The next few months went by in a blur. I don't even remember much, but I remember needing sleep and feeling like there was no hope to gain any. It wasn't much longer that Betty would come by to help so that Eugene and I could sleep and take care of our basic needs. It was much needed and so incredibly appreciated.
One day, Betty and Susan came over to visit. Susan, surprisingly, had been enjoying Eugene Jr.. I could see it in her eyes that she was feeling the pangs of losing her own child so many years ago. I wondered if she would attempt trying again for a family.
I asked, "Would you guys mind watching him for a while?"
"You need to go somewhere?" Betty asked.
I nodded. "I don't know how long I will be, but there's something that I need to take care of."
The two exchanged looks, but nodded. I asked, "Betty, do you mind if I borrow your car?" She raised an eyebrow at me, but said nothing. She dug through her purse and handed me her keys. "I'll fill it up before I get back."
"You don't have to do that, honey," she stated.
"And you don't have to let me borrow your car," I countered. "But, here we are."
We smiled at each other before I left.
I drove to the hospital that I was originally set up to give birth to Eugene Jr.. I parked the car in the lot and stared at the entrance door. My heart was pounding in my ears.
I muttered, "What are you doing here?"
Such a good question, the voice mocked.
I sighed heavily as I climbed out of the car and forced myself towards the door. I entered and asked the nurse at the front, "Excuse me, I'm looking for Dr. Wilson?"
She barely glanced up from her paperwork. She motioned over her shoulder. "He should be down that way."
I didn't bother thanking her and walked down the corridor. As I walked, I passed by a few officers. They smiled and tipped their hats at me as I walked by. I smiled back, hoping that they'd still be there should something happen.
I rounded the corner and looked around nervously. I didn't see him anywhere. Another nurse approached me. "Can I help you, Miss?"
I turned my attention to her. "I'm looking for Dr. Wilson."
The nurse looked over at the police officers and waved them over. I grew rigid. When the officers stopped beside her, she mentioned that I was looking for Dr. Wilson. They turned to look at me. It was apparent that they were trying to think of the best way to break whatever news they had to me.
"Dr. Wilson was arrested a few months ago," the officer stated. "Are you a patient of his?"
"Arrested?" I asked, confused "What for?"
"Well, it turns out that Wilson isn't his real name," the officer said. "It's -"
"Sauer," I interjected.
The man looked stunned that I knew. "How did you-"
I cut him off again. "I met him in the war."
He looked me over. "Are you an accomplice of his?"
I shook my head. "No, God, no," I scoffed. I inhaled deeply before admitting, "I was his prisoner in the war. Tortured..." my voice trailed off.
The officer raised an eyebrow at me. "Tortured?"
I nodded. "Yeah," I said, shifting in my place. "I wanted to confront him."
"Do you have any proof?" he asked. When I raised my shirt up to show him just a fraction of the scars that I had, I could see it in his eyes the horror he was thinking. He nodded, allowing me to lower my shirt again. He said, "The MPs took him to the base. I'm not sure what they're going to do with him now, but I can escort you to the base...explain the situation to them... see what they can do for you."
I smiled at him. "That would be appreciated, thank you."
We left the hospital and headed out towards the military base, a few hours away. When we arrived, I stayed in Betty's car as the officer spoke to the guards outside the base. When they were finished speaking, the officer came to speak to me. "They've agreed to let you meet with him. I'll see you around."
I thanked him and watched him leave as I was escorted by the MP into the base. We stopped outside of a building and he approached the car, escorting me inside.
He ran down the rules and regulations for meeting with the prisoner and I had to leave my things behind. They didn't want anything to be used against me should he try to attack me. I was beginning to question if what I was doing was the right thing.
Before the prisoner was brought inside, a familiar face appeared in the hallway. It was the same grumpy officer that was in Sink's office all those years ago. He recognized me and approached me. "What are you doing here?"
I swallowed. "I heard about the prisoner."
"Oh," he said, recalling the incident at the hospital. "You were the patient that left."
