Zwei mit einem Geheimnis

Vier

Todesursache

-Cause of Death-

Where's Albrecht? Why isn't he here for me? I was always there for him…oh that's right. He's gone.

I lay in solitude, cold and alone. The other boys had left me, their faces full of regret and pity, but how could they know what this feels like? How could they ever know? But I knew and accepted with some reluctance that this was how it would be for the rest of my life.

For the moment I was numb, totally and completely, body and mind. I still felt the ice in my veins. I still saw his face as he melted away like snow against my skin.

How appropriate that my love would be taken away from me by ice. It was cold and biting, just like death, but after a while you didn't feel it anymore as your brain shut down to the pain. No matter how hard I tried, replaying those last moments in my head, I could not change the way things end. The ice would always be there to separate me, in life, from him, in death.

Once again I would fall to my knees on the hard, unforgiving ice of the frozen lake. I would feel the same dreadful panic over and over again as I brushed away the snow with my shaking hands. I would see him through the frozen layer but he was just a shadow. He would lift a hand slowly to the bottom of the ice, pressing against it gently and weakly as I would stare in horror. No, please, my face would seem to say as I saw myself from the outside. But he would just shake his head with a sorry, sad look. And for some reason, with that, the world would seem to stop. I would analyze his expression, scrutinize his face every time but I would always come to the same conclusion; he was telling me to let him go. Seconds before, I would have refused. I would have found a way. I could have saved him. But I didn't. I knew he didn't want me to, so I would have to simply sit back and watch him fall…I don't know why he had to have that effect on me. I cursed it. I would have saved him, but I could never make myself do it. He would slip away from the ice and from me, sinking deeper into the darkness each time.

Reality snapped back with brutal force, so great that I almost heard it. It slammed into my chest and stuck there. I began to regain sensation in my limbs and emotions, though they were still clouded by the confusion of death. I quickly learned that the numbness was greatly preferable to the other option. At least then I could not feel my heart screaming beneath the weight of a great intangible force.

Then, my emotions returned with full force as if they had been a grenade. Bottled up, but when something set them off…

I ignored the fact that I had not yet regained full feeling in my legs as I jumped down from my bunk in a wild burst of energy. The warm blood rushing beneath my cold skin burned. I threw back the blankets of his bed looking for something, anything, but when they turned up nothing, I rushed over to his locker.

There must be something left of him. He must have left something. There's got to be something I can hold on to…

I didn't even know what I was looking for but I must have been pretty desperate. I destroyed the militaristic order of the room, throwing aside his books, clothes and other such things as I ripped them off the shelves, tears streaming down my face the whole time, conjured by the strange, indescribable pain. It was some weird combination of anger, sadness, sorrow and self-pity. I looked around me once there was nothing else to throw and, strangely pleased with the mess I had caused, broke down completely. My knees collapsed and I fell to the floor, weeping so hard I nearly convulsed.

Simply laying there in my fatigue allowed me to calm down slightly, but there was something else that eased the pain; a memory of him returned like a glimpse of golden light in the darkness of hell.

I was once again back in the newspaper room with him by my side. I breathed a sigh of relief as if waking from a nightmare.

He sat perched on the window ledge looking down at the floor in concentration and biting the nail of his thumb, a habit he had whenever he listened to me read. He always had me read the things he wrote aloud so he could be sure they sounded ok. In my hand was a single sheet of paper of something he had written.

Finishing the last sentence brought a pleased smile across his face and he glanced up at me. He blushed and giggled when he saw the wondrous gaze I gave him.

"Do you like it," he asked innocently even though he knew the answer. He always knew the answer.

I continued to smile at him as I placed the paper on the desk behind me.

"It's wonderful, schatz."

"Thanks," he said through a grin.

I walked over and leaned against the windowsill next to him. I put my arm around his shoulder affectionately and pulled him close, kissing the top of his head.

"You should know, Albrecht," I said, almost whispering. "You're absolutely amazing."

He gave me a weak grin that quickly faded from his face and then said, "Well, you're the only one that thinks so."

I just smiled down at him and held him closer, wrapping both arms fully around him. He leaned in, laying his head against my chest. I rested my chin on his head gently and said, "But I don't think so. I know so."

He turned to look at me with beauty and admiration in his eyes. I tried to win our little staring game by giving him a look with more affection but I couldn't. I simply couldn't match his emotion. The corners of his lips flashed upwards for several seconds. That was the last time I saw him smile…but it was little more than a helplessly weak spark that was not enough to have kept a fire going when we went out onto the frozen lake.

The dream ended and all too soon. I was back in my world without him, but at least now I was calm. I just wanted to sleep…maybe in my dreams I would see him and I could hold him and kiss him and tell him I love him again. That was enough to get me off the floor. I hauled myself up on weak limbs that shook when they had to support my weight but I trudged back to my bunk and managed to pull myself up. I collapsed against the pillow and my eyes fell instantly closed, but I did not sleep. I pulled the thick blankets close around my shoulders and, to keep them warm, my hands slid underneath my pillow. There I felt something that I did not recognize. My senses instantly sharpened with curiosity and I sat up, picked up my pillow and reached inside. My fingers clasped around an envelope. I pulled it out and turned it over to look at the front. On it was written my name, Friedrich, in beautiful handwriting. It was fancier than his usual script but it was undeniably his.

I simply stared down at it for a few moments. I wanted to open it but to be honest I was afraid. This was the last things I had of him, once I opened it, I had nothing left. But, unable to withstand the curiosity any longer, I broke the seal and pulled out two neatly folded pieces of paper.

At the top of the page it was addressed; "My dearest,

I am sorry that this had to be goodbye, but my fate was unavoidable. I was a worthless boy living in fear for far too long."

No you're not! I wanted to scream at him, but I knew his ears would not hear me.

I read the rest of the letter but just barely through my tears.

On the second page was much less writing but that did not make it any less powerful. I don't know how he did it. He was always such a beautiful writer.

The last lines were; "Just because I left you, doesn't mean I didn't love you. I hope you understand...

Forever yours, Albrecht."

He signed his name in near calligraphy. It was almost as beautiful as the words in the letter…or the name itself…almost.

Below it was written; "p.s. don't tell anyone, but do not forget." Then, a quote dead center at the bottom of the page; "Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead."

I broke down completely. This was why he did it. This was how he really felt. Finally. He killed himself because of something I did. Sure, there may have been other factors, but because of me he had to live in fear. How could I have done that to him for so long and never seen this coming. I can't believe he let me do that to him. He must have loved me enough to think we were worth dying for…

I'm so sorry, Albrecht…

Burying my face in my pillow and clinging to the letter for dear life, I wished my tears could have been minutes with him. Maybe then we could have had a lifetime together. He