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Last Words, World War 2 Short Story

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Last Words, World War 2 Short Story

Post by SydneyPshortstories » Sat March 3rd, 2012, 9:41 am

Sydney Patterson

Personal Project Story 2, Draft 3

1,366 words

Last Words

Feet pounding the red dirt below, heart hammering in her ears, cheeks flushed from exertion, Erika raced along the small village road leading to her home. Adrenaline coursed through her blood. She was charged with anticipation, could it really be him?

Only moments before, she was sitting on her wooden bench, selling homegrown goods amongst her fellow farming village women in the Sunday afternoon market, songs of the season leaving her lips to dance through the air. Zenta,Zenta, afalu ésaz otthonunk.Kifelel meg aszépség?1

It was the second of October and the early autumn chill had begun to settle, coating her world in a cool fog. Her hand was outstretched to catch the pengős falling from Petőfi Kádárné's plump fingers, when it happened; Bolla Emil came to a screeching halt, stirring up a cloud of red dust, nearly knocking Erika over. His bony chest rising and falling with jagged, heavy breaths, he delivered his message "Jó reggelt, Vargané Erika néni2, there is a man waiting outside of your house. He says he has come from Budapest, and is called Alexander."

It was as if time had stopped, the boy's words seeped slowly through her skin until the message was received in her mind. Her husband was home, he wasn't dead?

She sprang to life, kicking off from the ground and knocking over her stand, littering the ground with tomatoes and potatoes.

Rounding the bend of the road descending to her house, she imagined different scenarios of the moment she would see her husband again. When their eyes met and their skin touched for the first time in nearly one year, would she scream, weep, laugh, smile? Would he be happy to have her in his arms again? Would Alexander be able to recognize her? She had changed profoundly since their last, brief encounter on that fateful day the past December; it seemed that her soul tore apart piece by piece, and her frown grew deeper minute by minute over the 10 months that she had passed without her love by her side.

As she neared the silhouette of a man leaning against the plywood wall of her chicken coop, she noticed the stark contrast of the man's blond hair against his surroundings, and felt her heart drop low into her stomach. A thousand curses crossed her mind as she slowed to a slight jog and approached the imposter apprehensively.

"Jó reggelt, can I help you?" she asked, her voice quivering under the weight of her disappointment. She blinked back the tears of defeat burning through her eyes.

"Alexander Vargané, Erika" he addressed her formally, turning to face her fully, his eyes boring holes into hers,

"I am Lieutenant Alexander Kovács, of your husband's platoon. I lead him into the Battle of Uman in July. I am here to fulfill the promise I made to your husband. He was a good friend of mine."

Her mind fumbled over her thoughts, 'Alexander, is he... has he...could he really be dead?' taking a deep breath and looking down at her cow skin boots twisting in the red dirt, she exhaled sharply.

As if reading her mind, he nodded slowly, answering her unspoken question while he fiddled with something in his hands.

"He was wounded severely by a bullet in his neck. He died in the field hospital, but he made me promise that if I were to survive that I would come and see his..." he paused, angling himself to face her once again, "his beautiful wife, and give her a very important message, along with all of his love."

Erika sighed heavily, her vision becoming cloudy and spotted, her body losing its stance and swaying senselessly. The three months after she received the horrifically impersonal letter that would name her a widow - announcing the death of Alexander Varga, signed the Royal Hungarian Army - were spent in a haze of confusion, questioning, grief and resilient hope. She had a fiery determination to prove that there was a mistake, and to be reunited with her husband. And now here she stood, with the wrong Alexander, his words dragging away her resolve.

"Should we enter the house? It's gotten very cold. I'd like to sit down and hear my husband's message.", she whispered, walking towards her door as briskly as her body could - now deprived of energy.

She pushed gently on the wooden door, evoking a long squeak from its well worn hinges. The interior of the house was as humble as its surface implied. There was a small common room that held a desk that never saw work, two exhausted couches and a candle post for dim lighting; and a door leading into another, smaller, room that served as a kitchen – though it only feigned to be, lacking proper kitchen utilities, she did most of her 'cooking' outdoors.

Erika trudged towards the first of the couches, sinking into its soft cloth, and motioning for her guest to do the same on the chair opposite.

"So, I wouldn't dare prolong this any further." He said with conviction.

She nodded lethargically, her mind carrying her between her actual place sitting across from this strange blond, and a dream-like state of being where she sat with her Alexander, discussing mundane gossip and fabricating goulash recipes as they often did.

"Your husband wrote to you avidly, he sent one letter to you every week. But he was never graced with a reply, and," he noted the shift in her position, her renewed interest in his words, and added

"I suppose you never received them. He suspected that the Honvédség Army had been withholding them. But you must know, he was insistent that you understand, that he tried to contact you, he tried to warn you, and that more than anything, he wanted to come back for you, to protect you."

She felt the air being sucked from her lungs, leaving a vacuum in their place, what does that mean, why would he want to warn me? Eyes inspecting Alexander quizzically, she considered the possibility that the situation was all a cruel joke, an apathetic attempt to cover an unexplained death.

"You must understand, Vargané Erika, that I speak to you in the utmost honesty and sincerity; and that my time with you is limited, as I am not officially permitted to have left battle. But I am fleeing this war, while time permits, and I pray you will choose likewise. Read this letter from Alexander, he wrote it in his final days, knowing it would be his last message to you. Please read it, try to understand what he's telling you and act wisely."

He cautiously placed the envelope into her outstretched hands. Giving her a final look that read good luck, be wise, and trust me, he took three long strides across the room and out of the front door, leaving Erika alone again, trapped with the last remaining piece of her husband.

Still struggling to find breath, she peered at the envelope, feeling overwhelmingly weary; one day alone cannot bear all of this.

As if it were her husband, she picked up the letter and cradled it in her arms, feeling his strength envelop her as it once had. She climbed the concealed ladder leading to her bedroom – which was quite literally a straw bed in a dusty room. Lying down in the sea of blankets, she rested the envelope next to her and, mind overcome by the weight of imminent sleep, imagined her husband there with her. Loving green eyes gazed intensely into her exhausted hazel ones, a mess of brown curls littered the previously empty pillow; and, as if they had never left their place, and maybe they hadn't, two warm tanned arms wrapped themselves protectively around her. As her eyes closed, heavy with her unresolved thoughts, a familiar voice lured her into a deep darkness.

"Go to sleep, love. Tomorrow we run."

1 Zenta,Zenta, afalu ésaz otthonunk.Kifelel meg aszépség? – Zenta (village in Hungary), our village and our home. Who can match your beauty?

2 Jó reggelt, Vargané Erika néni. – Good Morning Mrs. Erika Varga in Hungarian.
Last edited by SydneyPshortstories on Tue March 27th, 2012, 7:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

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