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Gooney87

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Chapter 13 - Sleep deprived

“Khamatova, today please.” The dark-haired doctor’s assistant stares off into space as the older physician waves his hand in front of her face. No reaction from the girl.

“Hello? Earth to Natalya?” Nothing. The gray man pokes his assistant in her side. She jolts upright and snaps back.

“I’m sorry comrade Doctor. What did you say?” Startled she tries to shake her last thought.

“That if at all possible I would like a bit of dressing for this man’s arm. But, I’ve gone and fetched it from the trolley myself, so thank you for that. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to support this man’s arm with one hand while reaching all the way over there and grabbing that thing that’s right next to you, all the while trying not to stab myself with the numerous small and pointy objects here.” he responds sarcastically. “Truly, a life-altering experience.”

Natalya averts her eyes. The biting sarcasm of her superior hits home. She gets up, helps him clean up and fill in the required paperwork. That was the second time today she zoned out like that.

“Natalya Ivanovna, can I speak to you in my office in a minute?” The doctor looks at her over the rim of his glasses.

She knows that look, the same look a longue patient gets when they light up another Беломорканал from a fresh pack as they leave the practice, or a frost-bitten drunkard when ultimately they start reaching for the bottle again. That look of ultimate disapproval. The young man in the seat gives Natalya a sad look as she finishes up the dressing on his arm. He knows what’s coming for her.

“There. Now stay off that motorcycle of yours, I don’t want to see you all scraped up here again.” With a cleverly faked smile she sends him off. As he leaves she remains seated on the stool, gathering courage to get up face the music in the cramped office to the back.

“Natalya Ivanovna, when a superior asks you to perform, you perform. It’s that simple. All medical science revolves around the tools being sharp and accurate. And you, comrade Khamatova, are one of those tools. Now; can I rely on you?” says the doctor as he leans back in his large, comfortable chair in his office.

“I apologize comrade Doctor.” Natalya keeps her eyes low, scared of the wrath of her superior. “I shall try to anticipate and meet your demands in the future, so that I may be of use to the USSR once again.”

The older man looks at her, tilting his head sidways. This is not the Natalya Khamatova he has worked with for a few years. That Natalya Khamatova is far more feisty, and not as easily impressed with the stifled and bureaucratic language he sometimes has to employ as a physician of a large inner-city hospital.

“Now what is going on with you? For the last couple of days you’ve been absent-minded, you were late this morning, and I’m pretty sure you were crying in the bathroom yesterday. Are you sleeping well? I can prescribe you something for that, you know?” His voice softens, almost like a concerned father talking to his daughter.

“To be honest, comrade Doctor, no. I haven’t been sleeping well at all. My girlfr..roommate left abruptly a week ago, left no trace or anything, just went. Gone. I have no idea where she is. I’ve been trying to file her as a Missing Person for days but the police won’t help me as she’s not exactly fully legally here… So yeah, I sleep like crap, the house is a mess - more so than usual - and I’ve come to the conclusion I can’t even boil a pot of water without becoming a fire hazard.”

“That fat German girl who has been here once or twice for that nasty wound on her leg and the bleeding in her hypogastrium? I didn’t know you two shared an apartment. But then, this is 1994 and I suppose that’s what you youngsters do these days. But as your doctor I’d advise you to put your well being first. Without sleep, the brain cannot heal and the body suffers. After work, go to the Gastronom, pick up a bottle of vodka. Can be the bad stuff; not important, and eggs. When you get home you pour the vodka and the egg white in a shaker, add a bit of lavender to the mix and you will sleep like a ditya. Tomorrow you’ll feel much better, and you will then go out and find yourself a new roommate, da? That German girl will be fine. She’s a fighter. Remember when she wouldn’t allow me to anethise her when she was here for that nasty infection? She’ll be fine, wherever she might be.”

Natalya nods. Getting drunk on doctor’s orders. Welcome to Moscow. It feels like in the Soviet Union the entirety of medical science revolves around alcohol, saunas, and ice water. First you sweat it off, then you get drunk, followed by a dip in a frozen lake. If you’re still suffering after that it’s probably chronic and you’re going to have to learn to live with it, for however long that lasts.

As the evening falls early in november, Natalya has to battle the crowds on their way to get products from the Gastronom near her flat. She can’t help but notice that most of the shelves are empty. Where did Nina get all that food from every time, she wonders as she kicks the front door while balancing a bag of groceries on one hand and wrestling with the lock using her other hand. This was all so much easier when Nina was around to help. It had been years since Natalya had seen the inside of a grocery store, normally Nina would take care of those things leaving Natalya free to collapse onto a chair after work. She sighs as the door opens. She clears out a spot on the table next to the large cardboard box she hauled up from the downstairs storage earlier that day, and plops down the groceries. Piece by piece she takes the things she’s bought out of the brown paper bag, doing her best to ignore the large box. She’s afraid of the contents. Afraid of what she’ll find in it.

