He looked away and she could tell by the look on his face she had made an impression on him. “I’m old enough to be your mother; I have son older than you.”
He fixed his gaze on her again, looking her up and down, breathing hard.
“Why you choose me? You could have… any girl.”
He stood looking at her for a moment. “Because you are so beautiful.” He said.
He said it with so much passion that it made her feel strange. She had longed to hear those words spoken with that much passion from her husband when he was alive. He had told her she was beautiful a number of times, but not with the same passion as when they were dating or newly married. As the years went by, he said it less and with very little passion. The intensity of emotion from this young man in front of her, this boy, this confused child, moved her deeply.
“You will get caught for this, sure of it.” She said.
He looked down again and considered walking away, but she looked so beautiful in the light of the oil lamp he couldn’t bear to leave.
She closed her eyes. She missed her husband and sons so much, and here was this boy, this young man who looked like her oldest son and talked to her like her husband did when they were courting. This boy with the hungry, longing eyes thought she was the most attractive girl around.
Suddenly, like a dam breaking, she burst into tears. The terror of the past year, the sadness of her husband’s death, and the powerful emotion of hearing those wonderful words he had just spoken-words she had missed for so long- all climaxed into a torrent of emotion. She was no longer afraid of him.
She realized he was a child, not an enraged madman bent on rape and pillage. She sobbed uncontrollably, like when she was a child. It took a moment to regain her composure and catch her breath.
“Put your gun down, now!” she said as harshly as when she scolded her son, but still crying.
He stood motionless for a moment, moved by her tears. Slowly he turned the gun upside down and lowered it gently to the floor holding only the fabric strap, then letting go of it completely.
“I’m sorry, stop crying, I won’t hurt you.” He said.
He moved towards her, but she was not afraid. To her surprise he wrapped his arms around her and talked gently to her, trying to stop her crying. She felt his big hands on her back. She tried to push him away, but he didn’t let her go.
She pushed him harder, but he squeezed her more firmly. She felt embarrassed, but this hug, this display of affection was what she had desperately needed for a long time. She pushed again, but did not want him to let her go.
They stood there together, two lonely people in a world of destruction and sadness, finding hope and comfort.
She smiled, thinking about this young man choosing her, when he could have chosen a much younger girl. Now she remembered he had opened a door for her in the municipal building a day or two ago. She remembered him because he had stared at her and she felt surprised and uncomfortable that he showed her so much attention.
“How long you in Berlin?” she asked. “I don’t know, probably a long time.” He replied. She desperately wanted to wrap her arms around him and hug back, but was afraid it would make her look unladylike.
They stood there that way for a long time.
After that evening, neither of them felt so bleak, so hopeless. Now there seemed to be something to live for, something worth fighting for, happiness instead of despair.