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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Live, Love, Lose - 13. Chapter 13

Karl woke up on some bench somewhere in London as dawn was peaking through the cloudy sky.

He sat up swiftly, putting his feet on the ground before he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.

That night had been a long night, but he still managed to get one or two hours of sleep after wandering in the dark London streets.

He just didn’t feel like standing up and going anywhere any more. He felt tired, but not the kind of physical exhaustion. No, he was tired from roaming aimlessly and considered it to be pointless if he had no precise purpose in mind. He was just back to square one now.

He was feeling like he was useless, that the world didn’t need him in a way. No one needed him there in that big city populated with unknown people, in that country that was much bigger than his own country.

He was somehow feeling empty as if his life had lost all of its meaning all of a sudden.

His mind went momentarily blank as he stared into the distance with an impassive face, watching the part of London he was in slowly wake up from her slumber.

He really wished his family could have been there with him, so he wouldn’t have been feeling so lonely and lost, but to do what? To be just like he was being right now? Of course, his parents wouldn’t leave their piece of land. It was the most precious good they owned.

His father had inherited it with the farm from his father who had himself inherited it from his own father, and so on. And he was supposed to inherit from it once his father got too old to be able to take care of it. That was how it had been planned ever since his older brother had preferred to leave home to go and settle down in the capital city at the age of twenty-one. And his son, if he had one, would be supposed to inherit it from him, that was just how it was.

Nothing really exciting.

He wished he could have seen at least his brother and sister one last time before having to leave. He wondered how they had reacted upon learning the news of the foreign invasion; if they had reacted in a way that was similar to either one of their parents. He wondered how they were dealing with it, whether it had disrupted their daily lives or not.

Time seemed to come to a halt as he kept waiting, sitting on this bench. It was awfully long and endless to wait like this, it was actually way worse than wandering through the city with no purpose, he decided.

He didn’t know precisely how much time passed since he didn’t possess a watch. But given how the sun was high into the sky, a few hours must have passed, like two or three.

He didn’t even know how he would feed himself now that he had run away from the Hopkins’ house. He wouldn’t try stealing again even if he had no other choice. That was not the way he had been raised. And if it was to get caught again, it would just make things worse for him anyway.

So he would probably die of both thirst and hunger in a few weeks, found dead in some spot of the city he would end up in. And his family wouldn’t even find out about it.

How sad.

He frowned slightly at the thought.

Who would want to give a job to someone like him anyway? He could hardly manage to utter one or two words of English. But except for saying "I'm Danish" or something similar, he couldn't make a longer and basic sentence.

He sighed.

What was worse between being taken by the Nazis and starving in a country you didn’t know, with a language you hardly spoke, and where you were penniless?

He really wondered; because this question was somewhat hard to answer.

As he was once again disapproving of his father’s decision, he was suddenly snapped back to reality by a familiar but unexpected voice that startled him.

“Hey.”

He looked up to lock eyes with George who was standing right in front of him, but not too near. Karl raised one questioning brow at him, silently asking him what he was doing there.

But the brown-haired boy just kept staring at him silently, as if thinking about what to say.

Karl didn’t look away from his brown eyes through his spectacles, his stare hard and unflinching, similar to his mother’s gaze, something he did without even realising it.

After almost one minute or so, George decided to sit on the bench next to him wordlessly, the space he left in between them being enough to fit one person. He sighed as he entwined his fingers together, letting his hands rest on his lap.

Karl observed him carefully because body language was sometimes more helpful to understand a person, especially when you don’t speak their language fluently.

“I’m sorry for yesterday,” he finally said in a low voice, seemingly meaning it. But Karl couldn’t be a hundred percent sure. It was easy to say things while thinking otherwise.

Karl remained silent as he stared ahead of him absent-mindedly, being hardly able to believe that the English youth had come all the way there just to find him and apologise.

