Author: Felix0Felicis PM
Alexandra Richter died on April 1st, 2012 at seventeen years of age. Except she did not pass onto death. Instead, she woke up - only it was 1941, World War 2 was in full swing, and she was now living the midst of Nazi Germany...Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,786 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 07-10-12 - Published: 07-04-12 - id: 3038667
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Who was I? I had lived for eighty years, and I still had no answer to the eternal question.
As my chest tightened painfully, I knew the end was near. And in my last moments, I pondered the question again. I was two people - torn from one world, carelessly placed into another. The Fates must have despised me. I imagined that they laughed while I tried to piece together the broken fragments of my lives, while I tried to endure what had been given to me.
I never divulged my tale – who would believe me if I had? Death was drawing near. I had to know.
I was born on the 1st of December 1994 in Darmstadt, Germany. My name was Alexandra Richter.
I was the eldest daughter of Helga and Martin; Helga was an accountant, Martin was a tiler. We were a middle-class family who lived in a comfortable home in the city of my birth. I grew up indulged, Dad would always say: "Do well in school, and you can be anything!" As I grew I realized it wasn't that simple, but I would adhere fiercely to my father's words regardless.
I did well academically, excelling in reading, writing and history. My inspiration was Angela Merkel – Germany's first female Chancellor, arguably the world's most powerful woman as the de facto leader of the European Union. I wanted to be like her. When I was eleven, in my school report my teacher had called me "A politician in the making". It was the best compliment I had ever received.
I drew and read books. I had a best friend named Leonie and a cat named Mitzi. I played centre midfield on my school's soccer team. I studied and revised late into the nights. I worked at the local coffee shop.
That was my life. Dull and simple, but it was what I knew. Explain to me why I had to be torn from it!
April 1st, 2012 marked the end. It was an unusually warm afternoon while I was walking home from school. I was carrying three history textbooks home; I had an essay on European history to write that night. I saw my house across the road, and eager to relive myself of the weight I had been carrying, I hurried across it. I didn't see the truck speeding towards me – neither did its driver. I remember hearing somebody scream my name in the distance – but my world had already gone black. Alexandra Richter was dead at seventeen years of age.
What a shame, she had her whole life ahead of her!
Only I knew what really happened.
"Oh, Frieda! You're awake!" cried an unfamiliar woman's voice. I felt a soft hand stroke my cheek and lips press against my forehead. I slowly opened my eyes, blinking rapidly against the harsh light that hung overhead.
The first thing my eyes laid upon was a middle-aged couple. The man had chestnut coloured hair and wire-rimmed spectacles; his arm was slung across the woman's shoulder. The woman's hair was a perfectly coiffed blonde, her lips coated lightly in red. She reached an arm out to me and I flinched away from the unfamiliar touch.
"Frieda - It's me, your mother," she smiled.
"I'm not Frieda. You're not my mother. I don't know you."
Both the man and woman looked fearful. The woman reached out again. "Frieda, meine herzchen -"
"Stop, please! I'm not your daughter, why don't you understand?"
The woman had tears in her eyes. The man looked heartbroken. "Doctor?"
"This is normal for sufferers of head trauma, Fräu Diermissen. It is not uncommon for them to experience temporary memory loss and disorientation." It was only when the doctor spoke that I became aware that I was lying in a hospital bed. I clutched the thin blanket closer to my body as I gazed around the room – it looked nothing like the hospitals I had ever been to. It was a large room, filled with beds on both sides. No curtains or rooms to divide the patients, no televisions hanging from the ceilings, no beeping heart monitors. What was I doing in this archaic hospital ward?
"Where am I?" I asked quietly.
"You're in Frankfurt Public Hospital," replied the doctor kindly. My mouth dropped open – this was not what I knew Frankfurt Public Hospital looked like. "Your name is Elfriede Diermissen. You were hit by a car and brought here immediately, you've been in comatose for two weeks –"
"I'm not Elfriede Diermissen! You have the wrong person! My name is Alexandra – "
"Where do you live, Fräulein Diermissen? Do you remember?"
"How does she remember Darmstadt but not who she is?" demanded Fräu Diermissen's husband. It was the first time he had spoken. His expression conveyed utter despair and loss. I almost felt pity for him.
"I don't know," sighed the doctor, "what the brain forgets after severe head trauma isn't selective. The impact such injuries have vary from person to person."
"How long will it take for her memory to return?"
"A few weeks, I'm guessing. It's best if you take her home and try to put her back in her normal routine, it should help her retrieve those suppressed memories."
The man and the woman nodded solemnly. The woman reached over and stroked my hair. "It's alright, Frieda. We'll take you home and you'll feel better," she smiled.
