Out in the parking lot, Rainbow trudged slightly behind the two women she loved even if it was in different ways. Mother and daughter exchanged some words and then Nadja turned to her as they were about to head to their cars.
“Just like last time, I have to go back to work now, but I’ll pick you up afterward and we’ll have a great evening together,” Nadja smiled brightly.
Rainbow tried to appear happier than she was. “Ok. See you then.”
They hugged and kissed and then Rainbow got into Hildegard’s car.
Hildegard sniffled as she put the key in the ignition. Rainbow could see tears glistening in her eyes. She put a hand on Hildegard’s arm before she could start the car. Hildegard glanced at her and then pulled her toward her in a tight embrace. One that said she never wanted to let go. “You know you’ll always be special to me,” Rainbow said, face half-buried in the German woman’s shoulder.
“And you will always be special to me as well, dear Rainbow,” Hildegard replied.
Yes, English. One hundred percent genuine English.
Rainbow pulled back with a sudden jolt. “What the…”
“What the fuck?” Hildegard said with a smile. Then she half-laughed at Rainbow’s surprise.
Rainbow studied the attractive woman in shock. “Um… yeah. Something like that.”
Hildegard smiled again and started the car.
Still trying to wrap her head around the fact that Hildegard had just replied to her in perfect English, she wasn’t sure if she was more surprised or angered that she’d kept this an obvious secret since she doubted she had only learned English just last night. “Since when did you learn English and why hasn’t anyone said anything to me about it?”
Keeping her eye on the traffic ahead Hildegard said, “Because no one knows about it yet. I began studying online just over a year ago. I was soon going to have it be a surprise for you and everyone else, but now it must still be a secret for everyone else.”
“You just have to trust me, Rainbow. Please, please, please promise me you won’t say anything to Nadja over the weekend and just trust that I have very good reason for to be only letting you in on it the secret now.”
“For to be only letting you in on it the secret now?” Rainbow laughed.
Another smile. “My English isn’t that good. I understand the basics but not much more and you know that mastering vocabulary is always easier than grammar.”
“Yeah, but what made you decide to learn and why the secrecy?”
“Rainbow, sweetie, you’ve just got to trust me. You’ll find out soon enough,” Hildy said, emotion putting a bit of a tremor in her voice.”
Wow, she really had come to care for her.
Rainbow reached out and gently touched her arm.
“Ich liebe dich, Rainbow,” Hildegard said wiping a tear from her eye.
“I love you too, Hildy.”
“They say there’s a reason for everything.”
Rainbow looked at Hildegard and waited for more.
“Just over a year ago I had the sudden desire to learn a new language, something that I never seriously thought of before.” She paused a minute and then looked at Rainbow. “And now I know why the reason.”
Rainbow digested Hildegard’s words but still wasn’t sure what to make of them.
“But you must keep your promise not to say anything to Nadja,” she said firmly.
“I just don’t get what’s going on,” Rainbow said as they were pulling into Hildegard’s driveway moments later.
“Kommen,” Hildegard said in her own language.
They went into the house and Hildegard guided Rainbow to the couch in the living room. Sitting next to each other, Hildegard took Rainbow’s hands in hers and spoke in soft, slow English. “Now tell me honestly. Do you really want to go live with Nadja? Is that what you really want? I must know the truth.”
Rainbow thought about it good and hard. Did she want to go live with a woman she didn’t always get along with just because she was attracted to her?
Hildegard’s bright blue eyes gazed at her with seriousness.
“No, I don’t think so. I love her and we have a lot of fun times together. Great chats, lots of laughs. But I can’t deny the fact that she’s unpredictable at times. And scary.” Rainbow suddenly realized she should keep her English as simple as possible. A year of studying didn’t usually make one that fluent. “I just can’t always know what to expect with her. One bad day and her temper might be out of control.”
Hildegard nodded slowly but with a sad understanding.
“Why is she the way she is, Hildy? Is there a reason?”
With a shrug, Hildegard said, “I don’t know. That’s what makes it so strange. I honestly don’t know. She’s the only one in the family that gets that way. My boys have always been so gentle and kind, but Nadja; she always was a moody one.”
Rainbow stared at nothing for a minute or two, still trying to get the events of the morning to sink in. What would the afternoon bring? she wondered anxiously. Then she turned back to Hildegard. “Hildy, why is it so important for me not to tell anyone you know English?”
“I can’t tell you that right now.”
“Just tell me why you can’t tell me and I’ll keep my end of the deal and keep your secret.”
Hildegard looked doubtful for a moment but then she said, “Ok, this will be a good test of trust to see how much I can trust you. Trust is very important if you don’t want to live with my daughter and you must learn to trust me.”
“I feel like I should have said something to the judge and been a little more honest in court. But something held me back. I just didn’t want to hurt Nadja or you.”
“The truth does not hurt me, sweet Rainbow. Only the lies do. And then again I think maybe they do both hurt.”
“Well, then, to answer your question, no, I don’t want to go back to her. Things could be great for weeks and then all she has to do is have a bad day where I say the wrong thing and I could get my ass beat real bad. You saw the marks on me.”
Hildegard nodded sadly.
“How do I know she wouldn’t kill me?”
“You don’t. I love my daughter very much. But I also love you. Enough to want to protect you even if it means making some sacrifices that could get my own self in trouble. It’d be taking – I believe the word is risk.”
“Yeah, I know what a risk is. But I still don’t get it. What risk would you be taking?”
Hildegard cupped Rainbow’s face in her hands. If you can keep this discussion a secret, I can give up something very big to save you, but I mustn’t tell you what this is just yet. You will know when it is time to know. But it is your choice and your choice only. I won’t hold it against you whatever it is you choose to do.”
Rainbow didn’t like the idea of Hildegard making sacrifices that were risky or giving up “something big,” but the more the reality of going to live with Nadja had time to work itself into her brain, the less she liked the idea of it. She guessed that Hildegard was going to hide her out somewhere and help her get her own place and some kind of job where they might need English speakers. Whatever it was that the older woman had in mind, she would find out soon enough for she fully intended to keep her secret.