“I know I haven’t been really nice toward you and that it was rude of me…” he said somewhat awkwardly, looking uncomfortable. “But I guess I’ve been anxious and snappy ever since…” he trailed off, suddenly stopping mid-sentence, somehow intriguing the blond-haired boy. He sighed again under Karl’s silent gaze that wasn’t as hard as it had been a few instants earlier. “Forget it,” he said somewhat dismissively.

There was a short pause before he spoke again.

“Anyway, I’m sorry,” he said gravely.

Karl wasn’t really sure about what his real intentions were, what he really wanted.

He looked at him closely, trying to figure him out, and the brown-haired male glanced at him, surely waiting for him to do or say something, anything maybe.

The blond boy just pretended that he was all alone as he stared into the distance blankly again.

He wasn’t mad at all for his hostile attitude. No, he was completely lost and still didn’t know what to do anymore, as if he had lost control over his own body and mind.

“It’s nice to know you have a place you can go to when it becomes impossible to stay at home in one way or another.”

Karl turned his head to look at George who had just said that. His tone wasn’t aggressive, or anything similar to hostile. No, if anything, it was thoughtful, with a tiny hint of melancholy in it. It was soft.

The Danish boy didn’t entirely understand what he said, and the sudden shift in the English student’s behaviour somewhat unsettled him. It was so sudden that there was something intriguing in it.

“I don’t plan on staying there forever anyway, so don’t worry. I just need some time to work things out.”

Karl just kept looking at the boy as he said those words, his tone graver this time.

“Oh fuck. I bet you don’t understand a word of what I’ve been saying,” he then whispered.

He let out another sigh.

“I might as well show you around the city so you won’t get lost next time you decide to run away again.”

He stood up from his spot all of a sudden, Karl’s eyes still on him.

“Come,” he said to the boy, which sounded more like an order rather than something casual.

Karl understood the word, yet he didn’t move.

“Come,” George insisted, a bit forcefully.

But Karl still didn’t. So without warning George grabbed his arm, his grip firm on it, and pulled him up, taking Karl with him throughout the city.

“You’re in Battersea here,” George said as he was still holding his arm, leading the way to wherever he wanted to take him.

Just as unexpectedly as he had grabbed his arm, he stopped in his tracks almost making Karl bump into him, and let go of his arm before turning around in a flash to face him.

“Do you understand?” He asked him, seemingly looking annoyed again. “Just say yes if you do, and no if you don’t. Okay?”

As he was staring intently in his brown eyes through his spectacles, Karl nodded.

“Okay.”

“Good. So here,” he made the gesture with his finger to show what was around him. “This district; it’s called Battersea. Battersea.”

Karl was really under the impression that he was taken for an idiot because he couldn’t fully understand a foreign language. He was somehow having a kind of inferiority complex because of it because he had never had an education. Well, those people seemed to have a pretty high level of education, yet they didn’t speak Danish. But maybe they spoke other languages. Which he didn’t.

“Battersea,” he repeated.

He was having some trouble with the English pronunciation. But he had no other choice than learning anyway.

“Yes,” George confirmed. “And now we’re going into the city centre. You’re not going to camp out on that bench indefinitely anyway. If you do you’ll be dead before long. Come, and this time follow me,” he instructed, okay?”

“Yes.” Karl simply replied, his voice low and flat.

“Good. This way,” he said as he gestured for the right direction for them to go in.

With that being said, they headed towards the core of the city, walking in silence side by side.

“You know, Margaret was so bloody worried when we realised you had left home without letting know anyone about it,” George said after a few minutes, breaking it. His voice was solemn, even sounded a bit thoughtful.

Karl didn’t really know if those words were meant for him, or if it was just one way to fill the silence.

“It was decided that we should all go in separate directions to look for you and bring you back home,” he then added.

The Danish boy merely glanced at him as he preferred to look ahead of him whenever he would walk.

“It seems that she has already adopted you,” George proceeded, causing Karl to glance at him once again.

They walked around the city (and took the bus two or three times to go quicker), George showing Karl the most interesting and worth seeing spots in London, the different districts and boroughs. Karl even recognised the university George was studying at when they passed before it which was actually called "King’s College".

