Mein lieber Anna,
What do you think of fear?
The old man from across the street, Herr Eckert, told me he once had come to know the greatest fear known to man face-to-face. He said it felt horrible, the tingling that runs through body, from your gut going, the quick pulse.. and the hopelessness. He told me every person feared losing his own life.
But do i agree with that? Am i fearful of death? I imagine death as nothingness. No you, no me, no anyone. And that is practically what I’m experiencing now. Do i fear death?
Mein lieber Anna,
Let me tell you a story.
There was once a man drafted by the government to be a soldier. He was sent North Sea and became one of the top ranking officials of the navy.
The man was clearly more clever than we thought Anna. Because he knows English, he was able to secretly send messages to the British spies. They had prepared codes for their secret communication.
The simplest way they do it is this:
If you can solve this, I’ll tell you the rest of the story.
Mein lieber Anna,
You know what, I hate it every time I see a doctor, and although Herr Doktor Tenma is one of them…. I just hate them. I hate it more when I see a psychologist. I was there, at the guidance office today. I was being interrogated about the missing boy in my class.
"Ma’am, since we’re alone here, let me ask you a question."
"I’m the one asking questions here. Where is Leopold?"
"Did you know you killed Leopold?"
Frau Kiersch’s eyebrows twitched.
"What did you say?"
"You killed him ma’am. The last time he went to this very office… he was really down. And you added fuel to the fire consuming him, labeling him maladjusted and a threat to your pupils. Tell me ma’am. Do you always do that to your clients?"
"Whatever he said to you was wrong. I just wanted to help Leopold"
"By torturing his mind?"
"But you tortured him"
"i don’t know what you’re saying Herr Liebert"
"Of course you sort of people do a lot of this to control how people think. You make Leo realize how helpless he was. You drained the hope in him"
"He would have been alive today if didn’t say those words… what was that again… an imbecilic cry baby?”
"You… how… Where’s Leopold?"
"You know where Leopold is. You advised him where to go"
"Me… How am I supposed to know… What?… He did that?"
Frau Kirsch stopped short.
"That’s right. It’s so subtle, but his is a mind that can read between the lines. You were ashamed of him, because he puts a stain on your Ph.D. diploma. A bright young boy that you can’t help. And you say you’re a child psychologist?"
"I… just wanted to help"
"Yes, you helped him. You helped him end his miseries."
"Johan, how did you know?"
"He was a friend."
"Oh God, Leopold."
"His blood is on your hands."
"What am I going to do?"
"Atone for your sins. Make things even. Always remember that he looked up at you, Frau Doktor Kirsch. But you failed him. You failed your life’s passion. What’s left for you?"
I stood and got my bag from the corner of the guidance office. I got my gun with a silencer and gave it to the woman.
"There’s no easier way ma’am. Your reputation would be ruined. You’ll lose this office. Everyone will call you a child murderer. Why live in isolation when you can just end it all here?"
I wiped the gun clean and firmly planted it to my dear counselor’s hands.
"And of course, you don’t want me to see a live suicide, now do you? You know how ghastly it will look and it will surely leave a trauma leave to me, to every child. Isn’t that right, ma’am?"
"of course, go away now. I have to do this alone. I have to…. I have to…"
I quietly walked out the door. And although the gun has a silencer, I still heard the muffled sound of a firing gun. So much for a child psychologist.
Asked by Anonymous
Tenma would never kill Anna, all lives are equal to him… he would never take anyone’s life. Except mine, maybe. You’ll see, a few years from now he’ll hunt me, and will try his best to kill me.
Mein lieber Anna,
I miss that time when we could sleep together and talk about the things that amuse us. That time also when we use to speak in German when we don’t want other people to understand what we’re talking about when we were in the Three Frogs… and the happy time we spend strolling around the Cedok bridge. Now I do not know what is happiness. There was never a time that I am happy without you.
I miss that time when you would just talk and talk and I would just listen, until we both fall asleep. Whenever I say, “you have a very big mouth”, you would automatically say, “then you have very big ears!”. Mother would…. mother would then enter the scene because she thinks we’re having a fight. She knows we would never fight, but she still does it anyway.
I miss the smell of your hair, and your constant stream of questions when Mother goes down to clean the shop below. ”Will there be monster tonight? Will he take us away”. Again and again you would ask that, and so I would assure you every time that the monster has no power over us. You would keep on saying, “who is like the beast and who can fight against?” You would quote mother’s activist mantra, and there after, I would say, “the only way to defeat the beast is to become a monster more fearsome than the first.”. Realization would hit you like a rock, and then you would cry to sleep. I hate it when you cry, I feel my own heart is being torn to pieces when you cry.
Then you will ask me, “the monster inside… Can it defeat the monster?”. My answer would stay the same, “of course, because I have a plan.” From there, I would watch you to sleep, because I know a day will come that you will be taken away from me. Still, no matter what happens, we’ll remain all the same. We’ll see the end, we’ll live to see the end. You now close your eyes, and feel the growing darkness eat all the memories… Just please hold on, Anna. Forgetting you is the last thing I’ll do. A monster more fearsome than the first… I am more fearsome than the monster.
Anna, this is Anna. Remember the Anna you are.
Mein lieber Anna,
I went straight to Herr Bergstein after school. Roberto was very amused that I would actually pay the old man a visit. Well, who I see useful will have to prove their usefulness, I said to him. He said he’ll be around the block, one whistle and he’ll come.
