Es war einmal, an einem Ort, in dieser zerrissenen Welt...
Zwei junge unglücklichen Seelen wurden durch das Schicksal miteinander verbunden sind...
The grass rustled around Armin as a cool summer’s breeze swept through the field, the boy looked up from the book in his lap and could see in the distance a mop of light golden hair. As she became closer, the sight caught his breath and the feeling swelling in his heart was enough to make it feel like bursting from the confines of his chest.
He was just ten years old and she was eleven, but he was certain of the way he felt about her. Books had taught him about feelings of love and affection and although he was young, his mind was older than his years. The boy knew he had felt this way for a long time, but the realisation had only started to set in over the summer. He had noticed a change in Annie over the spring, she was no longer just that quiet, small girl anymore. She had bloomed into one of the most beautiful kind of flowers imaginable.
Armin kept his feelings bottled up and never dared to confess anything to his friend. He found an outlet through paper and the many letters he had written to her, the poems, the sonnets and random notes about her were all kept hidden away from her beautiful, blue eyes.
As she got even closer to where he was sitting, he could see a smile on her face. It was only a small smile but that smile was reserved for him only and it always gave him confidence. Her hair was tied back in her usual strict style and the pale blue cotton skirt she wore that reached to her knees exposed the bruises on her shins. Her height had always been incredibly deceiving, because Annie was a girl who was often caught up in some kind of fight with the other kids in town. In stark contrast, the way she moved was very graceful which was also misleading, because the way she fought was the complete opposite.
When she finally caught up to him, the boy looked up and smiled softly at her as she stood in front of where he was sitting. He really admired her unique features. She had a large aquiline nose, but it fit her face perfectly and her eyes were the purest blue he had ever seen. They were usually disinterested any other time of the day, but brightened up just for him and he felt special because he had always been able to reach out to her and get her to open up in a way that nobody else ever could, not even her father, who she had claimed to not be on the best of terms with lately.
The blonde girl sat down beside Armin and pressed her back against the tree, “Armin, can you please read to me?” she huffed softly, closing her eyes and resting her head against the trunk.
“Are you tired?” he stared at her face and continued to admire her. Her long eyelashes, pink lips and porcelain pale skin was tinged ever so slightly pink. She was obviously flushed from the heat and the sight was all too much for Armin to take in at once.
When did I start looking at her with those eyes? He wondered to himself as he gazed at his childhood friend.
“If you want to shut your eyes for a little while, you can do it later. I wanted to show you something first…” Armin spoke hesitantly, watching as her lids opened again out of curiosity.
“What is it?”
“It’s a surprise.” He rose to his feet and lent out a hand for her, Annie took hold of it and stood up, “I think you will love it,” Armin grinned, “Close your eyes.”
“If you say so.” her tone sounded slightly amused and Armin knew that when Annie set eyes on what he was about to show her, she would lighten up and he would get to see her beautiful smile once again.
He led her to the place he had stumbled across earlier that morning after his mother had told him to go into town and buy some milk. Catching sight of some of his tormentors, the boy had decided to take a detour and although it took him considerably longer, Armin was grateful because it would have been a shame if what he was about to show Annie had remained a secret.
“Can I open my eyes now?” her voice broke the silence when the two children were about halfway there.
“Be patient.” Armin replied and made sure she wasn’t peeping. Knowing Annie, she probably had because she was a girl who grew tired of things quickly, that was with the exception of his books that he would read to her and the stories he made up.
Annie let out a sigh but nevertheless kept her eyes shut. When they had seemingly reached the destination she heard Armin call out, “You can open your eyes now.”
The girl’s eyes widened a little and she stared in awe at the sight before her: a secret garden overflowing with flowers of all colours, shapes and sizes. It was beautiful. “Armin…” Annie whispered quietly, not breaking away from the captivating sight before her. Never had she seen so many flowers in one place. “How did you find this place?” she suddenly turned to him, her blue eyes were shining.
“I happened to come across it this morning. I knew that you would love it.”
“You’re right.” At that, Annie turned her attention once more to the garden and her hand slowly fell from Armin’s. The small girl replaced her hand on the hinge of the wooden gate and pushed it open. She strolled in, but turned around to make sure that Armin was following her, “Who do you think it belongs to?” she asked, admiring her surroundings.
“Probably the person who lives in that house up there” Armin pointed up at it.
“We’re not really allowed in here then, are we? It’s private property.” she stated matter-of-factly, not seeming to care at all but still making the point.
“No...We just have to make sure that we don’t get caught.”
“We won’t.” Annie’s tone was fearless and she gave him a small smile.
