– SOPHIE –
Sophie stormed out of the backdoor of the hideout into the little yard that was overgrown by tangled weeds.
Snow leaked through the hole in her shoe, soaking her sock. She didn’t care.
Ever since David had left several weeks ago, everyone had been tense, on edge…and irritable, especially Karl.
Sophie felt bad for him. He took being the leader seriously, and David’s betrayal must have made Karl feel like he messed up somehow.
Than Wilhelm! Oh, that Wilhelm! Whatever put the idea into David’s head that something was going on between them was pure poppycock…
When everyone else had seemed so sullen, Philippe and she had come up with the idea of sprucing up the little shack for Christmas. They had wanted to venture into the woods to find some greenery.
Wilhelm had argued vehemently that it wasn’t safe. Sophie had argued back that there had been no reports of soldiers anywhere near there for weeks.
It wasn’t that Sophie wasn’t to put herself in harm’s way, but she was tired of sitting in the hideout, waiting for Wilhelm and Karl to finalize their plans for operation Echoes of Honor.
Worst, Petr was driving her crazy. He kept wanting to go out and play in the snow. Wilhelm wouldn’t let him. Petr had burst into tears at the news, and he had muttered something in his baby talk about Woo’him being a mean brother.
Sophie still didn’t understand the connection between them, and she wasn’t about to ask.
Why was Wilhelm so uptight about everything? He was like a watchdog, continually listening for trouble and danger.
Sophie kicked at a chunk of ice and stone. Christmas was four days away, and nothing had been said about it, other than the argument about the greenery.
This year, Sophie felt different.
Ever since reading her little Bible, she had felt lighter, and happier. Yes, she still had her trials and fears, but they seemed to have lessened in the last few months.
She and Philippe felt the same way. They wanted to celebrate Christmas. This time of year was supposed to bring peace and joy, and they all needed that.
How was she supposed to get ready for Christmas when they didn’t have any decorations? She knew they weren’t necessary for celebrating the birth of the Savior she now clung to, but the bright colors would cheer everyone.
How was she to change Wilhelm’s mind?
– WILHELM –
Why did he care so much about her? She was as stubborn as he was and they always seemed to be arguing about something.
Just this morning she had wanted greenery to decorate the hideout, but for goodness sake, it was a hideout, not a ballroom!
Wilhelm put his head in his hands. She reminded him of his younger sister, Leanna. She always wanted things to be pretty, and she was always trying to convince Wilhelm of the usefulness of the armloads of greenery and decorations she brought home to spruce up the house each Christmas.
Leanna—The only sibling he had known his whole life. His mother had died giving birth to her, and Wilhelm had become her fierce protector. If another boy so much as looked at her, Wilhelm would bristle. She was his sister, and until a young man that he approved of came along, which was bound to happen one day, he would go on protecting her with everything in him.
He had failed. Leanna was no doubt dead, taken in the raid the soldiers conducted on the street they lived on. The only survivors of his small family as far as he knew, were himself and his half brother Petr.
Petr—How Wilhelm wanted to let the little boy know how much he cared about him. It was too dangerous. Petr was Jewish, but he looked German. If Wilhelm was caught and they did any digging into his past, they’d find out Wilhelm and Leanna’s birth mother was related to the Furhur. There were records of his mother’s death and his father’s re – marrying to a young Jewish woman with a baby son. That had been before the Furhur’s rise to power, and no one had cared.
Wilhelm wanted to deny Petr as his brother. That way, if they were caught and Wilhelm denied any relation to Petr, it might save his life. He could pass for German, and if no one knew his background, he might have a chance at survival. It was a crazy idea, but it might work, with Petr being so young, there was little chance that he even remembered his kind, Jewish mother.
Wilhelm glanced out the window to where Sophie was pacing in the back yard. He sighed. If they were careful, maybe they could find some greenery…Knowing Leanna’s joyful reaction to his attempted enthusiasm about her decorations, Wilhelm knew Sophie would probably be the same way—The two girls were a lot alike.
– SOPHIE –
“Sophie, can I talk to you?” It was Wilhelm.
Sophie turned around. All her anger was gone and had been replaced with a deep sadness that Christmas would have to be a simple affair again this year. She hated war.
Wilhelm shuffled his feet and looked up at the grey sky. “I’m sorry, okay. I overreacted when you asked to go into the forest to look for greenery. It was silly of me to argue with you about it.”
“Really?” Sophie didn’t know what to make of this. Was he actually apologizing?
“Yeah, I am. Sometimes I just forget what girls like and how they feel about certain things.”
