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Favorite WWII Books of 2016

Rena was on the first Jewish transport to Auschwitz and endured the death camp for over three years. She fulfilled the promise she made to her mother years before—to take care of her little sister. Beautiful and extremely heart wrenching. Five stars.

"Sweet Remembrance" Book Trailer

I remember The Little Match Girl being such a tragic tale, but somehow sweet—bittersweet. That’s how this WWII retelling of the story was. I don’t like tragedies, but if you’re going to write one, write it like Emily Ann Putzke did with "Sweet Remembrance." It was captivating. The history of the Jews being brutally persecuted by Germans is hard—the kind of hard where the enormity of it steals the breath from your lungs for a moment. The lost dreams so bitter. But the remembering of a heartfelt romance so sweet. All in all, it’s a sad tale of a horrific time in history … but it ends with a curious kind of hope. A hope that I want to hold onto. Very well written. A bittersweet, heart-tugging story of an ordinary girl in a terrible time. Shantelle Mary Hannu

Sweet Remembrance is my contribution to Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales. The boxset is available on Kindle for $4.99. Grab a copy and let us know what you think by leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads!


"ONCE" Is Now Available!

Break out the confetti! Today's the day! Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales is now available on Amazon! It's been quite an adventure to collaborate with Suzannah Rowntree, Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J.Grace Pennington, and Hayden Wand. I've learned a lot through working with these authors and I'm so excited for you all to read our boxset!

To give you a taste of the collection, we're each sharing an excerpt from our retellings today. So without further ado, a snippet Sweet Remembrance, my WWII retelling of The Little Match Girl.

"We Stand Alone Together."

“The paratroopers were all volunteer. The elite of the Army. If you're going to combat, you want to fight with the best.” ― William Guarnere

If you know me, you probably realize that I have an infatuation with anything Airborne related during WWII. These kids jumped out of perfectly good planes and landed behind enemy lines while anti-aircraft was shooting at them. That takes some guts, man.

I stayed home and watched the first few episodes of Band of Brothers when my sister went to see Cinderella in theaters. Do I have a problem? Yeah, probably. =) 

"We Should Thank God That Such Men Lived."

I've had the honor to meet so many wonderful WWII veterans! I put together this video to pay tribute to them. 

Thank you to all our veterans! Your service is not forgotten.


"You Would Not Recognize Me."

You would not recognize me
if you were to see me in the street.
I have changed, not merely outwardly,
but inwardly my soul is being molded.
I am someone different.
Forgive me, but please, don’t forget me.
I was insolent in my youth.
Brash, wild, defiant.

So I must ask, why did you still love me?
The world held me captive.
It fastened my feet
with ropes forged from my own desires.
I was dragged down into cold waters
and left to suffocate.

You will never hear these words.
We will never see each other again.
I have vanished from that world,
that world we grew up in,
that world we loved in.
The ropes have been severed from my feet.
The starry heavens, so immense in their grandeur,
call to me, an irresistible invitation.

You think me foolish, no doubt.
What are these words but an incoherent plea
that I long for you to hear?
But I know you won’t.
A soldier knows when it's his time.
It’s a feeling,
that festers in the mind and heart.

I see the world for what it is.
I see my sins in their mangled shapes.
Yes, I want to go back and rewrite it all.
But I can’t.
I see my life before me,
and those I left behind.
My heart wages a war inside my chest.
My breath quickens and my blood turns cold.
And I know.

From the temporal haven of the foxhole,
I see the stars erased by the waking dawn.
They wink at me.
They say goodbye.
Someone shifts beside me and moans,
lost in a forest of haunted dreams.
The barrel of my gun is cool against my hands,
as a machine gun kills the morning calm.
Plumes of smoke rise like incense into the sky,
and turn into hands of death, reaching for its victims.

I won’t come home.
Please, don’t expect me to.
But don’t mourn over the boy
whose soul once wandered in vice.
I’m not that boy any longer.
I falter and I fail,
but now I believe and I hope
for what lies behind the starry skies.
Dear Vi, you’ll never know these words.
But I pray you’ll know them
in your own soul.

By: Emily Ann Putzke

Introducing ....

So, you know how I've been hinting about my novella, Sweet Remembrance? Well, today I get to share some crazy exciting news ...

Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales

Six fairytales you thought you knew, set against a tapestry of historical backgrounds.

