"Anna, open your eyes..."
Anna's eyelids fluttered open. Above, she saw the overcast sky above her, clouds moving. For a second she thought she was back at one of their little makeshift camps in the forest. Donny swinging his bat a few feet away whistling, Wicki carving something with his pocket knife, always giving her that reassuring smile of his whenever she crawled out from one of the tents, sleepy eyed as she looked around.
All of the men, stationed around, passing the morning. All of them her family. All of them her brothers, all of them in their own unique way making her love them. She thought Archie was there. Handsome, smiling, and waiting for her. Instead, as she lifted from the foggy haze, she woke to see Utivich sitting there, his big blue eyes staring down at her worried. He gently stroked her hair, brushing it back out of her face. Aldo was sitting beside him, smoking a cigarette. Her body and head ached, but as her eyes looked around she knew they were on a boat.
They were moving, and leaving that horrible awful place behind them.
She asked, her throat dry, her voice broken and not more than a whisper. Utivich glanced at Aldo before Aldo flicked his cigarette away. Leaning over, he gave a sad but truly honest smile.
"We're heading home darling."
Anna laid back, staring up at the sky before slowly shutting her eyes and escaping this horrible empty ache that now replaced her heart.
Right before they headed inside the tavern, they began going the cobble stoned street.
It was a warm summer evening, and never before in all of Anna's life did she feel so nervous. She knew all she had to do is sit back, drink her drink, and pretend she was just another French girl posing as a date. She felt out of her element wearing such beautiful dress. The smooth frabic felt smooth against her skin as her low heels clicked against the stones. Since Hickox was supposed to be taking this actress they were meeting out, she was posing as Wicki's date.
He firmly held her hand as they crossed. Just a mere minute or so before they walked out of the building where the others were ducking out in. Before they opened the door, Hickox turned towards her and smiled.
"You all right love?"
Anna stared up at him with wide nervous eyes.
"You'll be fine, just sit back and let me do the talking."
Anna nervously nodded before Hickox smiled, holding her face in his hands and gently kissing her forehead, all the while Wicki watched.
Breaking away from Hickox, she turned, took a deep breath and walked out having no idea everything would fall apart within twenty minutes or so.
Present - Boston.
Utivich returned from his brother's accounting office downtown.
Dressed handsomely in a suit and tie, he climbed up the three floor climb to the apartment he now owned and lived in with Anna. Having been discharged with high honors after the end of the war, Utivich was set up pretty well but decided on moving back home and going back to work for his brother. For years had had always wanted to escape his parent's shame in being Jewish, but now with what deceased, and the grizzly things he had seen behind him, he decided to hold onto the little bit of family he had left. His brother was wealthy, soft spoken like him, and offered him a good position. Wanting to forget the horrors back in Europe, he accepted but not before insisting Anna, who honestly had nowhere now where to do went with him. Aldo wished them the best, and together they took the train into the city where Utivich watched Anna stare out the window with tired yet curious eyes. Ever since they arrived in the states she had been distant, not sleeping, eating, or speaking much. Worried, Utivich asked Aldo if he thought she would be all right.
Sighing, Aldo lit his pipe and remarked in private that he figured that Landa had his way with her, plus she watched that massacre down in the basement. Friends, all men who she cared about gunned down like animals. Also it didn't help that it looked as if Hickox had become awfully sweet on her. A girl that age going through what she had, plus being kidnapped and raped was just asking for a complete mental breakdown. Instead of asking Anna about it, Utivich decided just to be somebody to watch over her. He kept an eye on her, allowed her to fall asleep against his shoulder, and be a firm hand to hold as they traveled up North.
Utivich told her he wanted to take her with him up to the city. He knew she didn't have anyone, and besides his brother he didn't either. They could try to start over. If worse came to worse he would make sure she was set up nicely and let her leave if she wasn't happy. Anna didn't say much, instead she just agreed and went with him. He asked her once they arrived if she would marry him. Anna smiled, and looked a little sad. Stroking his smooth cheek she told him she was sorry, but she just didn't look at him that way. She was grateful for him taking her in, but at this exact moment she had lost too much. She wasn't really to lose anymore. Utivich kissed her forehead, and held her close telling her he understood. When they arrived in the city, Utivich took her everywhere, showing her the sights, and feeling the slightest bit of relief when he actually saw her smile. A few weeks past, and finally one night Utivich heard cries. Walking down the hall to her bedroom, she looked in and saw her tossing and sleeping.
