Hey everyone! I apologize for taking forever to write this chapter. Truth be told, I was stuck! Bad case of writer's block and I believe it may show in these chapter as I'm not terribly fond of it. But I wanted to update soon and hopefully the next chapter will be better. I do hope you like it. There may be a few things that don't make sense but it will in the long run :) Thank you all for reading and reviewing!
It took me a few moments to register Sharon's words. He's alive? Really? Is it truly possible? "He's alive?" I echoed my thoughts.
Sharon's smile lit up as she nodded her head. "Yes, he's alive and he and his family are moving to North Carolina. His mother, Deborah, is inviting you to come visit!" she exclaimed.
But I couldn't share her excitement as it caught me off guard and alarmed me a bit. I was so confused. That couldn't be true. "That doesn't make sense. Why on earth would they do that?" I asked skeptically.
Sharon giggled and handed me the letter. "Read for yourself." She urged.
But my hand froze. What if this was another trick? It had to be, Anton and his family wouldn't move away from Germany. That's their home! Not to mention America still isn't that friendly to Germans. Why would they put themselves in that situation? And why would Anton move back after all the trouble he went through to get home?
"I don't know, Sharon." I said timidly. I really didn't want to be let down again.
Sharon saw the doubt all over my face. "Patty, it's ok. It makes a lot more sense when you finally read it." She put the letter into my hands and looked me in the eye. "Trust me."
I sighed and began to unfold the letter, knowing I wouldn't be able to walk away until I did. Why not? At least this time my hopes weren't too high.
As I took one more deep breath, I began to solve the mystery of my long lost friend.
I hope you are doing well and I am hoping this letter reaches you safely. I am writing you for a few reasons, one them being to assure you that my son Anton is alive and well. I understand that your father did not want this secret revealed at the time but I could not shake the feeling that you desperately needed to know now.
Anton survived being shot down in New York and after about a month in the hospital, he was transferred to a camp in Ahoskie, North Carolina, where he was held for five years. After he was released, he traveled to Elizabeth City seeking a job and a temporary place to stay until he could get back home. He was there for two years until he finally made his way back to Germany. Words cannot describe the joy and relief I felt when I opened the door and saw my son standing in front of me. A lot tears were shed that day. I was grateful to have at least one of my sons come home.I paused for a moment. At least one? Anton mentioned a younger sister but never a brother. I wondered why.
Sadly things were never the same again around here. There was so much sadness hanging around this place. And though Anton was here with us, his heart stayed in America. He always considered moving back but refused to leave us behind. After many conversations, we all agreed that it was time for a change. We've spent quite some time planning and arranging but everything is finally working out. Anton got in touch with some of his friends and confirmed that he could move back into his old home in Elizabeth City and they were kind enough to help the rest of us find a home about a mile away. It'll be about a month from now before we officially move in. We should be leaving Germany July 20th and be moved and settled in our new home by the third week of August, which brings me to my next reason for writing this letter. Patty, I want you to know that I am forever grateful for your bravery and kindness towards my son. When Anton told us about you, I was in tears and still am as I am writing. I am forever grateful for your valiant acts and I want you to know that you are welcome in our home at any time. It would be an honor to meet you face to face and I know that Anton would be thrilled to see you again. He's been hesitant because of your father's warning but please know he hasn't forgotten you. He thinks of you often and has been considering visiting you but at the same time he didn't want to put you in harm's way. I know it's a risk for me to write you and I pray that it does not cause any trouble. Just know that my family and I are very grateful and you will never be forgotten. If you are reading this, I do hope you consider our offer for you to visit someday soon. As I said, it would be a great honor to meet you. Once again, thank you for your bravery and kindness and if you ever have any questions or anything, please don't hesitate to call and if we've already moved, our new address is on a separate paper. With love and gratitude,
Patty, I want you to know that I am forever grateful for your bravery and kindness towards my son. When Anton told us about you, I was in tears and still am as I am writing. I am forever grateful for your valiant acts and I want you to know that you are welcome in our home at any time. It would be an honor to meet you face to face and I know that Anton would be thrilled to see you again. He's been hesitant because of your father's warning but please know he hasn't forgotten you. He thinks of you often and has been considering visiting you but at the same time he didn't want to put you in harm's way. I know it's a risk for me to write you and I pray that it does not cause any trouble. Just know that my family and I are very grateful and you will never be forgotten.
If you are reading this, I do hope you consider our offer for you to visit someday soon. As I said, it would be a great honor to meet you. Once again, thank you for your bravery and kindness and if you ever have any questions or anything, please don't hesitate to call and if we've already moved, our new address is on a separate paper.
With love and gratitude,
I wiped my tears away and looked at Sharon who was still smiling. "What do you think?" she asks.
I shrugged. "I don't know what to think. I'm a mix of all emotions right now. Part of me is mad because Harry didn't tell me the truth and had me going through all these roller coaster feelings all these years. Another part says its better late than never. And the other part still wants more proof before I just go." I paused while I rubbed my forehead and let out a sigh. "But I want it to be real." I admitted.
"It sounds pretty real to me." Sharon insisted then thought for a moment before she went digging through the envelope. She pulled out two pieces of paper, one which appeared to be a photograph. "Patty, is this him?" she asks curiously as she hands the picture to me.
