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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 - 54. Chapter 54

They spent the whole night underground. The day was just dawning as they made their way back to the Hopkins’s house silently. Karl saw all the damage the bombs had caused that night. He still thought they would end up destroying the whole city and killing everyone if they kept bombarding it every night. At least they had stopped bombarding during the day, so maybe he shouldn’t be complaining too much. If they had kept bombarding day and night, it would have been twice as worse than that.

His eyes were stinging. He hadn’t got a wink of sleep that night, and it had been the same for many previous nights. His throat was so dry. He desperately needed water. Milk. Anything.

But when they finally came back, they discovered the house had been totally destroyed.

“Bloody hell…”

They stood still, horrified and astounded by the sight before their eyes.

“No…”

No.

Karl started hyperventilating again. This could only mean one thing.

No. He didn’t want to believe it.

“No…”

George rushed towards what was left of the house; ruins. Karl only watched him with desperate eyes that were stinging more and more, and soon became wet. He was frozen in his spot, overwhelmed by terror and shock.

“Margaret! Uncle Robb!”

He walked on the ruins, even tripped, but prevented his fall thanks to his hands. He quickly got back on his feet and looked like he was only wandering aimlessly as if knowing deep down that it was too late but still wanted to try.

A few instants later he was bending down and searching under the rubble. His movements were hasty and desperate. He could see he was struggling to move the rubble, and the ache in his chest and stomach became too much to take.

“No…those bloody Boches…they can’t have killed them…”

He wanted to help him, but his body still wouldn’t move.

It took him a long while to cover every square metre. But it seemed he couldn’t find them at all in the end… He looked like he was about to go ballistic.

If they really died, he was sure George would never get over it. And he would most likely try to hurt himself again… No, he couldn’t consider this. He couldn’t accept they were—

He jumped as he could hear a loud shout. George…

He rushed to get by his side. He was about to break down. But Karl didn’t want that to happen.

“I wasn’t there…I wasn’t there once again…”

Quickly the tears started rolling down his cheeks. And if he didn’t stop, it would be the same for him too.

“I wasn’t there…!”

He needed to calm down.

Karl brought his hands to his cheeks and wiped his tears with his slender fingers. He wanted to try to reassure him, tell him it would be okay, but he wouldn’t believe his own lies. Neither would George. He kept wiping the falling tears in slow and gentle movements. He could feel his pulse with his thumbs. It was rapid, too rapid. It wouldn’t be enough.

After a few moments, he let go of his cheeks and grabbed one of his hands. Adrenaline rushed through his veins and the fire in him had regained its full power. He did the exact same gesture as George had earlier underground, hoping it would be more efficient.

They stared into each other’s eyes as if they were mesmerised. What he felt at that moment...it was truly indescribable. He had this sudden urge to comfort him, to protect him from all the pain and cruelty of this world, to make him happy again. But he felt it wasn’t like before. It was nothing like before. It wasn’t only because of Mr. and Mrs. Hopkins, and Paul. It wasn’t only because he was another human being. Or because he would feel guilty if he didn’t do anything to help.

His face was burning, and his lips were aching for his skin. He didn’t want to leave him. He needed to look after him.

“Ikke græde,” he said as he let go of his hand only to wipe the remnants of his tears.

Don’t cry.

After staying still for a few more moments George slowly wrapped his arms around his frame. He instantly hugged him back. Still, he couldn’t do anything to erase his own distress… He tried to shake off the horrible thoughts of his messed up mind but to no avail…

Now that they had come into his life, they couldn’t leave so suddenly… They couldn’t leave George. He needed them.

His father’s words suddenly echoed through his mind.

Always stay strong and never forget that we love you.

They loved him. Yes, his father definitely loved him, but he wasn’t so sure for his mother…he loved him but he wasn’t there to comfort him.

He felt he couldn’t be strong any longer. How was he supposed to remain strong after everything that had been happening?