“Lessee. So, we take some vodka…” she mumbles to herself as she unscrews the metal cap from the bottle. She recoils from the smell. It smells like isopropyl alcohol. “...the cheap stuff, clearly. Some honey syrup, heavy cream, the white of an egg…” She throws the ingredients in a large cup she’s designated as her shaker. “But how in Leninsname am I to get the white of an egg in there?” She studies the egg. “If I break the thing everything is going to come pouring out, right?” She remembers being laughed at by the babushkas in the store when she asked for all-white eggs without yolk.
Discouraged, she puts the cup on the countertop and grabs the bottle of vodka. She closes her eyes as she takes a swig. The alcohol tastes just as bad as it smells, burning its way down her esophagus.
“I mean, I’d ask Ninachen. She’d know.” she says as she tears up. Still holding the bottle of vodka she slides down on the floor, staring into an empty apartment. The smell of cooking starts wafting through the building as every family around her gathers around in the kitchen for dinner.
Softly, Natalya starts sobbing in defeat.
 

Gooney87

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Jörg wakes up with a jolt as sounds coming from the kitchen drift into his bedroom. A burglar? Here, in Kreuzberg? He blinks a few times, and looks at the luminescent dial of his watch. The softly lit green numbers tell him it’s really, really early. Quietly he gets out of bed and slowly opens his bedroom door. In the kitchen opposite his bedroom the lights are on, and there’s a woman in a wide, but somehow snug-fitting nightgown humming and fabricating something edible. Jörg shakes his head. Of course there’s no intruder, you offered your couch to this girl to crash on, remember?
In the light of the kitchen he can see the contours of her voluptuous body in the nightgown. She’s rotating her wide hips to the beat of the softly-hummed song, swaying a large and unrestrained breast in and out of view, jiggling merrily as she moves and reaches for things in the small kitchen. She turns slightly and catches him in the door opening.

“Hey du, couldn’t sleep either?” she asks.

Her voice is soft and feminine, hushed in the darkness of the night. It sounds like an angelic chorus for someone who has been living on his own for the better part of the 1990s.

“I was sleeping just fine,” he replies “...but I’m not used to someone cooking up something-or-another in the middle of the night. And while we’re on that subject, what are you making anyway?”

Nina turns around to face Jörg, who is trying his utmost best to not notice Nina’s lack of bra underneath the snug nightgown. A difficult task seeing as how the nightgown can be most generously described as ‘at least one size too small in certain areas’ to contain all of her. The model clearly implies it’s supposed to be loose-fitting, but her ample bosom fills out the top half to the point of near-translucency of the sheer white material, and her belly makes contact with the bottom half, moving and shaking as the girl turns around.
Jörg walks into the kitchen, messing with whatever he can get his hands on and hiding the fact that his loins are certainly stirred by all of this curvy shapely womanness in front of him.

“When I can’t sleep I usually start eating.” Nina says sheepishly, looking down at the food she just made. “Bad habit of mine. Well, I couldn’t exactly find a ready-made snack, so I started throwing together stuff I could find and… well.. Would you like a bowl too?“ With a smile she offers him a small bowl of garnished rice. It smells vaguely oriental. Jörg smiles back at her as he accepts her offer. They sit down at the kitchen table and start eating. Jörg is amazed at how good the food is, and that all of it came from things he had laying around. Nina pretends not to notice how happy Jörg is with the unexpected treat.

“Nina, can I ask you something?” Jörg begins carefully. Nina nods, her mouth full of food. “What’s your grand plan? You said this afternoon you’ve lived in the USSR for a while, and that you’ve returned to find your family. But what will you do once you’ve found them? Return to Moscow?” He looks at her quizzically. “Or stay here?” he adds hopefully.

Nina swallows her food. That was a larger bite than she had anticipated. A sip of water helps to ease her overindulgence. “That…” she coughs “...is a good question. I’m here for a couple of reasons. Yes, I want to find my family and be reunited with my past. But I’m also here because it’s been exactly five years. I need to find peace with it all. And to directly answer your question; I don’t think I’ll be staying around when I get back in touch with Lisa and Mutti. There are two others with whom I need to reconcile. With one I know exactly where she is, but the other one is somewhere in The Netherlands. I don’t know how, but I’ll find him. I need to find him.”

“Oh.” Jörg replies slightly disappointed. “But what if you find them and they want nothing to do with you anymore, will you stay here? My couch is always at your disposal, you know.”

“Ach quatsch. Why wouldn’t they want to see me again?" she says confidently. "I mean, it’s been a weird turn of events, but I’m sure they’ll be over the moon to hear I’m still alive.” She puts a hand on his knee “...and while you’re very sweet for offering I would like to find a different spot to sleep in due time.”
 

Gooney87

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Location
The Netherlands
Chapter 14 - Minutes to midnight

The next morning Nina is awoken by a gentle ray of sun shining in through the double balcony doors of the apartment building. She stretches out, pops every joint in her body, and rolls out of bed. As she walks around the apartment she notices that the weather outside is actually rather nice for a day in November. She opens the doors to the interior garden of Jörg’s apartment, and the sounds of a large city fill the room.

In the kitchen she’s greeted by a few pots and pans, remnants of last night’s cooking fest. She stayed up late with Jörg, talking and laughing, and eating quite a lot. Food was always her way of dealing with situations, and being here, in the house of someone she hasn’t spoken to in over six years, is quite the situation. Food comforts her. It’s always been there for her whenever Natalya would say hurtful things. Whenever she’d be reminded of the people she left behind, or when she could swear she heard a baby cry in the other room. Of course, there never was a baby, but there was always chocolate or random leftovers to ease the pain.

