A Tale of love

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A love story taking place in the world war 2 era,

Submitted: May 28, 2013

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Submitted: May 28, 2013

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A tale of love 

The sun was as harsh as it usually was. Though it burned their skins and made then sweat the soldiers were being efficient as if the sun did not exist. Their weapons gleamed under its glare. Civilians were quite a few. And they hurried along their paths. Not willing to mingle among military men who dominated the city. They feared everything this city had. The solders had no smiles on their faces. Military vehicles rushed past them with swastika markings which seemed to scowl at them. And the usual barricades were everywhere. Berlin was a city of intense activity. A city which proclaimed war from its every corner. These were the days of world war two. The days of Hitler. The days of the man who killed by the millions 



Hans Steiner spat on the ground. He seemed to be impatient today. He looked at his wrist watch far more often than he did usually. Hans was a soldier who guarded the ammunition factory complex. It was situated from some hundreds of miles to the east of Berlin. In order to avoid allied bombing raids and the eyes of the enemy intelligence agencies Hitler’s strategists had taken as many precautions as possible. They had chosen this mountain range which had a thick forest around it. And where the mountains ended there was a perfect village with paddy fields. The enemy was unlikely to detect an ammunition factory this far of Berlin. Especially in these surroundings. I am frustrated and exhausted of this damn war. Hans muttered to Carl who was a soldier of the same unit. Arent we all? Carl asked him. They began their usual stroll around the factory. How did you end up in the army? Carl asked. Once again Hans looked at his watch. The usual reasons. Didn’t like school. Hated the books. I kept skipping classes with the boys. He spat on the ground. Eventually the old man chased me out of the house. He paused a while as if remembering something. I needed action. And the army was the best place. But now you regret. Asked Carl. Yes. All these unnecessary killings. Though I haven’t killed anyone yet. The tension. The strain. I hate it all. Damn the furher. He cursed. Carl sighed. Don’t make your sentiments public. The Gestapo wouldn’t like it. He advised Hans. No matter how much he detested the war Hans had no choice. But to remain in the army. At the beginning of this unnecessary war he had been horrified and wanted to leave the army. But by then he was too late. Even if he had fled the army, the Gestapo would have tracked him and caught him. He also knew the inhuman tortures he would have to go through before the ultimate death. It was better than that to kill someone you did not know. He decided with utter regret. But after a considerable time he was yet to be practically active in the war and yet to kill a man. It was one hell of a consolation. Fortunately for Hans he had another consolation too. 

Birds hovered over the paddy fields attracted by the golden color of wheat and rice. Yet they were apprehensive of the scare crows which were the farmer’s protection against the hordes of hungry birds. The village reminded of an artists drawing of a perfect village on a canvas. For it had all the features which conveyed utter beauty. The river flowed majestically between the paddy fields and the mountains. The woods were a lover’s paradise. Here in these woods by the river and even amid the paddy fields, a tale of love began. Blossomed and flourished. Hans Steiner was in love with a girl named Sylvia Russy. 



They were deep in the woods. Holding each others hands. It was their evening stroll.And both of them were in deep thought. Thinking of their wedding which was to take place on the following Sunday. Are you as excited as me? Sylvia asked. Yes. He answered with a trace of shyness in his voice. He looked longer at her face and was involuntarily dragged back to their past. She worked at the only one restaurant and the bar the village had. He still vividly remembered the day he first saw her. He had gone to the bar for his usual beer and she had been there as a new waitress. As they said it was love at first sight. He had been immediately attracted by the radiant blue eyes. He observed them for an hour while sipping quite a few cans of beer. At first she had been reluctant to answer his questions feigning shyness. But something inside Hans forced him to percist.Gradually she gave short answers to his questions. And a week later they were in love. It was as simple as that. 

