For umpteenth time your warm eyes drifted to the large timepiece chiming, signaling the start of the sixth hour of evening. “Six….” You mumbled to yourself ruefully. One of your favorite novels lie on your round stomach, page bookmarked from where you had last stopped. A sharp thump from inside your stomach caused you to gasp, sucking in air. “Oohhh….sweetie, don’t hurt Mommy…” you whispered to the growing life within you. Your hand rested where the baby had kicked, fingers rubbing in soothing circles.
The dryer beeped, interrupting your much-needed relaxation. With a curse (“Curse you dryer!”), you struggled to push yourself off the couch, regretfully waddling off to fold your husband’s dress pants. A smile tugged at your lips as your mind traveled to your handsome husband. Ludwig, your German in shining uniform, had stolen your heart the first time you met him: scrunched over a desk, scribbling out reports. You had arrived at the military base seeking employment as a secretary and had just appeared for your interview with him.
Gratefully, he had accepted your credentials and had immediately offered you the job that evening. Throughout the hundreds of hours you had served under him for two years, feelings had sprouted between the gruff soldier and you; after waiting four months, your patience was rewarded with his first invitation for a date.
Four years later, Ludwig had mustered enough courage to propose to you in a quiet meadow on the outskirts of the base, and you happily said yes. Now, you both lived in a quaint house only fifteen minutes from his work and thankfully you both still had love blossoming in your marriage, both still as affectionate, passionate, loving, and cherishing as your wedding day.
You groaned as the baby pummeled your stomach with tiny feet. Sighing, you grabbed the basket and propped it against your stomach so not to drop it. Apparently the baby had other ideas. Once you had safely secured the basket, your growing babe kicked it right out of your hands! Ludwig’s dress clothes fluttered to the floor, scattering every which way. You sighed loudly and bit your lip. Now how were you going to fold his clothes?! Very carefully you grabbed onto the dryer for support, cautiously stretching to reach the clothes. “I….c-can’t….reach….them!”
“_______? I’m home!” A familiar voice called out from the front door. Barking met the voice at the door, but not you.
“In the…laundry….room, love….” You replied, still straining to reach the shirts and pants.
Ludwig stomped over to the kitchen, immediately ordering the dogs to sit so they wouldn’t crowd you. Once they obeyed, he fed each an animal cracker as a reward, smiling as all three happily munched. “______?” He called, stepping into the laundry room. As soon as he saw the discarded clothes his expression clouded with worry, a thousand possible tragedies instantly leaping to his mind. “______?! Are you all right?!”
You chuckled softly as his large hands gripped your shoulders. “Yes, I’m fine, Ludwig. No need to worry. Our baby decided the clothes looked better on the floor. Sorry, I was trying to get them when you came in.”
“Don’t worry about that.” His thickly-accented voice chided as strong arms enveloped you into a tight hug. “I’m just glad you’re safe. Don’t scare me like that again. Let me know the next time you need help.”
You compressed the chuckle ascending up your throat and instead kissed his cheek. “Thank you, love. Now then, I need you to let me go so I can finish reading my book. Once, of course, I finish the lettuce for tonight.”
Ludwig shook his head, vehemently opposed to you helping out with the meals. “Nein, I’ll take care of that. Now, go rest on the couch. Now.” He instructed firmly, gently giving your bottom loving swat. You rolled your eyes and nodded, waddling into the living room, cautiously reclining onto the couch. Berlitz, Aster, and Blackie all followed, but once Ludwig started to cook, both Blackie and Aster left you leaving Berlitz on guard.
You smiled, hand nuzzling Berlitz’s ears. “Danke Berlitz. You’re a good boy, protecting me and the baby.” A chuckle escaped your lips as the dog licked your hand. He laid his nose on your stomach and sighed, closing his eyes. You grinned and opened your novel once more, fingers gliding across the pages until they halted at where you had left off. After raising a hand to rub your eyes, you submerge back into the adventures of the book.
“So, how was your day?” You looked up from your plate to your husband’s attractive face. “Did you get a lot of work done?”
