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Sonorous Herald

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Two Halves [Sep. 14th, 2006|01:02 am]
Sonorous Herald
Both the German man and the Russian woman sat on the park bench. He turned his face towards her slowly and only slightly and asked her if she knew where he could catch a bus to the town centre. She fertively opened her handbag and looked for the timetable and bus route that had been provided. As she opened a purse to pull the pamphlet out, he noticed a photo behind the see-through wallet sectional. He noticed it was of a young boy, who beamed the smile that only 8 year old boys can, for the camera. In itself, this personal momento was not unusual to see within a person's purse or wallet. What was unusual was that it had been torn in half and one half was missing. A small realisation crept over him and he smiled at her as she passed him the loaded timetable. She looked up into his face for the first time and looked quizzically at him. No doubt she did not speak German as he himself could not speak Russian. He thought for a moment about the Cold War and the on again-off again relationship the leaders of their two countries had had over the two recent wars. How absurd it was that they, two insecure agent recruits, would be worlds apart yet be identical. She continued to look concerned as he grinned to himself. He motioned with his hand, one moment. She nodded and waited. he draw out his own wallet and revealed the photo of his deceased wife. This photo had suffered the same fate as her's. She took a moment then understood. She then took her turn at gesticulating the tearing of the photos in half. He nodded, still smiling quietly. She returned a smile and sighed what seemed to be in relief. She must have been very new to this game. He motioned again, if he might be allowed to look closer at her photo. She took it from it's mini shrine and handed it to him. He placed his photo next to her's and chuckled again at how he still owned the right -hand side of his photo and she owned only the left-hand side of her's. 'How apt', he thought. She tried to inquire about the women in the photo and he motioned that she was deceased. She nodded slowly and with sympathy. He remembered his wife and her radiant smile and golden hair, and how they had married in secret because of profession. How his Superiors had found out and come for her and bullied him into taking an assignment of great importance. He would have gladly taken the job without their tactics, and resented their doubt of him. And then he remembered how he found her executed in their new and sparcely furnished home, when he returned from the charge in failure. He felt ashamed. How could he ever make it up to her. He couldn't.
Sensing he was daydreaming he came back to the present quickly. He pointed to the boy and his female counterpart lowered her head. He took a warm and comforing hold of her nearest hand. He understood. Her people were holding he child as collateral. He knew how she felt. His Masters had done much the same with his wife. He raised her head gently with his finger under her chin and retrieved a handkerchief from his breast pocket to dab her tears. What a medley of emotions this one moment bought. Happiness in finding like in another but sadness combined in their parallel situations. She thanked him and then they both returned to sitting and facing forward like stiff dummies. He rose to leave and she caught his sleeve. He looked down and followed her eyes as she stood to face him. He searched for some idea of what she wanted and then felt her hand on his as she urged it upward and open-palmed between them. She delicately and deliberately placed her half photo into his hand and closed his fingertips over it. His mouth dropped open for a second and he recipricated with his half photo. She took it meaningfully. This was not just a simple gesture of commonality and reaching out to comfort another tortured soul. No. This was her entrusting him to keep her son safe and follow through with this charge; their assignment. A rush went through his as he realised that she had faith in him. Someone trusted him to succeed. This would be the way he could make amends. He would not fail this gracious lady. He caught her eye and thanked her for the photo and all it really meant before he turned away and walked in the direction of the designated bus stop. He did not look back. He knew she was watching and would turn to go herself as he passed out of view along the path where it bends. He was soaring. Filled with a hope and a courage that had hidden itself for so long. He will not fail, this time.