A man and boy live together in the country side of World War Two Germany.
And so life began again...
A man sat by his small dinning table, only the size of an unraveled packing box, and starred out the window the whole morning long. It rained all morning, as it had been yesterday, and he watched a little green caterpillar keep dry on the window sill. He sat on an old creaky chair with his head resting in his hand, and his elbow getting poked by an old splinter extending out of the cherry wood. As he began to fall asleep to the pitter patter of the rain gently falling on the glass, he heard a muffled scratching on his door not too far away, as he lived in a one room cottage. Thumping his knee into his bed, than another stool next to his boot drying on the side, he made his way to his door as his joints cracked. He held his ear against the red plastic and rested his hand on the golden knob. He grunted, thinking a stray cat had come to steal what was left of his dinner. “Be still, stupid animal.“ He spat and leaned his back against the wall, crossing his arms and listening even more intensely. The scratching wouldn’t stop on the tired man’s door, until he had enough with the painful noise. There lay a thin little boy before his feet when he swung his door open. The tired man almost overlooked him as his doormat, but was startled when he saw a frail arm slowly fall. The boy was wet and dirty, and was breathing heavily as if he had been running. He had collapsed on the concrete step and stared up at the man with loneliness in his eyes. The tired man didn’t know exactly what he was in the rainy darkness, and began to fear that his eyes were blurring way too soon. “I’m sorry.“ The little boy breathed, curling his hand, which then man realized was bleeding, under his large dark red overcoat. It was much too big for his small frame, and was soaking. “I’m sorry,“ he repeated “But you wouldn’t have anything to eat?“ The man grunted and squinted on the little bag of bones laying helpless on the step. He grunted again, a habit of his, and thought to himself selfishly he had nothing to give the little boy. Give him your oatmeal from yesterday said a voice in his mind, whom he said was God. The tired old man didn’t pity the boy, and thought he was an eyesore lying like a gray carcass by his feet, but he feared the little voice in his head. “Get out when the rain stops.“ He growled, straightening his eyebrows as he let the door hang open, but didn’t let the golden haired boy inside. The boy collapsed on his own weight, waiting for the tired man to come back, and wondering if he would at all.
The little boy ended up sleeping on the doorstep that night, and the tired old man was just as weary and cantankerous as the day before. Before he went out into town, he suspected the little boy had gone and went on his own way, but as he began to slip his arms through the sleeves of his olive tinted coat, he saw the boy sitting on his overcoat. He looked back at the man with the empty bowl of oatmeal still at his side from yesterday. The man rolled his eyes and passed him by, stepping over his little feet in back and brown shoes. Far behind the little boy sneezed as the man was halfway through his garden, golden and peaceful. He turned and ogled at him for a moment or two, his eyes narrowed, trying to keep the new sunlight from totally blinding him. That little sneeze sounded so odd too him, and innocent. “Bless you, boy...“ he said reluctantly, still staring at him after. The little boy twiddled his thumbs and no longer felt so rude to intrude on this poor gentleman who just wanted to be left alone. The little boy was relieved that the man had enough care in him to bless him, and smiled faintly as he began to stand.
He followed the man along a dirt road, walking stiffly and solemnly as he picked different colored wildflowers. He had trouble keeping up with the man as he took long strides across the dirt road, for he was trying to get rid of the little child. He almost slammed the door on him before they came to a small shop that sold pipes, tobacco, and cigars. The shop was brown and unpainted, and made everything look dreary and unfriendly. It contradicted the beautiful and radiant colors of nature outside. A man with a crooked pair of spectacles sat at a little counter painted green with blue Chinese letters, which fell into a vertical line at the side dangling next to a swirling bush of painted flowers. A few rays of powdered blue light fell on his nose. He skimmed a crisp copy of Micheal behind the desk; as if looking childishly for illustrations. The tired man wondered around the small room and took down many cans of tobacco to read their labels. He past a slightly cracked frame of who he was trained to respect on a little self beside many white pipes and a ripped stuffed bear left behind from a customer’s daughter. Pass him by this time supposedly said God, but the tired man was afraid of what the store clerk would think of him if he passed by even an image of the furher. He casually threw his arm over his shoulder, but noticed the boy’s arm was keeping still. “Seig hiel, boy.“ The man hissed, but the little boy didn’t want to raise his arm. He didn’t know why he would, and he was disturbed by the vile and cold eyes that pierced the photograph. “Seig hiel, boy!“ He became inpatient, but didn’t know why he cared. The store clerk peered over his spectacles at the little boy, an eyebrow raised. “Why should I?“ said the boy quietly. His cheeks flushed when the two of them just stared in disgust, and especially the clerk eyed him intensely.