A small sigh left his lips as he shook his head. Swallowing, he replied “Nein, not even close. Italy dropped by the office and I couldn’t get anything done. I swear, he has to be the neediest of all the countries on the face of the earth!” He complained, gesturing with his hands. “I swear it’s always, ‘Germany! I need help! Spain took my pasta!’ or ‘Germany! I can’t tie my own shoelaces because I’m a dummkoph who doesn’t even know how to do it!’ Why can’t he do anything for himself?!”
Smiling, your hand reached out for his, fingers twisting with his large calloused hands. “And he’s still your ally and best friend, right? He’s there for you, no matter if he’s running away from England or if he’s making you pasta. He does care about you, he….well he’s just being Italy. That’s how he is, Ludwig….but….you can always call me to vent.”
The gruff German’s blue irises met your own, his hand squeezing your own. “….Ja…but you’re wrong one several accounts.”
“Oh?” you frowned, raising an eyebrow. “It sounded right to me.”
“Nein, because,” He replied with a warm, passionate, sincere smile, “You’re my best friend.”
His loving words seeped into you, filling you from head to toe. Ludwig wasn’t the most romantic man on the planet, in fact, Germans were considered to be the world’s worst lovers, but the fact that he spoke those words to you touched you more than a thousand kisses ever would. Your husband wasn’t very talkative about his feelings, not even to you. In fact, once he had learned you were pregnant, he hardly talked for an hour! Yes, of course, he was thrilled, but he couldn’t find the proper words needed to express his complete sense of joy! You still remember your flustered attempts at getting him to speak ending up fruitless. Only after he had figured out the different financing and job shifts did he talk.
You chuckled softly and gazed at him. “You’re my best friend too….I love you.”
“Ich liebe dich auch….I love you too.” was his sweet reply.
You heard a grunt of displeasure from your love in the bathroom. Laughing softly, you very carefully eased onto the bed, partially wishing you weren’t as plump as you were now. Although pregnancy was a marvelous thing: being the gate for a child to enter the world was an amazing priveledge, you despised the symptoms and weight gain. Although Ludwig had rebuked you for making comments like, “Why am I so ugly?” you couldn’t help but feel like an overweight, cranky, wart-growing monster who only ordered her selfless husband to cater to her every whim: whether that be avocado dip and pickles or tangerine salads. With some effort, you managed to prop yourself up against the headboard using extra pillows and let out a sigh of exhaustion.
“Tired liebling?” Ludwig questioned from inside the bathroom, albeit since he was brushing his teeth it came out garbled.
Closing your eyes, you laid your head back and let your mind wander as your fingers played with the golden band on your left hand. The sound of water swishing around vaguely played in your ears, blending into the dull background drone as your mind drifted to much more interesting things….such as different chores that needed to be completed soon. I need to get the nursery room ready for the baby….I’ll need to scrub the closet and dust the bathroom….I mean dust the closet and scrub the bathroom… you wearily thought.
A voice beckoned you from your thoughts, hands reaching over to caress yours. “_____? Are you asleep liebe?”
Your eyes cracked open slightly, seeing nothing but blue. Smiling, you opened your eyes long enough to find his mouth then sweetly connected lips. A blazing fire singed your senses as you both remained together, lips fitting like puzzle pieces. Even if it was a gentle kiss, you could still feel the tremendous depth of his feelings gushing into you like water once released from a dam. Eager to return his affections, your fingers reached up to caress his blonde locks. This……this is what kept you from whining to him constantly about your inner feelings. Ludwig truly….truly loved you. You could sense it, feel it streaming throughout your entire body. He loved you. He loved you. He loved you. Although the kiss only lasted a few precious seconds, your heart suddenly felt replenished, assured of his affections, addicted to his love.
“Are you all right?” The heavily German-accented voice whispered, hand leaving yours to look for a fever. His warm hand covered your forehead, desperately praying there was no illness to be found. You smiled and gently shook your head. “No, there’s nothing. You worry too much.” You replied after kissing his forehead with a soft smack “But I’m so glad that you do.”
