In the Arms of War

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God help us

Some days, I feel like, I could stay all day in the house doing nothing. I draw and paint a lot, but quite often I just sit on the wooden floor.

The positive thing about winter is the fireplace. The most reassuring item in the house. I am able to spend hours on sitting and watching the fire moving. For me, he is making his own art. I am hypnotised by this performance. The flame dances, sometimes as a single dancer, sometimes with other flame. At times he is more dynamic, at times very phlegmatic. He is flexible in his movements. He elevates himself like ballerina during her leap on the stage.

He attempts to make me smile, I can feel that. He warms me up, calms down, when I cry.

The fire place reminds me of the theatrical stage. The scent of burning wood and coal isn’t the most pleasant, but the process itself is the game of fire and light.

Someone is knocking the door. I’d better check, who it is.

- Alex? What are you doing here so late? Oh no! You are bleeding!...Mama!


I will have to fetch the doctor! - Mama is walking up and down nervously . She puts the coat on and runs towards the door. - You stay with him, use water and soap to clean the wounds and bandage to reduce bleeding. You know, where we keep dressings. I won’t be long.

Looking at Alex, laying on the couch. He is visibly suffering with pain. His is so pale on his face, breathing fast. The drops of sweat appear on his forehead. I’m rushing to the kitchen to get some water, soap, cotton pads and dressings. I’ve got everything ready to start to clean the wounds and apply pressure on.

- You will have to tell me what happened.

Alex helps me to remove the top of his uniform. Two bleeding wounds appear to my eyes, the one on his left arm, another one near the collarbone. I begin to clean the wound near his collarbone and apply the dressing, then I take a look on the other one. God, what happened?

- I’m in lot of pain. Alex complains.

- I shall image, you are. I hope, mama will come back with the doctor soon. Stay calm and rest.

- I’ve never experienced so much pain in my life. The physical pain, I mean.

- I’ll make you some tea, stay awake, I’ll be back soon.

- Please, don’t leave me. Alex is begging with fatigue on his face. He has clearly difficulties with speaking.

- How about water?

- Yes, water, just come back...quickly...

After few seconds, I’m back with the glass of water. Alex is looking sleepy, his breath is calmer. He appears more settled. I’m sitting next to him, wiping the drops of sweat from his forehead. I’m so anxious about mama not coming back yet. Alex has reached out for my hand, holding it firmly. Wanda is playing with her teddies and dolls, while I’m telling Alex my childhood stories. He is watching me carefully, smiles from time to time. I’m not quite sure, if he pays attention to, what I’m saying, but at least I’m trying to distract him from the pain. I’ve managed to reduce the bleeding from the both wounds. Now, everything depends on doctor.

- I’m sorry for your dad. Suddenly, Alex whispers. - I’m sorry for everything that we...the Germans...have your family...

I can feel the tears flowing into my eyes. He is my enemy. I should hate him and leave him to suffer,...but I cannot. He is holding my hand tightly, rubbing my fingers. His eyes are stuck in me.

- Are you going to stay with me tonight? Alex whispers.

- The doctor needs to see you first. He will decide what to do next. You may end up going to hospital.

- I don’t want to go to hospital. You will look after me better than anyone else.

After few minutes, mother and the German doctor appear in the lounge.

The doctor takes a glimpse at the wounded one and makes immediate decision about transferring him to the military hospital. Alex insists on staying with us. The doctor looks at me, then at mama and after while he says:

- I shall imagine, the hospital is busy right now. Alright, let me get my tools. We will undertake the procedure of removing the bullets here, in the house then. It is not complicated surgical performance, but I will need a little assistance from you, ladies. First, I will request clean sheets and towels...

The operation took an hour.

The doctor has administrated Alex so medication for lowering his temperature and cease the pain. I have remained with Alex through all that time.

- Thank you, doctor, for everything, for your help. Mama refers to the medic.

- Thank you too, for your assistance! You’ve done great job. Perhaps, you should consider the future career in nursing. Doctor replies with smile on his face. He puts the hat on his head and leaves us.

Sitting and watching Alex. He is sleeping like a child. It seems, the medication is working well. From time to time, I apply a cold compress on to his head to keep the temperature down. The doctor demonstrated me how to apply the dressings. Tomorrow morning, I will change them, before going to school.

I have placed the armchair next to the couch, where Alex is sleeping. I sit down and gently put my legs on to the couch. I’m swimming away in my sleep...


As soon as I wake up, I take a look at Alex. He is awake, staring at my direction.

- You are so charming when you sleep. He states with smile and spark in his eyes.

- How are you? You are looking much better than last night. I ask him.

- I am feeling less in pain. He replies.

- Could you tell me now, what happened yesterday? I think, now is the time to find out what actually happened to him.

