Erich - FourteenA Chapter by emily
If anyone would have dared to ask me about the air raid I know I would have done something bad enough to get me sent back to Germany. It was even worse than the one in London. At least in London I had managed to get to my feet. At least in London Gabe hadn’t had to save me.
I figured we were even. I had saved his life once before. But I probably would have gotten blown off the roof without him. At least from what I hear. I didn’t remember much when I woke up the morning after. All I remembered was Gabe. Gabe standing over me with his hand extended and the planes screaming behind him. That and feeling very, very small.
He was standing over me again in the morning. He was shaking me awake to let me know we had a meeting with Knight. God if that wasn’t the last thing in the world I wanted to hear. All I could do was try to fall back into my usual manner of ignoring him after something uncomfortable happened between us.
I had to let him do the talking up in Knight’s office. No choice, really. I could barely even remember what had happened. But somehow Gabe managed to read that I didn’t want Knight to know about whatever had happened to me. I had already made enough of an a*s of myself in front of the rest of the guys. The last thing I wanted was for anyone else to know what a fairy I had turned into.
Of course that meant harsher detention. And another seven nights on the roof meant seven nights of keeping Gabe from asking about what the hell was wrong with my head. That was going to take more energy than I had. I wasn’t going to be able to keep from talking about it this time. I could feel it.
That wasn’t the only bad news that came out of that meeting. We were the first to know that Knight was calling a full school assembly the next morning to address what the air raid meant for the school. At six in the morning.
The rest of the day ended up being long and quiet. A lot of classes were canceled. Hardly anyone seemed up to talking about the night before, especially not me. I was stuck with Hersch because Jim decided to take his opportunity to skip class.
True to form I didn’t speak to Gabe for the rest of the day. I knew I owed him gratitude but I couldn’t bring myself to give it to him just yet. Up on the roof that night I made a point of lying back and faking sleep as soon as we got up there. Gabe didn’t seem to care. Gabe never cared. He just wrapped his arms around his knees and stared up at the sky with that odd look on his face.
He was in my dreams again. It had started happening more and more often, though never again as bad as the first time. Always green eyes and delicate hands and violin. This time was bad though. I was crushed up against him in the corner of the dorm, whimpering for comfort with his arms wrapped around me and his lips at my ear. So by the time he shook me awake in the morning I knew exactly what had happened the night of that air raid. And right then I thought I would never live it down.
Knight had supposedly called the assembly so early so it wouldn’t interfere with classes. I was convinced it was just another way to f**k me and Gabe over. What are the odds he decided that on the exact same day he ordered us to spend the entire night before on the roof? I wanted to skip it but Gabe was convinced that things would only get worse if we kept acting like Knight didn’t control us. So at six in the morning we crawled off the roof and made our way to the lecture hall.
We met up with Hersch and Jim outside the dorm. They looked like they had a rough night too. Not too happy to be woken up so early either. I don’t think any of us had expected out of Knight but a reassurance that no one was hurt and a half-hearted speech. But as we shoved our way through throngs of first years Knight delivered his crushing blow.
“Due to the recent attack by the German aerial forces near our fair school,” he began, “I regret to inform you that this spring semester will be shortened.”
It was almost like the air raid again. There was so much anger bubbling up from my stomach I had to stand there panting and trying to catch the rage throat. The semester was ending early. They were sending me back to Germany early. There was no way I could come up with a way to avoid going back in so little time. In a month, I would be on a train back to hell. This was going to ruin my life.
I wasn’t the only one. There was a mass commotion and Knight practically had to yell to get control back.
“For those of you in your final year here at Wellington’s, an informal graduation will be held on the first of June, after which all students under the age of eighteen will be evacuated to regions of the country far from the dangerous vicinity of London. International students over the age of eighteen will be deported to their home.” Knight’s eyes found us in the crowd and lingered there with a cold glare. “This is a government mandate that will allow for no acceptations.” He took a deep breath. “This decision was not an easy one, but it would not be carried out if not for my absolute certainty that this plan of action will keep the young boys of this school safe.”
There was a long tension charged silence. Then a cry came from far behind us.
“Bollix to that! We’re all men! We ought to fight!”