She sits down in front of her plate with eggs and bacon. The wooden chair creaks in protest. Nina barely notices it anymore, eager to start her day with good food and a cigarette. She’s got a big day planned for her and she needs a good load of fuel to function, or so she reckons as the last morsels of breakfast find their way into her cleavage. Another cigarette and a cup of coffee to cap it off, and she’s off to get dressed and face the day.

There are certain smells in this world that always stay with you mentally. A leather jacket, that ‘wet dog smell’ of your four-legged friend, the aftershave of your boyfriend. Among them also; the smell of the Berlin U-bahn. It’s a particular smell, not unpleasant and stinky like the Moscow subway tends to have on a rainy and crowded day. No, the U-bahn smells differently. Slightly organic and herbally, with undertones of wood and hot electronics whenever a train passes by. Back when Nina used to live in Berlin she never noticed, but after finding her winter coat in Moscow still had that lingering smell that took her back to the yellow trains of the VEB Kombinat Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe. The moment she sets foot in the station near Jörg’s flat the smell hits her flat in the face. She’s back. This is Berlin. The nondescript mutterings of the driver over the intercom, the rattling of the old cars, and of course that aroma.

When West-Berlin was reunited with East-Berlin, both subway nets were joined, forming a large network after being split up for forty years. While this might sound like good news for the many travellers going through the system on a daily basis, this also means that there are a lot of transfers involved in going from former-East to former-West or vice-versa. Despite there being few technical difficulties in joining the two nets together there is a large resentment between both teams of drivers, both refusing to drive on the other’s track sections. The ‘Wessies’ maintain that the former East side is dangerous, underlit, and ill-maintained, while the former drivers from VEB BVG-Ost feel that the western side shouldn’t be their problem and that those damn fascists are responsible for moving their people around.

This is far from a good situation, and a massive headache for all travellers, including Nina, who fall victim to this very small-scale cultural divide. To travel the relatively short distance between Kreuzberg and her family’s old Plattenbau-flat in the Singerstraße in Friedrichshain she has to transfer trains three times, and that includes a short section of above-ground S-bahn of exactly one stop. She doesn’t mind though, as she sits on the platform waiting for an S-bahn that should have arrived two minutes ago. It gives her time to think and enjoy her warm croissant in relative peace and quiet.

In the Singerstraße not much has changed, Nina concludes after emerging from her familiar U-bahn station Strausberger Platz. Sure, there are a handful of West-autos parked in the little lot in-between the large, white buildings, likely belonging to the Wessies who were offered a flat to stay behind, but other than that it’s still pretty much the little square where she grew up.
Nina reads the names on the placard at number eleven; her old building, looking for familiar names. She doesn’t recognize many of the names, and in her mother’s apartment a new family apparently moved in. Too bad. That would have been too easy. Simply ring the doorbell, get buzzed in, show up and say ‘Hi mom, I’m back!’ and pick up her old life where she left off five years ago, before everything changed.
Then her finger stops at Dietrich, W. The Hausmeister of the building, and precisely the man who can tell her more about what happened here. She pushes the large, chrome button next to the brass placard, and somewhere in the bowels of the flat a buzzer sounds faintly.
 

Gooney87

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Messages
44
Location
The Netherlands
“Who is it?” it sounds from the yellowed plastic speaker above the board of names. Nina tries to stand on her toes to get closer to the microphone, but fails to muster up the strength in her calfs and ends up merely leaning forward against the wall. That worked better five years and forty kilos ago.

“Ehh, it’s Nina. Your old neighbor, remember? Can I come in?” she asks a little timidly.

“Impossible. There’s no Nina here.” the speaker croaks.

“No, I’m Nina. Nina Müller. My mother is Renate Müller. Lived across the hall from you for years. My sister is Lisa Müller, that girl who used to mess with your flower pots, remember?” Nina pauzes as she realizes Wolfgang probably never found out who kept switching his pots around when he wasn’t looking

“Meins Gott. There’s no way…” Wolfgang mutters to himself on the other end of the line. He pauzes, formulates his thoughts, unsure how to react to this voice reaching out to him from the Great Beyond. He sighs. His curiosity beats out his fear of ghosts.
“Come in Mädel! For the love of all, please come in!”
The door buzzes.

Upon entry Nina immediately recognizes the smell of her childhood. Dusty concrete, PVC flooring, and stale air. Exiting the small hallway she immediately turns right towards her old front door. She pauzes, smiles a moment when realizing that would have her end up in some other family’s living room. Behind her a door lock unlatches and a door opens, and a familiar face emerges.

“Ninamädel. Out of all the people I thought would come and visit me today, you were among the least expected, though no less welcome.” the old man smiles. “I’ll go make a cup of hot choco and we’ll talk like we used to.” He smiles as he leads the young girl inside.
Nina smiles. A good hot drink would be more than welcome. Despite the sun the city can be quite cold in early november.

Wolfgang’s living room hasn’t changed much from what Nina remembers. As a child she and her sister would often visit after school, just to catch up and spend an afternoon waiting for Renate to come back home. He had recently retired from his job as a headmaster of a nearby school, and welcomed the company. Nowadays Wolfgang is in his late seventies and his life moves slower than it used to. Regardless he is still in charge of the wellbeing of the Singerstraße 11.1 through 11.4, his apartment building. Its inhabitants appreciate the effort the man puts into it, especially the indigenous Ossies who are quite appreciative that ‘one of them’ has taken charge.