And it would start again. It really seemed that they wouldn’t stop until the last survivor was killed.

He was hating more and more this feeling of helplessness and uselessness. It made him sick. What was he thinking? Of course, he couldn’t save the whole city, stop the bombings, let alone stop the war. He was no one. He was just one person among the millions of people living here and elsewhere. Small, insignificant, and he could easily drown in that ocean of people. There was nothing he could do. And this was the worst thing that could ever happen to him.

They remained like this for a long while. They didn’t move. He assumed there was no point in it anyway. Where would they go? What would they do? They were like two lost puppies who had just lost their parents.

Karl couldn’t hold his own tears back. He only hugged George tighter. He was so desperate that he could only wish it was a bad dream and that he just hadn’t woken up from it yet.

He lost track of time. It was just an endless nightmare.

“Carl! George” he could suddenly hear a familiar voice that made him start.

He got his hands off George and was so surprised to see Mrs. Hopkins standing a few yards away behind George. She didn’t look like she had been hurt. He couldn’t believe it. It was a miracle.

“Margaret…”

He smiled, even if it was only a tiny smile. George must have been so relieved to see her.

Wait.

Mr. Hopkins wasn’t with her… Oh no. He could only hope that nothing had happened to him…

She approached them swiftly.

“Margaret..how are you…I mean, the house…”

“Shhh, calm down. It’s alright. We both exited the house before it got destroyed, so neither of us was hurt. We were looking for you, to make sure you were alright as well. We parted ways to try to be more efficient in doing so. Oh, my boys. You must have been so scared…”

She put her hands on both of their shoulders before she brought them closer to her, engulfing them into a tight hug.

“It will be okay,” she whispered. “Even in the worst times, we will rise from the ashes and find the courage in our hearts to endure.”

It was so soothing to hear her voice. Even if it didn’t sound happy.

But now that the house wasn’t there any longer, where would they go?

***

“We still have the house in Brighton. We could go there.”

“If it hasn’t been destroyed already.”

Mrs. Hopkins was staring at her husband with sad eyes.

They were currently at Paul’s. His flat had been spared by the bombs but it might not have lasted for long. But they couldn’t possibly stay there. It was way too small for five people…

He had been so relieved to see that Paul was alright too. And to hear from his mouth that Emma was too.

“We can still go to the countryside, in Essex, to stay at my cousin’s. We will feel at home. There is everything we need there. We will want for nothing.”

“No, wait! We can’t settle in there! I need to stay in London to keep studying and to help treat the wounded. And Uncle Robb has his job here too.”

Mrs. Hopkins was left silent by his words.

She was probably trying to think about another place where they could stay, but couldn’t seem to find any.

“Well,” she spoke again after a while. “Then, we could go to my parents’. Even though I’d rather go to the countryside. They wouldn’t bomb a place that is so small and so quiet.”

“Of course, they would. Destroying the farms to let us die of starvation is strategic too. They are capable of anything.”

She looked resigned; worried.

“We do not have a choice, Margaret. We have to live with that risk.”

Karl realised one thing. It didn’t matter where they would go. Even if they were homeless. As long as they were fine and all together, the rest didn’t matter.

He could only hope it would stay that way as long as possible.

***

In the evening, they went there. They were having dinner in the dining room. Their house was spacious and nice. But Karl couldn’t help imagining it being destroyed by the bombs. He couldn’t get rid of this thought.

“So, when will Paul have children? I do not want to die before they are born. I want to be a great-grandmother and be able to see them.”

“He will soon. He will before you die, you can trust me.”

Mrs. Hopkins’s mother looked like she was satisfied with that answer. He noted she looked more like her father than her mother.

“What about you, George? Have you found a young lady for yourself?”

George looked a bit flustered. The question caught him by surprise, it was clear on his face.

“No, I haven’t found one yet.”

His tone was grave, and almost seemed to imply: “I don’t want to talk about it, so stop now.”

