This was the tree where David and I met after school. He was the sweetest boy I ever knew and I always imagined that one day we would get married and have lots of children. It never occurred to me that laws would soon be put in place to make relationships such as ours illegal.
As soon as school was let out, I ran to the tree and he would be waiting for me. He was so tall and handsome with thick black hair and gentle brown eyes. We would hold hands and kiss but that was as far as things went. We would sit under the tree and talk for hours. Parting from him was always hard. I always willed the hours because I couldn’t wait to see him again.
Then one day, I showed up and for the first time he wasn’t there. I waited for hours but he never came. I was understandably frantic. After several days went by and still no sign of him, I decided to go by his father’s shop and was appalled to see the word, “Jude” painted across the window and the star of David. The shop was empty. I ran home and asked my father what had happened to David. My father sat me down and explained to me that the Germans had moved the Jews to the Ghetto. I learned that they were banned from from entering certain streets, squares, parks, woods and other public places. That meant that David and I couldn’t meet by the tree anymore. It was in the woods. David couldn’t go to my brother’s school any more.
After my father finished telling me everything he knew, I went to my room where I cried and cried. David who was forced to live like an animal because of deeply rooted hatred. My world had become a dark and ugly place of intolerance and ignorance. I wanted so desperately to see him but it was out of the question. My father told me it was best to forget about David. There was no future for us. He was a Jew.
I knew that I would never forget David. I loved him. He was my first and only love. And I never gave up hope that we would be together again–not even when I learned that the Jews had been deported to concentration camps. No one was willing to take them in and for some Jews, going into hiding would break up their families and that was unthinkable, especially those who with children.
The years went by, the war raged on and I became a nurse. My father died of a heart-attack a couple of days after his fiftieth wedding anniversary. Only my mother and I were left. My brother was killed years ago after he was arrested for being a part of a resistance movement against the Nazi Regime. My parents were devastated but I was proud of him for fighting against evil. I only wish I had the guts to do something too. Instead I prayed that David and his family would somehow survive and that when the war was over I would see him again.
Well, the war is over and I’m the only surviving member of my family. My mother died from a stroke a month ago. I buried her next to my father.
Tomorrow is my birthday but I have no one special to celebrate it with. It’s a nice afternoon so I decided to go for a walk in the park. I head straight for the tree. A man stood there with his back to me. He was wearing a hat and a trench coat. Something about him looked familiar. My heart began to beat faster. I could feel the color drain from my cheeks. “David?” My voice was barely above a whisper and yet he heard me.
He turned around slowly. “Ingrid.” He removed his hat and stepped forward.
“David!” I cried again and then we were in each other’s arms, laughing, crying and kissing. I don’t know how long we did that and I didn’t care. All I knew was that David, my David was alive. He had survived the ghetto, the camp and the war.
This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Rooted at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.