Chapter Seventeen

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 March 1st, 1944

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March 1st, 1944

My mother was one poke away from being kicked from the chair I'm currently standing on.

"Ow!" I yell, clutching at my waist. "I think you are enjoying this!"

"You put me through two days of labor when I was only sixteen. It's well deserved." I want to add it isn't my fault she slept with an older German officer when she was young, but I felt with the situation that it might've been hypocritical to say anything.

"You wrote Papa, right?" Another poke. There has to be red blotches everywhere by now.

"Yes, I did," she replies tersely, the smile gone from her face.

"Why are you mad?"

Another jab. "I'm not mad." That's a lie.

"You are! Tell me what I've done." I add a 'please'.

"You'll think me petty." I already think that but I hold my tongue.

"Try to understand, I was sixteen," she starts, halting the pinning of my wedding dress, the dress she had been married in. "I didn't get that motherly instinct when you were born. I thought of you as competition, especially the way your father was with you. You were his world; I was just the woman who carried you. He didn't give attention to me until he was ready for another baby. All I was there for was carrying babies." So for years, my mother resented me because she was jealous?

"Was...was I the cause of your marriage?" I ask. She shakes her head no.

"In my hometown, it spread that I had gotten knocked up to keep a former soldier." She snickers. "He had married me privately almost a year prior. My parents had both passed away and your father needed a nurse. We didn't love each other, and we weren't planning on having a child for awhile. Germany was in a horrible economic downturn, and having a baby could ruin your, but I had never been lucky, and I ended up with child.

"Do you love me?" I ask, staring down at my hands. She grabs them, pulling my fists against her.

"Of course! I was scared to death, but I was so excited. I've been hard on you, I know that, but I don't want you to end up like me."

"Why?" I ask. "Even during poverty, you and Papa got this amazing house. I got to attend the Olympics. I'm amazing at cooking because of you and I'm not lazy. I know how to work. Yes, I should've been closer to you, but I always accepted you and Freddy being close, just like Papa and I are."

She has tears in her eyes now. "I've read your diaries since you were young, Lucy." She takes a deep breath. "I wanted to know you, though I should've done it by spending time with you." She pauses again, swallowing visibly. I brace myself for whatever is coming. "I read your recent diary." I swear, if she lectures me about what I said about Hitler...

"Why wouldn't you tell me about the baby?" I pull away. There's many reasons. I liked having a home and I don't like being slapped.

"What were you going to do if you carried to full term?"

I shake my head, tearing up. "I was just hoping Axel would've been back. He would've done something." I pause, remembering how our reunion went. "Well, I hope."

She smiles through her own tears. "He would've. He also would've told us, taking the wrath instead of you. Axel is a good man, Lucy. He should've married you sooner. That's my only complaint."

I grab her hands this time. "You're my mother. I've resented you, you've read that in my diaries, but you are my mother. You can't replace Papa; Papa can't replace you. I needed you both."

She hugs me, wiping her eyes. "Are you ready to continue?"

I nod, feeling a poke again. "That one was an accident," she grins.

Later that night, I go into Axel's room. His back is to me and I notice light scars crisscrossed across it like an artist mad at a canvas. They ripple as he slips on another shirt..

"You've seen this before, yet why you're just staring puzzles me," he says, turning around, a mischievous grin on his face. I blush, looking away. He crosses the room, his hand cupping my face, his lips meeting mine briefly.

"I wanted to marry you the moment I laid eyes on you."

I pull away. "When I was eleven?"

He blanches. "No! When we came here. That's" I notice a pink tinge to his cheeks. "Sixteen, you were sixteen." Just like my mother, I can't help but say in my head.

I grin. "I think some would still call that a child, Axel."

"You ran off to be a nurse."

I smirk. "Am I winning this?" He just grunts, going to sit on the bed.

"Can we talk about something, Lucy?" The seriousness in his tone halts me from leaving with my nightgown.

"Sure." I take a seat next to him.

"That man's funeral we went for—"

"Peter," I fill in.

"Yes. Him. Why didn't you guys get married? I've heard what others said, about you two."

"I didn't like him more than a friend. I had a bit of a...crush when I was younger." He raises an eyebrow. "On you."

"So it's bad if I liked you when you were eleven but it's okay to like me at that age. I feel victimized."

"Be quiet. I didn't think I'd see you again."

He grins, knowing he's won the argument, until the smile quickly falls. "Someone said he passed away with you in his arms. Is that true?" I nod, giving him a short summary of that night, including the kiss. He doesn't seem mad, just thoughtful.

"I'm glad you did that."

I'm stunned. "Wait, what?"

He nods. "He deserved you over me. And he got you, one last time." I'm still speechless, not sure what to say.

"But if you make it a habit to kiss men after we're married, I'll not be okay with that."

I punch him in the arm. "I am thoroughly insulted. Goodnight, I hope you get nightmares." I smile, going to my parent's room. I still hear his laughter from down the hallway.

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