He grinned, truly grinned while kissing your forehead. “Only for you _____, only for you.” Ludwig momentarily abandoned your side to hang up his shirt, to stuff his boots in the closet, and to toss his pair of dirty socks into the hamper. He slid under the covers and stifled a yawn.
“Help me get down, hmm?” You asked shyly, feeling like a child having to plead for his help. As soon as his muscled arms brushed against your back you shuddered, trying to ease yourself back down. It wasn’t easy, actually took a good five minutes worth of effort, but eventually you were comfortably reclined on your side, facing away from Ludwig.
A hand slipped around you, cradling your rounded stomach as a chest was pressed to your back. You could hear the air being inhaled deeply and then exhaled slowly, repeating twice before settling into his usual breathing pattern. “Goodnight, _____.”
“Goodnight, Ludwig. Sweet dreams.”
The next day, you awoke to hearing a muffled shout followed by a mumbled curse. Your eyes sprang open, instinctively shouting out, “Ludwig?! Are you all right?!”
Your husband clad in only his boxers whirled around, not quite expecting you to be awake. To be honest, your sudden yelp had almost pushed him into a heart attack. After releasing a few deep breaths to calm his nerves, Ludwig swallowed and looked over at you, nodding, “Ja, I’m all right.”
“Oh…good.” You exhaled the breath you had subconsciously holding. “D-don’t scare me like that!” Although tired, you managed to sit up without his help and stood, ready to get dressed.
From the corner of your eye you detected his eye roll, which spurred one of yours. Laughing softly, you gently pushed him and walked towards the closet, debating what to wear.
Two arms tightened around you as your arm reached for a lovely pink blouse. A light kiss was pressed to your head as the owner of the arms chuckled deeply. Suppressing a smile, you shook slightly, pouting ever so slightly. “I have to get dressed! You can’t go to the grocery store, so I’m going to have to!”
With a grunt he released you to dress himself in a light blue dress shirt, khaki pants, and smart dress shoes. “Sharp, liebe, very sharp.” You kissed his cheek and whispered, “I like.” before leaving to dress yourself.
After a delicious breakfast of tuna pickled sandwiches, you waved at Ludwig’s departing car before walking towards your own, a grocery list clenched by your fist. It was a beautiful day: the sun kissed everything in sight with warmth while a delightful breeze blew white, feathery clouds across a sky so blue it rivaled your husband’s eyes. It was a lovely spring morning, and it seemed that everyone alive knew it. Grinning, you rolled down the windows slightly, ushering in a comforting breeze that cooled and relaxed you. “This is the life.”
A wave of pain exploded through you, causing you to gasp sharply. “The baby-“
That was the last thought you would think in forty-eight hours.
Your husband, on the other side of town, was mumbling to himself in German. Stress was escalating in more ways than one. His shoulders were aching from three consecutive hours of holding their places; his boss announced that today’s employees would have to endure a double work-load while Ludwig had been working two and a half already to help pay for the new baby! What else could possibly go wrong?!
“Mr. Ludwig?” a knock from the door interrupted his thoughts. “I have an urgent message from the hospital!”
“Come in!” He demanded, rising up immediately. “What is it?! Is it ____?! Is it the baby?! What’s wrong?!”
“I’m sorry sir; it’s both your wife and your baby. They’re at the emergency room.” The attendant announced sadly.
“Make my excuses!” Ludwig ordered as he sprinted outside, making a mad scramble for his car. “______! I’m coming!”
He couldn’t emerge from his car fast enough. Ludwig flew in, banging his fist on the counter. “Where is ____?! Where is she?! Tell me what’s going on!”
“Calm down, sir. Are you ah…Ludwig?” A worker behind the counter asked.
