Zoe's Journal: Surviving The Peace
(C) 2017 Mary D. Brooks | All Rights Reserved
Please note: These chapters from Surviving The Peace may change / new material may be added when the book is released.
Genre: World War II Fiction, Lesbian Romance, Young Adult
Sexual Content: None.
Related Content: Full Character List can be found here
October 29, 1944
On the outskirts of the village of Farsala and only a few miles from the Lambros farm…
The rain started to fall again and I heard the raindrops splatter against the window. It almost lulled me to sleep. Almost was right since I was jarred awake by the changing shifts of nurses in the hospital tent. I had spent so many hours inside the tent that I knew the routine of the nurses so well. I didn’t need to check my watch to know what time it was not that I was paying any attention to the time. Out of the window, the muddy puddles became deeper as the British trucks rolled over them and people trudged along, the mud squishing under their shoes. I couldn’t hear that awful sound but I didn’t need to. I hate rain, puddles, mud and that smell that makes me want to throw up. Unfortunately, I needed to get up and stretch my legs because my foot had gone numb and I knew the pins and needles would soon follow. I slowly made my way down the makeshift hospital ward and stood just inside the door of the ward. That’s when I saw it.
It was fluttering in the wind despite being soaked from the rain. The ‘blue and white,’ the flag of my country, flew proudly once again over the land. Well, as proudly as a wet piece of rag could. My heart didn’t skip a beat as I thought it would on seeing the Greek flag instead of the Nazi swastika. I thought my heart would be soaring, but it’s not. I don’t feel anything. Used to have that fervor, the passion for my country. All I have now is pins and needles in my feet and a desire not to get wet and muddy. I’m tired. I am no longer a child praying to God for salvation. It feels like yesterday when I was looking up into the heavens, the sound of exploding shells in the valley like thunder. I wasn’t scared. I knew God would save us from the Germans. I was sure of it as my father and the Australian soldiers disappeared beyond the trees to try to cross the German lines to get to their comrades.
It feels like yesterday, but almost four years have passed since that day. The Germans tore through the land like rampaging animals. It was like Father Haralambos said about the horsemen of the apocalypse. Death rode in that day and continued to claim so many Greek innocent lives.
I survived the war…now what?
It had been a tumultuous couple of days. The British had rumbled into town but I didn’t see them. The day I was dreaming about came, but I didn’t savor the victory, didn’t dance in joy, didn’t sing in ecstasy as I had dreamed.
While the British were liberating my home, I was trying to keep Eva alive. It was a moment in my life I will remember forever. Reinhardt standing over Eva’s body enraged me–his smug, arrogant face, and those beady blue eyes filled with hate. He wasn’t smug for long. I remember the surprise on his face when I fired. The bullet hit him in the chest and he went down like a sack of potatoes. I could see fear and loathing in his eyes as he looked up at me and his blood soaked his jacket. I shot him in the face so many times, I don’t think his mother would recognize him. I didn’t kill him out of vengeance for all those I had lost, but for the one I was going to save. Eva was still alive and I was going to save her. He was not going to take her away from me. Made sure of that.
I shook my head at how God must be laughing at me. I vowed to kill Eva Muller in retribution for the death of my mother, but here I was fighting to save her life. I promised God – yes, the same God I cursed and didn’t believe in – that I would give him everything if Eva lived. Yes, I sound confused about whether god exists or not, but in the event he did…it didn’t hurt. He did listen, or it may not have been him anyway. I don’t know or care. Eva is alive and that’s all that matters. That promise is going to be broken because I don’t trust God. He lied to us when Father Haralambos said that God was on the side of the Greeks. I lied to him. I think we are even.
It was getting a little too cold so I turned away from the door and went back to where Eva was lying and sat on an upturned crate. As I reached out to brush away her dark hair, one very bloodshot blue eye opened. The other was bandaged. Eva gave me a weak smile.
“Hey,” Eva whispered.
“Do you know where you are?”
I laughed and shook my head. “Not quite. Yesterday you were in Berlin.”
“You’re here,” Eva rasped. She tried to smile, but winced instead. “Ow.”
“You put a dent in the cabin wall. That’s not how you decorate the cabin, Evy.” I wagged my finger at her and she smiled, although it looked more like a grimace to me.
I turned around when I heard someone coming. Henry had hobbled over on crutches. He shouldn’t have been up on his feet. His blonde beard had started to grow out. It was an amusing sight. Henry was bald as a rock, but apparently facial hair could grow on his face.
He put his arm around me and kissed the top of my head. “How’s the boss?”
“Sore,” Eva replied. “What happened to you?”
“Well.” Henry sat on the edge of the bed. “I got shot.”
“Did Zoe shoot you?”
Henry laughed as he ran his hand over his bald head. “No, because if she had, I don’t think my mother would recognize me. My comrades shot me. Might have something to do with me shooting Barkow in the head, but that’s just a guess.”
Eva regarded me for a moment. “See, Zoe, Henry can shoot.”
It took a moment to realize Eva had made a joke, and it made me laugh because her jokes were usually terrible!
“Thanasi, guess who is awake and telling jokes?”
“Is she still in Berlin?” Thanasi smiled at Eva and dropped down on his haunches to greet her.
“Morning, Thanasi.” I greeted him but my attention was on the British medic who was standing behind him. His orange hair stuck up at awkward angles and he had a smattering of freckles on his face.
