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Live, Love, Lose - 21. Chapter 21

Back to Karl's POV for this chapter

After dinner, Karl went upstairs but he stopped right before the door and remained motionless.

What happened earlier was…

He couldn’t even find the words to describe it. He had never been confronted with such situations. He clearly understood something was wrong. But he tried to pretend he was unaffected by it. He didn’t utter a single word before and after dinner, or even during it. Even when either Mrs. Hopkins or Paul talked to him, he only used his head only to nod or shake it when necessary. They probably felt sorry that he had to witness such a scene. He honestly didn’t understand why he had to go downstairs with George. He could -should- have stayed into the bedroom all alone.

But then George would have probably kicked him out of it straight away. He still had to sleep in it though. Where would he sleep otherwise?

He opened the door cautiously. And the sight that greeted him wasn’t nice to see. It was even shocking. He felt a strange sensation in his stomach for a moment.

George was bawling his eyes out. He didn’t move, as if his feet were glued to the floor. And there it was again, the same feeling in his stomach. Brief but painful. He guessed he should just close the door and go back downstairs, but he still couldn’t move. It seemed that he was too dumbfounded to act. It seemed like an endless stream of tears, but he would have to stop sooner or later, right?

He was crying so hard that he seemed to have trouble breathing, but it’s not as if it were possible to die from too much crying… He looked away, his face slowly crumpling. Karl wasn’t used to crying or witnessing someone else crying. He had not cried really much in his life. The only time he could remember crying was when he had to leave home. But only because he witnessed his father cry. Even a bad fall hadn’t made him cry. Just scream in pain.

He looked at George again. He could hear the loud sobs, so it was no use to look away. Again, the same feeling in his stomach.

Stop it. Stop it, was all he could think of.

The more the seconds passed the more it was becoming unbearable. Honestly, who would like to see someone cry?

He bit his lower lip as he glanced down. He saw the chessboard turned over and all the pieces scattered on the floor messily. What happened wasn’t the chessboard’s fault. His loud sobs quickly turned into screams. The feeling in his stomach became more intense. He let out a shaky breath as he kept staring down.

Stop. Please, stop.

The cries and the screams wouldn’t fade out. And the feeling in Karl’s stomach wouldn’t either. He looked up only to see George bang the pillow with the back of his fist; an act of desperation, he guessed. He didn’t think he would be able to stand this every night…it was already too much then.

He looked down again but at his feet this time. He was suddenly overwhelmed with another kind of feeling, but this one was much more familiar. He rolled up the sleeve on his left arm. Goosebumps. But he wasn’t cold. He was used to enduring the cold during harsh winters. It wasn’t even winter and the house wasn’t cold…

How weird.

He also came to notice that his breathing wasn’t really normal anymore. It was becoming loud, a bit too loud for his liking.

Stop, just stop! He kept thinking.

The crying and screaming eventually died down after a little while, to his great relief. He let out a sigh before he looked at George once again. His head was buried in the pillow as he was lying down on the bed. So of course it helped as they were somewhat stifled. Anyway, it wasn’t that long before he lifted it up, and sat up. He wiped his tears away with his forearm and then with both his hands. It took him a bit of time so he could do it properly. Then he started sniffing, once at first, then several times in a row, and it just seemed to grow louder each time. He was now burying his face in his hands, taking deep breaths.

Karl didn’t look away, and the feeling in his stomach had disappeared by that time. But the goosebumps were still there.

George rubbed it before he removed them, and he turned his head slowly only to meet Karl’s gaze. And as expected, he wasn’t really happy to see him…

“What the…” he trailed off. “Piss off!”

Of course, Karl didn’t understand what “piss off” meant, even though he didn’t need to know to guess the meaning of it. But he still didn’t move. The same feeling was coming back.

“I said piss off!!!” He started shouting.

The next thing he did, he grabbed one of his books that was under the bed. (Yes, he decided to put away all of his books under the bed since there was no bookshelf). That way he could grab it quicker, otherwise, he would have had to stand up from the bed to get it. He threw it at him aggressively and Karl closed the door just in time to avoid being hit in the face with it. He heard the loud thump as the book collided against the wood. He leaned his back against it as he thought about what he had just witnessed. Just to think about it made the same feeling reappear again. He replayed it again and again in his head. He didn’t think he could ever forget that.