Although the days went by with an astounding rapidity. They were filled with the constant joy of young love. As each of them were far away from their homes and had fled them for similar reasons. Their love was born of genuine need. While strolling the woods and climbing the mountains they discussed plans for a future which had been made highly uncertain by the war. It had been then that she had suggested marriage. Hans was somewhat surprised. How can we marry with a war around us Sylvia? Sylvia smiled. That’s why exactly we should marry Hans. How do we know how long we will live with this brutal war? You are a soldier Hans. I know what I am saying will hurt you. But we must accept and face the truth. She was silent for a moment. And then she sighed and said. We can’t be sure of our lives Hans. I want to marry you and live as husband and wife under one roof. At least for a day or two. Once again a smile spread across her lips. Is that unfair thinking. She asked. 

They argued and argued. Oblivious to the time that went by. But eventually Hans realized she was winning. He thought to himself. Here we are, yet again she is being adamant and insistent and insistent. He pondered the situation. She’s extremely convincing too. Once again Sylvia broke the familiar silence between them. Let’s marry Hans and face the problems as they come. She said with finality. We don’t have to postpone our dreams and hopes because of a war we did not start. So they decided to marry after two weeks on a Sunday. We will just go through the formalities. And have a simple wedding. They decided. The following morning Hans went to Berlin to buy the wedding ring and the other necessities. They waited excitedly and impatiently for the day of destiny to arrive. 



But on the same day, while Hans was in Berlin an incident happened which seemed to shatter their hopes. An explosion occurred in one of the solitary buildings of the ammunition factory complex. Killing eleven people and injuring several others. The calmness of the village was shattered. Villagers gathered around the factory and watched with bewildered faces as the soldiers fought for hours to prevent the flames from spreading to the other buildings. The ammunition stores were nearby. If the fire had spread the consequences would have been catastrophic. 

As no other reason was found for the explosion higher officials suspected of sabotage. And in the evening Gestapo officials arrived from Berlin to investigate the scene. The villagers spent a sleepless night as the soldiers thoroughly searched every corner of the village for suspects. Every bush barn and haystack was either upturned or probed. The woods weren’t spared either. As the sun greeted the next dawn the soldiers returned with three suspects. 

While the village was going through hell Hans was dreaming of heaven in Berlin. He had come to Berlin to purchase last essential items for their wedding. But his jovial mood evaporated when he returned to the village the next morning. Though he had survived unharmed he wished that he were dead too. Because the explosion threatened the wedding. Despite the tense activity in and around the ammunition factory complex he rushed to see Sylvia. 

We seem to have no choice. He told her. To do what? She asked in a surprised tone. We will have to postpone our wedding Sylvia. He explained. She looked longer at his face. And took his arm. And when she did that Hans knew that once again she was going to be impossible. Hans, did we plant that bomb? It’s a war darling. Whether we like it or not bombs are going to explode and people are going to die. She became thoughtful. Through out history if people had postponed marriages because of wars we wouldn’t even have been born. She said philosophically. I insist we can’t postpone our dreams and hopes because of a war we did not start. Sylvia paused. Her eyes had regained their radiance. We will marry Hans. This Sunday will be our day of destiny. She said with finality. 



The day of destiny arrived with a blazing sun which greeted the couple. After all these years it was the day of their wedding. And they were inside a church which was on a hilltop. Sylvia wore a reasonably beautiful wedding dress while Hans had managed to acquire a decent suit. Only a few close friends of theirs had been invited to the wedding. As they stood inside the church hand in hand the religious rituals began. Hans looked at Sylvia. She seemed to be nervous. They kept looking at each other. Their eyes trying to probe each others thoughts. And the memories came back. The wonderful mornings and evenings spent in the woods, by the river and even amid the paddy fields. They all flashed and vanished inside Hans mind. But strangely he didn’t hear the sounds of gunfire. As if the war had ceased at the enormity of their love. Suddenly Hans was reminded of how much she meant to him. And the grip on her arm tightened. 

