|A Person of Value
Author: Yva J PM
Patty embarks on a journey that will change her life for the better. Alternate Universe with no character death.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Romance - Chapters: 30 - Words: 77,165 - Reviews: 136 - Favs: 33 - Follows: 9 - Updated: 09-28-08 - Published: 04-26-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4220115
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This is an alternate universe story based on the book, Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene. It isn't written with the intention to infringe on the book or the writer's original storyline. The scenario basically is: What if Frederick Anton Reiker did not die, but made I back home to Germany? I started writing this idea probably well over 10 years ago, and for some reason, kept be-bopping back and forth with it. I figured that today, I'd come back to it and see if there was any point to letting this project get finished.
Ever since I was 12-years-old, and read this wonderful book for my eighth grade English class at school, I have had a fascination with Germany, and German culture. It is probably no surprise that I married someone from Germany and moved here more than a decade ago.
The scenario I depict here isn't intended to take away from Bette Greene's novel or its sequel, but rather in appreciation that she wrote about this. Here's hoping that you enjoy what I write here.
I don't know how often I will be able to update this, as it is not completed, but I wanted to give it a go since I love the book it's based on and wanted to have a little bit of a variety to my writing. I hope that you enjoy this, and if you would, please let me know what you think. Thanks to x-Emily-Tennant-x for encouraging me to post this.
Edited June 20, 2008, corrected for typos and other problems.
A Person of Value
By: Yva J.
The light of the city sparkled as Patricia Ann Bergen sat and stared out the window. The stars above her reflected a kind of radiance that always reminded her of that summer when she was twelve-years-old. It is ironic that one is able to remember and consciously recall these events at will, but that was how it was.
The memories of Frederick Anton Reiker constantly flooded her mind. He was the German soldier she had befriended and protected as a child. For Patty, Anton was everything that she wanted to be; smart, wise, and beautiful. After he had escaped from the prison camp, the only conscientious choice was for her to help him.
She knew that no one else would care and so she befriended a person who she knew was just as scared and helpless as she had always been. He needed a friend and as that summer wore on, she realized that she did as well.
The rejection of her family only intensified her need of having someone who loved her. She knew if her parents had found out about this forbidden friendship, her teenage years would have been a living hell and she would have been disowned.
Of course, it was plain to see that this was something she wanted to keep to herself. What really hurt was the fact that after Anton had left, she never heard anything else from him. The ring she treasured, and instead of wearing it on her finger, she had affixed it to a chain and hung it around her neck for many a year. Until the day that the end of the war had come, she would hide this beloved object beneath her clothing, and never show it to a single person.
Today, some twelve years later, she had resolved herself to keeping it in the special jewelry box that her grandparents had given to her after had finished school.
Deep in the recesses of her mind, she could not help but wonder what had become of him.
To this day, she still did not know.
Why must you torture yourself in this way? Patty scolded herself over and over again. It did not seem fair at all. She could neither forget him nor the impact he had had on her life. If only there was a way of contacting him or his family, but there remained no feasible way.
She knew his father's name, as Anton had spoken of Erikson Karl Reiker in detail. He had been a history professor at the University of Göttingen during the war. Of course, that was many years ago, and today, he could be retired, or no longer alive. If only there was a way for her to find out if this one particular question could be answered and her feelings somehow rectified.
Time seemed to stand still as she reflected on this important time in her life. Suddenly, she realized that her face was covered with tears and looking at her watch, she realized that she had been sitting outside for at least an hour.
She groped for a tissue without taking her eyes away from the stars, but managed to loudly blow her nose. Stuffing the used piece of tissue into her pocket, her attention returned to the pinpoints of light that had somehow captured her imagination. Somehow, there was a magic manifested in them that reflected a truth that would forever be their own.
"Patty?" A voice broke into her thoughts and she turned her head to see that her roommate Melanie Richardson was standing, her tall frame leaning against the doorway, a glass of wine casually in her hand.
"Yeah?" She managed to croak out, the telltale sign that she was not well. Closing her eyes, she waited for her roommate to reel off the inevitable questions.
"What are you doing sitting out here by yourself?" She raised the glass to her lips and casually took a sip of it. "I have a new record album, and I thought maybe we could have a listen. It's Buddy Holly."
When she noticed that Patty did not respond, but instead, rested her elbow against the surface of the small table, she came over and sat the glass down on it and reached into her pocket for a small silver plated pocketbook. Extracting a cigarette from it, she retrieved a book of matches before looking at her friend.
For her part, Patty raised her head, "I thought you were quitting," she mumbled.
"I only smoke when I drink, and you know I don't drink very often," Melanie said as she struck a match and lit the cigarette. When her blue eyes met Patty's, she offered a coy smile as she fluffed her dark blonde hair as she had often seen being done in movies. She then took a long and satisfied draw on the cigarette, the smoke emerging in an exhalation of breath. Growing serious, she regarded her friend. "You look like you lost your best friend."