Frowning, he wanted to wake her but knew it was best to keep his distance. She needed time, that was all. One rainy morning Utivich caught Anna sitting by the window crying. Walking over, just in his slacks he knelt down asking what was the matter? Looking at him, her eyes bloodshot she sniffled and shook her head.
"I'm gonna have a baby..."
Before he finished, his brow wrinkled.
"Who's the father?"
Looking out the window, Anna sighed.
"I've only been with two men...Archie, and...that bastard."
"So that means..."
"I don't know who's baby it is..."
Nervously she bit her thumb nail, tears filling her eyes.
"If it's Archie's it's all I have left to remember him by...if it's Landa's...I'm carrying a monster's baby."
Cupping her face, Utivich brought her in close. Not caring, he pressed his forehead against hers. Forcing her to look at his big blue eyes, he held onto her.
"It's my baby."
Anna raised an eyebrow.
"It's my baby, and you're my wife..."
"What are you talking about?"
Before she could say another word, Utivich rose up, pressing his lips against hers. When the kiss finally ended, Anna stared at him with sad, and exhausted eyes. Reaching forward, she held his hand and squeezed.
A few months later, Utivich was stunned awake by Anna's screams. Snapping awake, hair messy, he looked at her and saw her sitting up beside him in the bed they now shared. Sitting up, clutching her chest over her nightgown, her eyes were huge, and her chest heaving. Reaching over concerned, he shook her shoulder.
Anna looked at him before her face crumpled. She told him she had a nightmare of Lana. He was alive, and chasing her around the streets, with a knife ready to cut out her baby. That night Anna laid awake in Utivich's arms.
Seven months later.
Utivich returned home, tired from a long day of work at the office.
Loosening his tie, he reached the apartment door and smiled as he took his keys out, looking at his wedding band. Shortly after Anna told him the news of her pregnancy, Utivich hounded her until finally the two were married at town hall. That night, they made love and Utivich admitted to her it was his first time. Both were gentle, slow, and tender and by dawn both were asleep in each other's arms listening to each other breath.
Utivich knew it would take a while to win her heart, but he was bound and determined. As the pregnancy continued, and Anna's body began to change, Utivich fussed over her, falling deeper and deeper in love with her. Anna made their tiny home cozy, and welcoming. He knew she still had nightmares, often shooting up in bed sweating, her breath labored, and her eyes terrified. As always Utivich would wrap his arms around her, and sooth her, gently kissing her bare shoulder blades and whispering that everything was going to be okay. Anna filled her time when he was at work exploring the peaceful little neighborhood they lived in.
She practically spent all of her time at the local library or taking long walks in the park. Whenever he came home, the two would have dinner together, and then listen to records, laughing, talking, and often falling asleep in each other's arms. Anna didn't remark much on her pregnancy. When she began to show, and went to the local doctor, she simply seemed to be elsewhere whenever Utivich would feel her stomach for movement, or kiss it with wonder. He knew she was worried, and terrified if she would actually be able to love this baby. Still, she began to knit little clothes, and smiled warmly when Utivich brought home a wicker bassinet home from the local farmer's market a few blocks away. Utivich swore on the behalf of everyone they had lost he would be a good father to this child, and show Anna it was okay to love it. One night, while shaving in the bathroom he heard Anna speaking out loud, he figured she was praying.
"Wicki? Archie...what am I gonna do? I just know it's his baby...what if it's like him?"
When Utivich finished up, walking into their room in his boxers and undershirt he found Anna rubbing her round stomach in bed while reading a book as if nothing had happened. When Utivich climbed into bed, he smiled, kissed her cheek and was surprised by Anna putting her book down and reaching down, grabbing Utivich between the legs and giving it a gentle squeeze.
That all stopped when he opened the door and found Anna collapsed on the floor laying in a puddle of her own blood. Instantly his eyes widened as he hurried over, squatting down and gathering her limp body into his arms. frightened, he shook her and saw how terribly pale she looked.
Five hours later.
The sound of cries filled the small room they used as a pallor. Sitting up, nervously squeezing his hands together, shirt and slacks stained with blood, Utivich waited as the doctor who was called shortly after he discovered her was working. Finally, the bedroom door opened and Utivich shot up, staring like a frightened child. The doctor had blood up to his elbows. Sighing, he was wiping her hands.