Soon it was over. The cheerful couple came out of the church amid the jokes and the laughter of their friends. The scene which lay below them was breathtakingly beautiful. Since the church was on a hilltop they could see the entire village below. The woods and the paddy fields reminded them of a golden and green drawing. Looming in the distance was the ammunition factory complex. As they stood there savoring the beauty of the scene they could hear the sounds of approaching vehicles. Four military vehicles came to a halt down in the village. And soldiers poured out of them in to the ground. To Hans surprise he saw them coming up the steps to the church. Sylvia was startled and nervous. She kept looking down at the soldiers who swiftly came up the hill. Suddenly Sylvia removed her hand from Hans and began to run towards the back side of the church. As all watched in stunned silence, she took her long wedding dress to her knees and increased the speed. Within seconds she vanished inside the dense woods. 



For a moment Hans stayed where he was. Looking at Sylvia. Unable to move as if paralyzed. But soon he recovered and ran after her. As he entered the woods he saw her running amid the trees like a ghost in her white wedding dress. By now the soldiers had come up to the church and stsrted coming after them. The woods were familiar to Sylvia and Hans but not to the soldiers who followed them. Hans instinctively knew where Sylvia was heading. He yelled her name demanding her to stop. By then she had reached her destination. It was an ancient relic. A centuries old crumbling building which was surrounded by thick forest. Hans entered the ruins of the building and called out to her. He heard sobs in a corner. Sylvia was crouching in a corner crying hysterically. What’s wrong with you? He demanded rushing to her. 

It took a while for Hans to console her and make her talk. Amid tears and sobs she revealed a story which made Hans wish that he were dead. I am not a German Hans I am an Austrian. I am a spy from Austria. She began to cry again. Hiller’s forces killed my entire family Hans. One day when I returned from university there was only a hole where my house was. They bombed all my family in to dust. She put her arms around him and began to cry uncontrollably. Hans stood there like a statue. Pain and confusion had numbed him. Sylvia recovered. I studied foreign languages at the university Hans. With my family dead my world was finished. I had only hatred in my mind. She paused and sighed. I was sent here as a spy with four others. They have caught three of them Hans. And they are coming to get me. Now they could hear the shouts of the soldiers in the distance. Sylvia began to tremble. But I loved you Hans. I truly loved you. By now she had stopped crying. Although you were a soldier. You were not one of them. You were as innocent as a child. I had no one in this world to love Hans. After the arrest of the others I knew that they would reveal my name. That’s why I insisted on marriage. I wanted to live with you under one roof for at least for a day or two. Live as husband and wife Hans. Is that selfish or cruel thinking. She grabbed his hands and looked at him. By then the soldiers had seen the old building and were approaching it. Hans recovered from his shocked state. Let’s run. He said taking her arm. No she said unmoved. You know we can’t escape from them Hans. They have surrounded us. Then they heard the sounds of helicopters above. I can’t let them catch you. He said. Knowing what would happen to her. Yes. She said they would torture me for months. You know their methods more than me Hans. She burst in to tears again and took both his arms. Kill me Hans. Don’t let them catch me. She said. Kill me. Kill me Hans. She yelled. What? He yelled in reply. It was as if his mind had ceased to function. Confusion fear and pain had numbed his senses. And at that moment the soldiers entered the building. Some of them were surrounding the building. Don’t move. They ordered Hans and Sylvia Aiming guns at them. 

Their words brought Hans back to the reality. As realization came he realized instantly that death was far more preferable than an arrest by the Gestapo. He was also being late. He raised his trembling hands and put them around Sylvia’s neck. She held his arm softly encouraging him. Do it Hans. She pleaded. He tightened his grip. The soldiers couldn’t comprehend what was happening. When realization came they jumped at the couple. But they were too late. Suddenly things started to move fast. Sylvia collapsed to the floor. Dead. The soldiers were grabbing Hans. Some how he managed to wriggle himself out of them and dashed out of the building. The stunned soldiers recovered and started to run after Hans. Hans kept running as the bullets flew past his ears. As his mind reached the edge of its sanity, he reached the welcoming waters of the river. And he swam in. In to the muddy depths. 



Here in these woods, by the river and even amid the paddy fields, a tale of love began, blossomed and flourished and … and died. 

The End 

Ramesh Seneviratne 

rameshquest@hotmail.com 


© Copyright 2020 rameshquest. All rights reserved.

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