A lonely girl plots revenge in the shadow of a mountain. A stolen princess fumbles a century backward. A dwarfish man crafts brilliant automatons. A Polish Jew strikes matches against the Nazis. A dead girl haunts a crystal lake. A terrified princess searches a labyrinth. A rich collection of six historically inspired retellings, Once is a new generation of fairytales for those who thought they'd heard the tales in all their forms.

Featuring the novellas of Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand.

Coming December 2nd, 2016


(You're scratching your heads right now wondering which story is mine, right? Yeah, actually I'm pretty sure you nailed mine right away.)

I was so excited when Suzannah Rowntree and Elisabeth Grace Foley asked if I'd consider writing a retelling for their fairy tale boxset. Little old me alongside authors like Rowntree and Foley, Rachel Heffington, J. Grace Pennington, and Hayden Wand?!! I'm honored to be a part of this exciting adventure!

Robert Lopiano | Tail Gunner on a B-17

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to meet Robert Lopiano who served in the 548th Squadron, 385th Bomb Group from 1943-1944. He enlisted a week before his twentieth birthday and started out as a waist gunner on B-17s, then become a tail gunner. He flew 25 missions over France, Germany, and Holland. Out of the 100 men in his squadron, only 17 reached the mark of 25 missions. 

"they shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old."

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

— Laurence Binyon

98 years ago today, Hans Fritz Scholl was born to Robert and Magdalena Scholl in Ingersheim, Germany. He grew up to be a passionate, impulsive, loyal young man who sacrificed his life for a cause he believed in; enlightening his people of the horrors Germany was committing during WWII. He was executed in 1943 at the age of 24.

Flying in a B-17

Flying in a B-17 was not something I had ever anticipated doing ... at least not at this point in my life. I'm a starving artist and, with regular tickets being over $400 for a 30 minute flight, that wasn't going to happen anytime soon! But a few weeks ago, I showed up at the museum for my internship and was offered a free flight on a B-17. WHAT?! My dad drove me out to MAPS Air Museum in Canton, OH then picked me up in at the Butler airport in Pennsylvania.

When we got there, I was offered to fly in either the B-24 or B-17, but I stuck with the B-17 because I interviewed a WWII veteran who was a waist gunner on a B-17. I'm really thankful I didn't change planes because the B-24 had mechanical issues and didn't end up flying out until the following day. 

Snippets of The Little Match Girl Retelling

I try to clear my head, but can still see the dead men across the street, their death replaying over and over in my mind like a newsreel. I see Romek’s face. His brown eyes that crinkled when he laughed. His smile that could light up even the darkest of days.


Let me see what we have.” I circled around the counter and over to the back wall where our bookshelves homed classic Polish writers. Mother wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s just … well, most young men who frequent this store limit their search to cigarettes and the newspaper.”
“I like cigarettes and the newspaper just as well as the next man. But when you’re a student of literature, you’re apt to enjoy a good poem or two.”
There. Now I knew five things about him.

Liberator of Dachau

I recently had the honor of meeting a hero at a WWII reenactment. Guy Prestia served with the 45th Infantry Division, the first liberators of Dachau concentration camp. I talked to a man who had seen the horrors of the Holocaust, who saw the gas chambers and piles of bodies. I talked to a liberator, a fighter, a hero. I would have loved to visit with him longer, but the reenactment was just about to begin. Thankfully, he told me about his video interview. It was amazing to hear about the liberation of Dachau in his own words.

(Photo via Ellwood City Ledger)

We had to take out four big towers with machine gunners up on top. The camp was run by Heinrich Himmler. He had left and taken a lot of the SS men with him, but he left a lot of guards there.

It was a terrible place. We were hardened soldiers. We had seen a lot of people die, we’d seen people wounded. But when we saw that, we could not understand ….

July 13th, 1943

Seventy-three years ago today, July 13th, 1943, two members of The White Rose resistance group were executed by guillotine at Stadelheim prison — twenty-five year old Alexander Schmorell and fifty year old Kurt Huber. 

They sacrificed their lives to rid the world of tyranny, to enlighten their fellow Germans on the horror their government was committing, and to act on their conscience. They were not silent about what they believed in, even in the face of torture and death.

In memory of them, I'm sharing a few excerpts from my novel, Resist.

"Hey Bill, You Son of a Gun."