I look at the black and white photo that held four people in it that stood in front of a beautiful house surrounded by snow. There was a tall older woman that looked to be in her late forties or fifties with shoulder length brown hair and big eyes whom I assumed is Anton's mother. Next to her was a man who looked like an older version of Anton. They shared the same warm smile and kind eyes. Next to him was a lady who looked like a younger version of her mother. Then finally there was an achingly familiar face staring back at me. There was no mistaking, that was surely him. The only difference was a bit older but his eyes and his smile were definitely the same. Ten years since I've seen that face. I looked on the back to see the date. February 16, 1952. I looked at the calendar on the wallthat just happened to read July 18, 1952.I nodded my head in response to Sharon's question. "That's him alright." I whispered. "This picture was taken six months and two days ago."
"What's it say on the back?" Sharon asks.
I flip the photograph over to see a short message written in the same elegant handwriting on the back.
"Without your courageous acts, we would've never had an opportunity to have this taken. Thank you." I read out loud as the tears returned to my eyes. How could I deny it now? It'd have to be one good prankster to pull this off. And what if it was? I don't know what I'd do.
Sharon took the picture from me again. "So this is the man you saved?" She asked intriguingly.
"Yes it is." I answered.
She smiles. "He seems very kind. And not that bad looking either." She winked, earning a blush from me.
"He's very kind." I mumbled sheepishly.
Sharon giggled. "You like him, don't you?"
I was stopped short by the question. "Of course I like him, Sharon, he was my only true friend besides Ruth." I answered though I knew what she really meant.
"No, I mean you like him." she teased.
I rolled my eyes, making her laugh. "Don't be silly, Sharon. I was twelve years old at the time. I was naïve about everything." I tried to defend myself.
"Liar." She replied bluntly with a mischievous smirk.
"Even if I did, it's not like anything could ever happen between us." I pointed out. I scolded myself for feeling slightly disappointed at my own statement.
"So you do like him." she continued to tease, ignoring my last comment.
I shot her a look. "It's not gonna happen, Sharon. The complete thought of it all is stupid and childish." I remember how many fantasies I had when I was younger and it made me feel embarrassed at just the thought of it. Why couldn't have I had seen that it was impossible? Why would someone like Anton want to have anything to do with me?
"Says who?" she fired back, earning an awkward silence from me. "Says Harry? Says Pearl? Says the rest of Jenkinsville?" uh oh, here she goes, I braced myself. "Who says you can't live happily ever after?"
"Sharon," I sighed as I continued my habit of rubbing my forehead. "even if they were ok with it, it still couldn't work. We haven't seen each other in ten years. People change in that amount of time. Plus I just found out that he's alive and he probably doesn't even have a clue that I know because of his mother." I paused before I began spilling my fears. "What if he simply didn't want to contact me himself because he didn't want to? What if he just used me to get home? What if I never mattered in the first place?"
Sharon grabbed my hand. "Patty, you know that isn't true." she says firmly. "From what you've told me, Anton seemed to really care about you. I mean, how many people would risk their safety to save a friend from being hurt?" she paused for effect. "People care about you more than you realize."
I wanted to believe it was true. "I know." I offered a small smile for her sake. "I do care for him." I admitted. "But before it goes beyond that, there's still stuff I want to figure out before I do anything drastic."
Sharon smiled. "Does that mean you're accepting Deborah's offer?"
"I'm not sure." I looked at the calendar. "It'd be an awful short notice and I don't even know where they're going to be."
Once again, Sharon dug through the envelope and pulled out another piece of paper. "Solved your problem." She giggled. "This has their current phone number and their new address."
"You're bound and determined to make this happen, aren't you?" I said as I took the paper from her hands.
"I'm trying to help you but someone is being ungrateful." She replied dramatically, causing me to laugh.
Sure enough there was a current number and their new address. Now the next question was what was I going to do with it? I was stuck but I didn't understand why. Why was I so afraid?
"Well, aren't you going to call?" my curious sister asked.
I couldn't help but laugh at her eagerness. "Probably not."
"Why?" she whined. "If you don't do it now, you'll miss your chance."
"But what if I interrupt something?" I procrastinated.
Sharon rolled her eyes. "I'm sure she'll understand one she realizes it's you."
"What if she doesn't speak English? I don't know a lick of German!" I tried again.
Sharon gave me a look that said duh! "She wrote to you in English!" she laughed. "Stop procrastinating."
"What about Harry?"
"What about him? He doesn't come home until five." She pointed out.
I was out of excuses and I knew Sharon wasn't going to let me get away with it. "Come on, Patty." She says seriously. "Take a leap of faith. If you don't, then you'll never know what could happen."
She's right. I can't hide it forever. I've spent my life living in fear and it's held me back from so many opportunities. I decided that I would try one more time and if it didn't work out this time…then it's over and I have my answer.
I sighed then looked at my younger sister. At least I wasn't alone in this. "Could you please hand me the phone?" I asked.
Sharon's eyes brightened and handed me the phone that was next to her bedside. I looked at the piece of paper and carefully dialed the number. My heart began to beat faster and faster as it rang.
"Hallo?" a bit of a sleepy voice answered.
My hands shook as I closed my eyes and prepared myself to answer.
Please be real.
Like I said, probably not my best chapter but hopefully it'll get better soon :) Thanks again for reading! Check out Yva. J's story as well. I know for a fact that she's a great author. Check it out if you haven't already :) Peace, love, joy!