“Ja! Where’s my wife?! Is she alive?! Where’s the baby?! What’s going on?! Why is she here?! Tell me why!” Thousands of possible tragedies were flooding his mind, overpowering his system. What if she was beaten by some thugs who wanted her money? What if she was cut by a butcher’s knife and now needed desperate medical attention? What if the baby came out before she could get to the hospital? Was something wrong with the baby? Was it not breathing right? Was its heart not functioning right? Was ____ on her deathbed? What if she was on the verge of leaving this world and he wasn’t allowed to even see her?! Already he could feel his heart’s beat speeding up as more ideas popped into his head.
“Sir, now calm down. Your wife is in critical condition, as is the baby. Now, if you will just take a seat over there, we’ll come find you when the time is right.”
“Time is right?! Are you saying she’s going to die?!” His hand fisted the lab coat of the doctor. “____ IS NOT GOING TO DIE! SHE WILL NOT DIE! OUR CHILD WILL NOT DIE!”
“Tell me what’s wrong with her! Tell me this instant! WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER?! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!”
Two guards came and dragged Ludwig away from the doctor, who looked badly shaken. “Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to sit down and stay quiet. We will find you when we need you.”
“____ is in there! Our baby is in there! I want to know what’s going on! Why is she here?! How did she get here?! Why did she get here?!” Ludwig struggled vehemently against the two officers.
“All of your questions will be answered in time! Now sit down!” The second officer repeated, shouting as he and his comrade fought to keep Ludwig in his seat. “We will find you when we need you!”
Four hours. Four stinking hours had passed and not one word about how you were doing. It was enough to drive Ludwig insane. His imagination wouldn’t stop, and had been constantly feeding his worries, causing him to start pacing a little over an hour ago. His cerulean eyes surveyed the room for anything unusual that would even be considered a clue as to how ___ was doing. Nothing. With an irritated sigh, he collapsed in the chair and held his head between his hands. He couldn’t lose _____....he couldn’t lose either of them.
The time he realized that he loved ____ never left his memory. She had suggested a picnic, and he had agreed, picking her up at noon sharp. ______ was so cheerful, she chattered about dozens of things before they arrived at the meadow behind the base. “This is so beautiful!” She breathed, pressing her nose against the glass.
He had smiled slightly, parking before grabbing the basket. Back then, he was just starting to notice ____ for who she was: a beautiful lady with a feisty yet sweet, caring personality that cared for everyone and anyone. That simple young lady had stolen his heart with a smile that would have melted any iced heart, and that’s why he was here. He wanted to see that smile one more time.
“Hurry up, Ludwig! I found the best spot!” She called out merrily, giggling with mirth. “I think this would be lovely, wouldn’t you?” She had found a rather large oak tree which provided excellent shade from the sun. He nodded and smiled, walking faster to catch up with her.
While she was unpacking the picnic basket, he was watching her every move, admiring the natural grace she used while doing any task. She’s really quite something…. He smiled, remembering how sweet and innocent she was….her beautiful hair flowing in the breeze, the sun kissing her cheeks and nose pink….the way she always cheered him up….. _____ was a girl worth waiting for. She was everything….the difference in his world from meeting her was as different as night and day. She was his sun in his day, she was his reason worth being alive. His reason for everything it seemed. Please let her be all right, God….if you’re there and listening to me.
“Mr. Ludwig?” A nurse cleared her throat.
“Hmm? Do they have news? Is she all right? Is the baby all right?” He stood, almost bumping into the nurse. “Are they all right? What happened?” He grabbed the nurse’s elbows, as if trying to pull the answer out of her.
“Sir, I’m going to need to ask you to calm down. I do have some news on your wife and child. Apparently, your wife went into labor while driving. The EMT drivers salvaged her from a car wreck. We’re not sure exactly what happened, but so far, she’s still breathing. We’re testing if everything is all right with the baby, and as soon as we’re sure, we’re going to deliver the baby. I’m sorry, now…have a seat.” She said with a sympathetic expression.
As her words were absorbed, Ludwig slowly sank into his chair, holding his head with his hands. _____! In an accident?! _____! You have to live! Please! The baby! The baby must live too! God, if you’re there, please save my wife and child! Please! Please save my wife and child! Please! Please! He pleaded, eyes squeezing shut. Please….please save them Gott….please.
