Note-My first SA fic, so be nice! A little German used, but I'll give a translation at the end. Please review. Almost nothing makes me happier. I don't usually write in such a formal style, but I think it's quite fitting for SA. Italics are flashbacks. This is musical-compliant, not play-compliant.


Ernst Robel sat in his favourite spot in the shop, staring out of the wide window. He lifted the mug to his lips, and took a sip of the hot coffee, burning his tongue and coating his lips with cream that Frau Koehler added to the beverage to sweeten it. He licked it off, and laid it down on the small table. The small café was empty, which was fair enough, it being so early in the morning. He sighed, and pushed his brown hair behind his ears. Somewhere in the close distance, he could hear the rattling of the large steam-train, The Hammermier, as it passed on the tracks. Ernst smiled wryly. He could practically hear the words ringing in his ears and through his mind.

"One day, my dear, we can get on that train. We'll escape this town, and go to the country, and be happy"

He had said once, long ago. And Ernst had looked up at him, wide eyes full of belief. Of course, that had been long ago, when they thought the world was easy. Ernst didn't think so anymore.

He scratched an itchy spot behind his ear, and took another sip of his steaming beverage. He set it down again, and looked at his watch. It was half past six. The lights were only just beginning to flick on behind closed windows, casting a dusty glow onto the street, reflected in the puddles from last night's rain. It was still fairly dark. The stars were only really just beginning to be overshadowed by the sunrise. He smiled secretively to himself. This was his favourite part of the day; the only part, he thought, that was only really worth getting up for.

He drained his cup, and wiped his mouth on the tissue. A plump woman with mousey curls and a red face in her mid-forties came into the room from the back entrance, and stood behind the counter, wiping a glass with a tea-towel. She smiled fondly at him, trying to blink the sleep out of her eyes.

"You're open early, Frau Koehler" Ernst said, not removing his focus from the window. The woman shrugged.

"I always open early for you, Herr Robel" she replied warmly. "You're my best customer. Would you like another?"

Ernst considered the offer, and nodded. Frau Koehler walked over to the table, still carrying the glass and towel, and took his mug. She re-filled it, and brought it back to the table. Ernst took it gratefully, blew it, and drank.

"Steady! You'll burn your throat!" the woman said, and tutted. "Young men. Always think they know what's best for them"

Ernst prized his lips away from the cracked cup, and went back to looking at the view. The clouds were purple and heavy from last night's summer storm. Ernst had wanted to run out in it, and get soaked to the skin, like he had when he was fifteen. But now he was twenty-five, and too old for childish things. Besides, he had to look after his Mama, now she was ill, no matter how much she disliked him.

"Let's run through it" Hanschen said decisively. Ernst looked at him as if he was mad.

"What? We'll get drenched!"

Hanschen smiled at him, the sort of sly smile he used when he knew he was right.

"But where's the fun in staying dry?"

Ernst rolled his eyes. There was no stopping Hanschen when he had made up his mind. Hanschen looked at him, knowing he had won.

"Drie…Zwei…Eins!" he yelled, and the two boys charged, laughing like madmen, through the wood as the rain plummeted onto their clothes and skin.

Frau Koehler looked at the daydreaming man, and shook her head. He was lost in a memory. He did that a lot. Best thing to do then was to leave him alone. So she did.

It took Ernst almost an hour to finish his coffee, by which time it was half seven, the drink was cold and the sun had risen over the city. More people came and left the café and the streets outside began humming with the activity of life, of adults in suits coming and going, walking for jobs and trains and families. He stood up, left a handful of Marks on the table, and left the shop.

It was bitterly cold for an April morning, and Ernst rubbed his hands together to keep them from freezing. His big black overcoat hung off him, somewhat like a shroud, and his breath came out in small puffs that condensed in the morning air. It may have been the beginning of spring, but it still felt like winter. He walked, not quite sure where he was going, which may have been best. Despite his lengthy education, he had no work to go to, and he was certainly not heading home to face his crabby mother. His face stung with the cold wind. The sky was powder-blue and cloudless.

Eventually, he ended up at the train station. There was only one platform, as the trains only ever went one way. He liked it there. In between the hourly passing of the trains, it was mostly quiet. There he could think. Not exactly relax, but then again, his thoughts never were exactly relaxing. They were mostly musings, or ponderings, or memories. Always the same memories. They were familiar, like old friends, or rather enemies. Yes, the sort of schoolyard bullies that took the pocket-money of the small child who couldn't stand up for himself. Those were the sort of memories he liked to think about. He didn't like to forget the things that made him who he was.

"Herr Rilow? Herr Robel? One of you answer me! Who is responsible?"

Ernst shook his head slowly, his cheeks numb with biting cold.

"I am, Rektor"

Then the tracks began to rumble. Ernst looked up at the clock, which hung from the iron rafters of the station. It was already eight. Goodness, he thought to himself. One could really get lost in his thoughts if he wasn't careful. The tracks shook so much that Ernst was sure they would crack. But they didn't, and soon there was a horrible screeching sound as The Hammermier came round the corner. It was a large train, painted a dark shade of green, and the steam bellowed from the funnel.

The train stopped, and the world was still again.

The doors opened, and a crowd of people filed out of the train, some with suitcases and various luggage bags, some with young children, some with sharp suits and fine hats. There was a flurry of noise and activity as people called out to each other.

"See you next week, Elfriede!"

"Mama! When will we be seeing Papa again?"

"Jan! Over here! Jan!"

"Good to see you, Herr Muller!"

"Papa, Hilde stole my teddy!"

"Jan! For God's sake, you saukerl! Jan!"

"I can't find my ticket, Sofie!"

"I hope mother's made lunch, I'm starved!"

"Jan! JAN!"

"For Christ's sake, Niklas, shut up, I can see you!"

Eventually, the platform slowly emptied of people, the noise filtering into a distant echo. And then it was quiet again. Ernst swung his feet, smiling to himself. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught a movement, over the other end of the track. One person hadn't left yet. It was a young man, his feet surrounded by battered bags and cases, lighting a cigarette. The flame blazed for a moment, before a puff of smoke emitted from the stick. The man dropped the match, grinding it under the toe of his boots, and drew with relief on the cigarette.

Ernst turned away, and looked up at the sky. The clouds were swollen and purple, the colour of the sore he got as a child when he was stung by a bee. Over the other end of the platform, the man coughed, and Ernst looked over in reflex. The man looked up, and his face was visible, the rounded curve of his nose, the lemon-yellow hair that was not hidden by the black hat, the…

Above the platform, the pregnant clouds burst, and the rain fell.

Ernst stood up, his hands quivering. He took a few unsure steps forward, like a newborn lamb, and silently cursed his hesitance. He stood upright, and took another step forwards. The man turned his head and looked at him.

"H-…Hanschen?" Ernst said, and he smiled. It was, it was really him. He could never forget that face! He took another, confidant step forward.

"Hanschen. It is you" he said quietly. Hanschen blinked, and smiled pleasantly.

"I'm sorry?" he said politely. "I beg your pardon, Herr. There must be some mistake. My name is Klaus. Klaus Schmittmann. And you are?"

Ernst's chest tightened.

And then there was just the sound of rain, beating its tinny sound on the platform roof.


Translation:

Drie, Zwei, Eins – Three, two, one

Saukerl - Insult, referring to a pig. The female equivalent is Saumencsh.

Rektor – Headmaster

Herr/Frau – Mr. / Mrs.