He smiles as he sees Nina’s face beaming with happiness as he puts a truly gargantuan mug of choco in front of her. She looks at the treat in front of her. That has certainly been a while! She hasn't changed much. Her hair has gotten longer and slightly more unkempt, and she's filled out quite a bit in her time away from Die Heimat.
“With a dash of whipped cream. As one is obliged to do in these matters.” he smiles. With Nina sitting in his living room, enjoying her drink like she used to, things feel slightly more normal again after everything that happened these last years.

Nina looks at the man. She has so many questions for him, and he looks as if he has just as many for her. Yet here they sit, allowing the silence to be broken only by the clock on the wall of the living room. The room hasn’t changed much, still sporting the simple and somewhat outdated DDR decor it has for as long as Nina can remember. Pictures of the wall show Wolfgang’s proudest moments in life; marrying his late wife, snapshots from the Fünften Polytechnische Oberschule where he presided for years, and a photo of him at a neighborhood blockparty, smiling and posing with a young and pregnant Renate while holding a toddler in his strong arms.

“So, you’ve returned to Berlin.” he finally breaks the silence while looking at Nina sharply. “That was….unexpected. After you had disappeared we all assumed you had eloped with that Wessie. And then there was that dodgy suicide letter that fell apart if you looked at it twice. We started asking around, and your sister soon fessed up about your Republikflucht. And then there was that newspaper article with the shot-up car at Friedrichstraße.”

“Sorry.” Nina says softly, her eyes away from the bald man opposite her. She realises all too well how much pain she’s caused for her friends and family with her half-baked plan to run away, leaving them with nothing but a suicide letter so that they won’t go and look for her.

“You don’t have to apologize to me, young lady. But you owe your mother a giant apology, know that. It took weeks for her to muster up the strength to go outside. Well, of course that Russian fellow didn’t help matters much.”

“What Russian guy? Gregor?” Nina looks at Wolfgang surprised. She did not expect her dad to get involved in all this. Usually he’s high and dry somewhere on that boat of his when family dramas occur.

“Yep, him. A few weeks after everything collapsed here he showed up drunk, planning to collect you and your mom, and get out of here. In a single morning they crated up most of their belongings and left without a trace. He was talking about wanting to bring your mother and you to safety. When he heard about your escape and/or death he was furious. Punched dents in the wall, screaming at the trees, you name it.”

“And what about Lisa? Did she join them?” Nina takes a sip of choco.

“Meins Gott no. That’s a whole different story. Lisa was here when Gregor showed up but soon snuck out. She spent that night somewhere else, and when she returned the following morning she was made clear in no uncertain terms that she was not included of any of Gregor’s plans, and that she was to fend for herself from now on. No matter how much Renate pleaded with him, begged him even, Lisa was still here after Gregor and Renate left. At first I let her stay in the now-vacant apartment, but with the influx of Wessies claiming housing here I had to evict her. She slept on my couch for a while, and eventually left to stay with some boyfriend of hers.”

“Do you know where she is now?” Nina asks.

“No idea, girl.” Wolfgang says apologetically. “Sometimes I think I catch a glimpse of her in the shadows beneath the S-bahn, or in a dark tunnel, but I am an old man and sometimes I see things that aren’t there.” He shifts position on the couch, half-expecting Nina to vanish into thin air. “Your parents went up north somewhere. Gregor got his hands on a Datsche near the navy base where he was stationed. Did you never get the letters I passed on to you? Your mom wrote to you for months, as did that Wessie-freund of yours.”

“Wait, letters? My Wessie-freund? Tom?!” Nina looks at the man opposite her with large eyes. “Tom’s dead!”

“Well, he’s one of the most persevering stiffs I’ve ever met then. I must have forwarded at least ten of his letters to the parents of that Russian friend of yours. Who, I might add, sent me a change of address-card. Something your parents never did.” the old man grumbles. “At some point I got up the courage to send that Dutch fellow a short note telling him that I hadn’t seen you around in months, and that maybe it’d be wise if he directed his attention elsewhere.”

“So you say you’ve got letters from Tom? Where are they now?” Nina asks excitedly.

“Everything I found in your mailbox I forwarded to Ivan and Milena Khamatov in Moscow. Nice folks. They send me a Christmas card each year. They told me they in turn forwarded everything to their daughter and her roommate. So if you want to know what happened to that correspondence I recommend asking her.”

Nina feels herself boil with rage. All those years Natalya knew about Tom, the love of her life, was still alive and kicking, and she withheld that from her. Every time she cried about Tom Natalya told her that he was in a better place now, and that she shouldn’t be sad as it was better this way. Her hands ball up into fists just thinking about it, and her puffy cheeks flush red with anger.
 
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Gooney87

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Joined
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Messages
44
Location
The Netherlands
Midnight in Moscow is about the only time when the city is truly quiet. There’s less traffic, the trams have stopped their loud drives, and almost everyone is fast asleep. On the small square in Novye Cheryomushki, a single light still shines from the large concrete building with the poetic name of Apartment Building K7. A sole person is still up and about there.