He could hear loud sobs through the door. The feeling intensified again. And he looked down again. Obviously, there was nothing he could do about it…

Clearly, he didn’t know where he was going to sleep that night…

But he would have to stop crying sooner or later anyway. He couldn’t keep doing this for the rest of his life.

He saw Paul coming his way as soon as he looked up. He didn’t even look concerned.

“Don’t worry about this for tonight. You can come and stay at my place as long as will be necessary. You just have to know that it’s not that big compared to here…

Even though he didn’t understand each word perfectly as a real English folk would, he didn’t need to once again. The look on his face and the tone he used was quite enough. Plus, the situation itself spoke for itself.

“Thank you.”

“No need to be so polite with me. I wouldn’t have hit you had you not thanked me.”

He winked at Karl as he finished speaking.

Okay. He got it. This was some kind of teasing.

A large smile brightened his face.

“That’s much better.”

Karl only let out a breath that could have been a small laugh. Paul really knew how to make people feel better.

“Well, let’s go now, shall we? We’re not gonna stay standing here all night long, are we?”

“Yes.”

“It’s not that far from here anyway.”

*
It took them around thirty minutes to get to Paul’s flat. It was the very first time he had seen it. It wasn’t that bad. It was sober, but it wasn’t sleazy or anything like that. And yes, it was small, much smaller than Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins’s house, but he really didn’t mind. As long as he had a place to sleep, it didn’t matter whether it was huge or small. And being with Paul made it even better.

“Come, have a seat. Make yourself at home.”

There was no table to eat or armchairs to sit on. Only a table put against one of the walls with a chair before it that rather looked like a kind of desk. He probably used it to work. There was also a bed in one corner of the room, against the wall too, big enough for one person only, and sober like the room itself. He guessed he could sit on it, so he made his way towards it.

“Don’t worry. It’s only temporary. Besides, it’s only so you can sleep, but during the day you’ll be able to go back home to be with Mum.”

He saw Paul open some kind of huge box, or whatever it was. He didn’t really know what it was…

“And you’ll still be able to have your meals there too. I don’t even have any drink to give to you…”

He was quick to close it. And quick to open his cupboard to grab something in it. Two glasses that he filled with tap water. Also quick to come and sit on the bed -wait- no, not on the bed, but on the floorboard, his back against the bed.

“I prefer it this way, but if you’d rather sit on the bed, you’re free to do it,” he told Karl as he handed him one of the glasses.

Karl just observed him silently. It wasn’t a problem for him to sit on the floor. So he took the glass before he shifted his position.

“Don’t feel forced to do like me.”

“No. It’s fine for me.”

Paul nodded at him with a smile.

“Let’s toast with water since there’s no booze in here,” he lifted his glass up. “To the disastrous evacuation of Dunkirk and the bravery of our men that died there.”

He understood that he talked about water. Honestly, at first, he was surprised that he should give them both a glass of water now that dinner time had passed. But now understood that he had no ‘beer’. They could have gone to see Emma and have a drink there. But maybe he just didn’t feel like it that night. As for the rest, he only understood our men.

Wait.

He’d already heard Paul say the word died before. That evening, during dinner. About George’s best friend.

“What is Dun…ke-kek…”

“Dunkirk. It’s a city in the North of France, near the Belgian border. I’ll show it to you on a map. They say ‘Dunkerque’ in French. It’s close to the sea. You just have to cross it to come to England. “

Karl nodded in understanding.

“That’s where George’s best friend was fighting.”

Karl nodded again. He remained silent as he looked down at his lap, his lips pressed in a thin line.

“Cheers,” Paul said after a few moments, probably noticing Karl’s distress.

Karl gave him a small smile as he looked up at him. And they made their glasses clink.

“We’ve lost a battle, but not the war. Not yet.”

