Wearily, Johanna leaned back. She ran a hand over the back of her neck, wishing once again that the War wasn't occurring. That her father and brothers weren't serving the Reich...that...her cheeks flushed at the forbidden thought of Erick and she shook her head. Erick was a Juden. The Führer said that they were the reason that the Germans had lost the Great War...and they should be punished. But it wasn't Erick’s fault. The yellow emblem stitched onto his trousers ruined any future she might have had with him.
Johanna had to do something to help. For a long year, she waited, watching for any sign of the rumored group of people who were against everything that the Führer spoke about. She could find no hint of such a group until her Uncle approached her with an unusual request. He needed someone to work his watch making shop while he was away on business. He was always away for a night or two in a row and needed someone to keep the shop open. And she was honored to help him with this. Something deep down told her that something bigger than she could ever dream was occurring within the shop.
It was closing time. Johanna ran a hand through her tussled curls and straightened. She was almost done for the evening and smiled at the thought. In a matter of minutes she'd have the apartment upstairs to herself for a weekend of peace and quiet. At the sounding of the five o'clock hour, she briskly walked to the door and emphatically secured it. No more boys pretending to be soldiers seeking to impress her.
She blew out the lamp and slowly walked up the stairs, whispering soft prayers for safety of her friends. Darkness slowly enshrouded the building and Johanna settled into a large chair, taking a moment to remove her shoes while breathing a sigh of relief.
The sound of the boards creaking caused Johanna to look up nervously. Muffled footsteps moved around downstairs and Johanna stood, reaching for the closest thing to use as a weapon. She knew that her uncle was expecting visitors—but she didn't think they were going to be there tonight. It could only be one group of people.
A cold chill moved through her body as she quietly moved back down the stairs, skipping the fifth step to avoid the creak. She had to keep the element of surprise for a little bit longer. She hefted the candlestick higher as she entered the shop.
In the darkness, she could make out two forms, all moving as if they were looking for something—or someone. Johanna ducked behind a counter and tried to decide what to do.
Her thoughts were cut short as a large hand clasped over her mouth. "EEK!" Her cry came out muffled as a harsh yet familiar whisper filled her ears.
"Don't scream, Johanna...It's just me."
"Uncle?" She hissed, pushing the hand away. "What are you doing here? You're supposed to be away."
In the dim light, Johanna could have sworn that she saw her Uncle smile. "I'm taking care of it right now. And I need your help with it."
Johanna looked up, curious about the other form that lingered in the shadows. The person hesitated for a moment until her uncle looked at him with a nod. Slowly, a familiar face emerged from the darkness and Johanna gasped.
"Erick! I thought you were taken away with the others." She managed and he smiled gently with a shake of his head.
"Johanna...he's not going to be here but for the night. You have to understand..." Her uncle began and Johanna numbly finished, "That he might not come back. Ja, Uncle, I know."
Johanna sank back onto her heels. The enormity of her uncle's 'business' was slowly sinking in. She had wanted to help and now they needed her to keep the secret as well. Her heart pounded as her gaze shifted from Erick to her uncle and back again. Finally, she made her choice and prayed that it would be worth it.
"I want to help. What can I do?"
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