West East Conundrum
Joanne Faries
They strolled through the park wondering aloud about what they’d find in East Berlin now that the wall was down. Gerta’s voice quavered, “What of my grandparents? It’s January 1990 and they were old before years of hardship.”
Karl nodded and gulped. He didn’t want to hesitate at an important moment. “You…your parents will know on Sunday, when you get to cross over.” He reached for her hand, hoped to give it a caring squeeze. She stuffed it in her coat pocket and quickened their pace. He recognized signs of impatience and fear – hunched shoulders, biting her lip. Karl knew everything about Gerta and wanted to profess his love. He continued, “I bet it will be a grand reunion.”
“Oh Karl, you’re lucky to have your whole family in West Berlin.” She stopped and turned. He calculated the chance of an embrace. Thwarted tenderness again. She waved her arms, gesticulating wildly. “What if we find them feeble and dying? Grandfather and mutti refused to move as the wall went up.”
“Surely, your folks can persuade them. Lure them with our fruits and vegetables – food conquers all.”
Greta smiled. “I bet you are hungry for strudel right now.”
His stomach rumbled, dared him to proclaim his love, but he silenced it. He sensed there was more to her fidgeting. He steered her to a park bench, faint sounds of a carousel in the breeze.
She whispered, “My parents said we’ll move east to them. I’m afraid.”
“Marry me, Gerta.”
In the silence, a new wall arose.


First published: February 2016
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