There was another side to his story the world didn’t know. At least not yet. Though she wasn’t sure it ever would due to his obsession with secrecy, with keeping her hidden away so awfully deep within his personal closet. That was how she knew the world wasn’t aware of the entire story he was currently writing: because she was the one who revealed a whole other half to it. She made up a rather large portion regardless of how much a choice few around him wanted to pretend she didn’t.
She was still here, contributing so much. She was the one who chased away the tension they created within them; the only one who always, always instantly made him smile when she appeared; and the one who at the same time would produce a different, unique sort of tension inside of him. One that caused him to bite at his clipped nails, pace nervously all over his study, the sound of which could easily be heard within the hallways and the floor below their rooms, and constantly, anxiously, with increasing frequency glance at the silent phone sitting on his desk as the sun in the window refused to slow its descent within the sky.
All this when she was running late from an appointment or simply wasn’t where he wanted her to be at that moment.
As much as Magda wished she could incite that kind of reaction within him, she never would be able to get under his skin in the way Eva knew she already was. Did she know he didn’t pay much attention to her whereabouts? That she simply wasn’t a priority within his life, rather more of an attractive knickknack on a fireplace mantel he could glance at and admire every now and then?
God, she hoped she did.
He never spoke in explicit terms during their phone conversations while he was conducting business away from home. But it was what he didn’t say that was so much more important than what he did say . She had learned this over the course of their rather self-sacrificing relationship. She had the ability to hear everything behind his words, the extremely subtle inflections he often applied to his words within his conversations with her. To the outside listener, the eavesdropper, they wouldn’t intrigue that much interest, if any. And they certainly wouldn’t translate correctly.
But that was because he hadn’t literally, physically been inside any one of them on multiple–no several–no copious beautiful occasions over the years. And this was where a large part of the unknown story lay. Behind the closed doors of his apartment where many of the beginning chapters to this section of the story were drafted; and behind the closed doors of his study that sequestered their suite from the rest of the world where the story was currently being perfected and chapters frequently crafted and added.
The content may have gotten less graphic over the years but it had evolved into something that would without a doubt surprise her parents if they were to ever take a peek. They had originally only ever thought he was capable of using her as a temporary five-dollar whore.
But here they were and things had moved far from where they had started. The sex wasn’t as repeated and yet she felt he was closer to her than he ever had been before. This wasn’t to say the sex hadn’t been and still wasn’t intense and euphoric and ethereal, it was only to say that the lack of it had created space for something else, something rare that had started to rapidly grow between the two of them, pulling and stitching them together. Something based solely on those things unseen within the two of them, those things that could only be experienced through knowing his personal meanings behind the words he chose to use with her over the phone, the messages the conveyed with his eyes alone when he stood across the room from her, the penetrating and palpable emotions he transmitted to her simply by sitting next to her without actually touching her.
He didn’t need to touch her to touch her. She didn’t need to touch him to touch him. They had evolved beyond that.
This didn’t mean they didn’t lie within another’s arms when he came home. Because they often did, sometimes in the clothes they’d been wearing that day, sometimes dressed down to only meager cotton and satin layers resting between their heated flesh. But they didn’t need to in order to feel official or together. The raw, primal act of him thrusting his erection into her vagina wasn’t the only way they made love anymore.
He sought sanctuary in her body but more importantly he sought sanctuary in her mind, in her voice and in her words. And he never failed to find it because she was prepared and willing to offer it up whenever he came looking and even when he wasn’t. This was her position and her job as his de facto wife and she wouldn’t want any other responsibility. He was her top priority. He always had been.
And as he began looking toward the future more and more his grip on her continued to tighten. Though, sometimes this scared her because sometimes it felt he was looking to the future so much out of a nervous desire to not be in the present which only made her worry about the true state of the war. Something he stubbornly insisted be kept from her.
But it had slipped through the grape vine that she would be the only one left after everything was said and done and this she believed.
He would live out and finish writing that part of his story. He would leave it behind because she knew how God damn tired he was of all of this and of all the people he was constantly arguing and arguing and arguing with. She didn’t need him to state with specific terms in their conversations over the phone or upon paper or in person what exactly was going on with him and those who were supposed to be carrying out his orders. She didn’t need him to tell her he was irritated and frustrated and disappointed and angry and simply unhappy when he was because she could feel it twisting and contorting her stomach when he greeted her and asked her what she’d been up to that day. She could hear as clear as an air raid siren the exhaustion he hid from those who were causing it because he refused to ever show weakness or vulnerability… she saw the exhaustion that was greying his hair and lining his face and had him regularly clenching his left hand in his right because it had started to tremble and he was trying his damnedest to hide that.