He also understood that George was named after their king. How interesting. It had him wonder whether he was named after someone specific or whether his parents had chosen his name just because they liked it, or a bit randomly. He had never thought to ask his parents about it, not even when he was a little boy. That had always been something natural that didn’t need to be questioned.

When the sun was about to set, they finally went back to the Hopkins’. Karl complied meekly and silently, although he hadn’t forgotten why he had deliberately chosen to leave their house. He didn’t really know himself why he did it; it’s not as if they could have had a considerable discussion about the whole matter.

Maybe because he knew he had no other choice than to accept the family’s kind and more than generous offer.

Or maybe simply because deep down he missed this feeling of having a home and not having to toil like a slave to be a part of it. Even if he didn’t know them that well, he liked staying with them in their house. There was something warm and relaxing about it.

Either way, he couldn’t help the small and brief smile that reached his lips when Mrs. Hopkins literally threw herself on him and hugged him tightly as soon as she saw him with George by his side.

“Thank God, you’re alright,” she whispered seemingly relieved to see him again.

Karl didn’t dare to hug her back, so he just stood her rather awkwardly in her embrace.

“Mum, just let him breathe,” he heard Paul say.

“We were so worried. We thought something might have happened to you while you were out there.”

Her tone was somewhat similar to the first time they officially met each other: filled with concern. But she looked and sounded even more worried this time.

So unlike his mother. He had never seen her being worried about anything or anyone, not even about him or his siblings for that matter.

She was a stoic woman; the kind of person that always remained unfazed no matter the circumstances.

“Where did you find him?” Mrs. Hopkins asked the English male next to him as soon as she pulled away.

“He was sitting on a bench somewhere in the Battersea area. He really looked like a lost puppy,” he replied gravely, though there seemed to be something more than that in his voice.

Maybe it was just pity. Pity for a poor foreigner who was forced to leave his country because some strangers wanted to take him away.

Karl looked closely at the English woman. She seemed to be horrified by what the other male had said not long earlier.

She looked back at him, still with the same look on her face.

“Why did you run away so suddenly? Don’t you enjoy staying here with us?”

It seemed that a flash of hurt was reflected in her greenish-blue eyes as she spoke those words.

Karl suddenly felt bad about his decision to leave, almost regretted it. He was smart enough to figure out this had created a kind of misunderstanding.

He didn’t even feel confident enough to try to speak. Plus, the fact that he couldn’t communicate properly to explain himself was discouraging him to open his mouth.

“It’s all new to him,” Paul interjected calmly. “This new lifestyle must be a major change and have him upset in one way or another.” A pause.” Or perhaps he just wanted to leave because he misses his family too much...” he added, looking a bit concerned.

He then remained silent as all eyes were now on him.

The silence lasted for a little while as everyone except Karl seemed to be lost in their own thoughts.

“I know we all wish this war could be over pretty soon, but unfortunately once a war begins, you can never know when it ends…” Mr. Hopkins broke it, speaking in what looked to be distress.

The English man suddenly seemed to be extremely worried by something, and since Karl caught the word war in his sentence, he guessed it was the one thing that was making him so worried.

Karl looked at the man’s wife who gave her husband a sympathetic look, a look he had already seen in his father’s eyes before when he was still a child.

The next thing he knew, the woman was staring into his light blue eyes.

“I know we will never be able to replace your family, Carl; but we can’t let you be homeless. I’m sure anyone else who would have found you would have done the same thing as us.”

He preferred to see her smile rather than with that look on her face.

“If you want to see them again, you have to stay with us for now,” she then added.

Karl’s understanding of English wasn’t good enough yet to understand that.

So he just stood still, his face impassive.

“I don’t think he understood what you’ve just said…” her husband said.

The woman let out a quiet sigh.