“Sir…it’s your wife and child…” The same nurse came from before, several hours later. “You’re a father sir, congratulations.”
Ludwig shot up, arms grasping the nurse. “A-are you sure?! The baby’s all right?! Is ____ okay? How are they?”
“W-well….sir….” The nurse nodded slowly, partially regretting agreeing to tell Ludwig the news. “Yes sir, your child is fine. It’s a healthy baby boy. Congratulations.”
Although it had been a tremendous stress, he and ____ had decided to wait the old-fashioned way, before technology could tell the gender of the baby. Secretly, he had almost given up on the idea from worry, but determined to wait it out for ____ and himself. A boy? He’s a boy….Ludwig smiled, mind thinking of his father. Vatti…..I fulfilled your wish….my….my son….he’s here. My son…. He bit a chuckle. My son….my son…my son…it sounds so foreign….he thought.
“Sir, I’m afraid I have some bad news….it’s your wife….she’s dying.” The nurse whispered.
“What?! _____?! DYING?!” Ludwig shouted. “Why?! How?! I have to see her now! Let me in! Please, let me in! I have to be with her! I have to talk with her! Please! Where is her room? Where is she?! Please tell me! Tell me now!”
“All right, calm down sir. Follow me.” She replied, walking towards the long queue of rooms. Ludwig followed her in a numbed state. Nein, Ludwig be strong….be strong. He bit his lip as he trailed the nurse to ____’s room. “Here…here sir.” She stood at the doorway, thankfully giving him privacy with his wife.
______ was lying there, forehead sweaty and palms clammy. At the sight of her, Ludwig bit his tongue to keep from screaming. _____....oh ______....please liebe…please stay with me. Stay with me! Stay with me! ____! Stay with me, mein ____ stay with me… His large hand clasped hers while his fingers traced her delicate cheek. “_-____.....I-I…..” he started, swallowing the bile that rose in his mouth. “S-sweetie….______....y-you can’t leave me….please….you….y-you have to stay. Ich liebe dich…..____....” His eyes shut tightly as he gently squeezed her hand. “Th-the nurse said our child….w-was a boy….y-you were right, _____. I…I-I was thinking about…um….n-naming him…..O-Otto…,” he sucked in a breath, using willpower to refrain any emotion from showing. “…._____.....y-you can’t leave me….bitte liebe, I’m begging you….p-please don’t leave me and our son….st-stay with me….p-please ______, please.” He managed to gasp out. He brought her hand to his face, making it graze his cheek.
A loud beep interrupted his tender talk, which caused the nurse to rush in. “Oh no…..”
“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?! What’s wrong with ____?! Tell me now!” He demanded, never losing his grip on her hand.
The nurse bit her lip, trying to hold back any moisture from showing.“Sir….your wife….is dead…..I’m…I’m so sorry.” She awkwardly patted his shoulder and left the room, exiting quickly.
The only sound in the room was the clock hanging on the wall. Tick….tock……tick….tock… its beats seemed to echo around the room, amplifying the beat of his own heart. _____.....his whole world….his life, his soul, his reason for living….was gone. “_____....._____, speak to me. Please liebe, please. Please…..pl-please…..” His hand clenched her smaller one to him as moisture seeped from his eyes. It formed into teardrops which trickled down his cheeks, splashing onto her hand. “N-No….____, pl-please speak to me liebe. Please, please please….d-don’t leave me…..I…I-I can’t take care of our son without you….pl-please liebe…please….” He whispered softly, desperately to her. “_____....s-speak to me……bitte….b-bitte…” The tears trickled faster, growing in strength and in numbers. For the first time that he could remember…..Ludwig felt utterly and completely helpless. He felt as if someone had shoved him into a deep pit and left him for dead. He felt alone. He felt hopeless. He felt powerless. He felt…completely, utterly, and totally alone in the world, without anyone to turn to.
