Zoe’s Journal: Surviving The Peace
Chapter 3 – 30 October 1944
(C) 2017 Mary D. Brooks | All Rights Reserved
October 30, 1944 – Midnight
On the road to Athena’s Bluff
Whenever my mama found out I was reading or drawing down by the river, she would look up into the heavens and say, ‘Her spirit is willing, but her flesh is weak, Father.’ Not that God cared when I did my chores. I wasn’t sure if my spirit was willing to do any chores when I had something far better to do, like drawing. I’m not even sure why my mama’s words came to me at that very moment. That was an odd thing to think about as I slogged my way beyond the hospital and up the road leading to Athena’s Bluff. My flashlight was trying to light my way, but the rain was not making things easy.
I came to the crossroad. Do I go up the mountain or do I travel back into town? The idea of trudging up the mountain seemed like an insurmountable goal. I settled for going back into town and trying to get some sleep in my house. I just didn’t have the energy to move. Not up a mountain. The soles of my feet hurt, my body ached, and all I wanted was to stop and lie down in the nearest field. Even if there was a torrential dump of rain. I didn’t care.
I stood on the road and I felt this overwhelming sadness overcome me. I felt it seep into my bones and there was nothing I could do to stop the tears from gushing out. What a stupid thing to do. I thought I had no more tears left, but here I was, crying in the rain in my liberated homeland. It wasn’t how I had dreamed it would be. I looked around the fields that surrounded me. It’s been only a few days since the British arrived, but some of the dead were still lying in the fields. Liberation had come too late for them.
I slapped the side of my head. That usually worked to wake me up, but I felt my eyes begging to close and willed myself to move. I had another half hour before I could get out of the wet clothes I had on. Mama would say if I didn’t I would catch pneumonia. My mother has been in my thoughts a great deal the last few days. I need to visit her.
As I brought the flashlight to shine my way, something caught my eye. There was movement under the brushes. I smiled because at this time of night, that could only mean it’s an animal, and it’s about to become dinner–real food, unlike the slop that I was given by the English.
I took out my gun and made my way to some brushes. Somehow my tiredness disappeared. Whatever it was, it was hiding near an overturned wagon that was lying by the side of the field. Whatever it was it was soon going to be dead.
I got down on my knees in the mud and hoped the rabbit was not going to be fast, because in the state I was in, my aim was not going to be that accurate. I took my flashlight and directed it in the direction the rabbit would be, hoping to stun it for a moment with the light.
Big brown eyes stared back at me and I froze. Staring back at me was a disheveled young boy. I was so shocked that I collapsed against the wagon. I almost killed a child. He was so scared he started to cry and I could hear him despite the rain.
I hung my head and mustered all the energy I could and turned back to the boy, who was still crying. There was enough space for me to crawl into the space he made for himself. The mud caked my already wet pants and shirt. As soon as I got another look at the boy, my heart just about broke once again.
Dark hair that was matted with mud and a dirty face couldn’t hide who that boy was–five-year-old Stelios Kalambakos. Stelios was born a year before the war tore our lives apart. That little boy hadn’t known peace in his short life. His sister Stella had been killed along with her mother by those seeking retribution against collaborators and Nazi sympathizers. There were quite a few of those in our town. If I hadn’t been trying to save Eva’s life, would I have been out there with them seeking retribution?
That’s all I wanted after Mama died.
A life for a life, and I had a lot of killing to do for all the family and friends I had lost.
I was staring at the tear-stained face of a boy I vowed to kill in retribution. His mother paid the ultimate price for her betrayal. Should the son pay for the sins of his mother?
I heard his voice and my heart melted. The little boy knew nothing about his mother’s sins. He didn’t know anything about her reasons, nor did his sister. I uncocked my gun and set it down. I opened my arms and he scrambled into my embrace.
I held him for some time before I decided we were both sitting in mud and I really needed to eat and sleep. I didn’t think I was going to eat after all, so I decided that this was a good place to sleep even if it was muddy.
We both lay down, but I couldn’t sleep. What would happen in the morning? The roaming bands of justice would be out again. They will surely find this boy. They could choose to let him go or they may kill him. With the little energy I could muster, I roused him from his sleep.
“Stelios, we need to go.”
“They killed Mama.”
I thought the boy could not have seen what happened to his mother and I’m not even sure why I thought that because I was wrong. I put my arm around him and looked down into those big brown eyes.
“Mama’s gone to heaven, Stelios.”
“She didn’t take me with her. She promised that one day we would all go to heaven to be with Papa.”
Oh, Maria, what have you done to me? I could take him up to Athena’s Bluff, but how long can I look after him? I didn’t know anything about looking after children, and could he go to Egypt with us?
“Stelios, I want you to trust me, all right? Aunty Zoe won’t let anything bad happen to you.”
“Will you take me to Mama?”
“No, I can’t do that, little man. Your mama and my mama are in heaven and we can’t go up there.”