It didn’t take long for the whole place to descend into an uproar after that. Guys started yelling and pushing each other aside and advancing on Knight as he kept trying to talk. It was too easy to get swept up in a mob. It was just what I needed, a way to let out my anger without being held responsible. I would have loved to get my hands on that old b*****d but Hersch grabbed me by the shoulder and yanked me out of the room with the rest of the guys.
Out in the hall the shock wore off and I was suddenly ready to put my fist through the wall. “That f****r!” I roared. “That goddamn f*****g b*****d! I ought to get back in there and tear his head off.”
“Calm down, Amery…” Hersch started.
“Don’t you tell me to calm down!” I bellowed. He shrunk back immediately. At least I knew they were still afraid of me. “You haven’t got a place to go in the world either, Abrahamson, and I know it. He just gave us a month less time to figure out what the hell we’re going to do when this is all over. That old f****r might as well be shipping me right back to Germany.”
“Amery…” Jim tried to break in. Goddamn did that ever make me mad. Jim of all people was not about to try and keep me calm. He had no f*****g idea what was going to happen to me if this got me sent back home.
“Shut your goddamn mouth, Banhart,” I growled. “Maybe you’ve got a great little life back in Chipmunk Mountain or wherever the hell you came from…”
“…But me and Abrahamson and Moretti haven’t got it so easy.”
“Guys?” Gabe squeaked.
I wheeled around and turned my rage on Gabe. As usual he had managed to make himself look almost invisible. Now that I looked at him though, I realized he was white as a ghost and breathing hard. “What?”
“Guys,” he said again almost inaudibly. “I’m only seventeen.”
I just stood there for a second without really grasping what he meant. Hersch got there first. “S**t, Gabe,” he said, “and you’re British too.”
I got it then. When the semester ended Gabe would get packed onto a train with the rest of the English kids. He would spend the rest of the war cooped up with a bunch of strangers out in the middle of nowhere. That was the worst fate by far.
Gabe kept his eyes on the ground and nodded. “And an orphan,” he added. “I’ll be the first one on the rail.”
This was bad. I didn’t know much about Gabe’s past. But from what I gathered he had already spent his share of time trapped with strangers who didn’t give a s**t about him back in Italy. If he got shipped off in June he would never make it back in one piece.
I had to try to fix this. Didn’t I owe him that much? I put a hand on his shoulder. For once he didn’t cringe away. “Hey, don’t worry about it, Moretti,” I said.
Hersch eyed be suspiciously but made his way over to Gabe too. “Yeah, we can figure this out.”
“Yeah, if you get shipped off, we’ll go with you,” Jim chimed in jokingly. “All four of us farming our way through the war out in Chipmunk Mountain,” he said sarcastically.
“Piss off, Banhart.”
We didn’t talk about it anymore after that. It made everyone too stressed to think about it. We just tried to make our way through the day as normally as possible. All I could do was try and convince myself that we could actually figure this out. We were smarter than Knight, I thought. There had to be a way to avoid getting myself shipped back to Berlin.
I wanted Gabe to be the least of my problems. Really I did. But the shortened semester had gotten me thinking. When this all was over, I would never see him again. I would never see any of them again. That shouldn’t have bothered me. But it did. I didn’t want to go back to a time when I didn’t have them. Never argued with Hersch or laughed at Jim. But Gabe. Especially Gabe. The way he managed to make me feel better about myself when he should have been making me angrier than ever. The comfort I felt when it was just the two of us up on the roof. Thinking about all that being over made me hurt just a little bit.
I couldn’t deny it anymore. The feeling of real friendship was creeping into my life. And it had me scared.
Gabe and I still weren’t talking much when we made our way to the roof that night. Now it was less of a feeling of awkwardness and more of the both of us being wrapped up in our own problems. It wasn’t until almost an hour after we got up there that he said anything.
I was in my usual spot leaning back against the chimney. “Yeah?”
Gabe took nervous drag on his cigarette. “We’re going to be okay, aren’t we?”
I didn’t really know what he meant. What would be okay? Our futures? Our friendship? The war? No matter what, I knew there was only one answer.
“Yeah,” I mumbled, “we’ll be okay.”
© 2011 emily
Added on November 26, 2011
Last Updated on November 28, 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..
Paper Editing $4.99/page
Have your academic paper proofread by professional editors for as little as $4.99/page. Use Coupon Code PEN05 for 5% Off
eBook Conversion Services
Convert Your Book Files to eBooks! Reach Readers On Multiple Platforms. Get Your Free Consultation!