Once again, Karl nodded. He didn’t know anything better he could do at that moment. He couldn’t help thinking again about George who broke down and cried in their room. The same feeling came back. He looked down again.

“Don’t worry about him either. He’ll get over it sooner or later. He’ll have to.”

Karl looked up at him another time.

“Get…”

“Get over it. It means…you know, accept the death of that person and move on, even if that’s painful. He just needs time.”

This time he didn’t nod. Simply because he wasn’t sure he understood well what Paul had just said…

“I wish I knew how to say it in Danish. It would be much simpler.”

Yes, it wasn’t always easy to explain. But the more time would pass, the easier it would become. That’s what he kept telling himself.

“That’s just how life is. Unfair. You can’t have the good without having the bad. We’re not in Wonderland.”

“Won...de...land..”

“Yes, Wonderland. You know, like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. By Lewis Carroll. With the white rabbit,” he made gestures with his hands as he said the last word.

And Karl could only grin at this. He saw Paul grin too as he stopped.

They both went silent afterwards, and within seconds Karl swore he could hear in his head George’s sobbing and shouting as if he were still there. And some sort of shiver ran through his whole body.

He tried to think about something else, anything really. But the noise wouldn’t stop. He let out a heavy breath before biting his lower lip.

“You know, I don’t plan on living here for the rest of my life,” Paul said at some point, and he was thankful he spoke. “When I get married and have kids of my own, I’ll get something much bigger; a really nice house with a really nice garden. A bit like my parents’ house.”

He could understand basically what he meant.

“There’ll even be a room just for you.”

Once again, Karl could only smile at his words.

They both went silent once more, but Paul was quick to speak again.

“You’re lucky you’re hardly eighteen. You don’t have to worry about that just yet. I really wish I could be back to my teenage years sometimes.”

There was a hint of nostalgia in his voice as he said that.

“Live while you can, make the most of your young age.”

He sounded much more serious now.

“Times flies by so fast. Before you know it, you’ll have to get married and procreate.”

Karl just observed him in silence.

“Procreate, you know,” he made some gesture with his index fingers, making them touch each other’s tips. “Or if you prefer…” Now he was making a circle with his thumb and index finger with one hand and moved his other index finger through it in swift motions.

But this wasn’t really helping Karl…

He suddenly stopped and stared straight into his eyes before he laughed.

“You’re still a virgin, I bet.”

He was…what…?

He let out another laugh.

“That’s okay, you know. Just forget about it for now.”

His curiosity was getting the best of him.

“You’re still too innocent to think about this. I wouldn’t like to be the one to deprave you.”

And this time what was he? He had no idea.

Why couldn’t he learn more quickly?

Hey!

Brace yourselves because the chapters to come won't be nice... :(

Take care ❤️

Copyright © 2021 LittleCherryBlossom26; All Rights Reserved.
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Chapter Comments

This chapter is an eye opener to those who have not seen, done or had to explain something as what Robert just did.  You can only do  the best you can under what circumstances you have.  Telling George about  Nathan not coming back and never see him again, may seem rather harsh to some.  It is never an easy task to do, but even the bearer of such news also has to  deal with such things.  Telling someone about what George was told by Robert can at times be just as devastating to the one giving the bad news.  I know the feeling of emotions that are in play for both of these men.  This is  not a place where either person wants to be at.  George must also  be given the time to deal with this news as well as he can.  This type of thing is not easy for all involved.  Time is sometimes the best but also those around you can may be of great help.  There is no way to lessen the pain and heartache.  It is always difficult and leaves the bearer of this news just as sad so often.  

I thought your chapter gave the reader just a little bit of how this sort of thing can have and affect to more than just the principles.  Thank you for this.

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I feel bad for George, even though he’s still kind of a wanker.  This represents such a dark time in human history. Cheers to all of the brave men and women in uniform who have fought for freedom across the globe!

Less serious….I found it quite interesting that Paul used two fingers to represent sex, “or if you prefer” then used the finger and hole.   Did we get a glimpse into Pauls sex life with that small gesture?????

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I've just got to this story and caught myself up. It's very well written & engaging, and I'll be following along from here. Looking forward to future chapters.

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