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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 - 6. Chapter 6

Hello!

So I don't know if all of you have seen the thread I posted on the forum to ask for your opinion about whether I should keep publishing or not, and so for now I've decided to keep publishing even without editing.

I hope you'll enjoy this chapter!

Take care ❤️

The following evening, when Paul was back from work and before it got dark, the man went out and took Karl with him, and Karl wordlessly agreed to go with him.

As they were walking across the city, Paul got a cigarette out of his pocket before he lit it up. Karl just observed him wordlessly from the corner of his eye.

After they kept walking for a while, they ended up arriving at a pub, in some street. This particular place looked unfamiliar to Karl. Paul entered the building first, followed by Karl. The place was rather dark, not that well lit. It looked… Karl couldn’t find the right word to describe it. It was sober, looked almost old-fashioned as if the place had been built quite a while ago. (like some old pub from the Victorian era). It wasn’t that crowded. Men had surely better things to do than to drink in a pub.

Paul made his way to the counter. But Karl didn’t follow him. He stopped walking just after he entered the place and took the time to examine it more in detail. After a few instants, he decided to join Paul who was at the counter, seemingly waiting for someone. He stood on his right and waited with him in silence. There was no one behind the counter, and so they had to wait for a little while before someone finally showed up.

“Hey, Paul!” A female voice greeted him warmly as her eyes met his. “I haven’t seen you in a while here. Where have you been?”

“Busy with work,” said male replied plainly.

“Is that so?”

She didn’t seem to be that convinced by his reply, whatever they were talking about.

“What is it with you? Don’t you trust me any more?” He said with a hint of teasing in his voice.

“I think you were rather seeing another woman, weren’t you?”

“That’s just complete nonsense,” he retorted. “I haven’t been seeing any other bird. Please, can we stop talking about that now? There’s someone I’d like you to meet.”

“Who? Your new girlfriend?” She said in a dry and derisive tone.

“Come on, stop it. It’s not a girl. It’s a young Danish boy.”

“A Danish boy?” She repeated somewhat incredulously.

“Yes, a Danish boy. The one who is just right next to me and that you failed to notice since you’ve been too busy bothering me with your stupid jealousy,” Paul said as he pointed at Karl with his thumb.

The girl’s facial expression suddenly changed. She seemed to finally calm down as her eyes met Karl’s. She sighed as she glanced at Paul.

“I’m sorry…”

“Don’t be. Look, we’re not going to make a fuss about it. So, Emma, this is Carl. And Carl, this is Emma,” he said gesturing at each of them as he said their names.

Karl nodded at her and murmured a small ‘hi’, which was actually the Danish word hey but was pronounced similarly to the English one.

The woman greeted him with a small smile. Karl took in her facial features.

She looked to be around the same age as Paul, or she may have been a few years younger, but it was hard to tell. She had straight red hair that was tied into a high bun and blue eyes that looked greyish as well as freckles that dotted her cheekbones and nose, unlike his which dotted his whole face. Hers were less eye-catching. Her skin was very pale and her features sharp and well-defined, like high cheekbones.

“It’s nice to meet you, Carl,” she said softly, making him snap back to his surroundings.
Karl nodded at first, not understanding what she said, even though he figured out what she meant.

“Samme her (same here),” he answered with a small and somewhat shy smile.

There were a few moments of silence following Karl’s answer.

Emma was observing him silently as if she were trying to read his mind. Next thing he knew, she hastily left her spot behind the counter to stand before Paul, quite close to him, so much so that her face was only inches apart from his.

“What’s the meaning of this? I mean what is he doing here? How do you even know him?” She half-whispered and half-shouted.

“Why do you mind? He won’t bring any trouble here,” Paul retorted somehow sounding offended.

Emma tilted her head to the side and gave him a sort of reproving look.

“I know he won’t. I just… I need to understand! Why is he here? Doesn’t he have a family?”

“Of course, he does, like everyone. But the Germans have invaded his homeland,” Paul replied.

Emma seemed to be shocked by whatever Paul had just said.

“Didn’t you hear what they said on the radio?” Paul asked her.

Emma was left speechless for a few moments.

