The Crimson Duchess
Nadine Nasser-Agha, Grade 11, Wiley Park Girls High School
Excellence In Writing Award in the 'Writers Wanted - July 2011 - Step Write Up' competition
I took a deep breath, my head was pounding and my arms were bleeding but I knew I had to keep moving forward towards safety. My lungs were filled with smoke and I could see people running for their lives. The sound of gunfire burnt my ears and I was blinded by the dust around me. I ran through the village trying to reach the top of the road and towards home. Bodies were strewn everywhere and I could hear the crying of anguished people looking for their relatives. My heart called out to them as I was once in their shoes searching endlessly for my mother and sisters in the disfigured ruins left behind after bombs rained down not six months ago. I can remember finding no sign of them except for a red cloak my mother wore that surprisingly was only a little charred. I held that garment as if it were my mother and trekked back home to Neuschwanstein Castle sobbing and yelling into the cloak mad with grief. I never did find their bodies. I take a moment to breathe as the strain of grief pulls at my chest, my eyes begin to water, but I hold back my tears. I soldier on towards Neuschwanstein and to the comfort of my empty home.
I arrived and marvelled at the sheer beauty of my home with its numerous towers, ornamental turrets, gables, balconies, pinnacles and sculptures. I always felt like a princess from a fairytale living in this castle and when I was in need of a lift in spirit I just had to look at the magnificent structure to feel that Germany was still beautiful although the WOLF had taken over and had created havoc amongst his people. My arms began to sting and I picked up my pace. I came to a grinding halt when I almost collided with a Nazi officer. To my shock I stood before a tall man with thick black hair and the deepest green eyes I had ever seen, his hand grabbed my arm and I felt his fingers digging into my skin.
“Who are you?” He asked curtly.
My lips trembled before I could muster my weak reply. “Gisele Adler.” With that I saw his eyes widen with surprise and he led me into a discrete corner.
“You will not say that to any officer who asks you and you will only state your first not last name”. I blinked at this and began to utter a protest when I heard another officer approaching. “Quickly go into the castle and pretend that you are a former maid of the Adler household.”
I could sense an overwhelming smell of death, dirt and destruction. Surprisingly the Nazi soldiers just glanced at me and continued on with their work although I must have looked like a dishevelled mess. I put my head down and tried not to look like the duchess of this castle.
I began my journey for freedom.