"GET AWAY FROM ME! STOP CALLING ME FRIEDA, I'M NOT FRIEDA! I'M NOT! PLEASE, I'M NOT FRIEDA – "
Something sharp was stabbed into my arm. Darkness took over.
I woke up again, but this time it was someplace new. A spacious bedroom – a large wardrobe dominated one wall, books were crammed onto the shelf of another. A wide window looked out onto a garden through which I could see a blue sky streaked with pink – dawn. I pulled off the blankets someone had neatly tucked me into and stepped out onto the cold, wooden floor.
A dull ache pounded against the back of my skull and a sweeping vertigo took hold of me. I placed a hand against the wall to steady myself, noticing I was dressed in a long, white nightgown. A framed photograph hung on the wall and I stood on my toes to get a better look at it. It was a black and white picture, with a mountain as the backdrop. I quickly found myself in the picture, dressed in a long coat whose hem stopped just above my ankles, thick tights and black mary-janes. What was I doing dressed in early twentieth century attire?
Two people had their arms around me. It was the man and woman from the hospital who had kept calling me Frieda! Was this their house? I began to panic. Who were these people? Were they part of some sick cult who kidnapped teenagers and dressed as if it were still the nineteen thirties? I threw open the door and began to run, stumbling down a polished mahogany staircase, then through another door. I found myself in a dining room where a long table dominated the room. A used coffee mug lay on the polished table-top, as well as a folded newspaper. For some reason, I swiped the newspaper off the table and tucked it under my arm before I continued running.
I finally located the front door and burst through it, eager to get away from my captives. I'd find someone with a mobile phone, call the police, and have these lunatics arrested. I'd be back with Mum and Dad before the sun rose.
"Frieda!" called somebody. I ignored them and continued running, my nightdress billowing in my wake. I wasn't Frieda! "Frieda, what are you doing?" shouted a scared-sounding male voice. I felt strong arms wrap around my waist, then I was lifted off the ground.
"Put me down! Put me down right now!" I shouted. I pulled at his hair, I hit him across the face, I kicked his stomach, but he refused to relinquish his hold. He was taking me back into the house I had just run out of. It was large – I guessed the family was upper middle class or lower high class. There was an old-fashioned wrap-around porch, with an immaculate front-garden preceding the grand home; a tall oak tree presided over the estate.
The young man ignored my attempts at freedom and climbed the porch stairs, setting me down on a cushioned bench.
"Please, Frieda. Keine Angst," he said softly. Do not be afraid? How could I not? He kneeled down before me and took my hand. "Frieda, it's me, Elias. Elias Reinhardt. Don't you remember me?" his tone was pleading, his hazel eyes sad. He had honey coloured hair and cheekbones that were high and aristocratic; aflame with pink. I shook my head and removed my hand from his grasp.
He bowed his head. "I'm sorry, Frieda. I was stupid to think you would." I made a move to get up, but he stopped me. "Wait, please. I want to try and explain things to you. Just say here for a few minutes, please?"
I reluctantly nodded. Something about his pleading tone made me acquiesce. He smiled gratefully and ran off into a house across the street. I was now left alone. I took the opportunity to glance at the newspaper I had stolen. I unfurled it slowly – my heart almost stopped when I read the date: "April 18th, 1941"
"No!" I found myself gasping. It couldn't possibly be 1941. No, of course it wasn't – perhaps this family collected old newspapers for archival purposes? Yes, that must be it. But it was in pristine condition!
I glanced down at the headlining article: "YUGOSLAVIA BRUSHED ASIDE – PATH TO GREECE CLEAR"
I suddenly became conscious of the fact that my hands were shaking. As if on cue, two uniformed soldiers crossed the road and began up the footpath, pointing at something in the distance and deliberating loudly.
Their conversation permeated my existential state of shock: "No, I'm sure we're going in the right direction. Look, I see the top of the Ludwigsäule!"
"Ludwigsäule," I breathed. It was a column in the centre of Darmstadt's main square, commemorating Ludwig I, first Grand Duke of Hesse. How many times had I gazed up at the column while walking through the city centre with my friends? The soldiers did not see me and continued walking. They were dressed in brown, a swastika was proudly emblazoned on their red arm-bands.
I breathed in sharply. In the Germany I knew, the swastika was banned. No one would dare wear such a thing in public!
Things became apparent. My brain scrambled for explanation, logic, and reason. I needed to make sense of the situation.
Apparently, this was Germany in 1941. World War 2 was in full-swing. I had somehow come to usurp the life of Frieda Diermissen– how exactly, I was not sure. Did this mean the real Frieda was living in the place of Alexandra Richter? I sincerely hoped not. Was I Frieda in some sort of obscure parallel universe, or had I actually gone back into history? I had no idea which I preferred. But how could this have possibly happened? It was not even humanely possible! Time-travel was not supposed to exist outside the realm of fantastical novels or science fiction! I breathed in slowly, closing my eyes. I decided to wait for Elias to return – he was the only thing that promised answers.
