The front line

Emma is spending the summer at her grandparents. What was supposed to be a boring day turns out to be the journey to her past. She travels in time through a series of notebooks belonging to A. Parke and C. Rexach whom lived during World War 1. What will she encounter in her journey back in time?

That's up to you to find out...



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6. Grandma's End

      Nana never finished reading us the story that day. She died of a heart attack at night. It took me many years to find the notebooks of Alexandre Parke and Cathryn Rexach. The story was then shifted to my Grandmother's only living sister, Virginia. She lived in a small cottage at the Eastern side of Lyon, France. She recieved me on my Senior year of High School, with tea and cookies. "Well, I believe you want to continue hearing about the story." she said, in a sof t voice. I nodded. "Let's see were Rosalie left off shall we, she always left the suspense. Did she tell you about October 1917?" I shook my head. "Very well, we start there, then." And she did. 

  "Alexandre Parke was kidnapped in late October by German soldiers near Verdun. He was tortured into telling the plans of his side. But as the young man that he was, he didn't share a wink. Ultimately, by the ears of a German soldier in the pub where Cathryn worked, they heard from a drunked French man that if they wanted answers from the Colonel, they had to take her. Three days later, she was in the adjoining cell to his, being tortured. "Let her go! She knows nothing! Let her go, you filthy Germans!" Alexandre screamed. In the morning, she was brought to the same cell he was in. She was all scarred, and smelled like liqueur. "If you want her to survive, one of the Germans said, you better speak" The fiddled with her dress. Cathryn shut her eyes and began to pray the Holy Mary. Alexandre tried to get rid of the chains, but they just held her tighter.

    "The Germans undid her dress and began groping her. "Stop! I'll speak!" Alexandre yelled. The Germans let go of her. "Speak then, you filthy Brit." They spat on him. "Blow the wind, blow; Swift and low, Blow the wind o'er the ocean. Breakers rolling to the coastline; Bringing ships to harbor; Gulls against the morning sunlight; Flying off to freedom!" He sang in French. The Germans left both of them on the cell, unchaining them. Later that night, Alexandre held her close to him. "They'll kill you! You gave away information!" She shrieked against his chest. "I gave away nothing, a lullaby, love. They'll never figure it out. It's a wife's tale." He said, holding her close. He began to humm a soft tune. "Sleep child on my bosom Cozy and warm this is; Mother's arms are tight around you, Mother's love is under my breast; Nothing may affect your napping, No man will cross you; Sleep quietly, dear child, Sleep sweetly on your mother's breast. Sleep quietly, tonight, sleep; Sleep sweetly, the pretty of his picture; Why are you now smiling, Smiling softly in your sleep? Are angels above smiling, On you smiling joyfully, You smiling back in sleeping, Sleeping quietly on my breast? Do not fear, nothing but a leaf Knocks, knocks on the door; Do not fear a small lonely wave Murmurs, murmurs on the sea shore; Sleep child, there's nothing here Nothing to give you a fright; Smile quietly in my bosom, On the angels white yonder." He sang to her until she fell asleep. 

   Great-aunt Virginia let me stay at her home until Spring. She let me see the notebooks her sister had given her prior her  death. For the remaining time in Lyon I read that Alexandre and Cathryn were rescued days later in the cell by American soldiers. Cathryn was returned to Verdun after being treated in the trench, never being out of Alexandre's sight, considering she was the first woman to visit the trench. By Summer, I had read all the records of November and part of December 1917. On the celebrations of the 4th of July, I read the occurences of December 24th, 1917. 

  Journal of A. Parke

December 24th, 1917

 

   I went to visit Cathryn today. She sat in one of the corners of the pub, sewing. She wore a beautiful navy blue dress and flowers adorned her hair. "What is it that you sew, love?" I asked when I sat next to her. " Christmas present, Colonel. What brings you here, in such a frightful state?" She mocked. Before I could reply she began to sing. " Douce nuit, sainte nuit! Tout est calme, tout est lumineux. Round yon Vierge, Mère et enfant Enfant Jésus si tendre et si doux, Dors en paix céleste, Dors en paix céleste." She couldn't finish her carol because Jossette sat on my lap and kissed my cheek. "Now your turn to kiss Cathryn, go on Alexandre! I know you want to." She said. Cathryn kept sewing as if nothing happened. Jossette left us alone and went to pour more liqueur to a French man. "Joyeux Noël, Alexandre, Joyeux Noël." And she kissed me.

 

   From there on, the story got a bit mushy. They kept seeing each other and kept a romantic relationship. Throughout the beginning of 1918, they barely spoke in letters, they barely spoke at all. This would continue on for a while, because the reading became slightly boring. 

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