannot wait to see them!

[After few minutes I come back]

- I have made a significant collection of my drawings and paintings. This is it. My portfolio.

I sit down and begin to pass every work to Alex’ hands. We talk about each individual drawing and painting. He appears to enjoy watching them, asks lots of questions about my ideas, inspirations, imagination.

Me: - Alex, can you draw?

Alex fixed his gaze on one of my paintings, replies: - I used to when I was a kid. Me and my dad were drawing together. I learnt a lot from him.

Me: - How old were you when your parents died?

Alex: - Twelve.

Me: - Would you draw something now?

Alex: - I can’t remember how to do it.

Me: - You still remember. I’m sure. Please, do it! Draw something for me!

Alex: - Alright, I’ll try. What do you want me to draw?

Me: - It’s your choice. Use your creativity, ideas...

Alex: - I’ll draw a flower for you.

Alex grabs a pen and starts to draw. After few minutes the image is completed.

- Can I have a look? I’m curious.

Alex: - Yes. It’s for you.

He hands the piece of paper over to me...with a charming illustration of rose.

- This is really cute. I’m admiring it with smile.

Alex: - Shall we draw something together?

Me: - Sure! I’ll get my drawing kit and then we shall begin.

We have spent nearly two hours on drawing trees, birds, horses, talked and laughed quietly, so nobody can complain about noises.

Alex put his hand over my shoulder while drawing. We have created nice images. We’ve had so much fun. One day, I will dress them up with frames and put them on the wall in mama’s room.

Next day, in the morning, Hilda knocks on the door. Mama talks to her for a while. Hilda reveals that she is going to Cologne with her boys for a month. Mama wishes her safe journey and all the best. Hilda says goodbye with smile and sentiment in her eyes, then walks off.



***



Mama receives a letter from Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo).

An dem Tag 02.12.1942, Jan Mak wurde bei einem Feuergefecht tot in einer Schusswunde gefunden. Die Beerdigung fand. Bitte kommen Sie und holen Sie die Sachen Ihres Mannes ab.”

(On day 02.12.1942, Jan Mak was found dead in a gunshot wound during a firefight. The funeral was held. Please, come and collect your husband’s belongings.)


My heart is broken.

Mama has been crying all day. I can hear Wanda’s praying in German. Sometimes we pray together...

Christmas is coming. For the first time we will sit down at the table without our dad...



***



Despite father’s death, we haven’t had bad Christmas. We invited Alex for Christmas Eve. We all got some little presents from him. I found silver earrings under the tree. They are so pretty. As the headmaster promised, Zyg received a sledge for Christmas. He managed to keep high level of school results.

Alex is interested in coming to watch my performance at the theatre. Mama has finished making a dress for my role of lady Macbeth. The dress is made of green silky material with beads, embroideries and couching. It has hood and long, wide sleeves. It looks stunning. Surely, my mum has talent. Once, she got a job offer from the theatre to become a costume designer, but she refused. She said, that it is huge commitment and responsibility.

I miss my father. Mama wasn’t able to go and collect his belongings. She said, she would need more time to get over. She keeps herself busy, sawing and looking after children, cooking, tidying. Mr. Roche visits us. He delivers mum materials from France. Once, he fixed the sawing machine as it got broken.

Days are short, nights are long. I watch dark skies from my garden. Stars are so bright. Looking up the dark sky and the silver moon, I talk to my dad, share news with him, ask him for support and protection for the rest of our family. I know, he is with me.



***



The performance has been an awesome experience for me. I haven’t had much stress before coming on the stage. Mum brought Zyg to the show. Alex and Otto came in for a while. They seemed to enjoy the performance. They haven’t seen the whole performance due to their duties, but some parts, which I took part in, they have. Alex said that, I am a great actress. Mama was impressed too. She looked very proud. I hope, that I made her feeling a little bit better, after daddy’s loss...

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