Lindenberg Lovers

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - 1916 - Josef

Submitted: June 01, 2016

Reads: 105

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Submitted: June 01, 2016

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Shells raided down across the Somme battlefield, whizzing and whirling in the sky, crashing here and there, always missing the trenches by an inch.  A few snuck through and blasted inside a trench, bringing the mud walls down, burying many German soldiers alive.  They were unsure sometimes whether it was the shells whistling in the wind, or the voices of their comrades screaming for help.

Josef was pushed and shoved into the underground pits, the ones they had been digging out for the past week, small caverns under the earth that were expanded from the walls of the trench backwards, away from no man’s land.  A rat scurried over one of his boots, without hesitation Josef moved his foot and stamped on the vermin’s head, one loud squeak confirmed its quick death.  The war had made him cold, heartless; he struggled to remember what life was like before being thrown into the trenches two years ago.

“Why are they making us go under Sir?” a young boy asked, he hesitated wondering the same question himself; playing tug of war within his mind, should he tell the boy the truth.

“What’s your name boy?” he questioned as they trudged further back in the earth. They took position and sat down, too cramped to do anything but sit cross-legged on the wet, muddy floor.

“Willhelm Sir.” The young boy had taken residence next to Josef, he lifted his commissioned helmet, too big for his head. Josef shook his head knowing that the boy was not fully an adult yet, not a grown man.

“How old are you?

“Seventeen Sir,”

“Less of that sir business, were all the same here, we live together, we die together, equal.’ A faint smile crossed Wilhelm’s lips, he knew he would never get out of the habit of calling the uppers Sir, or Madame, he’d been bred to respect them all.

“Beg pardon sir, but you didn’t answer my question, why are we down here?”

Silence fell over the men in the hole, more shells soared above them. Some dirt from above their heads loosened and dropped on their helmets making a little tap, tap, tapping noise like rain on a tin roof.

“We built the holes to protect ourselves; the Tommy’s blasted shells are going to be raining down on us most of the day lad.”  Wilhelm’s smile dropped, realization sinking in, even a boy of seventeen could understand the consequences.

“And how exactly are these holes going to protect us sir, with the shells falling all about us?” Josef looked at his feet,

“If the shell hits above the hole then there is no protection, the walls and roof will collapse in on us and we will be buried alive.”  Saying it out loud made Josef and every other man in the hole come to terms, that their chance of survival was slim.

“Well! Let’s hope those Tommy bastards have terrible throws!” one of the older soldiers bellowed.  The other men cheered in agreement and then the silence fell again, each man thinking of home and how good or how terrible their lives had been before the war. Whether they were willing to die here today.

Josef was trying thinking about his wife Eva, they had been married for five years now, they had no children. It wasn’t that they didn’t want any, they had tried but had, had no luck.  He liked to believe it just wasn’t their time, his wife was too young, and he was too stressed at work.

More shells whizzed near their hole; one fell too close and more dirt from the roof and walls fell, in clumps this time; many of the men were whispering prayers under their breath, others named every person in their family. Josef cursed himself, he had to force himself to remember his life before all of this. All the blood and dirt that had soaked his mind, began to shift and melt away giving way to the bright, painful memories of his past.  

Eva was a lady from a middle-class family, her father had been in charge of some factory in Berlin, bringing home enough money for pretty dresses and toys, good food and whisky. Whisky seemed to be the only treat he brought home after 1900; his wife, Eva’s mother had died in 1899, the doctor was sure she had Diphtheria, but it was too late sickness and death had their bony hands around her neck. Eva’s father slumped into a depression turning to the bottle for comfort. Josef had found out after his wedding to Eva, her father had lost too much money, gambling and drinking, making her get a job at the age of sixteen, in a bakery in Lindenberg. The commute to and from Berlin was very long, and she had to do it every morning and night. Eva had insisted she loved the job too much to give it up; and it got her away from her father for most of the day.

It was one day on a lunch break that Josef had come across the little bakery and saw Eva behind the counter. She was punching the dough with little balled up fists, then grabbing the marbled rolling pin in her right hand sprinkled flour on the side with her left. He had watched her for a moment in silence, he could still remember everything five years on. She rolled out the pastry and then wiped her forehead with the back of her hand leaving a trail of flour. It was then that she had noticed him in the doorway, an automatic smile spread across her mouth ready to greet her customer.

“How do you do sir, may I assist you in any way,” her voice was high almost child-like, and hair, golden with ringlets, framing her heart shaped face. Her eyes were a sparkling blue and wide enough to swim in, and her lips were plump and had a pale red tint to them where her makeup had worn off after a day’s long work.

“Beef and Ale pie please, my lady,” she laughed, her mouth spreading into a proper grin that reached her ears,

“My, my sir, there’s no need to call me a lady.” Josef was confused. She turned her back on him and went to make a fresh pie. He noticed in the display case there were already three beef and ale pies, and smiled to himself believing that she wanted him to stay in the shop for a while.

“Why mustn’t I call you lady?” he asked her, she had a slight frown on her face,

“Ladies do not work in bakery’s sir, I’m sure a well-born man like you would have noticed that.” Josef rolled his eyes.

“Nonsense, I approach all women with the same title, why should it hold any other meaning than respect?” the smile had returned, she had filled the pastry with filling and was laying the top over carefully.

“I like your way of thinking sir, I shall be a lady to only you then if you wish it,” he wasn’t too sure whether her wording had other meaning, but he cautiously returned her smile,

“I would like that,”

“The pie won’t be a moment sir, just needs to get golden. Do you live here in Lindenberg?”

“I moved here a year ago, I have a job at Walkers and Son, I work as a lawyer.” She seemed impressed with his status, but did not ask questions. They talked for a while as the pie baked, about her. Where she lived and who her father was, did she have any siblings; Josef did not care about these things but just to spend so much time in her company was bliss.

The pie was finally done and it cooled for five minutes,

“Do you not get many customers, not one person’s been here since I arrived?” She snorted at his question,

“Lindenberg isn’t known for its high end jobs like yours, all the factory workers finish for lunch in twenty minutes, that’s when the rush comes on,” Josef cursed himself for being so ignorant.

“Sorry my lady, I must be off, back to the office and all that; I hope to see you again soon.” She grinned and waved him goodbye.

The shells were still rattling on, it had been an hour now, Josef had checked his pocket watch;

“Let us have a song lads?” one soldier asked, and began to sing an old tune that was sung the last day of Spring, to celebrate the warmth of Summer. Josef did not join in, but the song reminded him of home again.

 

~

The blue birds leave their nests today

As the sun comes out in bright array,

And the boys grab the girls by the hands and say

Come for a dance on this new summer day.

 


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