Armin nodded and smiled back at her, feeling reassured just by the look on her face. He watched her back as she wandered further into the garden and he couldn’t help but feel reminded of her by the flowers because of the way they swayed gently in the wind which matched her grace, and because of how beautiful they were. Armin briefly took his attention away from Annie and observed the plants, pondering on which one he would take.
Surely the owner won’t notice if I take one. I know it’s stealing but others will grow in its place…
Without further hesitation Armin picked a single flower and held it in his hand, he then went back to observing Annie as she knelt down to inhale one of roses. The boy just stared at her and for a few moments they were both lost in the moment. That was until an old woman ruined their peace and began yelling angrily at them.
“You kids get the hell out of my garden before I come down there!”
The blond boy’s head shot up to the top of the hill and he could see the woman was holding a wooden stick as if threatening them both. He quickly turned to Annie, his heart racing. The blonde girl was back on her feet and already rushing towards him.
“You little brats were picking my flowers, weren’t you? You’ll regret it!” The elderly woman began to make her way towards the garden and with no hesitation Annie grabbed hold of Armin’s hand.
“Run.” She pulled him along with her as she ran and Armin was almost tripping over his own feet at the pace Annie was moving.
“W-wait…I c-can’t…A-Annie…slow…down” he huffed between breaths, struggling to keep up. However, Annie did not stop and the two kept running until they were back to the tree where they originally sat at. By this point they were completely out of breath and far away from the fuming woman.
The girl was red in the face and physically exhausted as she collapsed onto the grass and dragged Armin down along with her. Annie quickly rolled onto her back and let out a carefree laugh. Armin crawled closer to her so that he was lying by her side and closed his eyes for a few moments, trying to calm down. His face was bright red and his chest absolutely heaving. For a few minutes nothing could be heard but the two panting and the wind rustling the grass and the trees around them.
When Annie recovered, she sat up and rested against her shins. The blonde girl looked down to Armin and her pale blue eyes fixated on his face. He was still flushed, but by this point his chest was no longer moving up and down so rapidly. She continued to stare at him and she wondered if he could sense her eyes on him. Whether or not he could, she decided to move closer until her face was merely inches from his. She didn’t want to break the silence by calling out his name, nor did she want to disturb him because he looked so peaceful. As her eyes moved downwards, she started to ogle Armin’s lips and she found herself imaging things that had never crossed her mind before. Her heart started to pound against her chest all over again and she felt heat rush to her cheeks. However, before she was able to do anything, Armin’s large blue eyes snapped open.
The boy had felt a shadow hovering over him blocking out the heat and light of the sun. His eyes instantly widened when he saw how close Annie was to his face and he noticed that her pale skin was an even darker shade of red than before. She immediately backed away and sat up quickly with her head turned to the side away from him. His heart had already started hammering again and he sat up straight,
“Um…” he mumbled, curious to why Annie was leaning so closely over him, but not finding the words to ask. Annie remained facing in the opposite direction and then he was reminded that he was still clutching the flower he stole from the garden. “Hey, Annie…”
Annie turned to face him slowly, the blush on her cheeks still present. “What?” her voice was quiet.
Armin closed the distance between them again and slowly brought a hand to her hair, at first she looked surprised, if not somewhat annoyed by his action, but when she saw the kind smile on his face she relaxed and allowed him to do what he wanted. He very carefully untied the ribbon which kept her hair confined in a tight bun and her golden locks fell down and rested nicely above her shoulders, framing her face beautifully.
“What are you doing?” she finally asked, bewildered.
“I always thought your hair was really pretty, and it looks much better like this.” Armin stated, admiring it.
Annie subconsciously placed the loose strands behind her ears, the feeling of them brushing against her face was alien to her. “You know my father doesn’t like my hair loose.” she whispered. It was almost as if she was angry at him.
“But he’s not here right now.” Armin replied and a grin formed across his face.
“True,” Annie let out a quiet laugh but it was only half-hearted. Her hand rested on the back of her neck where the hair was now covering and she turned to look up at him again when she felt his hand on her forearm, drawing her attention once more.
“I um, picked this flower, because it reminded me of you. You see, it’s beautiful, and the colour matches your eyes.” There was a faint redness on his cheeks as he spoke and Annie looked down to the plant that was in his hand, then back up again to his large blue eyes. She didn’t say anything, instead her face heated up even more. “It’s called a Forget-me-not. Legend has it that in medieval times a knight and his lady were walking by the side of a river and he picked some flowers for her, but because of the weight of his armour, he fell into the river. As he was drowning he threw the flowers to her and yelled out “Forget me not”, and after that it became symbolic for ladies to wear Forget-me-nots as a sign of their enduring love.” Armin moved forward and carefully placed the flower behind her ear, “Here. I think it looks really nice like that.”
