The Soldier & The Spy: The Wounds We Share

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The war ended as it began, loudly. The streets were filled with party-goers who sang and danced in celebration. They spilled from their homes in waves of old, cloth dresses and military uniforms with big smiles on their faces, memories of the war already pushed to the backs of their minds. Theo felt a pang of envy. He'd prayed for this day ever since the war began but now, in the sad, dusty September light, his heart ached. Pushing his dark black hair off his face, he replaced the hat that had been clenched in his fists. His uniform felt tight, the collar squeezing against his neck, choking him.

"Sergeant, congratulations!"

Theo turned to see a young boy, maybe fourteen, with his hand to his head in a salute. A shudder ran through Theo and he felt his chest tighten but he nodded at the boy before returning his salute. The pride on the crowd's faces turned Theo's stomach. He stepped away from the crowd, overwhelmed. He'd survived a war, which was more than he could say for most of the men he knew. Their bodies had never left the battlefields and although he stood in the streets of London, amongst the revellers and survivors, he could still smell the gunpowder and hear the screams. Someone bumped into him, pushing him closer to the front of the mass of people. Theo's heart caught in his throat as a pretty, brown-eyed girl grabbed his arms. She sprung up without warning and planted a kiss on Theo's cheek. Instinctively he pulled away from her but kept his face neutral, hiding the fear, stilling himself. The girl pulled away, unaware of the darkness seeping under the Sergeant's skin.

Theo glanced at his wristwatch and cursed. It was time. Any second now and his target would pass by. To the untrained eye she was unnoticeable but Theo caught sight of her quickly. She was tall, about the same height as him, with blonde hair and although he couldn't see them, blue eyes. Most of that information had been in the file Theo had received on the girl. Elsie Page, a German spy... well, Elena Lukin was a German spy, her alias Elsie was a factory worker during the day and tutor at night. From the information that had been gathered on her, she had been placed into the elitist spy program at the age of eleven.

Watching her from his place on the sidewalk, Theo thought how easy it would be to mistake her for a normal girl. She looked like most Aryan children looked, the neat blonde hair and pale skin but in reality, she was a trained spy and an accomplished assassin. Luckily, Theo was not expected to go up against her, his Commander only wanted him to talk with her. Theo breathed out and began to follow Elena. She moved precisely, each step calculated. He fell in step behind her, mirroring her movements as best he could. Instantly his body was filled with a peculiar mix of adrenaline and nerves that kept his focus solely on Elena. On the battlefield he'd always been forced to remain as still as possible in order to protect himself so to be able to move so freely was a new experience.

Elena paused up ahead and watched as a parade of soldiers marched down the street. Theo averted his gaze from the procession. A second later he lifted his gaze to see that Elena had not moved. In that moment Theo truly felt like he was spying on her. In his mind he repeated to himself that it was his mission, his objective. Elena moved, snapping him from his thoughts. He watched as she entered a small bar. Inside it was crowded and small. People were singing and dancing as they had been on the streets, the only difference was the pints of beer in their hands, helping fuel the merriment. Above him, the lighting flickered.

Theo caught sight of Elena through the crowd as she sat down at the bar. A bartender walked over to her and placed a glass of water down, nodding at her. Now was his chance.

"Hello Elena," Theo said as he slipped into the chair beside her. To her credit, Elena didn't flinch but after a moment, she turned in her chair to look at him. Theo removed his hat and placed it on the bar beside him. He blinked as he took in the girl he'd followed for three blocks. She was much prettier in person than the photo he'd seen in her file.

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