"How did you end up here? What is your story?"
The question was innocent enough, but the answer was complicated.
Maria was torn. She did not know how to answer the question. While she didn't want to lie to the Captain, she did not want to tell him that he was the sole reason she ended up in Bremerhaven. The Captain had shared so much with her and told her such personal things that she was sure he had shared with no one…was she not supposed to do the same?
They continued to walk in silence as he waited for her to speak. They were headed away from the peer and were now further inland. Along the way, they passed various brick walls and trenches.
"I don't know where to start," Maria started slowly.
"Why don't you start at the very beginning?"
"The problem is that I don't know where the beginning is."
"Well that is a problem," Georg replied with a small chuckle.
They continued to walk in silence; while the air was cool, there was warmth kindling between them. Georg did not press her, and Maria was thankful for that. She chanced a look at him; he smiled at her softly, and she returned it.
Where was the beginning? Was it the first day they met and he blew that silly whistle? Was it when he sang Edelweiss, or was it when they danced the Landler? Or did the beginning start long before she ever came to Georg von Trapp's home?
With a deep breath she finally spoke.
"The Reverend Mother felt that this was best vocation for me. I left the Abbey and started working in a hospital in Salzburg. When the war broke out, I was transferred to this base." she simply said.
"It must have been difficult to leave the Abbey," he said.
"It was at first," she admitted. "But eventually I became accustomed to being away from there."
"It must be hard to get used to living in such a different place."
"It's not all that different, if you would believe me." She said this with a small giggle. Her laughter warmed Georg's heart as he sensed her guard beginning to go down.
"I can think of a few ways that this place is different," he teased. "Soldiers instead of nuns, machine guns instead of books, lovely brick and sand trenches every few meters instead of trees and flowers. Yes, Bremerhaven is exactly the same."
"That not what I meant, and you know it," Maria admonished, though in a good-natured way. "The discipline that is expected is the same," she explained. "The decorum for the most part is similar. There is little freedom, and there are very consistent expectations."
"But you don't like any of those things."
"Oh, I do like them – I'm just not very good at following them."
"They don't exactly tolerate not being good at following rules at naval bases. Trust me: I know from both sides."
"They didn't tolerate it very much at the Abbey either. It just turns out that I'm better at being a nurse than I'll ever be at being a nun."
"Do you plan on ever returning to the Abbey?"
"No; only to visit, perhaps."
"Have you been able to go back?" he asked.
"I've had leave a few times so I had the chance, but I didn't go back. There's too many memories there and I'm happy working."
"Running away?" Georg seemed to understand her; he seemed to know her every thought.
"Yes…I suppose," she admitted. "Do you think less of me?" She suddenly asked seeking his approval. When she first met she him, she could not care for it, but now, in the winter chill, she craved it.
"No. I understand the impulse. Running away is something I do, too. When Agathe died, I tried to run away from her memory. The heartache was too great. But I am surprised," he said. "Running away sounds like something I would do; you're much too brave to do that."
"No, I'm not," she replied in a small voice. "I'm not brave at all. When I'm scared or confused, I always run away."
Georg suddenly stopped walking; Maria, a couple steps ahead of him, stopped too, and turned to face him. "Is that why you left, Maria?" His face was hidden in the shadows, but his voice remained gentle. "Did something frighten you?" He closed the distance between them. "Was it me? Did I frighten you?" he asked as he stepped out of the shadows. The moonlight lit his sincere face that begged for an answer.
But she didn't know what to answer. She was surprised by his question, shocked by what he was asking. She was filled with so many conflicting emotions that she could not make sense of any of them.
Georg was shocked by his question, too. But the war, and knowing how his life now hung by a thread every day, caused him to be blunt. He needed to know what she felt towards him and why she left him that night. His time at Bremerhaven was short. Who knew when he would return, or if he would return?
"No... I was confused," she stammered.
"It was all wrong," Maria tried to explain as tears filled her eyes.
"Your idea and my idea of wrong are very different," he said as he took another step closer to her, so close she could feel the heat from his body.
"I came to your home to prepare the children for a new mother, not..." Maria couldn't finish her sentence.
"Not what?" he prodded in a whisper.
"You were practically engaged," she whispered back.
"It's true, I proposed to Elsa the next day after that party. I was afraid to admit that I was a bit heartbroken and I didn't even know it, so I turned to something familiar." Georg took another step closer; he was so close now she could smell his cologne. "You and I are very alike. Something happened that night that caught us both by surprise," he explained, his blue eyes were blazing and speaking directly to her soul. "You ran away to the familiar Abbey without saying good bye, even to the children, and I ran away to Elsa. Both weren't right for us, you see." Georg stepped around her as he spoke; his sleeved grazed her as he looked down at her. "You left they Abbey and I broke off my engagement soon after."
"Why did you?"
Georg was about to profess his love to her, a love that he held and only realized that fateful summer night, a love that only burned deeply once she was gone. Although he did not have a strong belief in fate, he believed that it was fate that led them here to a cold and windy port in north Germany…straight to the woman who meant everything to him.
"Well you see, you can't marry someone, when you're –"
Georg never got to finish his sentence. His tuned military training distracted him from Maria. Not even one of the most important moments in his life can take away from the fact that he was trained seaman and a conditioned soldier. Georg heard aircrafts in the distance. His jaw tightened and his eye became dark as he looked towards the ocean. Suddenly the outline of a dozen of bombers became visible against the full moon.
They were under attack.
To be continued…
A/N: Yes I know, a cruel cliffhanger, but I do promise more soon.