He was lonely.
I can hear the loneliness at night, the sobs coming from down the hall of names I can't quite make out. I see it at the table as Bruder stared with pain in his eyes at the Sauerbraten before him, cloaking himself with a mischievous grin and a snarky comment. I'd begun to notice how the whites of his eyes were often red, possibly from crying or sleep deprivation, perhaps both.
But what pained me the most, more than anything else, was the letters. Letters written to a married woman...to Hungary. In the waste bin and under Bruder's bed I found numerous crumpled postcards (some shredded, even), all with the same image.
A beautiful painting (done by a renowned, prestigious Hungarian artist, I assume) of Bruder and Hungary in aristocratic-type attire. The clothes did not appear comfortable by any means, but neither seemed to care as they smiled widely, faces and clothes smudged with mud as they held each others' hand.
On the opposite side long messages could be found, scrawled in an uneven script distinctly Bruder's, speaking of his regrets, his hopes, desires, feelings; all ending with the same sentence: "Darling, I wish you were here."
Some of these letters looked like he had meant to send them, already adorned with the proper postage, yet cast aside just as the rest of them.
I stared at the mass of love letters I held in my hands, and I may have had a slightly mournful look on my face as I began to properly organize my thoughts. To be sure, I would never in my life let Bruder, a country who had once achieved glory worthy of an empire, be withered away by the heavy weight of a broken heart. On this thought, I began to write.
Over time I have found and collected many letters written by my brother, all addressed to you. I cannot say why he did not send them to you, but they seem very important. I implore you to read them carefully as to fully understand what is written. Thank you very much, and I hope that we will have the chance to speak again soon.
It was not until two weeks later that I realized I was gambling Bruder's fate, envelope addressed to Gilbert Beilschmidt held firmly in my grasp. I could feel my heart pounding as I gulped out of nervousness, and my hands may have gone clammy as well when I knocked on Bruder's door. Had I really done the right thing...?
Unfortunately, I hadn't time to ponder this further, the door already opening before me.
"West? What's up?"
"Ah...this letter came in the mail for you."
A curious look passed Bruder's face as he quickly snatched the envelope from me, tilting and rotating it as if examining. "Really? Who from?"
"I...I believe it is from Hungary, Bruder."
Bruder, who was already of a pallid complexion, paled slightly, his hands immediately stilled.
"Oh...thanks, West." Without another word Bruder closed the door in my face. I could hear the trudging footsteps and faint tearing of an envelope before I retreated back to my office, far more anxious than I should liked to have been. With sudden exhaustion I crossed my arms atop my desk, resting my head on them in attempt to regain my calm composure. What a fool I was.
Then, in the heavy silence, a loud whoop of delight sounded through the hallways.
"Yes! Oh hell yeah! Heheheheeeehhhhhh!"
I admit that I flinched at the cry, sitting up immediately, eyes wide as I processed the situation, then relaxed. I was unable to help the grin that grew on my face as the continuous shouts of joy reverberated in the corridors.
Well, who would have thought.