“Poor boy…” she ended up uttering as she glanced at him. “I really wonder when all of this is going to stop.”

“Probably not anytime soon…”

They both remained silent for a little while after that until Paul spoke again.

“Could you give us something to eat? I thought it’d be nice for him to eat somewhere else than at my parents’, as lovely as they are.”

Emma let out a small giggle.

“Come on, why would you make him come here?” She asked him playfully. “Your mother is the best cook I’ve ever known. I’m nowhere near her level.”

“Don’t say that. You’re the only one I know who can make food as good as she does.”

“Oh, please, you’re only a flatterer.”

“You know I’m not. Here, look, I’ve got some rationing tickets.”

He dove his hand into the right pocket of his trousers, seemingly looking for something, and quickly found it. It was tickets. Three tickets. Karl wondered what they were used for. For drinking probably. Or eating.

He thought they would rather use money to pay for drinks and food. So seeing these tickets puzzled him a bit.

“No, please, keep them, you’ll need them later on. It’s all on me,” he heard Emma say.

“We still have food supplies for now. So we don’t need them. And we’ll be able to get other supplies later on when we run out of them,” Paul answered.

“So do I. Even if that isn’t much. What’s left should be enough, at least for him.”

“That’s perfect.”

Emma smiled at him gently.

“I’ll be right back.”

With that being said, she turned around to leave where she had previously been, disappearing from Paul’s sight. The brown-haired male watched her leave before he looked at Karl.

“What about we go and have a seat now? Come,” he told him before putting his arm around his shoulder and guiding him toward a table in the back of the pub. They both sat next to each other on a comfortable bench seat against a wall.

“You need to go out a bit too, even if you’re a bit too young. And you’re safe with me anyway,” Paul told him, even though he knew Karl couldn’t understand long and proper sentences in English.

Even if they couldn’t communicate like Karl wished they could, Paul didn’t seem to mind. If anything, he seemed to be rather enjoying the boy’s presence around him. And the silence wasn’t awkward at all with him.

A few moments later, he spotted Emma approaching their table, being back with some food, and put one plate in front of Karl.

“Here you go,” she said with a sweet smile.

“Thanks.”

He still had a thick Danish accent when he said it, but he managed to say it nonetheless. And Emma seemed to be able to understand him in spite of his accent.

“What a nice accent! How do you say that in your language?” She asked him with a toothy grin.

“Tak,” Paul answered for him with his thick London accent. “He doesn’t really speak English yet. It’s too soon. Just a few words here and there.”

Emma nodded.

“Oh yeah, right. I should’ve known. What an idiot I am…”

“Don’t blame yourself. Anyway, the more he hears English, the better,” he finished his sentence as he was smiling at her.
Emma smiled back at him. She then turned her attention back to Karl.

“Would you like something to drink with it? Drink,” she repeated the word as she highlighted it, trying to mimic someone drinking.

“He’d like some water, I guess,” Paul replied for him once again. “Unless you have another drink that has no alcohol in it.”

Emma seemed to be thinking for a few seconds about Paul’s words.

“I may have. Let me have a look.”

Immediately after saying that, she left again. She came back not that long after with a glass full of liquid this time.

“Here you go,” she said again.

Karl was surprised by the colour of the liquid.

It wasn’t water. It was brown and sparkling. Karl stared at it closely and with curious eyes.

“Where did you get that?” Paul inquired, seemingly surprised as well as Karl glanced at him.

“It’s all thanks to my cousin, Annie. When she went to America, she brought back a whole case full of it from there, before the war broke out. And ever since, I’ve kept all those bottles preciously, actually in case of hard times like these.”

Karl saw Paul nodding from the corner of his eye. He was still staring at the content of the glass quizzically.

“Given the look on his face, I guess he’s never drunk coke before, so I hope he’ll like it,” he heard Emma say, making him glance at her.

“I don’t see why he wouldn’t like it. Most people, especially youths, tend to become awfully addicted to anything sugary,” he heard Paul reply.

Karl could suddenly feel one hand on his shoulder, causing him to look away from the glass.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you. Don’t you wanna drink it?” He asked him with the appropriate gesture.

