I closed the book. I glanced at the clock. Nine thirty already! Slice of Life has been whispering in my ear for hours to start writing, but the book, A Night Divided, by Jennifer A. Neilsen, had hijacked my evening, insisting that I keep reading until the fate of Gerta and Fritz was determined. As I read, my mind drifted back to a time in 1968…
The train slid through the peaceful countryside of Western Germany. The green fields and stately trees serenely welcoming travelers on their way to Berlin. The train slowed, screeching to a halt. Footsteps echoed on the metal steps as soldiers climbed the stairs, coming aboard. The soldiers, in greenish uniforms, held rifles threateningly in their hands. My breath stopped as the boots marched closer and closer, through the car. Suspicious eyes pried into our cabin. For what were they looking? Wide-eyed and hushed, we watched and waited. Other soldiers stood guard, menacingly. Then, the task complete, the intruders left as noisily as they had come. Then, slowly straining, the train resumed its journey through East Germany to Berlin.
This vision was seared into my childish brain. The world was a kinder, gentler world where terrorists and violence seemed far from my life experiences. This experience so foreign and frightening. Memories-the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, tanks, barbed wire, the Death Zone, a Volkswagen with a removable back seat under which someone escaped to the West- were dusted off and reexamined.
Funny, how those long forgotten memories came rushing to my mind. How fitting that I begin my journey as a writer with a step back in time! A step back to another journey that began with a single step, but which resulted in a new understanding of the world. May this first step also result in new understandings and freedom.