"It's a boy, healthy and fine. I tried my best but I'm sorry...we're losing her. I would go in there and be there with her, I have some phone calls to make and get my nurse over here. Would you like me to fetch a priest."
Utivch said almost in a trance as he walked past the doctor. Looking in, he saw Anna laying in bed. No longer looking like that gorgeous young girl they found all that time ago over seas. Here laid a pale exhausted young woman who was only half there. Her hair was pinned back, with loose strands plastered to her pale and sweaty face. Dark circles were underneath her eyes, and her lips were a faint pale color of purple. Laying there, she stared up at him as faint cries came from the bassinet he had bought her. Slowly as if in a dream, Utivich walked over and gulped. Right away he had the strongest urge to just turn around and run. Instead, he took a deep breath and sat down on the edge of the bed they had shared for the last few months. The bed where they had made love, talked for hours, and laid in each other's arms. Looking at her, Utivich reached and held her hand. Instantly he knew she was dying, her hand was no longer warm.
"The doctor said you're gonna be just fine..."
"Can I see him?"
Anna cut him off. Nodding, Utivich turned and looked down at the newborn baby laying wrapped up. Carefully, he scooped him up and sat back down, turning the infant slightly so she could see. Anna smiled weakly and reached out, gently touching the baby's soft face with her finger.
Anna then looked up at Utivich, her eyes serious.
"I want you to name him Archie William, that okay?"
"You were a good husband to me, and even though I don't think we loved each other like a typical husband and wife should, you became my best friend. You took me in, and took care of me and I am forever thankful for that..."
"Anna save your strength please..."
"I know I don't have much time so please just listen okay?"
Utivich nodded as Anna sadly smiled.
"You marry again Utivich, somebody special that treats you good. Have lots of babies, and forget about this terrible war. Archie...no matter what is Hickox's son. I think we both know who most likely is his father, but to me...he's Archie's. You teach him to me a good man. You let him play, laugh, and run outside. Show him how to be respectful, and how to treat a lady one day. Tell him that I loved him and that I'll look in on him from time to time. Don't ever tell him about what we all did in Germany, or about Hans Landa. Understand?"
Utivich nodded before Anna took a deep breath.
"Thank you Utivich...now take him into the other room. I think I'll just close my eyes and rest a while."
Knowing this was it, Utivich blinked the tears away before wiping his eyes roughly. Nodding, he sniffled and held tightly onto the baby. Leaning over, he kissed Anna's cheek before getting up and taking the baby away. Sitting down on the pallor's sofa. He sighed and gently rocked the baby as the doctor used the phone. Less an a half an hour later, Utivich watched as the doctor came back into the bedroom and stayed for a while. When he came out to answer the door for the nurse, he sighed and shook his head.
"She's gone, I'm so sorry..."
Utivich nodded, not the slightly bit surprised. Staring down at the infant, the only thing he was grateful at that exact moment was the fact that Anna was finally once and for all at peace.
Two years later.
"Dada! Look! Look!"
Little Archie wobbled down wearing overalls and a little newsboy hat as he giggled and threw up a handful of leafs from the park. Utivich was spending his Sunday with his son, enjoying the crisp cool weather. Today he had been pleasantly surprised by getting an unexpected visitor. Once he answered the door, he grinned and threw his arms around his old friend. The last time he saw Aldo was at Anna's funeral.
The two were currently sitting on the park bench side by side watching little Archie play. Archie had sandy colored hair, and big blue eyes. Utivich smiled and waved to his son who continued to blow kisses at him and run around throwing himself into the leafs laughing.
"Do you believe in Heaven?"
Aldo raised an eyebrow and looked over at him.
Utivich turned slightly.
"Heaven, like...do you believe Anna is there?"
Aldo took out a cigarette, stretched and continued watching the baby play.
"I'm not exactly sure if I believe in any of that, but I would like to believe that when I finally drop I'll be able to see my friends again, including Hickox and Anna. She was a spitfire, and I know she sure would be mighty proud seeing how you're raising up this boy."
Utivich sighed before Aldo motioned forward with his hand.
"Besides, there's proof there might be such things as angels."
"That boy over there. No matter how he was made, let it be by passion, or rape...here is he, innocent, young, and good...he's all Anna, and that there makes me wanna believe."
Smiling sadly, Uitvich watched his son and for once felt completely at peace.