I nodded. "I thought that I would come by and face my demons head on."
He laughed, clearly approving my bravery. "I wouldn't normally allow this, but you've more than earned the right to confront him." He shook my hand and added, "I wish you luck. Take care of yourself."
"You too, Sir," I stated as he released my hand.
The MP asked me as the officer walked away, "Are you ready?" I nodded and I was motioned into the holding room.
I sat in silence for a few minutes, feeling my nerves getting the better of me. I was beginning to wonder if I should just forget the whole thing and leave, but the moment I started to consider standing up, the door opened and a couple of MPs had escorted Sauer into the room.
Sauer was in prisoner garb and chains. They sat him in the chair opposite me at the table. They stood on either side of him, making sure that he wouldn't try to do anything to me.
Sauer smirked when he saw me. There was a twinkle of amusement in his eyes. He placed his chained hands on the table in front of him and waited for me to say something. When I didn't speak immediately, he asked, "Miss me?"
Waves of memories and emotions crashed down on me. My knee jerk reaction wanted to reach out and punch him. Another part of me wanted to hide and cry in the corner of the room. Instead, I sat there, staring at him.
He laughed. "You must really enjoy misery, Jane."
"Why do you say that?" I finally asked.
"Why else would you be here? Why seek me out, confront me, when you know that it will only make you worse in the end?" he questioned. His voice was laced with sarcasm, mockery, and enjoyment. He knew what kind of hold he had over me, the kind of hold he's had since I was rescued. He must have known how much I was struggling since.
I blinked at him. "How's Marta?"
The smirk disappeared from his face. His voice growled at me, "You don't get to say her name."
"I wonder if she realized too late that I wasn't the enemy after all," I pointed out. Just before Sauer was about to retort, I asked, "What did she do? Figure it out?"
"Shut up about her," he spat at me through gritted teeth. When one of the MPs placed his hand on Sauer's shoulder to keep him in his place, I shook my head, letting the MP know that I was okay, that Sauer wasn't going to do anything. Once I did that, the MP removed his hand from his shoulder. Sauer seemed almost surprised.
I asked, "What did you do to her? What happened?"
He shook his head. "What does it matter? She's dead now."
I shrugged. "It doesn't. More of a curiosity."
"Why are you here?" he asked. "What could you possibly want from me?"
I blinked at him. "I don't need anything from you."
"I doubt that," he laughed. "If you didn't, you wouldn't be here. Besides, I've seen it on your face. I'm inside your head, Jane. Always have been. You'll never be rid of me."
"See," I started. "That's where you're wrong."
He cocked his head to the side. "You seem sure of that."
I nodded. "I am," I replied. "See, the thing is, Sauer... I don't need anything from you. I'm here to tell you that..." I took in a deep breath, bracing myself for what I was about to do.
He laughed, thinking that I was unable to finish my sentence. "You're still weak, Jane. You'll always be a stupid, weak, little girl, afraid of me and those around you. Admit it."
"I forgive you, Sauer," I stated finally. I said it with such confidence, I almost felt like someone else said it.
The look on his face was one that I'd never forget. He blinked at me, confused, and taken aback. "What did you just say to me?"
I could hear the disgust in his voice laced with surprise. I studied his face before I repeated myself with even more confidence, "I forgive you." When the shock stayed on his face, I added, "I forgive you for what you did to me - the torture, the broken bones, the scars that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life, for what you did to Marta - I forgive you."
"I don't want your forgiveness!" he spat at me.
I gave him a half smile out of sympathy. "I wasn't asking for your approval or permission. I don't need to have those to be able to sit here before you and tell you that I forgive you. There's nothing more powerful than forgiving those who don't deserve it."
He looked furious with me. It suddenly occurred to me that if I was strong enough to forgive him for all the horrible things he had done to me, then he must have realized that I wasn't as stupid or weak as he originally believed me to be. It takes great strength to be able to forgive while it is usually easier to be angry and seek revenge.
