Chapter 14 in A Rainbow in Munich

  • March 23, 2021, 12:18 p.m.
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  • Public

It seemed to Rainbow that barely five minutes had passed before she awoke once again, this time to the sound of voices and the aroma of coffee. She yawned and stretched, still tired.

“Guten Morgen,” said Nadja when she noticed she was awake.

“Guten Morgen,” Rainbow mumbled back.

Hildegard said something in German.


“Are you hungry?”

“I don’t know. I guess maybe I am sort of hungry, but I’m more tired than anything.”

“You can go back to sleep for a while if you need to.”

Nadja said something to her mother and then her mother spoke. Turning back to her, Nadja said, “You need to take your medication first, then she’ll wake you at nine.”

“What time is it now?”

“Seven-thirty.” Nadja knelt down beside the couch. “I gotta go now, babe, but I’ll email you tonight, ok?”

Rainbow nodded, too tired to think of the idea of having to be left alone with someone she barely knew and couldn’t communicate well with.

“Don’t give mom a hard time.”

“I won’t. I’ll miss you.”

Nadja gathered her in her arms for a hug and then kissed her. “I’ll miss you, too.” She then kissed her mom on the cheek and was gone.

Hildegard handed Rainbow her pills along with a cup of water. After she swallowed them she gave the glass back to Hildegard and made herself comfortable once again on the makeshift bed. She lay on her tummy, face turned to the back of the couch.

She could still smell Nadja.

A second later she heard the television come on and Hildegard settling down in her chair.

Shit. You mean she was going to watch TV while she tried to get some more sleep? After a fleeting moment of wishing she’d succeeded in killing herself, she tried to decide what was best. She could try to tune out the TV and Hildegard’s presence, or she could simply get up and face the day, tired or not.

If she got up now Hildegard would know the TV bothered her and she didn’t want her to feel bad or put out in her own home in any way. But if she lay there with her mind racing like crazy about all the reasons to be angry with Nadja for saving her ass, she just might go a little crazier than she already was.

But then the decision was made for her when Hildegard was hit with a sneezing fit.

“Sorry,” she said, surprising her with speaking English for the first time.

“It’s ok,” said Rainbow, sitting up. She looked around her.

Now what?

Hildegard blew her nose, threw her tissue out and then came toward her. In German, she asked if she needed to use the bathroom.

Rainbow nodded. “Ja.”

Hildegard pulled her to her feet and guided her to the bathroom off the kitchen. When she was done Hildegard led her to her bedroom which seemed worlds away from the kitchen bathroom.

The bedroom was simple; a double bed across from the door was flanked by nightstands while a long dresser with a large mirror was on the wall opposite the bed, just inside the entry door to the right. There were windows in the front and sidewalls, and a closet and full bath located to the left of the entry.

The décor was nice, though she’d have preferred shades of pinks and purples rather than blues and greens.

She sat on the foot of the bed while Hildegard opened one of the dresser’s top drawers. Apparently, that was where some of her clothes would be kept. Speaking in German, Hildegard handed her a pile of clothes and Rainbow got the idea that she was to pick what she wanted to wear that day.

Once she was dressed in shorts and a tee, Hildegard gave her a fruit-filled breakfast bar and then the rest of the day passed rather boringly. The only thing she accomplished was to catch up on her email messages once her laptop was hooked to the wireless internet connection Hildegard had, and that was pretty much all she could do online until she learned more German because many sites were in German now that she was in Germany.

Hildegard remained distant yet close by, always watchful of her movements, even though she didn’t make many. She couldn’t have if she wanted to. Not until Hildegard suggested they go swimming in the afternoon.

Swimming with Hildegard was a nice escape from her thoughts for her thoughts only depressed her because they would always wander to Carlos and the fact that she would never see him again.

She swam a few laps, trying to move her legs as much as she could.

“You swim well,” said Hildegard in German, though she mostly remained quiet. Rainbow wondered if Hildegard was normally this quiet or if it was simply because she didn’t know her well and they didn’t speak the same language.

Rainbow noticed the ring on Hildegard’s long, slender forefinger. It was a thick silver band with wavy edges. The kind, along with her large hoop earrings, that you’d normally see on younger people. At least in the U.S. anyway. Maybe the type of jewelry, clothes, and long hair was part of what made Hildegard look so much younger than she was.

Hildegard, who had been standing near the center of the pool, headed for the steps. “Come on,” she said in German, motioning Rainbow toward her.

Rainbow swam to that side of the pool and walked along the bottom once her feet could reach it. She stepped diligently over to Hildegard, but Hildegard kept moving away the closer she got until she was walking back and forth at the very front of the pool. She was pleasantly surprised at how much stronger she was getting.

“Sehr gut,” said Hildegard, and then a neighbor calling out a greeting from next door startled Rainbow and caused her to slip and be dunked under water.

