When I stand with my back to them, my eyes firm on you, I want to kiss you. I'm almost certain that you can tell, can feel it; I feel you responding to this desire which I refuse even to partially hide in these last few seconds of my life. And yet, I'm sure we're both reasonable men. We know it is no more sensible to make any such sudden movements than it is to put a gun to our own heads. And yet, I could—no, I could not, even if it would save us from their bullets. What would history think if, in its records, it tells of how I parted from you with one kiss, one kiss so undeniably momentous? undeniably in the name of devotion? It may, perhaps, smile upon a handshake, but I do not feel that I have the time to waste on something so false.
I guess you could say that, in times as these, I rely on my memories. Only looking for one kiss goodbye, and it may be in my mind, but I think that I see the shadow of a smile in your eyes. Are you smiling for me? Is it, perhaps, that I am smiling? I may as well be, for I have in my regard the feeling of your lips against my own, caressing, soothing, loving a kiss to me in ways that I had never imagined: hidden, stowed away as the imminent Operation raged fire all around us. Like a soft mist of cool rain in the midst of the dry smoke and tempestuous fires.
One genuine kiss in the faded corridors of my memory. Against your desk, I recall perfectly. Oh, how long ago it seems. Then again, we've also kissed against other desks and in some bathrooms and a bedroom or two, though I can't say that I ever tried to take it there because I hated and still hate how guilty your one eye would look when you thought of your family. Kisses never break rules, though.
But this one genuine kiss that lies in the faded corridors of my memory is more Sacred to me than Germany, and I would never say it to you for fear that you would doubt my commitment, which is always limitless. Still, how can Germany mean more to me than this first kiss against your desk? All of the nations in the world, I would not take them if, in return, I could no longer remember the way you hesitated by pulling your sleeve down further over the open air (stalling, no doubt, though you've never been good at that); the way you straightened your shoulders and circled the room until the desk was behind us and you were before me, predatory, and I had asked in jest, out of weak nerves, if the tigers in Africa had trained you (and you smiled); the way you approached in long, heavy strides and I was inching away, sitting atop the edge of your desk by the time our lips met (and what fireworks, what revelation, what relief, now that I could affirm my devotion to you).
I asked what had come over you. My arms were still wrapped around your shoulders and I, still sitting on your desk. You never answered me with words, only with that sly smile and another kiss, softer, pressed to the side of my mouth like an apology. It was my turn: I fisted a hand in the thick of your hair and stole that apology from you, tore it to bits and begged you to be devoted to me in the same way I was devoted to you. Am devoted to you, I suppose you could say, as I stand here, staring, zoned only into my fantasy. My few seconds of peace before I must face what will certainly be hell, and I will certainly be parted from you. For ever being in this war, for failing to stop it, for failing you, I suppose I deserve nothing more than eternal suffering without being by your side.
I can remember the first time I shared with you my love. I…I hadn't done it before. You said you had tried it with your wife, but neither of us was very good at it in the beginning. The fumbling, the pain, you lying beneath me so that you wouldn't have to support yourself with one arm. So deep inside, I thought you were reaching for my teeth; what I remember is your frustration. My sloppy rising-and-falling, and you trying to control our rhythm with one hand.
What I remember is that we only kissed twice that night. Once before, and once after.
Inside, I shake the images from my thoughts. That one kiss in the faded corridors of my memory, on your desk returns; stolen and secret and apologetic because you have a family but then, you also have me. I try to say it with my eyes: try to tell you that I never wanted your bed. I never wanted your respect, nor approval, nor your smiles or nods or sleepless nights at the edge of my bed. Not in comparison to what I wanted: I wanted your devotion. Want. Your devotion.
So tell me, sir. Do I have it?
I stare into your eyes. My shoulders, I'm sure, are defiant. My back, my knees, the way I'm holding myself is a reminder that I am a part of Sacred Germany. That the Führer is not my leader and has never been anything more than the scum of a nation who will be its downfall. That the very country who is executing me is the same country who will fall to its scraggly knees at the hands of the Allies when the war draws to its oncoming end. But I hope that, if nothing else, my eyes are soft and they whisper goodbyes to you in ways that I, myself, could never breathe.
Tonight, Germany will suffer loyalty. Loyalty to the Führer or loyalty to his demise. To this war or to its benevolent end. Et cetera, et cetera, yes: there are families, lovers, best friends, businesses, hopes and dreams and survivors that will be the cause of suffering for those who they bind by loyalty. But tonight, as I stare into your eyes, feel the first scrape of bullet push between my shoulders, I'm suffering love.