Post 1932 — Pre 1935
“He doesn’t like me reading the newspapers.”
“Yes, and this is why.” Ilse thrust the article back at her.
“I don’t know what you expect me to do about it,” she said hurriedly, sharply waving her sister off with one of her hands, the other going up to her damp forehead. She paced across the room, stopping in front of the window and drawing the curtain back a bit, peeking out. The light fell onto her face in a harsh gold line, darting across one eye like a fiery scar. She focused on a biker speeding past the front of the apartment.
“I expect you to not get involved,” her sister clarified in a hard voice. “Or, rather any more than you already have.” She shot Ilse a rigid look, her lips pressing together tight. The fabric of the curtain beneath her fingers deformed beneath the tension in her hand. “Eva, he’s bad-”
“You have no right,” she whispered icily, jerking the curtain closed again. The room reverted back to its humid dimness. “You don’t know him like I do.”
“Do you, though?” Ilse demanded. “Whom is it you know? How can you truly know whom he is and is not?”
“I can tell you I know him better than a piece of paper, that’s for sure,” Eva snapped, reaching out and tearing the article out of her sister’s hand. “I’m certainly more credible than an outside journalist who’s paid to write these kinds of things, you know,” she went on, holding up the paper and snapping it with the backs of her fingers.
“You’re playing with fire,” her sister warned delicately.
“And you’re out of line.” She calmly ripped the paper into several pieces and proceeded to toss them neatly into the waste bin. Her sister watched on with horrified confusion and frustration, her eyes bouncing back and forth from the destroyed article and her sister’s indiscernible face. “I think it’s best you go now, Ilse,” she said in a low, hard voice.
“You understand what’s going to happen, don’t you? What he’s going to do?” Ilse asked, the words slipping from between her lips like frost. She noticed the slight tightening in her sister’s eyes, the momentary unease that was rapidly suffocated by denial.
The sickeningly firm hold this man had obtained over her sister made her heart heavy with despair and turned her stomach over with fear. What was happening in their beloved homeland was reflected in this tiny, individual girl. People were turning into sheep all around her faster than she could comprehend; and she knew they would all blindingly follow this seductively angry man to their violent and bloody slaughter on a scale unseen in the modern world before.
But that didn’t frighten her nearly as much as the realization that her sister would doubtlessly be at the front of the herd unless she pulled her out from beneath his spell.
“What do you know?” Eva shot back. Ilse opened her mouth to speak but she cut her off. “That was rhetorical. You know nothing. How could you? How could you know anything of what’s really going on?”
“Eva—” Ilse began to plead but she made a decisive motion with her hand and cut her off.
“Enough. Please leave, now.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” her sister stated stiffly.
She titled her chin up an inch, her eyes narrowed in determination. She had never grown out of the stubbornness that had marked her during their childhood. “Fine. It matters not. I’m leaving soon, anyway.”
With disapproval pulling at her eyebrows, Ilse asked “With him?”
“Yes,” she all but hissed. Eva was now void of any remaining patience regarding this subject. Her saint of a sister had never liked her boyfriend. She had been endlessly criticizing him and everything he either did or did not do from the moment she had discovered their relationship. Nothing was ever considered “good enough” for Ilse when it came to her Adolf. “With him, Ilse. With my boyfriend.”
“He’s hardly worthy of the term,” Ilse remarked with abundant disdain, crossing her arms over her chest. “All he wants from you is sex. You make him feel young. That’s about it.”
“I find it comical you feel you’re entitled to make such comments when you’ve never even met him,” she scoffed, masking the hot prick she had felt flare within her chest. She wasn’t going to let Ilse know there was still a small part of her that dreaded there might be truth in her statement, the possibility of such an outcome.
“I don’t need to in order to know what kind of a person he is and what he’s after. Come on, Eva. I know you’re not this dense.”
“And I had never thought you were this insensitive. But I suppose everything changes over time,” she responded. “I don’t care if you believe I’m stupid for loving him.”
“It’s not lo—”
“Shut the fuck up, Ilse.” Her sister’s eyes widened and she leaned back a bit. She noticed the time and hastily began preparing for her departure. “Do us all a favor and keep to analyzing your own life from now on. I never asked for your opinion because I don’t need it. It’s worthless to me.” A shadow flew over the walls of Herr Hoffmann’s living room and Eva was suddenly on her way to the door, her footsteps hard against the wood. “You’re worthless to me.”
“Eva, please wait!” Ilse begged as she reached out and grabbed her sister at the elbow, jerking her a halt.
“I have nothing more to say to you!” Eva stressed, fuming. “And I’m not interested in anything more you have to say.”
“Eva, listen: once you give in, that’s it,” Ilse said in a hushed and hurried voice. “You’ll have nothing more to offer him. He’ll enjoy it for a while but then he’ll get bored… and then he’ll drop you. He’ll move onto the next girl who turns his head, that’s just what they do. He’s no different from the rest of them.”
Eva was silent for a moment, her eyes closed as she thought about what to say next.
She gave a long sigh. “I must admit, this has been the most inaccurate assumption you’ve drawn all night,” she said as she swung the door open and stepped out into the warm, orange evening light. Then she stopped and turned to look back at her sister, her expression soft and reassuring. “You really needn’t worry about that. He hasn’t moved onto the next girl.”
Ilse only stared at her.
And then her shoulders visibly fell and she gently shook her head. “Oh no, Eva. Tell me you didn’t.”
“But can’t you see? I’m the last girl for him. He’s not going to move onto another because he’s going to marry me.”
Her sister’s eyebrows scrunched together again. “Wait a minute. Has he proposed to you?”
Eva only smiled. “I have an opera to get to and I’ve kept him waiting far too long. Try to have a nice evening, Ilse. I know I will,” she said and turned away from her again, running out into the twilight.
© 2015 Elizabeth Klarke
Well, here’s a tiff between Eva and Ilse regarding her beau… this is how I imagine young Ilse might have felt toward her younger sister’s seducer at this point in their lives.