Elias returned five minutes later. He ran out of his house carrying a blanket, a cup of tea, and a thick wad of photographs. He draped the blanket over my shoulders and pushed the tea into my hands.
"Peppermint tea with one spoon of honey – it's your favourite."
"Danke," I said with a small smile. He was right, it was my favourite – but how did he know?
"Look, Frieda," Elias said, showing me a photograph. Two small children were in the photograph, I recognized my smiling self – light brown hair plaited in two and standing beside a lake.
"Is that you?" I asked, pointing to the blonde boy beside me.
He nodded fervently. "Turn it over."
'Frieda und Elias - Bayern, 1933' was what was written in a neat, cursive script.
"Why were we in Bavaria?"
"Our families go there once every year in the autumn. We rent this lodge right by the mountains and this magnificent lake. You always used to cry when we had to go home."
"Oh… so are you a cousin of mine or something?"
"No, a close family friend," he said, but his tone was clipped. "We're neighbours," Elias added, gesturing to his home across the road. I nodded in understanding.
He showed me another picture. I was alone this time, dressed in a neat uniform and standing before an elaborate mansion.
"That's you in front of your boarding school in Austria," he explained. "It was very expensive, but you managed to get in on a scholarship. You always used to talk about how you wanted to be a lawyer or a politician – but it was Weimar Germany then, and things are of course… different now," Elias said. Weimar Germany had offered a few years of progress in terms of gender quality, but the Nazis were quick to rectify this, forcing women back into their repressed roles – "Take hold of kettle, broom and pan / Then you'll surely get a man!/ Shop and office leave alone, your true life work lies at home." I scowled involuntarily.
"You learnt to speak French and English. Do you remember?"
I nodded. French and English I had learnt back in my own time. My English was good, but my French was another story. I could read and comprehend the language, but my pronunciation was horrific – that's what my French teacher used to say, wincing as she made me recite passages to the class. My harsh German tongue refused to give way to the soft, drawn out vowels and delicate intonations that the French language demanded.
Elias pressed the rest of the photographs into my hand as well as a bundle of letters. "Take them. It might help you remember," he told me. We sat in silence for a few moments. "Right there is where it happened," said Elias, pointing to the road in front of us. I didn't want him to elaborate, but he did anyway. "I saw the whole thing. You were walking across the road, carrying a heavy book you'd brought from the library," began Elias. I marvelled at the parallels. "I saw the truck coming, I tried shouting your name – but it was too late. The truck lifted you off your feet – you looked like weightless little doll – and then your head hit the car roof and you went straight through the windshield. Your parents were in hysterics, all the neighbours came out yelling 'is she dead?'" Elias shook his head. "Herr Krause came running up the street – he's a doctor – he was taking bits of glass out of your head and wrapping your head in cloth. They took you to the hospital in Frankfurt – "
"And now I can't remember a thing," I finished, with a bitter smile.
Elias shrugged. "I'm sure it'll all come back to you."
An hour later, my 'mother' had run out of the house, shrieking that I had to return inside immediately – I was fragile and needed rest. Elias apologized profusely and told me he'd come see me soon. I had come to like Elias Reinhardt, he was gentle and patient, and had a protective air about him. I decided he would be a valuable asset if I was to seamlessly assimilate into this era without arousing too much suspicion. I was reluctant to shed Alexandra Richter and assume the life of Frieda Diermissen – it seemed wrong, and I was unwilling to let go of the identity I had held for the past seventeen years.
Who even was Frieda Diermissen? Was I really her? I decided I would do some investigating later on.
Frieda's mother confined me to my bed, and there I lay. I drifted off into a light sleep, my last thoughts being pleas that I would wake up, and it would be 2012, and that this entire Frieda business would be some bizarre dream my mind had conjured.
I woke briefly to find Frieda's father stroking my hair. He looked down at his memory-less daughter with sad eyes.
"Where is meine Frieda? Where have you gone?"
"I'm still here," I found myself saying.
So this is my latest project! If you enjoyed it, or have a comment to make, please leave me a review as I'd love to hear your thoughts.
This story will be historically accurate; however I have on purpose tweaked a few very minor things in the name of 'creative licenses'. If you do notice any sort of inaccuracies though, please let me know - especially ones regarding the German language, since I don't speak it.
Meine herzchen = my little heart (affectionate pet name)
Fräu = Mrs
Fräulein = Miss/ Ms – unmarried woman. Not officially used in modern Germany.
Herr = Mr/ Sir
Keine Angst = Do not be afraid
Danke = thank you
Und = and
Meine = my