Natalya yawns. It’s late, but her mind can’t allow her to fall asleep. She’s at the kitchn room table, overlooking a large cardboard box she drug out of the downstairs storage earlier. The box is a little grubby, and the heavy snowfall didn’t help the structural integrity of it much. Natalya eyes the box cautiously as she opens the lid.

For the first couple of months of living in Moscow she’d occasionally receive packages of post for Nina. At first she wondered where it was all coming from, but then she found out that her parents were forwarding everything they got from the old Hausmeister of Nina’s former Berlin residence. Natalya wanted to give the mail to Nina, but when she saw how much the poor girl was hurting and missing Berlin she decided it was probably for the best if she kept quiet and let bygones be bygones. She started hiding the mail downstairs, in a corner of the storage unit she knew Nina would never come. Sure, she had to find a way to crawl over a bunch of her neighbor’s stuff every time new arrivals showed up, but at least it was safe, out of reach of Nina. When finally the correspondence stopped she taped the box up, put it away even further, and tried her best to forget about it. What Nina doesn’t know about cannot hurt her.

But with Nina’s disappearal and Natalya’s desperate search for clues the box has resurfaced, right there on the table. Natalya holds her head in her hands, her third or possibly fourth glass of vodka next to her. Her alcohol-fueled brain is telling her she needs to open that box and deal with whatever’s inside. She sighs as she slowly rises. Her hands work to remove the tape from the cardboard. This is going to be one of those nights.

It’s a small white envelope, with a bit of tape sealing the flap. Clearly someone has been in here before. Likely the Stasi, making sure no-one was sending any hard currency across the wall. Her hands shake as she tears into it, afraid of what the letter will show.
-----------------
Hi Liebchen,

I hope this letter reaches you, somehow. It’s important that you read this. Important for you. Important for us.

I am alive and well. Granted, it was close but I made it out of Hohenschönhausen in one piece. When we got separated again I fought. I kicked, I screamed, but there were too many of them. They must have knocked me out, because the last thing I can remember was waking up in the back of a car heading towards Checkpoint Charlie.

Once I got deposited in West-Berlin the American borderguard made it abundantly clear that until further notice the DDR was absolutely closed. Not an hour later the air raid alarm sounded and everyone in the direct vicinity of the border was told to leave post-haste. I chose to save myself, and drove out of Berlin and towards the BRD. A bad decision made in a state of panic and a daze, but one I’m going to have to live with.

I’m back in the Netherlands, and trying to keep up with the events in Berlin. It’s difficult as I suspect we’re not getting the whole picture. There’s talk of riots, attacks on buildings, fires, civil unrest. But they also said that those who want to leave are free to do so. If you manage to flee the Netherlands ánd West-Germany have a joint policy to harbor any refugees. There’s a Dutch consulate on the Klosterstraße 50. Go there and tell them you’re asking for political asylum in the Netherlands. The Dutch government will safeguard you then. They’ll ask for the number and name of someone in the Netherlands. That’ll be me. They’ll then contact me to verify your identity, and we’ll see from there.

I’ve tried calling your neighbor a bunch of times, but keep getting the message that the phone line is dead. The West-German TV says that all the phone lines have been cut to and from the DDR. I’ll keep trying though, at some point someone is bound to tie them together again.

Stay safe my love. Grab your things and head to the consulate, and I’m sure that it’ll sort itself out.

With all my love,
Tom
-----------------

Natalya’s heart sinks as she reads the letter. This is exactly what she was afraid of. Tom’s alive, and was looking for her. This changes everything. She looks at the date of the letter. It arrived in Berlin the day before Nina showed up on her doorstep, and she and her family ran away to Moscow. If Nina would have made it back to her mother’s she would have found it waiting for her on the doorstep, and probably would have lived with Tom right now.

“She would have given everything to be with that man.” Natalya says to herself. Slowly but surely she realizes why Nina went back to Berlin. Someone needs to find that girl before she hurts herself.

“Damnit Nina, where do you have that thing?!” Natalya is sitting in the bedroom, surrounded by opened drawers and articles of clothing strewn about. She’s looking for something, a small green book she’s seen Nina carrying around containing all of her secrets, or at the minimum addresses. And she needs to know what’s inside now more than ever.
Furiously she digs through drawers and cupboards, throwing things throughout the small bedroom. Her hair was in a tight bun, but as the night progressed and turned into morning more and more strands fell out, occasionally being flicked out of her face. Not here, the next drawer gets opened; Nina’s underwear drawer.

Much to her surprise that woman owns far nicer things than she’s ever seen her wear. Natalya’s attention immediately gets drawn to a frilly red set. She holds up the hanger holding the bra and briefs, noting how one of the cups could easily hold her head. Thoughts of her fat friend wearing the set, or most of it, dance inside her brain. She runs her hands over the lace edging, imagining Nina’s fat pushing the material outwards, her soft and heavy breasts billowing over the straps and straining the material to contain all of her womanly goods. Natalya would then beckon Nina to come sit beside her on the bed, slowly unclasping the bra with one hand, while the other would find its way on her soft belly, feeling her fat, kneading it. She’d stare into her eyes, tell her she’s the most beautiful woman she’s ever met, and then their lips would touch as the last bra clasp lets go, dropping Nina’s breasts onto her belly and straight into Natalya’s eager hands.