But she’d noticed it. She’d seen it. She wanted to talk to him about it. Ask him what the fuck was going on to cause such an alarming symptom and had he seen a doctor about it? A specialist about it? Someone–anyone–other than Morell about it? Because she knew he hadn’t because that would mean it was real. She knew to him, it didn’t really exist as far as he was concerned. Not at this point. He expected her to pretend that a very large problem was in reality not a problem at all, it was only matter of stress regarding the war and his generals and ignorant people not listening to him.
She didn’t blame him for being stressed, she didn’t. No one would. But she wanted to know exactly what was going on this time because when it came to the serious shit he never told her anything because he didn’t want her to worry about anything, much less him. He thought it was cute, admirable, sweet but quite unnecessary, he’d said. He was fine.
Fine fine fine just fine. Extremely fine, really.
Just. A little. Tired.
It was always just a little tried.
All she had to worry about was herself, that’s what was best for him anyway; and if she really needed someone else to worry abouts she should worry about those who were dying for Germany at the Fronts. He didn’t consider himself among the brave soldiers who were falling to bloodshed but she did. And she worried about him just the same.
Every morning she awoke to an empty bed after he’d decided he’d had enough time off she saw it as her future: an eternally empty bed. He wasn’t going to come home this time. He was going to die. Could he at least wait until she could die with him, by his side? Or was that selfish, to want him to wait? She just didn’t want that eternally empty bed. That wasn’t the life she had signed up for and that wasn’t a life she would ever accept.
In the meantime, she had taken on the mission to remedy his ill feelings and his heavy weighted moods. Which was happening with increasing frequency much to her own great displeasure. She shouldn’t be seeing him in this state this much. He was too young to be looking so old, and this caused her to smoke twice as many cigarettes and occasionally bite at her own nails even though she chastised him for that habit. But he’d always looked a bit younger than he really was.
At least, that’s what she’d always thought.
They still had so much left to write concerning this half of the story. The half that concerned her and him and everything they had physically and figuratively built and everything they now secretly stood for. She knew this and she knew he knew this but it couldn’t be done until everything else was said and done. The dust on the battlefield had to be settled before they could settle down; but this did not settle well with her because she could see how unsettled all this business had made him.
It was killing her because it was killing him, this she was absolutely certain of. He could still defeat anyone in a battle of wits and he need not to look at a set of numbers more than once to know them by heart and he was still able to quote his favorite books and tell anyone the exact page number of said quote. He still maintained all of his mental superpowers, he was still the incredible man he’d always been but it worried her how he now preferred to talk in circles because he had become far too insistent on avoiding all other subjects.
He simply wasn’t going to give up until the other side had fallen. Even if it killed him.
And what would she do then?
She didn’t want that to be where their story ended but it couldn’t be helped. The story couldn’t go on without him anyway so what would be the point?
She often wished he had taken lessons from the mistakes of Napoleon whose story he knew so well. She often wondered where they’d be had he waited to attack Stalin. Couldn’t he have left that messy job to his successor?
But no. This was something that was to never be discussed with him. She never brought it up with him—or anyone—and honestly what good would that do, the past could not be changed. They were fleeting thoughts. Fleeting thoughts that continued to knock at her skull demanding entrance. Giving her headaches.
But the other side to his story that was contained within the hundreds of letters between the two of them she was keeping for… she wasn’t sure yet. For now, they were strictly used for her own sanity, strictly seen by their eyes and only their eyes. But were they for posterity? She didn’t know.
It would depend on the outcome of this war.
And that was the problem. A problem she wasn’t sure he saw.
What if… he lost?
The thought made her dizzy and her hands shake and her lungs feel as though they were collapsing right within her chest. But it felt like it was becoming more and more of a possibility each day; and every single day she pushed herself further into denial. That wasn’t going to happen because he was a genius and he knew what he was doing and if only people would start listening to him for goodness’ sake….
But what if they didn’t?
What if they threw his victory away?
Yes. That was the question that actually must be asked. What if they damned him to ruin, to death?
He’d only been reclaiming Danzig in the name of the Germans but she knew the world wouldn’t see it that way, wouldn’t make it out that way. History would hurl him into the fire of guilt and stamp him with the mark of Instigator. It would be the Great War all over again only she knew it would be so much worse. And this was where the problem was going to lie.
His mania for secrecy wasn’t going to help him there. Where was the other half of his story going to wind up? If he had his way most likely as a useless pile of ashes in a smoldering hole somewhere. But if the outcome was defeat that would only harm him in the end.
Death wasn’t what she feared the most. It was the thought of him personally tearing out of his own book the most decisive pages when she knew the world would need his entire story; when she knew the pages he was ripping out were the ones that held his humanity.
© 2016 Elizabeth Klarke
Eh, here’s some sappy reflective shit. Thank Hamilton for the inspiration; and please excuse my cringe-worthy rustiness.