FEAR TO LOVE -Prologue

With trembling hands, Meredith opened the letter and catch her breath.

Dear Meredith,

Hi, I hope with all my heart that this letter will reach you. The fellows say it should take 3 months to reach you. So I suppose I'll have to wait until December to get your answer. I guess you're impatient to know how and where I am, so I'll tell you right away.

As you know, that ugly train conductor left me in B------. I wandered to the suburbs and entered a depilated house hopping to find shelter for the night.. There I found myself exactly in front of a German soldier. I froze; so did he. I collected my wits in a second and sprinted out and huddled behind a car. I started to crawl from there, afraid of being followed. I saw a pile of rubbish and headed to it. I had just left a covered place and ran to it when it came to my head that that was probably an improvised hide out! I stopped in my tracks scared stiff and almost frightened to death. I soon saw a riffle, peeking over the edge. I panicked and flung myself to the ground, hollering:

"I'm not armed! Don't shoot!"

A cry answered from the pile in English:

"Duck! Stay low, try to crawl fast this way!"

Right after, a volley of shots rang. I screamed in real terror and moved by sheer will-power. I tumbled in the midst of rude-looking American soldiers. They glared at me asking me questions and questions. I was scare stricken and my mouth wouldn't work. I just stared at them trembling.

"Don't you know English?" They finally asked impatiently

"Don't…shoot… me- I managed to stutter." Then, a kind face appeared, it was blood smudged, but he looked very alive. He made the others be quiet and passed me a candy, assuring:

"No one will kill you, o.k.? Now tell me; did you see any Germans?"

"Yes"

"Where?"

I pointed to the house. One of the men started to signal to another on top of a building. The one up there answered slowly, then he looked beyond us and began to signal something urgently. I watched dismayed at his wild gestures trying to understand. The captain-looking person whispered what it meant

"He sees…more than 30 armed…and 1 tank…just beyond us!" He shouted as he turned his riffle to the other side, almost at once, a rain of bullets fell, showering deadly among the men. We all scrambled to the other side of the rubbish pile. I saw, in the middle of the hurrying, each of the men taking a hurt companion on and heaved him to the other side. I held a groaning soldier and pulled him over with me. How didn't I get shot? Good question. I don't know.

The one in the building shot all he could yet, there were too many Germans. The kind- looking guy was doctoring the hurt.

I wanted to help in something. I was afraid I'd caused all this.

"What do I do?" I said over the noise. Then something flew and bounced on my lap.

"Flung it back!" They all roared their eyes nearly popping out.

I took it and flung it as far and back as I could. One of them peeked and screamed

"Cover!" They all crouched low and I fell face-down. Somebody fell on top of me. I felt rough hands on my ears. A tremendous explosion followed and a cloud of dust and debris covered us. It had barely passed when all of them rose and picked guns and strips of ammunitions and ran into the smoke. One of them clapped a helmet on my head and told me to pick a gun. I picked one and trudged with it after him. The helmet kept slipping off; I had to hold it with one hand, the gun with the other and managed to run without tripping on my skirts and high heels. They entered into some ruins and tried to get organized. Two men had died and everybody was grave and angry. The doctor covered them and finished with the others. Meanwhile I was trying to tie the helmet on my head but I couldn't find the buckle. I motioned for a soldier to tell me how and he tied it without a word. The captain began then to give instructions. He finally turned to me.

"Do you know how to shoot?"

"I've never even touched a gun before." I answered shyly.

"I'll teach you. You aim and pull the trigger. It's easy. I want you to stay here and not let anyone get near the building the sniper's in. Got it? Good! Don't let anyone shoot you!" he finished and ran out.

"What?"