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"If you must know," I snap testily, "I was out last night with my husband. Do you have an issue with that?"
My mother's eyes flash at me, and she's muttering indistinctly under her breath. I don't feel myself; I feel as if I'm all over the board. I'm not myself. I'm worried sick about my husband, and missing him terribly. I suppose I shouldn't have snapped at my mother, but she does get on my nerves. I don't need to be treated as if I'm a five year-old just because my husband is serving his country and I happen to be pregnant with our first child.
Ignoring her, I rub my eyes tiredly with the back of my hand, force back a yawn, and turn back to the piano. I strike my starting key and begin to practice the song I'll be singing tonight in front of several hundred people. My heart just isn't in it. Damn it! For the life of me, I can't concentrate. My mind is not on this song, not at all. Not if my name is Lili Schmidt Larrabee. If anything, it's on a Major William F. Larrabee.
My husband serves the United States of America in their air force, which is becoming an increasingly popular means of warfare. As my uncle Kurt once pointed out, it's all moving up into the air. Both sides of this war have neither reason or ability to minimize such a wonderful potential of using aircraft to fight.
I am a British concert hall performer, as well as an ex-spy for the Germans. My mother is British, and my father, German. I moved to England when I was ten years old, but because of my work, I frequently find myself back in Europe- mostly France. Bill was one of my assignments. Also the last. I fell in love with him, simple as that.
I must say that when he's in my arms, or I in his, my world couldn't be better. But this war- this damned, damned war- is keeping us apart more than we'd like. When we married two years ago, everyone was saying the fighting would be over in a couple of months. It hasn't ended- but now, I do believe the end is in sight. I hope.
I stare out the window, hugging myself. My thoughts wander to this past weekend. Bill was given a three-day leave. I can only thank God in heaven for it, too. I haven't seen him for three months. The smile for which I am so famous gently creeps onto my face. After three perfect days together, we spent our last evening together in the British countryside.
I'm a nature girl, even if I don't look it. I love being outdoors whenever I can be. Our last evening together was actually a picnic at three in the morning. After all, it is the best time. Bill is right: there isn't a single ant to bother you. After eating, we cuddle up against a huge oak tree, in the silvery moonlight. With a full weekend of pure joy coming to a close, I do admit to breaking down. I was terrified of him leaving me again. I'm still terrified.
But Bill, darling that he truly is, pulls me onto his lap, wraps his arms around me, and drops kiss after kiss on my head. He tells me to let everything out right that moment, tell him everything that was frustrating me. His threat was that we wouldn't go on anymore early-morning picnics if I didn't. Of course, I know he is kidding, but I did spill all.
The feeling of his arms around mine are still burned into my skin. Everything I told him is still fresh in my memory. Quite comfortable on his lap, I positively bawl about how frightened I am of him leaving me again. How my mother frustrates the hell out of me. How people still like to question the premises of our marriage, two years later.
I confess, it's not every day that a spy turns herself in, then marries the major she was spying on. Even though Bill and I know we love each other, the feeling of fury rising in my chest whenever I catch wind of more talk can be dangerous. I'm very bad at controlling my temper when someone makes me angry- Bill knows first-hand. He should.
As he talks away my worries, I tell him about my concentration issues with my work now. How my mind is always on him. He very firmly suggests that I finish up my current tour in Britain, then think about settling down with my mother until he comes home for good. I start to protest, pointing out that I don't like the attention she gives me, but he silences me with a knowing look. I know his reasons. He doesn't want me overworking myself. I'm good at forgetting that I'm carrying a child- as long as you don't count the mornings.
I finally give in to his wishes to settle down- quite reluctantly, at that. He laughs and says it's just like me to behave in such a manner, and that becoming a mother has hardly changed me. When I remind him of the fact that I am only four months along, he touches my nose, telling me it makes no difference. I suppose he could be right.
Such thoughts have reminded me of something. I sit up and twist around to look into his eyes. Pushing his hair off of his forehead, I ask if he can get a leave right before our baby is born. He looks into my eyes, expression neutral. I inhale, praying with all of my might that he can at least try. My heart is in my throat, and I wish he'd say something.
Bill hugs me close again, tight. He whispers to me that he has one last military secret to tell me, and asks me to promise not to tell a single soul. Not even my mother. I simply nod, biting my lip. He begins to explain that the Allies have won the war. I personally have no feelings on it, because I am both British and German, and worked for both sides at once, but I know this is a huge triumph for my husband. I nearly burst out in happy tears, but almost recoil when he goes on to tell me that he still has to fly in his squadron.
I am confused, and ask him why. I don't want him in those damned planes any longer. I want him with me. He sees the pain in my eyes, and explains that even though the war is won, the fighting itself won't stop all at once. It could take another three months, in the least, to end it completely. I understand; of course I do. But this wasn't a guarantee of anything. I feel like I've been made whole again, but shattered at the same time.
I turn around, looking at the piano. I wonder if it's all worth it in the end. War offers you no guarantees. Neither does life itself. War is a part of life. It only makes sense, then. If life offers no definite guarantee, and war is a part of life, then you have to take things as they come.
I realize that, especially over these last few years, I've learned a lot about acceptance. I don't know if I could handle loosing my husband in these final months of the war, I really don't. I just know I've got to accept whatever comes my way. I may not always be ready for a particular thing, but I know to expect the inevitable in life.