“I wish I could be a better teacher…”

“You are a good teacher, Margaret,” her husband hurried to say. “You’re just not used to teaching our language to foreigners. That’s why it’s very complicated. But I’m pretty sure he’ll manage to become fluent in the end,” the man assured her.

“If he stays long enough with us to learn…”

The man didn’t reply, and he seemed to become worried again.

*

After they all ate some rice and steamed, chopped carrots, and after Paul bid goodnight to his parents as well as George and Karl and left to go back to his own place, the two young males were left alone in the room.

“I need to study again tonight,” George told Karl as he showed him a book, probably the same book as the one he had been so busy reading for the last two weeks.

Study. That was another word he could recognise and comprehend now.

“I hope you don’t mind if I leave the light on for a bit too long.”

Karl just observed him in silence as the meaning of George’s words was unknown to him.

“Licht,” George then said as he pointed at the lamp that enabled him to light the room.

Lys. Karl instantly made sense of the word. And of what George had meant.

“I do not,” he replied; it was easier for him not to use the contracted form because of the "diphthong" which was rather hard to pronounce. “You can…” he trailed off uncertainly. “Du kan lade det være på.”

You can leave it on.

As he didn’t know what else to do, he swiftly unbuttoned his shirt and removed his braces, leaving him with only his white singlet, and slipped under the blanket to lie into bed, staring for a long while at the ceiling, his hands behind his head as George silently sat on the edge of the bed to study.

He was still awake when he felt George lie into bed as quietly as possible. His back brushed slightly against his own as he positioned himself, and Karl swore he could hear him mutter some apology that was almost inaudible. But he was quite sharp-eared.

He wondered if the sudden shift in his behaviour would last.

Hello!

So the situation isn't that bad for Karl, is it? 😊 What do you think about George's sudden shift in behaviour?

By the way, thank you again for all the comments some of you left me :)  They always make my day ❤️ So, please keep giving me your opinions!

Take care ❤️

Copyright © 2021 LittleCherryBlossom26; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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Chapter Comments

At least Karl is back in the safety and warmth of his new home.  Could it be that George has more feelings towards Karl than he is willing to admit?

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11 minutes ago, Okiegrad said:

At least Karl is back in the safety and warmth of his new home.  Could it be that George has more feelings towards Karl than he is willing to admit?

@OkiegradHmm... Maybe 😏

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Thank goodness Karl is safe, and agreed to return with the ass, named George.

George somewhat apologizes to Karl, but Karl can not fully understand for what George apologizes, nor comprehend why George is still less than friendly towards him. But most importantly, George should be more honest with the family in confessing his guilt and make his apologies to all but especially Karl in the family setting; after all, it was a fright to all and required an all hands approach to locate Karl.

For now, the guilt of Karl worrying the family by unexpectedly running away remains Karl’s alone, without the confession George needs to give them to unburden himself and the family in trying to understand Karl’s displeasure being in their home.

George may not feel he can confess what disturbs him with full disclosure, but he can explain enough to give the general understanding the family deserves and Karl needs in his vulnerable situation.

@LittleCherryBlossom26, you’re doing well as we manifest these emotions towards the characters you’ve give life to; congratulations and thank you for sharing.

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@Philippe Thank you for reading and liking the story 😊 If you ask me, it's not necessarily easy to give life to fictional characters, so I'm really glad I managed to do it well ☺️

Well, I thought about making George confess, but it seems out of character to me, at least for the time being.

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Thank goodness Karl has been found, especially as he became resigned to his life ending soon 🥺 rather than stealing food to stay alive. A sad decision for anyone, let alone a young teenager, who is "a stranger in a stranger land".

Hopefully with George finding him, (in Battersea and obviously before nearby Brixton was 'blitzed by Germans bombs), it will mean less attitude from George. Lets not forget Karl is still a young teen. 

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It seems as though in human nature one of the things we need is to feel useful. When we don't feel useful we can kind of make rather stupid decisions. I think Karl needs something to do a job of some sort that would make him feel useful while he's learning English.