“I do not think the time is really appropriate to think about finding a girl,” Mrs. Hopkins interfered.

It was silent for a few seconds.

“Well, it is true that there are many other things that are preoccupying to think about courting. But you are quite young. You still have a lot of time to find the right one.”

“If he does not die before.”

Mr. Hopkins' words make the tension rise in the air.

“Robert…”

No one seemed to know what to say any longer to ease the growing tension, even George.

“We can only pray that none of us will perish,” Mrs. Hopkins’s father was the one to break the stifling silence.

“Praying does not make any difference. Neither does hope.”

“Robert, please…could we spend one evening without thinking about the worst?”

“Yes, I am going to go and make tea for everyone. We all need some warmth with the rough winter that is coming.”

George abruptly stood from his seat and left the room.

“George!”

Mrs. Hopkins sounded so desperate. He couldn’t take it. He stood from his seat as well.

“Let me go see him.”

He exited the room and looked for him. He wasn’t in one of the many rooms that were on the ground floor, so he went upstairs. But he wasn’t in any of the rooms upstairs either. Where could he be then?

His stomach was overwhelmed by an oppressive sensation for an instant.

What if he had run away?

No…he wouldn’t have taken the risk to go out with the bombings, right?

Wait.

Maybe he was simply outside in their backyard. Every house had a backyard, right? He hadn’t paid attention if they had one or not. So he went to check. He was relieved to see they had one. He went there and noticed a silhouette sitting in the growing darkness, but he could only see the back. It could be no other than him.

His stomach only hurt more as he was thinking about how much he must have been in pain. He waited for a little while before he came close to him. He sat down next to him and wrapped an arm around him as he tilted his head until it touched his.

Next thing he knew, George was clinging to him and looked like he didn’t want to let go. They didn’t speak, because there was nothing to be said; only words that would ruin everything.

Karl contemplated the sky instead.

It was just too hard to stand. All this suffering, violence, sadness, helplessness.

He just wanted to know happiness again, carelessness. Was it too much to ask for?

Apparently, it was.

He couldn’t help wondering one question.

Would this war ever end one day?

Hey! :) 

Things aren't getting better but at least they're all safe

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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Hopefully the war will soon be over.  I can’t imagine the terror that people lived through back then.   And on a lighter note, it seems as though our sweet Karl has just figured out what being in love feels like ❤️❤️❤️

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The toils of war; you can’t really go forward or go back, you have to think anew and be prepared for the inevitable setbacks.

The Hopkins clan have all been most fortunate in this attack; surviving a near direct hit on the house, with others taking over in bunkers, and then to reunite within hours…remarkable.

Karl is now able to better understand his father’s desires for him to leave the hostile invasion / war zone to seek safety where thought to be a given; he cares, he loves him, he gives him encouragement even from afar in time and distance,

Likewise, Karl realizes he would not have survived without the strength and support of his English family; the Hopkins, including the recovering George. But what to do now, how to support the efforts to defeat the boches, or send then packing.

Karl is coming into his own as he now needs purpose and it looks like he is determined to fined a way to help. Perhaps sticking to what you know best country boy. The nutritional needs of a world war torn society is about to become a very important job; skills that many Londoners no longer possess, especially those still too young and now roaming without focus and soon to lose will.

Grand-mama really wants kids…, where and when will these kids start sprouting? War creates new families as now Karl sees why and how; will this be his new charge? … While George heals the physical injuries?

@LittleCherryBlossom26, war is a cruel reality, but portrayed here as a reflection of both the macro and micro aspects of human society when too many or swayed to judge; only to find they too are now be judge as out of favor….large scale version of the Salem witch trials. 🤦‍♂️ 

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This chapter was very sad, with all the destruction and fear for the loss of George's and Karl's family.  I was glad that Karl know now his true feeling for George.  Relieved that the Hopkins are all safe, I wonder now what will happen next. This is a good portrayal of the emotions Karl is experiencing.  Well written.

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