Alex’ face begins to shift from excitement to despair. Finally, with grief in his eyes, he speaks out: - We were...Otto and I...were patrolling the warehouses on the suburbs of Gdansk, near the forest when suddenly, two Soviets opened the fire to our vehicle. Otto got shot in his head and died. I managed to get out of the car, find another one and escape.

- Oh, I’m so sorry Alex.

- I need to report it to my bosses. We will find those monsters. Alex states with anger. - I want to capture them as soon as possible...

-...First, you need to be focused on recovery. I interrupt. - You must rest to get well soon.

Couple days later...

Alex is recovering well. We often take a walk to the park and come back. We spend hours on sitting and talking. We also draw together. Sometimes, my little sister joins us and add some figure to it. After all, we create an astonishing collages, that we contemplate on, what we’ve made.

Occasionally, he picks me up from the school.

Alex has reported the attack to his bosses. They lead an investigation and look for those Soviet soldiers.

It seems, the war turns into more serious state. Germany and Russia are in war now. The situation is so unpredictable. Each day, I feel uncertain about what life may bring...

It has been raining for the last week. I have finished my lessons at school. All I need, so do quick shopping and return home. I hope to get everything, what mama requested. Since the war between Germans and Soviets began, we struggle to get food from groceries. Mama plants vegetables, we have chickens and a goat. Every day, She bakes bread.

Oh no, there are no potatoes left...

I cannot search any longer, I am getting soaking wet...I’d better go home. Mama will have to change her plans for dinner...

I turn around and suddenly, I notice the man. The officer, in German uniform.

Who is that officer? Oh my God, he is following me. I haven’t done anything wrong. I begin to rush to get home as soon as possible. This man is still walking behind me. I am feeling annoyed. What does he want?

After few minutes, I reach my home, open the door and get inside. As soon as I walk into my bedroom, I can hear the steps behind me. I turn myself towards the door and he appears in the doorway.

- Who are you, mister? What are you doing here? No reply. Instead, he is watching me with desire and irony on his face.

He begins to reach out for his pants belt and unbuckle it. The way he looks at me is terrifying. Suddenly, he throws himself in my direction and pushes me towards the desk that I lean facing it! I attempt to scream, but as soon as I start, he covers my mouth with his huge hand! I cannot breath, I cannot see anything. I can hear his fast breath and sound of metal belt buckle and the zip. Oh my God! Help me, please! He is so strong, I cannot resist! God help me! I’m crying, trying to push him away, but he blocks my every move! I feel his hand on my breasts, then he moves his hand in to my knickers, touching my crotch. He pushes his body against me, my haunches, saying: - I like the shape of your bottom.

Eventually, he pulls my knickers down...I feel, that I begin to lose my consciousness. I don’t want him inside me! I am still attempting to push him away to avoid losing my virginity..., but I know, I wouldn’t be able for any longer...

Suddenly, I can hear the sound of reloading the pistol magazine. I look backwards... There is Alex, standing behind the stranger, with a gun to his head. - Get your hands and dick off her or I’ll pull the trigger causing a massive hole in your empty head!

The stranger gets off me. Alex pulls me to his side and hides behind his back. I can see the monster now with his pants dropped down to his ankles. His manhood is sticking outside. He looks disgusting. I cannot look at his face. Eventually, he puts his hands up and says with contempt and irony in his voice:

- Excuse me, I didn’t know, that she is your whore.

Alex does a hand-sweep and punches him in his face. He falls backwards and begins to bleed from his nose. - How did you just call her?

- She was flirting with me in the city. She wanted to have a shag! She changed her mind! He tries to explain by telling lies.

- You are telling lies! Alex, I didn’t. You know me, I didn’t. - I’m defending myself.

Alex: Pick yourself up from the floor and get out of the house before I change my mind and smash your head! Out! I said out! Alex kicks him on the bottom, then the man gets up and leaves in hurry pulling his pants up...

Now, I’m feeling relieved.

Alex takes me in his arms and cuddles me.

I’m standing in front of the mirror in bathroom. The front of my dress is torn apart. My long, blonde hair in mess. I remember him pulling my head backwards and forwards, banging it against the desk. I got some bruises on my forehead, scratches and red marks on my chest...My breasts are sore from squeezing. I can still feel him on my body, his hands all over and smell his aftershave...I’m still shaking...

I have told mama, what happened. She is concerned and very upset. Alex decided to stay over night with us to keep us safe just in case if the monster comes back.

I am having a bath now. I am trying to wash his touch, traces and smell off my body.

I am so exhausted, feeling a bit better, wearing my night dress. It is time for me to end this day. As I leave the bathroom, I can see Alex sitting on the couch. He stands up, approaches me and asks: - Where would you like me to sleep?

My reply: - May you sleep in my bedroom?

Alex: - Sure. Where exactly you want me to sleep?

Me: - You can sleep next to me in bed. I walk off to my bedroom.

Alex lies down next to me, gently surrounds me with his arms and after while we both fall asleep...

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