Karl stared into his brown eyes intently before looking back at the glass in front of him.

“At least taste it. It’s called Coke. Coke.” he then said as he showed the glass.

Of course, Karl had never had the occasion of drinking coke in his whole life. After staring at the glass for a few more moments, he took it in his left hand before he brought it to his lips, tasting the unknown liquid.

The taste was somehow strange to him. It was nothing like water. It was fizzy and sweet at the same time.

He wasn’t used to sweet things and would have preferred water in the end. But he didn’t want to look rude. So he sipped it slowly, trying to get used to the new taste.

It wasn’t that bad after all, he decided after taking a few good sips of it.

He then put down the glass and began eating the food Emma had given to him. It tasted good. It’s not as if Karl were someone picky anyway. He hadn’t been raised like that.

Paul just watched him eat silently.

“Won’t you have anything?” Emma asked him looking somehow concerned.

“Oh, don’t worry about me, I’ll get something to eat once I get back home. Could you just bring me a pint, please? It’ll be enough for me.”

“Sure,” she replied with a smile.

She left once again to go back behind her counter.

Karl thought about sharing his food with the older man, but he assumed if he wasn’t eating anything he had a good reason for it, so he didn’t even try to bring up that topic.

By the time he had finished eating, Emma had come back with the pint.

And by the time it had got dark, they were still into the pub.

At some point, Paul approached the piano that was in one corner of the pub and sat down on the stool before he began playing it. He just played some random tune, a tune which was unknown to Karl, seemingly playing it more for the sound of the instrument itself than for a specific melody.

After playing a few notes, he stopped to take a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it before taking a good drag of it. He removed it from his mouth with his thumb and index fingers before putting it back in his mouth and started playing the piano again.

Karl who had been watching him from afar decided to stand up from his seat to join him. He stopped walking near the lid, making him able to have a much better look at Paul moving his fingers on the keyboard from there. After a few moments of remaining standing there, he moved closer to Paul and went to sit on the stool next to him, on the older male’s right side.

The blond male focused on Paul’s fingers brushing smoothly against the different keys, both white and black.

It was the first time he had been hearing such a sound. It was delicate, harmonious, and it gave a sense of beauty to the place they were in.

Karl enjoyed Paul’s company. Even when they were both silent, and even if they had just met the day before. For some reason, Paul reminded Karl of his elder brother. There was something in the older man that was soothing and reassuring, telling him everything would be alright. And at the same time, he had this kind of confident, and laid-back attitude, as if he always knew perfectly what he was doing, what he wanted in life.

But even this didn’t prevent him from being worried for his parents from time to time, as well as his two siblings. They were on his mind, mostly when he was left alone, like during evenings when he was lying in bed; always wondering what they were doing while he was there in a foreign and unknown country. And now in someone else’s house.

It seemed to be stupid to even think about that, because actually somewhere in the back of his mind he was pretty sure they were doing the same thing they usually did when he was there.

Why would anything change with his not being home any more?

Paul glanced at him before he stopped playing and took another drag from his cigarette. Once he exhaled the puff he removed it from his lips. Karl watched the grey puff whirling into the air as if it was fog.

“Do you know how to play it?” Paul asked, looking at him and gesturing at the big instrument with his head.

Karl locked eyes with him before he looked at the piano. He had never been taught to play any instrument. He had never even seen a piano in his life. That wasn’t the kind of thing you could see in the countryside. In Copenhagen, maybe. In a place like this. But it’s not like it would be the kind of place his parents would patronize.

He stared back into Paul’s brown eyes and shook his head.

“Want me to teach you? You’ll see, it’s easier than learning English. Well actually, maybe not that much easier… But you can still give it a try.”

Right after he stopped speaking, he brought the cigarette back to his lips and took Karl’s hands in a slow motion so he could place them on the keys.

“Let’s start with a very simple tune,” he then said.

He took his index finger and made him press it on one white touch. He then took his other index finger with his free hand and pressed it on another white touch. He kept repeating the same gesture slowly, making sound a tune that Karl couldn’t recognise.

