Chronicles from the Future: Diary Page - December 2nd 1918

Paul Dienach writing - Illustration


December 2nd 1918

I’ve decided to write a little bit every day, so that I can tell my sad story, little by little, from the beginning till the end.

During the first 21 years of my life you’d think I was the happiest person on earth. It’s been 11 years since then, 11 unbearable years. The only thing I’m now longing for is some solace, or something to keep me occupied…

It feels like yesterday, those holy days of craving that never-ending happiness with Ann. It can’t be true that this love has had such a sad and unfixable ending , that Ann has been dead for so many years now, that everything has faded away… No, I can’t believe it, 9 whole years without her.

“Why do you keep torturing yourself by thinking about all that?”, they ask me. I understand. I need closure, but it is hard to find.

You don’t know it, but our love was not an ordinary love-story. We were still at school when we fell in love with each other. Since then I had been imagining her name next to mine…

That man, who brought destruction into our lives and sent her to the grave, never loved her! He never considered Ann his one and only, like I did. He never saw anything in her eyes.

Paul Dienach looking at the window - Illustration

When I was little, I would stare for hours through my window, which overlooked hers. And when the weather got nasty, that’s when I didn’t even move from there! I saw the people pacing quickly, smiling at the thought of a warm soup and a cozy bed at home, while I was wishing that the weather would continue so that I’d have a better chance of seeing her.

“What is Ann feeling at the moment? What does this colorless world look like through her eyes?” I’d think.

And when I saw her under the light of the lamp, holding her embroidery, my longing became a life goal vindicated, my salvation from loneliness…

Only on holidays did I wish for good weather, because a storm would lessen my chances to run into Ann and her family in the park. But still, I got nervous. I would have to say hello and it would be embarrassing for her parents to see me turn pale.

How happy were the days that came after! Shortly before her brother left the city to study, I got to know him better. He invited me home and I went many times indeed. I swear to God, my acquaintance with Anna was not a product of my own initiative. I would have never found the courage. Those who have loved purely and vigorously in their early teenage years are well aware of that, and deeply understand it.

Anna - Illustration

In the early days, not even Anna had realized a thing; she was only looking forward to my next visit so that she could give me a different present each time - travel books, colored pencils… I still remember the first time I saw her at church dressed in white. “How did her eyelashes grow so much all at once?” I thought to myself. I also remember that during my last year in high school, all the margins of my books had her name written on them.

One day I couldn’t help myself and she noticed my tear filled eyes. We were sitting in the living room with a huge book opened in front of us on the table. Her mother was sitting right next to her. I will never forget her gaze. It took the form of a massive question mark. It was so serious; too serious for her age.

We didn’t say another word and quickly closed the book. Angry at myself, I wiped my eyes, hastily said goodbye to her mother and rushed out of there. I cried myself to sleep that night. It would be my fault if I never saw her again.

Eleven days passed. One afternoon, on my way back home early, I heard noises from the living room. I walked in and, who would have thought, Ann was there with her mother! Before I could get a grip I had to greet the ladies. Ann was completely unabashed, like nothing was going on. A boy could have never disguised himself as well as she did! The visit had been her idea.

Then it was my turn to go away for studies. I was absent for a year or two. By the time I got back she had become a proper lady. The first times I saw her she didn’t talk to me the way she used to or looked straight into my eyes. And I blanked out, like an idiot, not being able to utter a few words to form a sentence. I blushed and answered with single words to her every question. But still, I was so happy.

Now I go back to the places where I used to meet her, again and again. What else is there for me to do so as to come to grips with my misery? While writing, my tears drip over the fresh ink, disfiguring the letters. It’s ridiculous, I know, for a 32-year-old man to cry like a baby. I’ve been told so many times by now, enough to know it very well myself. But please forgive me. I’m just a miserable man that has been through too much in life.

Nobody knew about our love back then, no-one except her best friend, Amelia. I hadn’t even told my mother, my own best friend, my hero! How much has she been though herself, with my misfortunes and my sickness. And even now, in her deathbed, she’s still my shoulder to cry on, instead of me being hers.  I remember you, mom, crying at nights and me not knowing what to do. I remember you going to her house to see her, during her own sickness, and her parents telling you there’s nothing else that can be done, no hope whatsoever. And they didn’t let you see her. They didn’t even let me see her…

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