Hildegard had laughed at her yesterday when she’d been startled under water, but it had been good-naturedly and only for a few seconds. Then her expression went neutral like it usually was and like it was right now as she watched her cry while she sat in her chair which she slowly rocked back and forth in. It was capable of doing so when not reclined.

Rainbow sat on the couch. She wasn’t sure what she should do. Should she try to stifle her emotions or just let them out? “I’m sorry,” Rainbow said, almost embarrassed.

The older woman shrugged. Even her mannerisms were hard to read as were her facial expressions. Had she shrugged in annoyance, indifference, or had it been a shrug of understanding?

She almost wished it were bedtime again. After she’d risen yesterday, Hildegard had yanked the sheet off the couch and Rainbow had assumed she’d replace it come bedtime, but she didn’t. Instead, she had her sleep next to her in her bed and she had liked it. At first, it seemed a bit awkward as she lay there next to this woman who was still mostly a stranger, conscious of every move she made in the darkened room. She didn’t want to cough, sniffle, sneeze or toss and turn in any way that may disturb the woman.

Eventually, she’d fallen asleep only to be awakened a few hours later by thunder when a storm rolled through. It had startled her out of a sound sleep, flashing her back to that fateful spring day the earthquake had changed her life forever. She had been asleep on her stomach and cried out as the boom of thunder jolted her awake. Hildegard had reached over and rubbed her back reassuringly for a few minutes.

In the morning, she’d slowly opened her eyes, not moving her body just yet which felt like a dead weight. She realized then that she was lying on her side with her back pressed up against the front of Hildegard. Hildegard’s arm was draped almost protectively around her giving her a sense of security she found very comforting. Rainbow assumed the woman had placed her arm around her unknowingly in her sleep, perhaps mistaking her for her lost husband.

But when Rainbow lifted her head and looked behind her she saw that Hildegard was very much awake.

“Guten Morgen. Schlaf gut?”

Rainbow nodded for other than when the thunder scared her awake, she had slept fine enough.

Hildegard pulled her arm away as she stretched and yawned and then the day began much like it had yesterday. They showered and ate and then Hildegard made herself comfortable in her chair while she sat on the couch.

The only real difference was that instead of swimming in the afternoon, Hildegard took her for a walk instead.

About four houses down the street, a couple that looked to be around eighty years old sat in chairs on their front porch. They’d exchanged greetings and from what Rainbow gathered, Hildegard explained who she was and why she was there.

“I know a little English,” said the woman. “I’m sorry about what happened to you but I can assure you that you’re in very good hands.”

“Hildegard’s been a big help,” Rainbow said politely.

“She worked in a psychiatric hospital with handicapped people,” the woman added.

Oh, had she? Rainbow thought they had simply been handicapped for the most part, not that that wasn’t bad enough. She hadn’t realized she had actually worked in a psychiatric hospital.

Yeah, she was in great hands, alright.

“Hildegard’s a sweetie. Very mild-mannered.”

“Yes, she seems to be.”

“She’s got a lot more patience than Nadja, though Nadja certainly tries her best.”

“She does.”

“You just hang in there, little one, and don’t be so sad. God loves you.”

Yeah, sure He does. So much so that He allowed my husband and home to be destroyed. Because He just loves little Rainbow Karson so damn much.

Hildegard and the couple spoke in German for a few more minutes, Rainbow hanging onto Hildegard for balance, and then they slowly backtracked their way to the house. Shortly after that Rainbow had broken down in tears.

She looked at Hildegard, still unable to get a sense of what she was thinking.

After a few minutes of crying, Hildegard stood up, walked over to where she sat and pulled her to her feet.

“What are you doing?” Rainbow asked.

Hildegard guided her into the kitchen and sat her down at the table where both their laptops stood. Then Hildegard pulled a chair close to hers and began typing something on her computer.

Rainbow watched curiously as she wrote in German in a box and then hit a button to translate it to English.

You need to make a decision.

“A decision?” said Rainbow, reading the text.

Hildegard nodded and then typed some more.

Live or die.

Again Rainbow read the print in the box, not sure what to make of the words before her. She simply looked at Hildegard and shrugged.

Hildegard typed again.

If you choose to live then you must next choose where. If you choose Germany you must then learn German. Have you anything positive and happy to say??? Anything at all despite the terrible time you’ve had?

Rainbow leaned over and typed in English and then clicked the button that would translate it to German.

You are the most beautiful fifty-nine-year-old I have ever seen.

Hildegard blinked in surprise. She obviously hadn’t been expecting that one. She turned her deep blue eyes to Rainbow’s jade green ones. Then she hugged her.

A second later Rainbow pulled back and smiled for the first time since losing her husband and home.

Last updated April 17, 2021

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