By Kevin Moriarity
“And so, students of the Class of 1933, go forth and claim your futures!”
The crowd applauded. The principal of Cologne’s largest high school moved to the podium. The procession was about to begin. It would be a while until the ushers reached Peter and Sylvia’s row. They had time before they would rise to pick up their diploma.
Peter Bernard A. Sturm lit a cigarette.
“Sylvia, we end up sitting together quite often,” Peter said to the dark-haired girl sitting next to him.
“Yes Peter. The alphabet brought us together,” she replied. She looked down at her shoes. “What will you do after graduation?”
“I want to be a flier. I’m going to join the Hitler Youth. Herr Hitler is going to revive Germany’s aviation industry and I want to be part if it! You?”
“I don’t know. Mother is so worried after the anti-Jewish demonstrations in April. She says we should move out of Germany, but Father doesn’t want to give up the bookstore and start over. I suppose I’ll just keep working there.”
“I wouldn’t worry about those demonstrations. It’s just a few extremists; they are a minority of the Nazi party. Once Herr Hitler gets the economy back on track all that will go away,” Peter replied.
“I bought you a present, Peter,” Sylvia said, handing Peter a box. He opened it.
“A pen. Thank you, Sylvia.”
“It’s one of the best, a Parker Duofold. Made in America.”
“Yes. Thank you. Hold this please.” Peter handed Sylvia the box.
Peter rose and clapped wildly as Elise, Peter’s girlfriend, received her diploma.
* * *
Sylvia was shopping in the plaza, the daily social gathering place for the German community. It was easy to find knockwurst in Buenos Aires in 1947. Many Germans emigrated to Argentina after the war. She turned to look at the fountain in the center of the sunny square and froze, a smile slowly developing.
“Peter,” Sylvia said.
Peter turned toward her.
“Sylvia?” he asked.
“I’m sorry you never got to fly,” she said.
“How … how did you know?” Peter asked.
Sylvia pulled up her sleeve and showed Peter the serial number tattooed on her arm.
“I called out to you. Perhaps you didn’t recognize me with my head shaved. You looked so dashing in your black uniform.”
He reached into his suit coat and took a Parker Duofold out of his pocket.
Sylvia looked at the pen; her eyes widened. She put her arms around his neck and embraced him. Peter winced slightly as the needle entered at the base of his neck.
“We were so young, so naive,” Sylvia whispered in his ear as he slowly collapsed to the ground.