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Okay - if my understanding of the timeline is correct, Karl is now about three weeks into living with the educated and income successful Hopkins family who has still not managed to find a way to bridge the language barrier!  Margaret talks to him as if he should be able to understand her.

But his understanding is still so vague that he ran away from George's attitude.  And he couldn't even ask why he was receiving such an affront!

This author obviously doesn't see the importance of bridging the language barrier - and I am about two chapters from abandoning this story!

I always try to praise the authors for their work and effort.  But this is such an obvious error in this storyline that it frustrates me to no end.  I mentioned in a previous post that I was once in a similar situation.

People must be able to communicate - and in 1940 London in a city of 8 million people and living within walking distance of King's College in a family with two graduates of same - the fact that they haven't figured out a way to bridge this language barrier is simple unthinkable.

Davey

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9 hours ago, DaveinLA said:

Okay - if my understanding of the timeline is correct, Karl is now about three weeks into living with the educated and income successful Hopkins family who has still not managed to find a way to bridge the language barrier!  Margaret talks to him as if he should be able to understand her.

But his understanding is still so vague that he ran away from George's attitude.  And he couldn't even ask why he was receiving such an affront!

This author obviously doesn't see the importance of bridging the language barrier - and I am about two chapters from abandoning this story!

I always try to praise the authors for their work and effort.  But this is such an obvious error in this storyline that it frustrates me to no end.  I mentioned in a previous post that I was once in a similar situation.

People must be able to communicate - and in 1940 London in a city of 8 million people and living within walking distance of King's College in a family with two graduates of same - the fact that they haven't figured out a way to bridge this language barrier is simple unthinkable.

Davey

@DaveinLA  I've just read your two comments and firstly, I really thank you for sharing your thoughts, I really appreciate it.

Then I have to say, I'm sorry if I made you want to give up on the story, and although I can understand this justified frustration, i think it would be a shame to giveup on it just for this detail, even if this mistake is unthinkable, which I cannot disagree with.

This author does see the importance of bridging the language barrier, but she doesn't see it as something as important as to prevent from keeping the story going on, but after all we all have our own perception of things that can differ. This mistake was intentional but now I admit it wasn't really clever of me to make this choice... This was intentional because I wished for Karl to learn to see beyond words, to learn to communicate with body language. Of course, words are the key to communicate and you're right about the context, so I think I should have chosen a more remote time for this like Middle Ages ora much poorer family, but I don't think they could have afforded to take him in... But anyway the point I'm trying to make here is that body language is quite important and I think there isn't enough focus on it in general. Think about Charlie Chaplin movies. They were mute yet they held deep meaning.

So I think it's not such a bad thing to have this barrier language because Karl needs to learn to observe people and a world that is unknown to him, to rediscover life in a new light before voicing his opinions, to get used to this new life to be natural again with the people surrounding him. He has never been taught to think for himself, although being illogical and I can only agree with this.

But can't we just appreciate the beauty lying in the untold? The stories hidden behind these characters that they won't reveal, making you eager to know more, the sorrow and pain hiding behind their relaxed, kind, stoic or angry appearances in George's case? If there is not a minimum of mystery in a story, there is no interest in reading. That's just my opinion, but words can spoil too much sometimes.

But anyway most importantly, what you should bear in mind is that this story hasn't been edited yet. It's still at the stage of first draft, and I started publishing here intentionnaly with the objective of having feedback like yours that could help me improve and edit this story later. So as some time has passed I think I should have made an effort with this problem of communication, but I'm still working on the third part, so editing the beginning isn't my to priority just yet. I'll be even happier if I can have more feedback like yours in the meantime, for I find it really constructive to compare and contrast points of views about a same subject, so once again I really thank you for your comments, and especially for your interest in this story. And I hope my response won't make you want even more to give up on this story, because in spite of this, overall I think it's really worth a try at least. Perhaps some of my readers who read it until the end can confirm it. Don't worry anyway, Karl will still be able to learn English.

Much love.

LitleCherryBlossom26

 

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