“Focus Khamatova, sexy thoughts later, finding that damn booklet now.” Natalya shakes the mental image off and carefully places the red lace set back into the drawer. When Nina returns she needs to have a talk with her, badly.

Outside the sun slowly rises and the city awakes. Natalya has been pulling letters from the box and reading them all night. Letters from Tom, who gets more and more desperate in his search for his German girlfriend. He talks about how he has mounted a search from The Netherlands through the DDR consulate, having basically everyone with even the slightest amount of influence in Berlin out looking for her. About how he mourned when the West-German police told him she was most likely shot to death in the riots surrounding the Wiederanschluß. Natalya couldn’t help but cry at Toms last letter; a heartfelt goodbye to the love of his life, and a promise they would find each other somewhere, somehow, and be reunited forever.

And then there are Renate’s unanswered letter to her daughters. She reluctantly joined Gregor to a navy base near Travemünde, and she’s not liking the life there at all. Gregor is away much, often for long periods, and the poor woman is lonely. She never forgave him for having to abandon Lisa in Berlin. The words ‘that bastard child can go run to her dad for help’ cut deep with her. She’s found a local support group for mothers who have lost children and on their advice she wrote this letter, sending it off to the last known place where both were alive. The lack of a proper goodbye for either one of the girls hurt her gravely.
 

Gooney87

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“Aha! Found it! Nina you devilish girl you. Of course it’s in that secret compartment you don’t want anyone to know about.” With a mighty pull she pulls off the cabinet’s baseplate, revealing the small space underneath the double floor. In it lays Nina’s old diary, the sought-after green book of addresses, and a small box containing a bunch of photos. She knew about Nina’s so-called secret diary, occasionally reading a bit when Nina had forgotten it on her dresser or in another easily accessible location, but she never knew about the box of photos. She looks around the room, almost out of habit, and pulls the box out.

The first picture show a young Nina, barely 18 and balancing precariously on a small ledge looking sultry at the camera. Natalya recognizes the image, she took this one as a set to send out to Tom in the spring of ‘89. Back when Nina made her promise she would never tell a single soul she was in love with Die Klassenfeind. The next picture show Tom and Nina together in her mother’s Trabant. The sun shines in through the windows of the small blue car. The two teens are smiling, they’re happy. She flips the photo. In pencil it says “Tom & ich, Dresden ‘89. So viele ♡” She flips the photo back. A self-portrait taken by Nina, her arm outstretched for an impromptu self-portrait with her boyfriend. She’s happy. Nina smiles and looks over the rim of her sunglasses at the lens. Natalya misses that smile. She sighs as she grabs the next photo from the box. It’s a picture of herself and Nina, standing in the living room of her mother’s apartment. They’re wearing just a bit too much make-up, and their hair has been carefully styled to match the latest fashion trends of the era. Their tops match, though Nina already filled out hers in a way that Natalya could never match. “My not-sister and I. Look out Berlin!” it says on the back. Natalya knows exactly when this photo has been taken. It was the summer of ‘88, and Nina just broke up with Mikhael. To cheer her up they had planned a ladies night out. Lots of dancing, more alcohol, and an uncertain hope it would cheer the gloom Nina up a bit. Natalya can’t remember how the night ended. How old were they here, eighteen? If only she had worked up the courage to tell her how she really felt about her friend that night. Maybe everything would have been different then.

Natalya sighs. This was one box she shouldn’t have opened. She puts the pictures back in, making sure they’re in the same order she found them in, and slides the box back into its hiding spot. If Nina returns it’s best if she doesn’t know her friend was in here.

“Not if she returns, when she returns.” Natalya says to herself as she walks out of the bedroom. She has to return. She leafs through Nina’s address book. This is one call she really does not want to make.
 

Gooney87

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Location
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Chapter 15 - In the Air Tonight
The old yellow cars of the U-bahn shake and rattle as they roll through the tunnel, occasionally lighting up the darkness with a spark and a sharp crackle of the stale air. Stunned, Nina leans back against the uncomfortable plastic seats. The worn pillows provide hardly any support for her weighty body. She looks out the window, into the darkness of the tunnel.
Gregor and her mom just left Berlin. Packed up and went. Left Lisa to fend for herself. How old was her sister back then, sixteen? How could they? And to hear that nobody ever came back to check on her. Nobody went looking for Nina either, for that matter.
On the other hand; as far as they knew Nina was either dead or living happily on the other side of the Iron Curtain. And the situation in Berlin got more perilous with every passing day. Wolfgang told about the days directly following the forced Mauerbruch by Western troops. Tanks rolled on the Karl Marx Allee, and every day the streets would echo with shots fired by both sides to either defend or recapture the capitalist enclave of Berlin-West. Everyone feared this was the straw that would break the camel's back and set off World War Three.

Thankfully, and to much surprise, cooler heads prevailed and Berlin-West and Berlin-Ost were slowly merged into one unified Berlin under Egon Krenz and the SED.
Outside the apartment Wolfgang showed Nina the bullet holes in the facade of the old white building. Memories of a turbulent and frightening time. In those days many fled the city, either to the West if they had the right papers, or to relatives further east if they could. It took a televised press conference by the leaders of all four stakeholders in Berlin; Egon Krenz, George Bush, Helmut Kohl, ánd Mikhail Gorbatsjov, debating the failure of the forty-year old capitalist enclave in the heart of the DDR before a semblance of stability would return to the mostly shot-up city.