Annie blushed again and brought her hand to the flower, “That’s an interesting tale…”
“I think it’s kind of tragic.” Armin replied, the smile slowly disappearing from his face.
The girl looked down, not really knowing what else to say to her young friend. She looked back up again after a couple of moments, as a silence formed between them. Her pale eyes blinked several times as she eyed Armin, it was then that she was reminded of something she had always found funny about the boy. The blonde girl randomly grabbed hold of one of his suspenders and pulled on it, “Why do you always wear these?” she asked in a mocking but playful tone, she then released it and it snapped back onto his chest.
“Ow…” Armin squirmed.
Annie looked at Armin’s features as they filled with hurt and she was suddenly guilt-ridden. She quickly apologised, watching as he rubbed his chest. The girl hadn’t intentionally wanted to hurt him, she was just poking fun like always.
She was relieved when she saw a smile on his face again, “My clothes are too big for me, so my mama makes me wear them.” Armin explained and Annie simply nodded, remembering that he was small for his age, but so was she.
There was silence for several moments and Annie started picking at the grass, she kept her eyes down, not looking at the blond boy, “Armin…” her voice was almost inaudible as she began to speak after a few moments more. He noticed her cheeks were suddenly red again, “If you are scared that I would somehow forget you and you gave me this flower for that reason, you don’t have to worry.”
“I’m not scared, why would I be?” Armin blushed, but deep inside he was scared.
Just how many more days together like this will there be?
Annie remained silent and Armin shuffled awkwardly. There seemed to be a long pause and then Annie rested her back against the grass again, staring up at the sky. Armin copied her and their hands brushed against each other’s. Unexpectedly, Annie clasped Armin’s hand which caused his heart to start racing for what seemed like the hundredth time that day. The blonde girl turned her head towards him and smiled softly, at that moment he was curious to what was going through her mind, but instead of questioning, he simply smiled back and watched as she closed her eyes.
Armin must have stared at her sleeping form for about thirty minutes before drifting off into slumber.
“Annie!” the sound of a man’s harsh voice called out, abruptly waking the two. Neither Armin nor Annie was sure of the time, but judging by the colour of the sky it looked like very late afternoon or even early evening. It was difficult to tell in the height of the summer but the time didn’t matter. Annie was in trouble, “Annie what the hell do you think you’re doing!?” the voice was becoming louder, angrier, and closer.
They sat up only to find that their bodies were closely entwined, which must have occurred while they were asleep.
“Father…?” Annie called out hoarsely, her eyes were wide in shock. Before either Armin or Annie could blink, she was grabbed and torn away from the boy and the flower that was in her hair instantly fell to the ground. Armin quickly stood from his position on the grass and rubbed at his eyes, trying his best to take everything in. It was all happening too fast.
“What have you done to your hair!?” the man flicked Annie’s golden strands with one hand, causing her to flinch. Her father’s other hand remained tightly wrapped around her arm. Annie didn’t utter a word, mostly out of fear.
Armin eyed the man’s uniform and instantly recognised it as the Gestapo, Hitler’s secret police force that went around terrorising anyone who even slightly opposed the regime that had been put into place three years ago. The boy swallowed hard, Annie had never told him that her father was in the secret police and in all the years he had known her he must have seen the man a total of three times. All he had known was that the man was very strict with her, but little else.
“I told you before Annie, you’re not allowed to see this boy.” his voice was loud and clear against her ears and there was already a steady stream of tears rolling down her face.
Just as Annie’s father was about to pull her away, the man turned to Armin with a vicious look in his eyes, “And you,” he hissed, “Stay away from my daughter or I’ll get your parents thrown into prison, understand brat?”
Armin started to shake, feeling absolutely terrified to the core. The blond boy tried to open his mouth to speak, but no words came out and he felt despair overwhelm him. He just about managed to nod his head in response to the man’s threat. Armin’s blue eyes were instantly filled by tears and a couple breached the rim and leaked down his cheeks as he watched the flower that was previously in Annie’s hair being trampled on by her father as he proceeded to drag her away. Armin wanted to stop him, but he couldn’t. He was completely helpless in the situation. Annie turned her head back but Armin stood frozen in the spot, simply watching her woebegone face stained with tears as the distance grew between them.
As more tears fell from his eyes, Armin looked down to the wilting flower on the ground and cried even harder.