Updated on September 1, 2015
When Matilde woke, the sky hung low over the farmland and the dark green smudge of forest on the far side of the pasture. Pulling on her sweater, she reminded herself to find a suitable substitute for the button she’d lost yesterday, and to sew it on.
She crept past her sleeping sister. Alice had been out late, doing God only knew what for the resistance. She deserved a few extra winks.
The cows lowed in the barn, restless to empty their udders. Matilde grabbed a stale hunk of baguette from the kitchen table and headed outside, almost tripping on the crate full of peaches sitting on the back door step.
Dew clung to the baby fuzz, making them glow. Such color. She hadn’t seen food so vibrant or rich in…How long had it been?
The Nazis had taken all of the fruit last summer, and the one before that.
She reached for the peaches, and then froze.
What were they doing here? There could be a bomb hidden inside the box. Could the Nazis know?
She squatted down for a closer look. The smell. Her mouth started to water just imagining sinking her teeth into the soft, firm skin, the juice squirting into her mouth and dripping down her chin. The cool flesh, alive with everything that had been missing; silk, parties, sweet kisses, moonlit strolls into the village to meet with her friends.
“They are for you, Fraulein.”
Matilde stumbled backwards, but caught herself on her doorjamb, and pushed herself up to standing. The icy pick of fear rammed through her gut.
She recognized him; the wolf-like eyes that had devoured her as she stacked rocks back onto the wall one of their tanks had destroyed. He’d stroked his rifle as she bent over, again and again. That day, his eyes had boiled with lust and power. Today, they were impenetrable.
“For me? Why?”
“You remind me of a girl I knew.” He reached his gloved hand out and stroked her cheek with the back of his gloved hand, slowly letting it trail down her neck to the swell of her breast. The sweet taste of peaches imagined was instantly replaced with the taste of bile.
“You’re missing a button.”