"No," Patty smirked, "you're still here." She wafted her hand in front of her face and Melanie made certain that she blew the smoke in the opposite direction.
"So, did you get the job working for Mister Granger?" She asked. "I know that you had an interview today."
"No, I was not experienced enough for it, he wanted someone who had done more field work with gardening and stuff," she said, her hand now waving about in disdain. "To be honest, I don't know if I'm really interested in working as an editor for a gardening magazine anyway. I wanted to work for the Post, but that seemed not to work, either. What is the matter with this picture? It's 1955, and I can't get a job anywhere."
"I'll tell you what's the matter, there are too many men in the business and woman are expected to stay home, be married, and have more kids than a dog has puppies. It's like the shows they have on television, all about married couples and that whole being married bit." Melanie said, her voice etched in contempt. "That's the problem, we are somehow expected to live in the olden days. The thought of women trying to work in journalism like men just is not happening. At least not here."
Patty remembered Charlene Madlee and the work she had done in Memphis. The reporter was still her friend, and had even written a letter of recommendation for her before she left for the big city. That seemed not to do any good, and today, Patty wondered why she had even left Jenkinsville and come there at all.
Seconds later, she once more opened her eyes and looked across the table to see that Melanie had finished her cigarette and had mashed it out. She then reached for her glass of wine and took a long sip.
After several moments, Patty watched as her roommate's face lost it's skeptical edginess.
For several minutes, Melanie studied the face of her friend. Soon she found herself shaking her head with disbelief when she noticed the tears that were escaping from beneath the lids. She hated to see people crying, especially people like Patty, who have been through hell and back.
Melanie automatically assumed that any bad feeling her friend had was centered on her parents. She had met Harry and Pearl Bergen just after Patty had moved in with her, and she knew beyond any doubt that she did not like either one of them at all. The couple carried around snobbish arrogance like a well worn suit, and their behavior towards their daughter was sadistic as well as overbearing. The father had overtly rejected everything that Patty wanted to do, while the mother seemed only interested in using the time in the apartment as cheap lodging while getting that extra bit of shopping done. For whatever reason, they seemed unwilling to even try and communicate with their daughter.
Of course, there were moments when Melanie wanted nothing more than to throw logic completely to the wind and ask them how it was that they could have treated their child like she was yesterday's rubbish. Although this angered her, she managed to somehow hold her tongue while in their company.
Seeing Patty crying on the balcony that evening seemed a repeat performance of some of the emotions that had been triggered by her parents' atrocious behavior. Melanie could not help but notice that the closer it got to the summer months, the more challenging it had become for her friend to keep those feelings concealed.
"Patty?" Melanie spoke her name and waited for the younger woman to turn around and address her inquiry.
After several seconds, she wiped her tears away. Her face seemed to carry an element of courage that she was fighting diligently to keep intact. "It's nothing, I was just thinking about some stuff is all."
"Like what?" Melanie asked. "I mean; you seem pretty lost. Maybe you could just tell me what is happening and why you are somehow trapped in your own little world." She handed her roommate a tissue. "What's going on?"
She accepted the offered item, but gave Melanie a weak smile, "Let me ask you a question," she began. "Would you hate me if you learned something about me that no one else knows? I mean; something about my past."
"Your dad didn't abuse you, did he?" Melanie asked, immediately sensing the worst.
"No, of course not," Patty said. "This has nothing to do with my parents; Mel, it's just about me and something that happened when I was a kid."
"I wouldn't hate you," Melanie said. "Just tell me what's up, and why you've been getting so sappy. I'm worried about you, Patty."
The girl remained quiet, but instead of speaking, she got up from the table and returned inside. Once she had gone down the hallway and entered her bedroom, she noticed that Melanie had left the wine outside and was now doggedly following her.
Inside the bedroom, Patty immediately went over to the small wooden box that her grandmother had given her. She carefully pulled up the lid and removed a heavy gold ring from it. This, she handed it to Melanie.
"That's a man's ring, where did you get it?" Melanie nudged Patty but offered a sheepish grin. "You didn't say you had a boyfriend."
"Read the writing on it, Mel," Patty instructed.
Without speaking, Melanie reached into the front shirt pocket and pulled out a pair of small spectacles. Putting them on, she began to read the inscription and after several seconds had passed, she raised her head. "Patty, who gave you this? The inscription is in German."
Patty nodded as the tears began to stream down her cheeks. "My friend gave it to me," she said as she dug around inside the box and pulled out a 12-year-old newspaper clipping. The byline read that her friend, Charlene, had written it.
Wordlessly, she handed it to Melanie.