As usual, Bergstein was at his upper floor window facing the street, drinking his afternoon tea. When he saw me, I instantly greeted him from the below his window. Arthritic as he was, he was still able to come down quickly, and opened the door for me.
“I thought you wouldn’t come. In you go son.” he said. I laid my bag on his sofa and looked around. I was right, this old man is a war veteran.
“How are you Franz?” he asked my. He still has his fast reflexes even though he supports himself with a cane.
“I’m quite thirsty. A lemonade will surely help my throat.”
He went to his kitchen and poured me some of his lemonade. I walked around his living room, who’s filled with pictures from his younger years.
“Here you go Franz. Why don’t you sit down?”
“Oh, I’ll sit whenever I feel the need to. These pictures… you’re from the German Navy?”
“I was. I worked as an intelligence officer. Would you like to hear that fateful day when the Captain Nielsen chased our sub?”
It would a wonderful story. He told what happened. Amazing really, fear can both immobilize and arm a person. Where could I apply it best? Hmmm…
“I was salvaged because I knew a lot of things. I was one of those officers being sent constantly to the French borders, and to Corn Wall.”
“You must speak their language in order to become an asset”
“I speak French like a native. My English is not superb, but I could hide my accent whenever I speak it.”
I went to the table adjacent to his bookshelves. There were a lot of books in French and English.
“Teach me French and English sir.” I asked him.
“Are you serious? French is like a tongue twister to us. English I think you can handle, but..”
“Sir, learning is all on the person. Teach me those languages, I can do it.”
He agreed to teach me English first, then French later. I had my very first lesson in English grammar today.
They say invest today, profit tomorrow. That’s what I’m going to do. You can be as intelligent as hell Anna, but I can be on par with you.
Mein lieber Anna,
"Come here, boy" said the old man in cane. I came to him and put on my brightest smile.
"How may I help you sir?"
"What’s your name? You’re Mr. and Mrs. Haynaus’ son, am I right?"
"I’m Franz sir, and yes I am their son."
He asked me to go with him in his apartment. He had a huge shelves filled with lots of books i can barely count them.
"You shouldn’t hang out with men older than you, you know the times boy."
"I can take care of myself thanks. And besides, were you watching me all this time? How do you know?"
The old man tipped his cane and leaned near me.
"Franz, an old man like me notices a whole lot of things. I’m just giving an advice, and it always pays to listen to the older population."
I let out a little smirk. I can see his eyes clouded with cataract, but I think he can still see.
"The older population, was never superior to the younger. The older population is a generation of myths and misconceptions, of hatred to science and its wonders. Older people live in utter ignorance because their minds are closed."
I can see hint if anger in his face. I can win the trust of this man.
"I may not look like it but I’m quite learned…"
"Sir, with all due respect, I can see you have a love for reading, and with all those newspapers scattered around I can tell you are well-informed for your age. All I say is that you should never underestimate younger people, especially me."
The old man seemed quite convince. He stood and walked towards his shelves, and took out a book with his two fingers.
"How old are you Franz?" asked the old man without even looking back at me.
"11 sir, turning 12 in few months."
"I like your attitude, when you have extra time around, will you come and talk to me again?"
"How prideful you are sir, you say you like my attitude because you can’t admit to yourself that you like, or envy my intelligence. But nonetheless I’ll be sure to come over. You have a lot of books.”
The man fell silent Anna. He took the book back from where he got it.
"May I go now, sir?"
"Of course Franz."
Pride and Men. They always go together, ain’t them, Anna?
Mein lieber Anna,
Do you remember mother used to say that the falling snow are tears of angels that froze on its way to earth? That whenever we go out of Three Frogs to play, we let the snow melt on our cheeks and think we shed angel’s tears? How ironic it was… angel’s tears! When you can feel its coldness creeping do you think its from an angel? She said Miss Helenka always tell it to her… but now that same Miss Helenka was taken, by a person she thought an angel. I know where she is, and her idea of angel tears still stay. I’ll let her shed her angel tears… she needs to be eliminated.
P.S. Miss Helenka knows a lot. She knew the Monster, and led him to Three Frogs in exchange for her son. She betrayed us. To think that she said she wanted you as a daughter…
Mein lieber Anna,
I awoke with a start.
For the first time after we fled the Eisler Memorial, I had a dream. The dream was all about a career soldier in Prague. He said he was looking for a woman a friend told him he had to meet. He invited me to the restaurant where he’s meeting the woman, and asked me a lot of questions.
"What is your name?" said the man.
"I don’t have a name."
"Oh" the man answered, "I see, you don’t want to give your name, well that’s good for your safety boy. What are you doing here all by yourself? Where are your parents?"
The words came out of me so naturally, like i knew the man right from the start.
"I’m looking for my sister. She said she’ll be waiting for me here. But she’s gone. I have to go and find her."
The man had a smile on his face. He gave me a bread with jam on it.
"How will you look for your sister? You seem lost… where do you live?"
"The Three Frogs. My sister and I live there."
"Three Frogs.. hmm, I’ve never heard of Three Frogs. Let’s see, how about I take you to the Police station?"
I suddenly stood from my seat.
"I will not go to the police. They will take me away from my sister."
"I see, I see. Calm down now."
He gave me more bread and jam. Just when I’m about to finish my bread, the woman she’s going to meet came.
I knew her face very well. It was Anna.