He sat on the bed, cradling _____ in his arms, crying silently. His tears splashed onto her forehead and hair, some even trailing down her arms as he clung to her tighter. “_____......ich….i-ich liebe dich….”
“I-Ich liebe dich…..” a familiar German voice whispered into your ear.
Beep. Beep…Beep….Beep…..Beep. The machine beside the bed jumpstarted, tracing the pulse of your heartbeat.“…….L-Ludwig? You whispered faintly.”
“_-____? I-Is that you liebe?” He whispered back, dropping you back onto the pillow. Blue eyes frantically searched yours for signs of life. “_-_____? Liebe?”
“H-hey,” you coughed weakly. “M-Move over….y-you’re squishing me.”
He immediately leapt to the left, eyes never leaving yours. “H-how…a-are you alive?! The nurse said you were dead!”
“I-“ you started but were interrupted by Ludwig hugging you. His built arms squeezed you into his chest as more tears fell from him. “O-Oh, _____ y-you’re alive…y-you’re alive….you’re alive! You’re alive! Oh ______, oh _____. I-I.......ich liebe dich ____.” With every second your husband squished you tighter against his chest, relishing the precious moment between you.
“C-careful, love….” Your limp arms slowly trailed around his back, returning the hug as tightly as you could. You felt something wet and looked up to see tears streaming from your stoic husband. “L-Ludwig….I’m here…..I’m here…” you whispered, hands softly running up and down his back.
“Y-You…..you have no idea…h-how scared I was…..l-losing you…d-don’t….do that ever again…” he breathed, eyes clenched shut.
“I didn’t mean to…..I’m sorry….” You replied gently, “C-come here…y-you big German…”
Surprised, he loosened his grip on you and gazed into your eyes, happiness flowing from them. “Yes liebe?”
You smiled and motioned him to come closer. When he was close enough, you connected lips kissing with as much intimacy as you could. His lips tasted unusually salty because of his sobbing, but that made the kiss more loving. You had never seen Ludwig get this worked up over anything, and it deeply grieved you that you were the cause of his sorrow. Softly, you parted, gazing up at his eyes. “Ich liebe dich auch.”
Ludwig sighed happily, grazing his fingers against your cheek. You smiled and covered his hand with your own. “S-so….is it-“ you began.
“I’m sorry sir, but you’re going to have to leave. We need to run tests on her,” the nurse from before whimpered, trying to pause her own joyful weeping, “B-but its for her own good. And they need you f-for the b-baby’s t-testing.”
Exhaling irritably, Ludwig pressed a loving kiss to your lips. “I’ll be right back. Be strong, sweetheart.” His forehead connected with yours, as his eyes peered into your own as if trying to memorize every minuscule detail. After another prompting by the nurse, your husband left the room to help the nurses test the baby. You bit a groan as a doctor rubbed your arm with alcohol. “I look like a pincushion…” you mumbled as the doctor started the test.
The nurse entered with your husband carrying a bundle of blankets. A lump immediately rose to your throat as he sat on the bed, letting you hold your precious child. A boy, eighteen inches, six pounds wailed in your arms. Tears sprang to your eyes as your finger traced his cheek. “We have a son.” Ludwig whispered, cradling you with his arm as you held your baby. “Oh…..Ludwig…he has your eyes…..your nose…..liebe, he looks just like you. Liebe, he’s just like you! Look, he has your chin and big ears….” You chuckled, wiping your eyes quickly with one hand. You were already head-over-heels in love with the small child nestled in your arms; he was the perfect addition to your family. “L-Ludwig….w-we’re finally parents….I’m a mother….y-you’re a father.”
“Ja….Ja I am.” He pressed a kiss to your temple and watched his son squeal with delight when you started to speak to him. Ludwig remembered something his Vatti had told him long ago about a family, that it was the ultimate treasure....something worth living for. His eyes traveled over to your face and to the baby's face, thinking, This is what Vatti meant….a family…is something worth living for...Vatti...I found mein treasure: Mein family.