Sometimes I get distracted. Like today when I was looking at an antique store for reenacting items. Yes, I did find some 1940's style shoes, but I also came out with an original recording of a WWII soldier who lived in my neighborhood! During WWII companies like Gem Blades and Pepsi Cola set up recording studios in big cities, giving soldiers the opportunity to send recordings of themselves home for free! See why I just had to buy it?! The records I purchased were recorded in NYC on October 1st, 1944. The first record is for the soldier's brother. I'm guessing the second one is for his parents but I can't make out what he's saying. I'd like to look into getting them restored.


by Emily Ann Putzke

The last time I saw my brother, I was eight years old. We said goodbye, but I didn’t know it would be our last. I thought he was coming back. He said we’d be together. I see now that he was only telling lies to comfort me.

That night began with a whisper.

“Hanna.” His voice, soft as a feather, grazed my ear. It tickled and I turned over in bed, rubbing my ear with the heel of my hand. But it came back, humming in my ear like a determined fly. “You have to wake up."

“No.” I grumbled, burying my head under the itchy blanket. Sleep pulled on every muscle, dragging me down into a world where no soldiers hated me. A world of flowers and trees instead of blood stained streets.

“Hanna.” The voice was firmer now. I reluctantly popped open one eye. Arie stood above me, his jacket and cap on. The carbide lamp flickered on the table behind him, casting inky shadows on the walls. I sat up, brushing the hair away from my face. A chill seeped into my skin and I hurriedly crawled back under the covers. I felt the bed creak as he sat on the edge. He was quiet for a long moment, so I lifted the corner of my blanket and peeked out. Our eyes met. “Come here,” he ordered, patting his lap.

I inched toward him, blanket still wrapped around me like a cocoon as I climbed into his lap. He wrapped his strong arms around my tiny frame and I nestled into his chest. His jacket smelled of musty sweat, but I didn’t mind. “I’m cold,” I said, showing him the goosebumps the slathered my thin arms.

He hugged me a bit tighter before holding up my sweater. “Put this on.” I wiggled both arms through the worn sleeves and began to button the front. It was a lopsided mess by the time I was through. Arie set a chunk of bread on the table along with a small glass of water. I furrowed my brow as I glanced at the window. What time was it? My bare feet pitter-pattered across the floor as I pulled back the tattered curtains. The ghetto was veiled in darkness, and I could hear a distant gunshot split through the air. The smell of human waste and rotting flesh rose from the streets, impregnating the air with the stench of death. I quickly dropped the curtain as my stomach knotted.

Arie pointed to the table. “Eat, Hanna. Hurry.”

I stuffed the bread into my mouth, devouring it with a ravenous hunger. The dry clumps lodged in my throat, but still I stuffed in more. “Where are we going? Why am I’m eating breakfast in the middle of the night? Is something bad happening?” I asked, talking around the bread.

“Something bad is always happening in this God forsaken …” He trailed off as he yanked off the scarf from around his neck.

“Where did you find that?”

“You ask too many questions.” He wrapped it around my neck, tucking the ends into my sweater. “Take my hand.” I stood up, placing my small hand in his. As Arie opened the apartment door, someone stepped out of the shadows. Fear tore through my veins, releasing in a scream.

“Shut her up!” The stranger said. Arie clamped his hand over my mouth, but still I whimpered. My limbs trembled as the stranger emerged from the shadows, tall, swarthy, and angry. “Shut her up or the deal’s off.”

Arie’s hand tightened around my mouth. “Hanna, don’t you dare make a sound. Understand me?”
I nodded, and his hand fell. Arie grabbed my hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze as we followed the stranger. I looked up at him, a million questions rushing through my mind. He swallowed hard and fixed his eyes ahead.

The stairs creaked under our feet. My fingers trailed the wall where typhus signs were peeling, reminding us that death didn’t always stalk the streets in a uniform. I held my breath as we neared a corpse draped across the bottom step. The stranger sauntered past it without a second glance. I stopped walking. The woman was staring at me with glassy eyes that were sunken deep into her emaciated face. She wore no clothes. Only a newspaper covered her body. Arie put his hand over my eyes, as if he could shield me from all the evil that seeped into our daily lives. He tried to protect me, but I still saw and heard things everyday.

We continued on in silence through the murky streets. I lifted my head to gaze at the handful of stars peppered throughout the sky. When I brought my gaze back to earth again, my eyes fell on children crawling out of the shadows.They stretched out their hands, eyes wild with hunger. Arie reached into his pocket and tossed them a piece of bread. We turned the corner where the watchmaker shop used to be. Now it was a soup kitchen. In the daytime, people swarmed around the building like bees around a hive. The stranger was kneeling beside the sewer grate, half hidden in the shadow of buildings. Arie casted a furtive glance over his shoulder, then shoved me forward. The black hole reeked.