All of this was only mentioned briefly on Russian state-tv. The news broadcasts in the USSR mostly focussed on fascists movements within the DDR planning and executing terrorist strikes on the proud Worker-and-Farmer state, undermining the peaceful socialist society.
Nina followed these developments initially with much interest, but the more bloody and violent the reports got, the more she shied away from them.
Was it self-preservation or fear of what had become of her Heimat? All she could think about then were her family and friends in the German city.
Natalya told her to move on, that she was safe, and that her family would have wanted it that way. But since returning here she’s starting to doubt about Natalya’s motives. As it turned out her friend’s story had more holes in it than her old building, Nina’s family has moved to some remote corner of East-Germany, and she hasn’t gotten a single step closer to finding and reuniting with them or her sister.

Still engrossed in her own musings Nina walks up the stairs to Jörg’s apartment. She sighs as she reaches the first landing. All this walking around today hasn’t done wonders for her leg, and she’s quite out of breath too. She rubs her muscles to ease the pain and looks up to the next flight. Why couldn’t every building, including this short five-story one, be equipped with an elevator? She leans against a wall, waiting for her heart rate to slow and allow her to climb higher. Thankfully Jörg’s studio is only on the second floor.

As she opened the door to the hallway she paused, panting from the exertion of climbing two sets of stairs, a familiar scent wafts through the air, picking her up by the nostrils and carrying her towards the front door of her temporary residence. ]
Sauerkraut, potatoes, and black pudding, if her nose is to be trusted.
Someone is preparing quite a feast! Despite the many snacks Wolfgang presented to the girl she finds that her stomach is once again demanding food in a loud manner, spurred on by that wonderful smell and the fact that it’s already past 6 o’clock.

She knocks on the door, and within moments the happy face of Jörg appears. The smell of food intensifies as the door swings open, revealing Jörg’s rather traditionally decorated apron. Nina can’t help but smile as she sees his colorful attire.

“Hi Nina! Come in, I’m just preparing dinner.” he says with a smile on his face. Nina walks in, still stunned by the vivid colors of his apron and this wild display of housewifery from the taxi driver.

“Oh, ‘scuse me, I need to get to the kitchen. Duh.” Jörg says as he leads Nina through the narrow hallway into the living room. He turns around, and meets the fat girl right in the middle of the hallway. There’s barely enough room for one person to walk down the narrow corridor flanked by coat racks and other items, let alone two; one of which being the rather corpulent Nina.
Awkwardly, they revolve around each other as Nina tries to exit the hallway to get to the living room. Jörg can feel her soft fat body push against his, and his manhood immediately springs to life. They pauze, their eyes locked together. He carefully puts a hand on her waist, and feels the soft warmness of her side rolls as he loses himself in Nina’s bright blue eyes.
“If this was a movie, we’d kiss right about now.” he says softly to her. She starts laughing as he pauzes to gauge her reaction. Her whole body jiggles along with her laughter. He moves his head in towards hers, still transfixed by her gaze.

“Get moving, man!” Nina says as she pushes him away towards the kitchen. “You’re in the way.”

She giggles as she enters the living room. In the hallway Jörg makes a beeline for the kitchen, sighing softly and turning his attention towards the bubbling pot on the stove and away from the moment that could have been.

Nina looks at the fully-set dining table in the corner, its colorful tablecloth and merrily burning tealight a stark contrast with the somewhat messy and uncoordinated decor of the rest of the room. The sharp folds in the cloth suggest that this thing hasn’t been out of its packaging in quite some time, possibly ever. She raises her eyebrows. “Really, you shouldn’t have gone through all this trouble.” she says surprised at this scene in front of her.

“Yeah, I didn’t know when you’d get home, or in what state, so I figured ‘Eh, might as well set the table and cook dinner’, so you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Take a seat, sit down, relax. I’m sure you’ve had an exciting day and can’t wait to tell me about it.” it sounds from the kitchen.

Nina blinks a few times at this whole situation. Normally she’s always the one in the kitchen slaving away over hot pots and pans trying to get dinner on the table in time before Natalya gets home all hungry and tired. This ‘being taken care of’-thing is new to her. She slides the chair backwards to give herself some room to sit down, pours herself a drink, and slumps down in the wooden chair. What a day.

That evening Jörg and Nina are sitting on the couch. Dinner was good, and Nina ate a little more than usual. She rubs her distended stomach as stealthily as possible, trying to digest it all without letting Jörg think she’s some sort of pig. She shifts position to give her belly a bit more room between her legs. Her skirt is digging in her belly, restricting any sort of movement.

“D’you mind if I…” she asks sheepishly as her hands find her belt buckle buried deep in her fat midsection. Jörg smiles and shakes his head.
With a sigh her belly breaks free from her opened skirt, pulling the zipper down with it. That’s better. She gives Jörg a sideways glance to make sure he’s not watching her rub her belly as she reaches over to the small table for her glass of wine.
Jörg had a bottle stashed away ‘for a special occasion’. It was gone sooner than either one had anticipated. Luckily a second bottle of perhaps lesser quality was soon found and opened.

