Freedom At Last
That horror. I hate it. I just want to knock it down. That horrifying wall seemed to stretch on forever and ever. I wish I could see the rainbow on the other side of the concrete wall. My cousin sends me letters that say many civilians spray paint on the wall.
I wonder what it's like to live on the other side, in West Berlin. My cousin, Christoph, likes it there. He says his family is allowed to do many different things. They could travel to America if they wanted to! I told him that secret police are always watching. It's creepy. I'm so terrified to sleep alone that I sleep with my brother, Stefan, every night! Stefan doesn't mind me doing so.
Late in the evenings, Stefan and Father are always talking about escaping. They have their discussions while I do my nightly reading. Well, technically, I don't necessarily read but I do write. I've been finding it harder and harder to focus on my writing. My mind always seems to find itself escaping to West Berlin.
Is it peaceful there? Do they know the terror we endure daily? I truly would like to know. Is it nice to be free? To be free sounds absolutely amazing. I can't even imagine it. I was born in East Berlin so I don't know what it was like before the wall. My father does though. He always tells stories about the times he and Uncle Ferdinand always had.
"Laurenz! You aren't eavesdropping, are you?" Stefan called from the living room.
"No..." I said shyly.
I didn't want to admit it. They were making plans. They were making plans to escape for real. They truly were going to escape. I hope they take me with. I hope they don't leave me here to become a hostile and lonely soul.
"Good. Don't be spreading it around that we have our hopes. Am I understood?" Father spoke low, in an almost threatening tone.
I quickly nodded as fear tightened my dry throat. I didn't want to get killed. I hope I don't get killed in some unimaginable escape. I hope Father doesn't send me to Death's doorstep. I don't want that to happen.
"Laurenz, we might be free soon. Father believes that they might take down the wall. Can you imagine it?" Stefan asked, his tone lighter than air.
"Not really. We're trapped like guinea pigs or something. If you truly believed that they are going to take down the wall then why are you thinking of escape plans? Do you think I don't hear you every night? I'm not mentally retarded or anything! I'm perfectly fine!" I hissed my awfully sassy remark before I stomped off to my empty bedroom.
Once alone in my plain cement bedroom, I dragged my feet to my wooden bedframe that held my white mattress that was wrapped in white sheets that were topped with a grey pillow case and cream colored blankets. I half-expected my brother to come charging through the door, or worse, my father. I heard the angry footsteps and knew it was one or the other. Maybe even both. I didn't really pay attention much more than a few seconds. I simply fell back onto the fabric-softener-needing bedding, my energy to argue washing away to be replaced with exhaustion.
I need to bathe and crawl into my pajamas. The idea of warm water pouring onto me sounded wonderful. The clean cotton of my pajamas encasing my stiff body of tender skin, weak bones, and mushy stuff filled my mind.
I stared at the ceiling when I heard the door swing open. It was followed by an angrily raised voice, which I ignored until Stefan grabbed my right arm too roughly and yanked me off the bed. I hit the floor soundlessly. My newly scraped knee stung with slowly oozing scarlet blood and my eyes watered.
"We're going to leave East Berlin one way or another. Trust me, Laurenz. Either the wall comes down and we leave unharmed or the wall stays up and we escape. It is true. We are going to be free in the next month. Even if we die, we will still be free from these horrors." Stefan sounded like he was begging.
I couldn't destroy his hope with my doubt. I couldn't. I didn't want to. I wanted to believe that by the end of the month, I will be free. I just don't think I'll be alive and free. I almost doubt it.
"Okay..." My doubt was obvious in my voice.
Even though I hadn't wished it, my brother's shoulders sank as he eyed me, finding the chink in my armor. We both knew that freedom was just a little ways away.
The next few days went by long and slow. Too slow definitely. My teachers explained that soon we'd be taking some sort of test. I didn't really pay attention. I think it was something about pledging allegiance or something like that. I don't know. I was half asleep the whole school day. Nobody really noticed me.
Stefan was too hyper when he got home around the same time as I did. His smile wouldn't fade away. I almost thought it couldn't. I knew it wasn't a fake smile either. I almost thought his face was stuck in the smile somehow.
"Happy birthday, Laurenz. You're going to get the greatest gift later." Stefan exclaimed.
I forgot it was my birthday. The thought just hadn't occurred to me. I wonder how it didn't. Oh well. Whatever.
Around suppertime, Stefan was still too jumpy for my taste. I didn't understand. Did it have anything to do with the fact that Father got a new job and would start in a few days? I would guess so. Unless he's too happy that it's my birthday. I am turning fourteen today. Does it really matter though?