“Arie?” I stared at him, silently begging my brother to tell me what was happening.

He knelt down in front of me.“Hanna, we have to say goodbye now.”

I took a step back, shaking my head fiercely.

“Hanna,” Arie grabbed my wrist. “Hanna, listen to me.” He took a deep, shaky breath then ducked his head and stared at the ground for a long moment. When he lifted his face again, I thought I saw tears glistening on his cheeks. But it couldn’t be. Arie never cried. “You’re going into the sewers with Moshe. He’s getting you out of the ghetto.”

“But you’re coming too, aren’t you?”


Anger and fear sunk their deadly teeth into my flesh. I ripped my arm away from Arie and started running, exerting every muscle in my body. My mind was replaying one thought over and over again. I hate him. I hate him. I hate him. I heard cursing behind me, but I couldn’t tell if it was the stranger getting impatient or my horrible brother. Footfalls echoed off the cobblestone road. Someone was gaining on me. I pushed harder. An arm wrapped around my stomach, lurking me backward. Arie had me in both arms and was shaking me hard.

“What’s wrong with you?” he hissed in my ear. “If a German sees you out here after curfew, you’re dead. Hear me? They’ll shoot you.” He carried me back toward the sewer where Moshe was pacing.

I gripped his jacket in my fist. “I don’t want to go! You can’t make me!”

“I’m done with this,” Moshe growled. “She’s going to get us all killed.”

“Please, just give us a minute.” Arie set me down. Moshe mumbled something and continued pacing. When Arie kneeled down again, I slapped him across the face. “Hey!” His hand instinctively flew to his cheek.“I’m warning you Hanna—”

“You’re the worst brother in the whole entire world!” Tears tumbled down my cheeks.

“Hanna, you don’t mean that.” He appeared more hurt by my words than the slap.

I wiped the tears with the back of my hand. “Yes I mean it. You’re abandoning me.”

“I’m doing it to protect you. Something is going to happen in the ghetto and you can’t be here when it does.  I … I’d never be able to forgive myself.”

“But I want to stay with you!” I grabbed his shoulders, trying to shake sense into him. “Please, Arie. Please!”

“No.” He stood up, indicating he was done with the conversation.

“I’m scared!” I threw my arms around him, clinging for dear life. My limbs and voice were trembling. “Arie, I'm scared!”

“We all are, Hanna.” He turned away from me. “Moshe, take her before I change my mind.” Moshe hurried over to us, holding out his hand to Arie. My brother placed a pile of zlotys into the young man’s palm, fixing him with a deadly glare. “You better take care of her.”

“I will. I know a family who will take her in. Everything will be fine if she’d quit crying like a baby.”

I cried harder.

“Shh,” Arie put both hands on my face. “I’ll come back for you, Hanna. I’ll find you and we’ll be together again.” He wiped away my tears with this thumb and offered me a forced smile. “Really, we will.”

I leaned into his chest, wrapping my arms tightly around his neck. “Are you sure?” I whispered between hiccups.

He hooked his arm around my waist. “Yeah.”

“But I’ll miss you,” I buried my head into his shoulder.

“And I’ll miss my Hanna.” He held out his hand and I took it. “Come on, it’s time to go.”

“About time,” Moshe said, slipping down into the sewer ledge.

Arie held my hand for a long moment, as if not wanting to let go after all. He finally slipped his hand out of mine and shoved it into his pocket. “Go on.”

I crawled into Moshe’s arm but before he took me down in the dark abyss, I caught sight of my brother walking away.

He wiped a tear away with the back of his sleeve.


by Emily Ann Putzke

The rocking chair moans with age as I push back and forth with the tip of my toes. Splinters of wood dig into my elbows and I wonder, as I do every night, why on God’s green earth my aunt and uncle feel the need to keep that old rocker. The porch light flickers, casting murky shadows across the peeling floorboards as I stand up. The radio hums through the screen door, mingling with my uncle’s coughing and aunt’s clicking needles as she knits a scarf for my brother.

“Aunt Ida,” I’ve said countless times, “Hugh is in the boiling Pacific. What’s he going to need a scarf for?”

“Lucy, be a good girl and go read your book,” she says.

So every night I sit in the dilapidated rocking chair with a book while she knits scarves for the Eskimos she thinks live on the islands.