Karl simply watched his fingers move wordlessly. He wasn’t used to being touched in such a way, and especially by the man he had only known for two days, but strangely he didn’t mind the contact. After all, it was just to show and teach him how to play, nothing more.

As he glanced away he saw Emma watching the two of them from a small distance. She was smiling brightly. But he preferred remaining focused on what they were doing.

“So how did that sound?” Paul asked Karl as he was smiling, cigarette in hand, once they stopped.

Karl merely smiled back at him. He really had been having a good time. Paul kept smiling at him.

Before it got too late, they went back to his parents’ home, Paul apparently fearing his mother might have scolded him for making Karl get back home so late. Well, from what Karl understood with Paul’s gestures and imitation.

Karl was much more optimistic now.

He felt the following day would be another good day.

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

I am glad to see you are moving forward with this story, it is a pleasure to read and all I can say, is just keep at it! Writing is like exercise, the more you do...the better you will get. It is a fantastic historical tale of a very dark time in our history and you are bringing it to life vividly!!!

Edited by drsawzall
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Hello LittleCherryBlossom26:

Please continue writing and posting your story. 

As a (former) editor, writer, journalist I am finding it will written, especially as a 'period' (historical era) piece, with few grammar, spelling, punctuation or context errors. One thing I will suggest is that if English is not your native (first) language, that your turn off 'Predictive Spelling' 'Spell Check' and even 'Grammarly' as they are not foolproof. If you chose to use them (or similar Apps), choose settings that allow them to 'suggest' changes (usually highlighted) but not automatically make changes. Finally, just continue to proofread before posting (and listen to the little voice in your head that tells you when something doesn't seem right. That instinct is usually correct).

If I run across anything I will let you know, (if there's a lot, I would notify you by DM rather than 'broadcast' to the wider audience).

Tony (Anton)

Edited by Anton_Cloche
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Hello @Anton_Cloche :)

Thank you so much for your positive and constructive comments! I'm definitely going to continue publishing it, be assured of it.

Concerning the historical accuracies, I find your comments really interesting, I mean I wasn't sure about some things when I was writing it, so I'm glad to have your opinion :) And about the writing itself, I do use grammarly, and it only suggests changes which I do not accept all the time. Also, I keep proofreading every time before I publish to avoid small and stupid mistakes like spelling.

It's really nice of you anyway to be willing to let me know about potential things which wouldn't be right, so thank you :)

Chapter 11 should be approved soon to be read.

LittleCherryBlossom26

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Please continue writing.  Your editing skills are good enough at present. I not only understand clearly what you are saying, but also do not feel the story flow is affected by your use of grammar and writing conventions.  Maybe if you focused on finding a beta for your story, it might be more successful for you.  I definitely encourage you to continue. If you have not already discovered this blog, check out Writing World here on GA.  The Writing Hints found in the Writing World have some excellent suggestions for how to improve your writing, ie. flow, characterisations and settings amongst the many topics there.  

As for writing a historical piece, Headstall is one of the best writers.  I know that he spends a great deal of time researching not only historical facts, but things needed to accurately place the reader in the setting and characters dialogues.  It make his stories much more alive and authentic.  

Edited by raven1
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2 hours ago, raven1 said:

Please continue writing.  Your editing skills are good enough at present. I not only understand clearly what you are saying, but also do not feel the story flow is affected by your use of grammar and writing conventions.  Maybe if you focused on finding a beta for your story, it might be more successful for you.  I definitely encourage you to continue. If you have not already discovered this blog, check out Writing World here on GA.  The Writing Hints found in the Writing World have some excellent suggestions for how to improve your writing, ie. flow, characterisations and settings amongst the many topics there.  

As for writing a historical piece, Headstall is one of the best writers.  I know that he spends a great deal of time researching not only historical facts, but things needed to accurately place the reader in the setting and characters dialogues.  It make his stories much more alive and authentic.  

An example of editing your work? I missed a word that totally changed what I wanted to say.  I had to edit to place the missing "not" in the sentence.😊

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I’m glad you continue the story I’m looking forward to reading it. Do you have a flare but not many have. As far as anything you’re doing a pretty good job take care.

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