"Laurenz, don't eat too much. You can't stuff your face. Not like you usually do. You can stuff your face tomorrow if tonight goes as planned." Father spoke with a light happy tone.
I've never seen Father smile like this before. It's weird. In fact, my father never smiles. He hasn't in a long time. Too long of a time.
"I hope tonight goes as planned, Father. I'm sure Jonah and Christoph are excited." Stefan blurted.
"What's happening tonight?" I let the words fall out in an exasperated sigh.
"We get our freedom." Stefan whispered after leaning in close.
My jaw dropped to the cold tabletop. A chuckle escaped from Father and Stefan bursted with laughter. My shock evaporated and was replaced with pure joy. I would finally get to meet Christoph rather than read his scribble-like handwriting. My heart pounded against my ribs and breastplate, thumping in excitement, rooting for freedom.
The hours we waited for dark were so incredibly long. Father said we had to wait until a man named Sabine came to our small apartment. According to Father, Sabine is a border patrol who will help us escape since Sabine wants to escape as well.
I almost leapt through the roof when three knocks subtly rapped at the door. I dashed with Stefan to the door as we followed Father. Once Father finally opened the door, a young man who appeared to be no older than thirty stood before us. He had light brown hair and green eyes, so unlike my own characteristic that I inherited from my deceased mother. She died the day I was born. The birthday gifts I receive. The young man's skin was pale like my own at least.
"Sabine, it took you long enough. These are my boys, Stefan and Laurenz." My father spoke low like usual.
"Let's hope we can all cross to West. More importantly, cross unharmed." Sabine's voice wasn't quite as deep as Father's voice, in fact Sabine's voice was no heavier than Stefan's.
"Wait, why does the younger one have a backpack?" Sabine asked suddenly.
Father and Stefan both looked at me disappointedly. They don't understand. Of course they wouldn't.
"I wasn't about to leave my baby blanket behind. Nor was I leaving Mother's pencil and my journal." Father's lips flattened to a grim line while Stefan rolled his eyes at the baby blanket part.
Sabine curtly nodded. Then we tiptoed down the steep staircase. We followed Sabine to another apartment building. It was one of the many that was actually apart of the Berlin Wall.
It wasn't long before Sabina led us into his very own apartment. His apartment was as bare as ours. I realized we were going to jump out his window. He lives on the second floor though. Aren't we going to get hurt? I hope we don't.
I couldn't watch as Stefan climbed onto the windowsill. I most definitely couldn't watch as he jumped. I wouldn't bear it if Stefan died or something.
"He's okay, Laurenz." Father said to me in a calm tone.
When I opened my eyes again, Sabine was gesturing for me to come up to the windowsill like Stefan did. I clung to Sabine's upper arm as I climbed onto the brick windowsill. I looked to Father for some form of reassurance, I only found an empty smile.
I made one of the dumbest mistakes of my life. I looked down. This is such a reckless thing to do. Stefan gave me two thumbs up. I knew I'd be okay.
"He's going to catch you. Don't worry..." Sabine dragged his words on, obviously waiting for me to tell him what my name is.
"Laurenz." That was all.
I took a deep breath before I did leap. Just as Sabine said, Stefan caught me. I almost missed that feeling of flying for a heartbeat. How do birds do that all the time?
From the looks of it, Sabine was about to jump. About. He was stopped by something that was happening in his apartment. Sabine disappeared for a few seconds. I gasped when I heard the piercing sound of a gun firing. Sabine jumping out the window followed the gunfire. The young man had a nosebleed. It wasn't too bad. He probably had been hit though.
The second his feet hit pavement, he ordered Stefan to run. I knew Father was dead. I had no time to weep though. I had to get my freedom for Father before I can do so.
Stefan ran with me in his arms and Sabine kept up with my speedy brother. I clung to my brother. I didn't want to be dropped. I knew that if I did hit the pavement, then I would get trampled before I could squeak.
We ran and ran until Stefan led us to a tall apartment building. That's when he finally slowed down and placed me on my feet. We walked up about four flights of stairs. When he stopped at a single ebony door that had a golden number on it, I knew this would be our new temporary home. It'd be Sabine's too. The door opened before Stefan could even knock.
I knew the young face at the door. It had to be Christoph. I just knew it. I knew it had to be Christoph because, well, he pulled me into a tight embrace, one as tight as how my brother hugs me. Maybe even tighter. I hugged Christoph back as tears streamed down my cheeks.
I was free. I was free of the horrible world beyond that wall. I was free just like Father. I was free. I was fatherless. I was free at least. Man does freedom taste wonderful.