I’m about to pull open the screen door when something moves in the corner of my eye. I turn, but no one’s there. My heart pounds against my ribs like an Indian war drum. Thud, thud, thud. My hand finds the doorknob. I lift my book as a weapon with the other.


A voice slices through the still air. It’s Albert. I can’t see him, but I know his voice. I let out a sigh of relief, but my thudding heart doesn’t subside. Actually, I think it beats faster. “Hi there stranger.”

“You’re out late.”

“So are you,” I reply to the shadow lingering on the bottom step. “I haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Yeah …” The silence hangs over us like a thick morning fog.

“Do you want to come sit? Or are you here to see my uncle about something?” I prod around with my words, trying to lay a finger on why he’s here at this hour.
“Yeah, sure. I’ll come sit a spell.” The porch stairs creak as he emerges from the shadows. Albert looks worn from a long day in the field, but he still has enough energy to toss me his signature smirk.  “Want to fly?” He asks.

I laugh. “Do you always start conversations this way, Albert?”

“Only with you, Lu.”

“Well, I’d fly if someone with lots of experience and expertise was with me.”

“Like me.”

“Sadly reading books about airplanes doesn’t make you a skilled pilot. But thanks for the offer.”

Albert lifts his face to the sky, his dark eyes locked on the stars as if they held the answer to all his questions. “Don’t worry, Lu. I’d take real good care of you.” He said it so sincerely, so softly. It catches us both off guard. I drop my eyes to stare at my bare feet. He clears his throat and leans against the railing. “You miss your brother.”

Tears burn my eyes at the mention of Hugh. I turn my face away, pretending to be very interested in a fraying string on the hem of my dress. “Yes, but he’ll be home before we know it.”

Albert lifts himself onto the the railing and picks at a piece of peeling paint. I want to tell him everything, all my fears that Ida and Frank won’t let me utter in their presence. But I can’t. He’s staring at me, staring hard, and I lose my nerve. I lift my hand to the doorknob once more. “I’ll go tell Ida and Frank that you’re here.”

“Wait,” he leaps off the railing, raking a hand through his hair. “Don’t do that. Not yet.”

My stomach somersaults and I grip the doorknob tighter.  “Why not? Ida made a nice supper tonight. There’s some left over if you’re hungry.”

“When was the last time we took a walk through your fields, Lu?”
I shrug. “A long time, I guess. Not since Hugh was around. Ida and Frank won’t let me go anywhere with a male companion unless I have a chaperon.”

His hand moves to the back of his neck. “Is that a firm rule or just a suggestion?”

The light flickers above us. Bugs hum softly, drawn like magnets to the warm glow. “A firm rule,” I say, casting a glance through the screen door. I can still hear the radio crackling in the living room. Part of me wants to escape into the familiar where I don’t have to tangle out these emotions that were dumped on me the moment Albert stepped onto my porch … really, the moment he stepped into my life. The other half of me wants to take a chance because it knows what I’m too frightened to say.

“I was afraid of that,” he mumbles irritably, shoving his hands into his pockets. “I just … I just thought we could catch some fireflies you know? I don’t know. … that sounds stupid.” He turns to leave.

My hand drops from the doorknob. “It is a firm rule, Albert. But I think you’re the exception.”

He throws a smile over his shoulder. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.” I set my book beside the door and follow him down the rickety stairs. The moon hides behind a cloud, peeking out now and then to illuminate our path. The grass is soaked in dew, feeling fresh on my bare feet. “Have anything to put the fireflies in?” I ask as we wander toward the field.

He reaches into his coat pocket, withdrawing a small jar.

“Well, you came prepared.”

“I was really hoping you’d say yes,” he says, playing with the lid. “Lu, I’ve been thinking a lot.”

“You? Thinking?” I tease, nudging him with my shoulder.

“Yeah, can you believe it?” He slows down his pace to match my short strides.

“What have you been thinking about?”

“Oh, lots of things. Like … like you for instance.”

My stomach flutters. A shaft of moonlight falls over us, so I take the chance to look at Albert. His hair is tousled but his jaw is firmly set. “Why?”

“I can’t leave without, you know, saying something.” He fingers the jar.

“Leaving for home, you mean?” Of course he doesn’t mean that. I know exactly what he means.

“Hey, look!” Albert grabs my elbow, pointing to a blinking light that is dancing through field. We stand there, shoulder to shoulder as the firefly begins to wander away. Suddenly Albert drops his hand and rushes after it, lurking behind the creature with hovering hands.