“Well, because it’s not our time to go. We have to go into town…”
“Can we find Pappou Kalmari?” Stelios asked excitedly, and I thought maybe the solution to my problem had been found. “He killed Mama and maybe he will take us to her.”
Out of the mouths of babes.
Well, Pappou Kalmari was the last person I wanted to see tonight. I shook my head and picked up my gun. I shoved the flashlight into my shirt and took a hold of Stelios’ hand. I moved to get out from under the wagon, but he did not.
“Stelios, we have to get out.”
“You won’t take me to Pappou Kalmari.”
“No, I won’t.”
“Because if I do he will kill you.”
“That’s good. I’m going to be with Mama.”
I wanted to cry. A five-year-old child wishes to die. I can’t blame him; I wished for death many times, but I wasn’t a five-year-old child.
“I’m going to take you somewhere that will be safe for you.”
“I want to be with my mama.”
“I want to be with mine, too Stelios, but that’s not possible.”
“I’m not going.”
Why was God punishing me? Haven’t I suffered enough? Apparently not. I was hoping my mama was enjoying this, and she would be laughing so hard, tears would be streaming down her face. She always said I had no patience for children when my cousins would be annoying me. She was right.
“Stelios, my bottom is wet. I’m hungry and my flashlight has run out of batteries. If we stay here any longer, I may just have to eat you because I’m so hungry I can eat a little boy.”
The boy’s face went from obstinate to disgust in record time. No one wants to be eaten. At least I got his mind off the fact that Pappou Kalmari could help him get to his mother. My stomach rumbled, which caused Stelios to laugh and point to my stomach.
That was a nice sound.
“Do you want Aunty Zoe to starve?”
“Where are we going to go?”
“I know a place.”
“Pappou Kalmari’s farm?”
All roads lead to Pappou Kalmari and I may have to kill Kalmari myself, so I can shut that route to heaven for little Stelios. “No, Stelios, we are not going to Kalmari’s farm. Come on. I’m hungry.”
We both crawled out. Luckily, the rain had stopped. Stelios took my hand and we both started walking towards town.
“What happened to your foot?”
“I fell over.”
“Does it hurt?”
I sighed. If I answered all his questions, would it mean that he wouldn’t want to talk about meeting up with Kalmari? I hoped so. I looked down at the boy and shook my head.
“Can I have a stick like yours?”
I stopped and tried to find a branch, which wasn’t that hard. I took out my knife and cut off a smaller piece. He looked so happy to have his own walking stick. Children are so resilient, and I envied his ability to focus on one thing only. I’m sure his mind would be back to finding Kalmari, but for the moment, he was happy with the stick.
Just before we entered town I took a left turn and walked quietly past some houses. Everything was dark, and I didn’t see any other soul. I found the house I was looking for and stopped. Hopefully, Kiria Despina was not a heavy sleeper because banging on a door in the early hours of the morning wasn’t the best idea.
I didn’t want to wait for long. A light came on and moments later the door opened, and I smiled at Kiria Despina.
“Zoe, what are you doing here so late, is everything…” Kiria Despina stopped talking when she saw who stood next to me. She smiled at the boy and opened the door for us to come in. She was a widow, like many of the women in the village. Her husband and sons had been killed and she was alone.
“Where did you find him?”
“Under a wagon. I was on the way to Athena’s Bluff, but I didn’t have the energy, so I turned to come back into town. That’s when I thought I found dinner.”
“That’s a big rabbit, Zoe.”
I smiled and nodded as Stelios sat down on Despina’s sofa. I looked at her and then at the now muddy sofa in sympathy.
“It’s alright. A little mud won’t hurt. Why don’t you sit down yourself before you fall down?”
Was I still standing? I was too tired to even notice, but I sat down and sunk into the sofa. I let my head rest on the cushion and closed my eyes. Stelios had curled up and succumbed to sleep.
“I couldn’t leave him, Kiria Despina. I just couldn’t.”
“I know. You did the right thing.”
“I had an idea and I think this will work. The farm is empty, so if you could take him there and stay with him until we can find his aunt that lives in Volos…”
“It’s going to take some time to find them, but I’ll send Vassili to go find her. You have another problem.”
I raised my head from the cushion. “I do?”
“You can’t go to Athena’s Bluff with Eva and Henry.”
“Zoe, the woman was shot, and Henry has a wounded leg. Are you going to haul them up a mountain?
“Well, Eva won’t want to stay in town.”
“Why don’t you stay here at the house while I’m at the farm? The British soldiers are in the houses on either side of me, so it will be relatively safe.”
“That’s a good idea.”
“Yes, it is, but for now, why don’t you get out of those wet clothes and freshen up a little before going to sleep?”
“I’m too tired.”
Those were the last words I said because I finally joined Stelios and succumbed to sleep.
To Be Continued….Previous chapters can be found here
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
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– 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