Gabe - NineA Chapter by emily
I’ll be honest, as intimidated as I was watching the half-naked girls while I drank with the guys, no matter how afraid I was when that siren went off, nothing that night could have possibly scared me more than the moment when Erich realized I had followed him.
When the raid started, I didn’t have time to think. Automatically, I had looked to Erich, but he was already gone. I didn’t know what the hell was going through his mind, but he was running like the devil was after him, and he didn’t stop until his legs quit working. I wouldn’t know for a long time exactly what he was really running from, all I knew then was that I had to follow him. I had to make sure he was all right.
I was pretty sure he would have killed me if his stomach hadn’t had other ideas. I should have turned back and been gone before he could get to me, but I wasn’t really sure where ‘back’ was. And, even at the risk of having my teeth knocked out, I couldn’t just leave him there.
Erich wiped his mouth and got back on his feet, seeming a little wobbly as he made his way towards me. “What are you doing out here? Huh?” his voice was coarse and thick. “It’s dangerous out here, why didn’t you stay back?”
“Why didn’t you?”
I prepared myself for the punch that would be his response, but it didn’t come. Instead Erich spat and turned around. He trudged up out of the ditch and looked up and down the street before sitting heavily on the curb, obviously understanding that there was nowhere else to go. I hesitated for a second, then decided that, for once, there was honestly nothing he could do to me. So I followed him out of the ditch and sat down next to him.
Erich fidgeted uncomfortably and looked at the ground. “You got a cigarette or something?” he asked finally, not looking me in the eye. He was still slurring a little, his eyes still glazed, but at least he was articulate now. He must have been pretty scared to have sobered up that quickly. I took two cigs from my pocket and lit them. Erich took a drag and slumped over as he exhaled, head drooping between his knees.
Neither of us said anything else for a long time. The cigarette relaxed me and, when I finally felt confident enough that he wouldn’t hit me, I spoke. “Are you…” I didn’t really know how to phrase it. Insane? Dying? Going to kill me? “… All right?”
Erich sent a smoky breath my way and choked out a laugh. “Yeah, I guess.” He rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. “It’s just… a little too much like home here, you know?”
I did know, probably better than he thought I did. I would never want to go anywhere that reminded me of where I had come from. But I couldn’t let him know that. “What’s at home?” I asked.
Erich looked up at the murky sky and took a shaky breath. He didn’t say anything for a long minute, and I knew he was deciding what to tell me. “My dad,” he heaved. “Führer, we had to call him, after Hitler took power. It made him feel more important.”
When he said that, when I heard the bitterness in his voice, I realized something, something I wanted horribly not to be true. “You were one of them weren’t you?”
Of course, we had all suspected him of it from the second he walked onto campus. How stupid did he think we were, ripping that patch off his shirt right in front of us? But I had to hear him say it.
He knew what I meant. Erich hesitated for a long, long second. When he finally answered, he managed to make even less eye contact than before. “Not anymore.”
Erich’s voice was as emotionless and hard as a rock, and I knew better than to ask anything else. It was absolutely terrifying to think that I was talking to an actual Nazi during an actual air raid. But, maybe for the first time, I wasn’t scared of Erich. He was just a guy. Just a really scared, lost, hard-bitten guy. And I had that feeling again, the feeling of unease and admiration. I didn’t know what that meant yet, but I was suddenly sure that this wouldn’t be the last time he opened up to me, and I promised myself it wouldn’t be the last time I would be there for him.
I didn’t say any of this, of course. Erich wasn’t exactly the kind of guy who would appreciate a sentimental speech. Actually, he got in my way before I could say anything at all.
“Don’t tell the guys,” he said, his voice gravelly, his shoulders hunched so I couldn’t see his face well. “I don’t want them to know. They might be,” he cleared his throat and stalled before saying it, “scared.”
“I won’t,” I said. Erich turned his head just barely towards me and smiled a tiny smile. For some reason I couldn’t have said, I knew I wouldn’t. I didn’t know why, but I wanted him to trust me.
We didn’t say anything else. The two of us, the strangest pair anyone could think up, just sat there on the corner of a London street in the aftermath of an air raid and smoked our cigs.
© 2011 emily
Added on August 8, 2011
Last Updated on August 8, 2011
Sons of Thunder: Part One
AboutHello all! My name is Emily, I'm 18, I am definitely not at home in this tiny MN town, and soon I will be the most famous author my generation. I go to Barnes and Noble to see where my book will sit .. more..