“You look like you’re trying to murder it,” I laugh, running up beside him. “You need to have a gentle touch. Watch.” I tenderly put my hand into the grass and catch the light between my fingers. Albert leans down, putting his hand over mine to entrap the firefly.

“Wouldn’t you know it? The lady is always right.” He looks up at me, though I can barely make out his face in the darkness. But I know that tone. He’s grinning.

We’re kneeling in the wet grass now as we slip the firefly into Albert’s jar. I hold the cool glass and watch as the poor thing bangs against the sides in a desperate attempt to escape. Albert leans back on his elbows, breathing deeply. “I wish we could stay like this forever.”

I lean back to, gazing up at the stars that are peppered throughout the endless sky. “Weather permitting of course,” I smile over at him.

“I’d stay out here in all weather …. rain, snow, hail ….”

“Sure you would.”

“I would. If were you beside me.”

I sit up, moving the glowing jar so I can see Albert’s face. “I’ve never heard you talk like this before. Did your sister lend you one of her sappy poetry books?”

“No. I stole them.” He sat up to, taking the jar from my hand. “What do you say? Should we let him go home?”

He was changing the subject so rapidly that I couldn’t think straight. Albert held out his free hand to help me up. The hem of my dress was damp with dew and clung to the back of my knees. “No, not yet. Let’s walk a bit further and find him a friend.”

Albert bumps into my shoulder. “What? You the one who didn’t even want to go on this walk in the first place.”

I shove him back. “I never said that.”

“Well, you implied it.”


“Inching toward the door like I was some creep.”

I didn’t say anything for a long moment. Crickets chirped in the brush to our right while a pair of bats dove through the sky searching for dinner. “Maybe I am scared of you,” I say, though I can’t believe I just said it. I dig my fingernails into my palms. What an idiot.

“What?” He stops walking and turns to look at me.

I take a few steps ahead of him, hoping I don’t have to explain. I’m too nervous. I’m not ready. I decide to try an Albert move and change the subject. “Wanna race through that field?” I point to the tall grass dancing under the wind’s fingertips. The blades of grass shimmer in the moonlight.

He sets down the jar and closes in the space between us until he’s at my side. “What do you mean you’re scared of me, Lu? What have I done to make you feel that way?” He’s staring into my eyes with such despair that I can’t bear it. I drop my gaze. “Lu?” He lifts my chin with his thumb so I’m looking at him again. “Do you want me to leave? ‘Cause I’ll go if I make you uncomfortable. I just thought … I thought there was something between us, you know? Is there? Or did I just imagine the whole thing?” He drops his hand.

“No, please, that’s not what I mean. I’ve always liked you, Albert. I’m just …” I swallow back my fear. “I’m just utterly terrified to tell you … how much I like you. ”

Albert studies me for a long moment, then begins to laugh. To laugh, of all things! “Gosh, is that all? You had me worried, Lu.” He ruffles my hair playfully.

“It wasn’t exactly an easy thing to say, Albert. I’m not sure if ...” I drop my voice to a nervous whisper, “ … if you feel the same way.” My face is flushed, and I’m thankful for the cloak of darkness.

He leans in and kisses my cheek. “Yeah, kid. I feel the same way. I thought you knew that since day one.”

“I didn’t.”

He rubs my arms with a smile. “Ah well. You know now.”

I stare up at him, a heavy weight still crushing my heart. “Albert, I know you’re leaving. Why don’t you just say it?”

He turns his face away, staring off into the darkness. He drops his hands and buries them in his pockets.
“I tried to be indifferent toward you because I knew it was just a matter of time before you joined up. It was working for a while. But gosh, Albert, you ruined all my hard work tonight.” I turn away, watching the grass bend in the wind.

“Yeah, well, I was trying to do the same thing. That’s why I haven’t been around much. But, I don’t know, I just had to set things right before I leave. Can’t really face some dang Nazis if I can’t even tell you how I feel.” He holds out his hand and I take it, lacing my fingers through his. He stares at me for a long moment, as if trying to remember every detail. “Will you wait for me, Lu?”

I squeeze his hand and lift my head to the sky, relishing a sweet summer breeze as it plays with my hair. “Yeah, Albert. I’ll wait for you.”

He leans over and picks up the jar he had abandoned. I watch as he turns the lid, letting the firefly dance through the fields towards home.