I added, "I hope that wherever you go, no matter what happens to you moving forward in life, you know that I don't hold anything against you."
He bolted to his feet, ready to reach for me, but the MPs grabbed him, holding him back. He started screaming at me, things that I couldn't quite make out. Instead of flinching at his screaming and threats he was making, I slowly stood up, nodded my thanks to the MPs for allowing me this time with Sauer, turned and exited the room.
Outside the room, I followed my escort back out to Betty's car. Once I was in the safety of the car, I released the breath that I was holding. In this moment, I felt lighter. A huge weight had been lifted off of me and I felt the overwhelming change within me.
For the first time since losing my memory, I felt genuinely happy. I felt safe. I felt like the old me.
I pulled away from the base, leaving everything about my old life behind me and started towards my home and my future.
I walked into the house. Betty and Eugene were there. Susan had left already for the night. When they heard the door open, they had approached me. I could see the anger in Eugene's eyes. I handed Betty her keys back and she gave me a warning glance before showing herself out.
Eugene ran his hands through his hair, showing his frustration. He paced a couple of times before finally asking, "Where were you?"
I replied, "I went to see him." I knew that I didn't have to specify who. It was apparent by the way he was acting that he knew where I was. Before he could interject how angry he was, I said, "I needed to see him."
"Why?" he questioned, still not completely calm.
I motioned for him to sit down. His pacing was making me nervous. Once he was sitting down, I sat next to him. "I had to tell him that I forgive him."
"You...what now?" Eugene asked, stunned.
I nodded. "I told him that I forgive him for everything."
"How'd he react to that?" he asked.
I smiled. "About as well as you...confused, then the anger came out." I told him all about what was said, how Sauer reacted, and how the MPs were there to run interference. I explained the feeling that I had when I was in the car, that weight being lifted. "I haven't heard the voice either. I don't think that voice is coming back."
Eugene studied my face for a moment before embracing me, kissing my cheek, and sighing a sigh of relief. "Next time, don't ever go without me."
"There won't ever be a next time," I stated. "What's done is done. That part of my life is over. It's time to move forward with our lives...with our family."
We pulled away from each other. He placed his calloused hands on my cheeks. "I love you, Jane. I'm so happy that you're with me."
"And I love you, Eugene," I replied. "And I'm so lucky that you're with me."
As time continued onwards, our family had grown. We had three more children, all girls. We expanded our house together and lived happily together for the rest of our lives.
Since confronting Sauer, the voice inside my head was completely dead. I never heard from it again since the day of the hospital surprise. All of my nightmares had ceased and the phantom pains that I was having in my abdomen and fingers were also gone. Confronting Sauer was just the thing I needed to release my demons for good.
The military had turned over custody of Sauer to the people of Belgium where he awaited a trial for his part in the war and all the war crimes he committed. Faye was part of the group who testified against him. She used me as a prime example of many against him. He was found guilty of many crimes, genocide, treason, murder - to name a few. He was executed the following year after his sentence.
Faye had reached out to me one last time, to update me on the trial and execution that followed. She wished me well, and included at the bottom of her letter the address where Anna Chiwy was living. After that, Faye considered her debt to me fulfilled.
I reached out to Anna and we spoke on the phone twice weekly. We caught up from when we separated ways in Bastogne to the present. We both reminisced about Renee. After catching up with each other, Anna had been asking me questions about my past, which I would ask her, just like before, what she was doing, and she would simply tell me that she was asking me about cookies. It was an inside joke for us, that even after all of this time, she was still trying to help me remember my past. - It worked.
So, as I write on the last few pages of my leather-bound journal, just know that this is the story of a girl that was. This is the story of how I destroyed her and became the person she was meant to be all along.
This is it. The last few lines I'll ever write. Take care of yourself, my friend.
A/N: Thank you to all of my readers, followers, and reviewers. I appreciate all of your kind words and support from reading my work. I hope you enjoyed this story as much as the others. Thank you again. Take care. ~Z