The little boy felt ashamed following the man out. He also felt foolish about thinking that he had found a friend; he thought he knew he would never find a friend again. He began to regret running away from home. The tired man let the boy sleep on the step for three days, but didn’t like that he didn’t play by the rules, and the laws. He didn’t give the boy anything to eat, for he had nothing himself but tea, which he let the little boy sip on. The little boy sat alone on the step all through those days, and usually played with a rock and twig. As empty as he was, he still never left the tired man’s cottage. The man sat by the window again one morning, as golden as the rest of them, and sipped on what was left of the tea. He was worried about what was happening with the war, his wireless hadn’t worked in days, and he hadn’t read a newspaper in ages. Nothing gets news in the country side, he thought. His worries were interrupted by a small giggle from outside, but he ignored it for a while longer. Would it hurt to go see? Supposedly said God. The tired man turned his head, walked to his entrance, and opened the door just a crack. There he saw the little boy chasing after a white butterfly in the waving golden fields outside. He moved gently and spun with the little butterfly, which was almost invisible to him due to the distance. The little boy laughed with it as it landed on his nose, and continued to flutter. The tired man was surprised that he wasn’t really chasing it and batting at it with his fists. He remembered when he was that young, he used to pull the wings off of insects. He used to dip spiders in pools of gasoline to watch them die slowly. He would watch his brother and kid sister catch mice in the fields all those years ago, and would later get their necks snapped from too much rough housing. The man scratched his ankle with his shoe as he watched this small little human play with a vulnerable creature so peacefully. Even the man had the temptation now to catch it. He thought as he walked slowly towards the little boy, thinking that it takes a truly gentle creature to act as he was. “What are you doing?“ he asked softly, restring his hands on his knees as the little boy stood, bewildered.
Days turned into weeks in the summer, and he and the little boy often sat and watched fireflies flutter about at night. The man sat on the step, which he had made into a little bed for the boy, and watched him slowly trot about. He ran towards every little green and red spark that floated in the summer waves of grass. His feet rustled in it and added to the peaceful sound of crickets chirping and the soft wind. He called the man over, and showed him how to catch a firefly. Once he caught one, it began to crawl out of his hand and glow a bright green at the sight of him. His heart guilty but fluttering, he let the little creature crawl onto his finger and rest under the stars. Weeks turned into months and the man and little boy went into a far away town more often to shop and such. Many framed of the Furher were on shelves, in the window, and propaganda posters hung over every wall and power line pole. The man raised his arm to every frame, and the little boy tried to hopelessly. He didn’t know what it meant, and he didn’t want to waste the energy or the respect he could be giving other things. The tired man noticed he didn’t want to do it. He’s just a child supposedly said God, so the man took him on the side of a small store. The boy gulped and felt a pain in his stomach, fearing he was in trouble. He became weak in the knees when the man bent down. “I’ll be the one raising my arm,“ he said “You don’t have to anymore, you get it now, don’t you?“
And so months turned into a year with the little boy. The tired man made special breakfast for him every morning and the man ate the leftovers. The little boy was ordered to sleep in the man’s bed, as he would be the one sleeping on the door step which as much too big for him. He played catch with the boy, making a ball out of the only newspaper he got all year; he never wanted to read how the war was turning out anyway. He bought the boy ice cream and things that he never thought he had the heart to buy for anybody. The little boy loved him, he even said it so often when he was tucked in for bed. “I love you“, “Love ya“, “Love you, see you tomorrow“, were things the little boy often said. He didn’t know how much he disappointed the fragile little boy when all he heard back was a faint “Mmhm.“ In the first new days of spring he sent the little boy to buy him tobacco at the little store again. He felt too weak today to walk anywhere, and he trusted that the boy knew his way around by now. “I’ll be back, I love you.“ He sang. The tired man smiled and leaned on the golden knob of the door. I love you too supposedly said God as the man placed a cap on his head. Looking at the grey storm clouds above as he skipped down the road, the tired man hoped the little boy would make it back in time before the rain. He made it in the little tobacco store before the drizzle and slammed the door behind him, surprisingly not scaring the clerk. The store clerk had new eyeglass frames, large and square, and had grown a small beard. He had a little American pistol by his arm because of the few but previous robberies he had to endure. He was reading the last pages of Micheal, obviously almost brought to tears by whatever night have been happening. The little boy starred at him as he blindly picked up a mustard yellow tin of pipe tobacco. He caught sight of the frame of the furher, in a different more obvious looking place than last time, and the clerk caught sight of him. The boy passed the frame by like the cans he wasn’t planning on looking at. The clerk eyed him from across the room. “Seig hiel, boy.“ He sneered. The little boy jumped. He looked at the frame, just as he had before, and still saw nothing special about it. It wasn’t fair anyway he thought, the man said he didn’t have to raise his arm for anyone. “Boy, respect please.“ “But he can’t see me.“ Gently protested the boy, as he smiled in a friendly matter. He didn’t see the clerk stroking his pistol beside his arm. “Boy,“ he growled. “It would be wise.“
The man never saw the boy again after that day. He never knew what happened to the boy, his friend, his son. The clerk left his tobacco shop to, and took the frame and his pistol with him along with other things. The boy is dead supposedly said God when a week had past as the tired man sat by his table again, he could feel it in his heart. It is too late to cry, he thought, it wasn’t so bad being lonely, was it? At least the little boy was there for a brief time, like all people are. At least he was there with him long enough for it to matter, long enough for both of them to learn. He was thankful that the gentle little boy even got to live as we all do, for a little while, and life would move along. The man sat by his window at his dining table, the size of an unraveled packing box, and starred out the window the whole morning long. It rained all morning, as it had been for days, and he watched a little green caterpillar keep dry on the window sill. He watched it try to climb on to a drenched leaf above, and he moved his stool aside to go out into the rain, and helped the little caterpillar inside.
And so life went on...