“I didn’t need to throw a tantrum when you said no.” Sophie laughed as she spoke. “Our argument seems so ridiculous now that I think about it.”
Wilhelm nodded towards the hideout. “Let’s all get bundled up and head into the woods to get some greenery.”
Sophie felt tears prick her eyes. “Really…?”
Wilhelm cleared his throat. “No need to cry over it.”
Sophie wiped her eyes. “You just don’t know how much this means!”
“Yeah, I think I do.”
After several days of trips to the forest and decorating the hideout best they could, Karl, Wilhelm, Philippe, Sophie, and Petr sat around the table munching on the cookies Sophie had made. They all were in better spirits then they had been for days.
It was Christmas Eve, and Sophie smiled at the sight of several wrapped packages under a limp, feathery bush the boys had found to be their tree.
After getting into the spirit of preparing for Christmas, the boys had started doing things Sophie never expected. There were whispers when she came into the room that quickly stopped, and she had even seen Wilhelm shove something behind his back.
Sophie and Petr had ideas of their own. Sophie had hurriedly knitted each boy a scarf, and Petr had found smooth looking stones out in the yard which he wrapped up in old newspaper to give away.
Now it was Christmas Eve, and Sophie wanted to do something that she knew might bother Karl and Wilhelm. It couldn’t be helped though. It was Christmastime, and they had to take time to honor the One that was the reason for the holiday.
“I know this might upset some of you, but I think it would be appropriate if we read a section of the Christmas story.” Sophie saw Wilhelm and Karl exchange glances. “It won’t take long and please, just stay and listen. It is His birthday after all.”
Sophie smiled at Petr who looked expectantly at the older boys. She had read the story of baby Jesus to him last night, and he had been thrilled.
“P’eas, let ‘Ophie read the story of baby ‘esus.”
“Sure.” Karl shrugged. “It can’t hurt anything.”
Sophie glanced at Philippe who smiled and nodded for her to begin.
– SOPHIE –
“Oh, Karl it’s lovely! Wherever did you get it?” Tears threatened to spill over her cheeks as she stared at the new dress Karl had given her.
Sophie saw Karl glance at Wilhelm before he answered. “Another member of the Resistance found it for me.” Karl smiled at her.
“I haven’t had a new dress in ages.” Sophie hugged the dress to herself. “I want to put it on right now!”
Wilhelm reached down and pulled Petr’s hands away from the other presents. “Go ahead, we’ll wait.”
Petr looked up at her. “‘Ophie, I want to open my presents.”
“Just wait, Petr. I’ll be quick!” Sophie hurried to her room where she put on the new dress. It was a beautiful pink color, matching her dark curls and vivid blue eyes. She actually looked…Pretty.
She slowly walked into the other room. “What do you think?” She asked the boys shyly, wishing now more than ever that there was another girl here so she wouldn’t feel so awkward. Why on earth did she feel awkward anyway?… They were all friends.
“It’s very nice,” Karl said. “You look beautiful.”
Sophie blushed. “Thank you.” She patted Petr on the head. Clearly, he still didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. “Go ahead Petr, open your presents.”
– WILHELM –
Wilhelm bit his lip. She loved the dress.
He felt a little jealous. Why hadn’t he given her the dress as a present? He had found it anyhow.
Instead, he had found her a stack of used books in a thrift store. Karl had told him she loved to read, and with the little money he had saved, he bought her several books that the store owner had hidden from the German purge on all books.
He watched her open the package and pick each book up.
He rolled his eyes as a tear trailed down her cheek. Why did girls always cry about stuff?
“Oh, Wilhelm they’re just beautiful! How did you know I liked to read?”
Wilhelm shrugged. “I just guessed.” He felt Karl kick him in the shin and he jumped.
“Liar,” Karl whispered, a grin on his face.
“Be quiet.” Wilhelm kicked back.
He watched as Sophie got to her feet, walked over to the table and brought back a pan of rolls.
“This is my Christmas gift to you all. Sweet rolls.” She placed the pan on the floor in the middle of them all.
Petr squealed and reached for one. Sophie caught his hand.
“First, we pray.”
Wilhelm sighed. Why did she care so much about that stuff?
“Dear God,” Sophie prayed.
Wilhelm closed his eyes. If he ever wanted to be more than a friend to her, he needed to find out why God meant so much to her—and how it had changed her from a seemingly frightened girl, into a lovely young woman.
Wilhelm bit his lip. He was afraid he was getting soft.
Well, that’s it for today! Stay tuned for the second installment of the Writing Well Series this Wednesday.
~ Laura 😀