Monday, 14 June 2010

Eva's Tale - Eva meets Death

Eva is a little girl growing up in post-war Germany. She has been telling us about her adventures while she was on an island in the North Sea, Norderney,  where she was in a sanatorium and children's home, to cure her of incipient TB. She is much improved and back in her home village now. She likes telling stories and has agreed to tell us about more of her life.

This is the first story since she has been back. 

Eva Meets Death

I’m bored. Lucy isn’t coming out to play. She can only come to the window to talk to me, her mum won’t let me in. My mum says that Lucy is really sick and that I shouldn’t keep knocking on her door, that it would make her too tired. That is ridiculous, we don’t talk much and it’s not as if I were climbing up to the window or anything.

Lucy looks clean all the time, really white and pink and she doesn’t stay at the window for long. But we can still play because I take my box of transparencies and paper dollies and we play with the pictures and dress the dollies up in paper clothes.

Mrs. Jansen came to the window and said we’d have to stop playing because Lucy had to have her rest. I could see that Lucy was tired and Mrs. Jansen looked tired too. Mrs. Jansen looked more tired than Lucy and her eyes had gone a bit red and puffy, like mine do, when I cry and when I look in the mirror afterwards, I can see it. Mum says I’m too old to be such a crybaby but I think all children cry sometimes; I know that the kids in school cry when Miss Speer tells them off.  I don’t cry because even if Miss Speer tells me off I don’t want to cry and I hold my breath until the tears don’t want to come anymore.

o - o -o - o - o - o

It’s really hot today. I wanted to ask Lucy if she was better and could come out into the garden. Mum has put the big tin bath out for me and she filled it with water right to the top. I am allowed to wear my swimming costume and it would be nice to have Lucy come over. We could sit in the bath together and just talk.  She is only next door and she wouldn’t have to walk very far in this heat.

Mrs. Jansen came to the door and said that Lucy wasn’t better yet and that she couldn’t come to play. I really think that Lucy has been sick for ages now and if she doesn’t get better soon she’ll miss the holidays and the hot weather.

Mum told me off for knocking on Lucy’s door. She said that I was a pest and should leave people alone. She looked very serious, but then I think she was sorry for telling me off and she gave me a big, sticky hug. And she put her face into my hair which was a funny thing to do. When I looked at her, her eyes had gone shiny and she saw that I was looking at her, so she quickly clapped her arms around me; then I couldn’t see her face anymore.

Grown-ups are peculiar, one minute they’re cross, the next minute they go all gooey. But I don’t mind, mum’s okay, really.

o - o - o - o - o - o

When I got up this morning, I could see that mum had her serious face on. She said that I should be a big brave girl because she had something to tell me which was very sad. My friend Lucy had died, that she wasn’t sick anymore and that she had gone to a place where little girls are well looked after. I asked If I could go there to play with her but mum said that wasn’t possible. But I could go to Lucy’s house to say goodbye to her. Perhaps they are sending her to  a sanatorium to make her better.

In the afternoon mum took me over. I had to wear a proper dress in the middle of the week and in the holidays; I didn’t think I should, but mum said I’d have to, it would be more fitting. All my dresses are getting too small for me, Dad says he can't keep up with how I shoot up from one day to the next and how I am outgrowing all my clothes too fast and nothing fits me anyway.

When we got there, there were some other children from the street in the hall; Mrs. Jansen opened the door to the front room and told us to be quiet and not to shuffle our feet, and not to touch anything, and to go in now.

The parlour table was in the middle of the room and there was a kind of long white box on it and in the box there was Lucy, just lying there, with her head on a white pillow and a white coverlet over her. Mrs. Jansen told us not to go further into the room but I could see Lucy well from where I was standing. She didn’t look dead one little bit. Mum says dead is when you have no life in you, but even when you are asleep you have life in you. You can always tell if someone has life in them when they breathe. I wanted to go up to Lucy and see if she was breathing because she looked just like she was asleep, not a bit like she had no life in her. It was all very strange. But Mrs. Jansen stopped me from going closer to the box and I couldn’t tell for sure if Lucy was breathing or not.

Mrs. Jansen said to say goodbye to Lucy and to say a little prayer for her and to be good children and leave quietly.

I went into the garden and sat in my secret den by the rabbit hutch. Mum came out and asked if I was hiding, if I was okay and did I want some lemonade.

I told her that I had some thinking to do and that a glass of lemonade would be fine and if she wanted she could come and sit in the den for a bit.


  1. Your child and her world is vivid and full of life, even when the subject is death. A masterful piece of writing again...

  2. This is a very honest picture of how a small child would face the death of a friend. It is good to remind us to think like them.

  3. Wonderful writing, I agree. Are these your memories?

  4. A realistic glimpse inside the innocent mind of a child. It's very reminiscent of the hushed energy I recall on the occasion of a death in the family when I was a child. Nicely done.

  5. I enjoy how you write about Eva in a non saccharine, real way. I look forward to reading what comes next.

  6. I am so glad to see Eva back I thought she had got lost in your busy life. Well written ( well no change there al your blogs are well written)

  7. Friko - I feel really full up after reading that. I love your Eva tales. Your blog posts are always so readable.

  8. You have real talent and heart. You ought to publish...or teach...

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

  9. liebe Ursula,
    die Geschichte ist so schön erzählt und geschrieben.
    Bin gespannt auf die Fortsetzung.
    Maria Angela

  10. Great work. That last sentence is a killer!

  11. Children are able to cope much better than adults believe. The truth, gently told, is much more palatable than euphemism.

  12. You do the little girl's voice so well! A touching story.

  13. Another lovely little masterpiece - have you thought about putting them together and submitting them to a publisher?
    As do your other loyal readers I am looking forward to the next installment.

  14. Superb writing. I cannot say more.

  15. You can't spare children such sadness , however much you'd want to . Eva's mother was doing the only thing she could . Listen , wait and hug .

  16. Dear All,

    Another set of replies that say much the same thing.
    And once again I would find it difficult to reply to each of you in a different way.
    Thank you for commenting and appreciating Eva's story.
    Perhaps, I'd better try a funny incident in Eva's life next.

  17. Death is very mysterious for a child. They just don't get it until they reach a certain age, and one reason is because of how adults shield it in mystery. You've captured this very well.

  18. I love Eva's stories, she's so wise and yet so innocent at the same time. I love the touch of kindness at the end of Eva offering a seat in the den to her mum. Great writing.

  19. I am pleased to read another story about Eva – she talks so simply. I do think that to write in this simple style is very difficult and takes great skill.


Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.