Thanasi was a courageous man. His dark hair and beard were peppered with silver. I didn’t know how old he was, but he was the leader of his Resistance cell. He may have been a little older than me, but then war makes you grow up so quickly. Boys of my age now looked like grown men – we all had to grow up fast. When I looked back at Thanasi, I saw he was holding Eva’s hand.
“You’re looking a little less like a punching bag today. Has Zoe told you about all the excitement?”
“It’s been a little busy.”
“A little,” Thanasi replied before he brought the medic forward. “This is Captain Anthony Jenkins. He’s a medic. He looks like he is only fourteen, but he isn’t. They breed them to look young.” He turned to Anthony and repeated what he had said in English.
The medic was going to examine Eva so I stepped out from behind the makeshift curtain and waited for them to finish. I was engrossed in watching a soldier try to get up off his cot. Next to his bed was his hat, and I instantly recognized the upturned brim and the bronze pin attached to it. That was an Australian soldier. Brave Australian soldiers came to our aid four years ago and my father gave his life to protect two of them. The Aussie soldier was not having a lot of luck and I was tempted to go and help him, but before I could move towards him, a nurse appeared. He turned and our eyes met. He winked at me and smiled.
I totally forgot about the wounded soldier and turned to find Anthony smiling at me like a demented cat. He must have thought I didn’t hear him because he repeated himself. He said I was an ugly man. I’m not sure he’s the right man to be taking care of Evy if he can’t tell whether I’m a woman or a man.
Thanasi put his arm around me – not sure if that was to prevent me from punching Anthony at the insult or to console me. I think it was the former.
“That’s not what he meant, Zoe!”
“I sure hope not.”
Anthony started to stutter and speak very quickly in English, a language I just don’t understand, but he looked quite stricken. Thanasi laughed at him.
“He says you are a beautiful woman.”
“Well, at least he knows I’m a woman and not a man.”
Thanasi leaned down and kissed me on the cheek. “He likes you.”
“Good for him. What would you like me to do?”
“Nothing; he just likes you and paid you a compliment.”
“He also wanted to know if you would like to…”
Either it was the deathly stare I was giving him or he worked out that going further was going to end with a lot of blood of the floor, but Thanasi stopped midsentence. He put his arm around Anthony’s shoulders and steered him away.
I sighed and turned back to find Eva was trying desperately not to laugh.
“I agree with him.”
“What? That I’m an ugly man?”
“No, that you’re beautiful woman.”
Now here is where I know I’m not like the other girls. When Eva calls me beautiful, I feel my face flush and I get these little butterflies doing somersaults in my belly.
“It’s true,” Eva whispered, and I forgot to breath. She was staring up at me and all I could do was grin. What do you say when your more-than-a-friend tells you that you are beautiful? That’s a question I need answered. The other question was ‘what now’? What do we do now about ‘us’ – whatever that ‘us’ was. I have never been in a relationship with anyone so I don’t know where I’m going. I hate walking through a problem with a blindfold on.
I didn’t ask the question. I talked about everything else and filled Eva on the news, the nurses and who was sweet on whom. Eva just had a smile on her face the whole time until she drifted off to sleep. I sat there watching her sleep and another question popped into my head.
Are we ever going kiss again? The first time we kissed, it caused her so much pain. I don’t really know what that evil bastard of a father did to her to make her react that way, but it was horrible. She couldn’t even touch me without flinching. It must be some kind of hell to not be able to be who you really are. Not that I know about that, since I don’t know anything about love or matters of the heart.
This ‘falling in heavy like’ is crazy. You don’t know anything and if you do know, you really don’t because you don’t know what the other person is feeling. Crazy. I never thought I would have this problem. Surviving each day, losing family, friends, holding my breath until a patrol passed, waiting for retribution…those were worries that occupied my mind. Falling in love was the least of my worries, and because a woman kissed me, doesn’t mean anything, right? We spent time becoming friends, and if that is all we were going to be, then that’s all it will be.
Who am I kidding? I wanted a lot more than that. A lot more. I watched her sleep and really wanted to wake her to talk about us and what we were going to do but that can wait. I don’t have a lot of patience so I hoped she wasn’t asleep for long.
To Be Continued… | Read More Excerpts
Zoe's Journal: Surviving The Peace will be released in ebook and print in 2018. Published by AUSXIP Publishing
Forbidden love, heart racing suspense, an epic tale set in war ravaged Greece.
In Nazi-occupied Greece, Eva and Zoe — one a German officer's daughter, the other a young Greek woman filled with fury — should be enemies. But when fate brings them together, they discover a love that transcends the barriers between them.
Fourteen year old Zoe Lambros' faith in God is shattered after her mother's death at the hands of the German Commander. She determines to defy the enemy in every way she can–including a festering urge to kill the German Commander's daughter, Eva Muller.
Eva Muller has a tortured past, and a secret, if revealed, will lead to certain death at the hands of her father. Despite knowing the risk, Eva is working with the village priest to help the Jews escape. With her activities closely observed, Eva needs help to continue the clandestine operation. Zoe is not who Eva has in mind but they have to find a way to work as a team to accomplish their life saving mission.
– Finalist: Fiction – Historical – Event/Era – 2015 Readers' Favorite
– Finalist Gay/Lesbian Fiction – International Book Awards 2015
– Finalist First Novel – IAN (Independent Author Network) Book Of The Year Awards 2015
– Finalist Outstanding Historical Fiction – IAN (Independent Author Network) Book Of The Year Awards 2015