When the doctors saw that her eyes were irreparable they sought to discharge her immediately but I convinced them to let her stay one night. Each hour she awoke and each hour I told her was the morning of a new day.
I began to believe myself. It was strange to see the darkness turn to grey then to know the sun could rise after the world has ended.
In the morning I led her between the rows of camp beds that lined the old warehouse. We stood outside so she could feel the February sun.
“Where are my roses?” she said.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I dropped them. But we can pick more.”
She was silent. Her head pointed at her shoes.
“A letter arrived from daddy while you were asleep,” I said.
“Really?” she said. “What did he say?”
“He said we pushed the Soviets out of
. He says the
Soviets are falling back like they have always done.” Budapest
She began to cry. She cried until blood appeared in her bandage. I placed my arms around her shoulders and held her head to my chest.
“I want daddy home,” she said.
“Daddy will be home soon,” I said. “You have me. We’re going home.”
“Ok,” she said.
I took her hand and we walked into the street.
“What do you see?” she said.
“I see the Bautzner Straße. I see the beer hall and it is open and there are men drinking and laughing in the street and waving flags. There are flags up and down the street. They know
is a strong proud country. They’ve heard about our victory in Germany .
They know the Fuhrer was right: ‘our unbreakable will and our capabilities will
allow us to prevail.’ The sweet shop is closed but there are children playing
hopscotch in the street. They are using debris as stones. Some houses were hit
with bombs but there are Hitler Youth repairing them.” Budapest
“I’m your brother. I wouldn’t lie.”
“Tell me more.”
“And the rose gardens. The roses have bloomed. They are turning their heads to watch the sun.”
She loved to pick flowers from the rose gardens. She would wait until there was no-one around and take daddy’s scissors from her coat. She would spend hours arranging the roses into the vase on her window sill.
But she doesn’t ask to stop. She just smiles.
“Tell me more,” she says.