“What a situation sweetie. So Natalya has been lying to you all these years? She knew everything but never saw fit to tell you any of it?” Jörg asks somewhat upset. Over dinner he heard Nina’s story and got emotional over the injustice done to this woman by a girl pretending to be her best friend.

Nina sets down her glass again. “Yep. Everything. She knew it all. And didn’t tell me.” She leans back on the couch and feels her body relaxing against the pillows.

“And now?”

“I… I want to find Lisa, but… I dunno…” a hiccup shakes her body, sending ripples through her now uncontained belly and large breasts. “‘ ‘scuse me. I don’t know what to do anymore…” The alcohol is doing a number on her brain, disrupting her train of thought. “By the by, are you okay with me staying here a few days longer?”
 

Gooney87

Active Member
Joined
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Messages
44
Location
The Netherlands
Jörg looks over at this wonderful fat girl that paraded herself into his life as she leans against his shoulder. He can feel her soft arms against his, and if he angles himself juuust right he can make out the outline of her heaving bosoms in her blouse as they rest against her belly. She looks up at him, her bright blue eyes as captivating as the day he first met her, all those years ago.

“Sure!” he replies “Take all the time you need.” He likes having her around, finding company in the evenings after work, and the fact that she’s not bad on the eyes certainly helps.

“ ‘cause…I don’t want you to think I’m abusing your hospitality and using you for free lodging or anything.” Nina looks up at the man next to her. The plan was to rent a room somewhere and use that as a base of operations, but she’s grown quite fond of her former classmate’s company over the last few days.

“Believe me sweetheart, you don’t. At all. You’re always welcome here. I love having you around.” He looks at the woman next to him, so close he can practically smell her hair. “By the way, and forgive me if I step out of line, but do you mind if I light up a joint?” He reaches one arm to the side of the couch and retrieves an ashtray and a small bag.

Nina looks at him and shrugs. It’s his house. Why not? She gets a grateful nod in return as he lights up a roach. It smells vaguely herbal, like that one weird cigarette she stole from Natalya back in Warsaw.

“Oh, some host I am. You smoke too, right?” Jörg asks.

“Cigarettes, yes. This stuff, no.” She shakes her head. She used to be firmly against drugs, but after finding out what a good cocktail of prescription drugs from Natalya’s work can do to dull the pain from a gunshot wound to the leg she’s slowly revising that opinion.

“Would you like to give it a try? I find it sort of mutes your thoughts for a moment. It’s the perfect way to relax.”

It mutes your thoughts. A perfect way to relax. His words resound in her brain. After everything she’s been through in Berlin her mind is firing a non-stop assault of thoughts and worries at the young girl. At night she’s losing sleep over everything, making the next day even worse. She looks at the man next to her, offering her his lit joint.

“Well, only if you want. I’m not forcing anything onto you.”

“No, no, it’s cool. Just a few drags.” she says as she accepts the little thing and sticks it between her lips. She inhales deeply. The smoke reaches deep into her chest.

Nothing.

She gives it a hard look, making sure the end is still lit. She looks at Jörg who smiles softly at her. Another drag.

And suddenly it feels like someone opened a can of soda in her brain. A weird, fizzy sensation followed by a blanket of calm. Like the wind finally died down inside her skull.

“Ah. That.” she says as she leans back into the couch. A blanket of warmness envelops her, and just as advertised her thoughts are becoming more and more silent. She puts a hand on the pillow. It’s soft. A little scratchy, perhaps. She laughs as the couch beneath her starts purring at her touch.

“Feels good, no?” says Jörg as he takes the lit joint from her fingers.

Nina nods. The couch has stopped purring but the quietness in her brain remains. ‘This is nice’ she thinks to herself as she looks at Jörg.
“So, do you still see people from the old days? From school?” Nina asks. She’s been wanting to ask him this for a while, but never could find the right moment to do so.

He shakes his head “No, not really. After the graduation ceremony everyone sort of went their own way. You disappeared, along with your Russian friend. I hung out with a few other boys, but after they got work outside of Berlin that group fell apart. And then when your own career advice says ‘Just go into the military and get shot at’, and you don’t really want to do that, there’s not much left of your social life.” He stares at the ceiling, watching the plume of smoke slowly dissipate.

“You had to go into the NVA?” Nina asks. She too was chosen by the SED to serve Die Heimat. She had gotten the letter in the summer following her exams in the Hochschule, and that was one of the main reasons she decided to make a run for it. Well, that, and the fact that two months later she would have had to give serious thought about children’s names.

“Yup. Foot soldier. Cannon fodder. They badly needed grunts to break through that Wall and let those fascists perverts have it. I wasn’t down with that whole idea, so I managed to get myself declared unfit, and was given a job as a taxi driver instead.” He pauzes a moment. “Did I regret doing that? Well, I’m alive so it isn’t all bad. I don’t mind my job, which I presume is more than most can say, and the tips from Wessies make it all worthwhile. Plus, I’ve been commissioned that brand-new Volga parked outside and that’s a really nice thing to have at our age. But enough about me; what about you?” He lights a new joint, takes a huff and hands the thing to Nina’s awaiting fingers.

“Me? I’m alive, against everyone’s expectations.”
She takes a deep drag and wants to hand the roach back to Jörg. He declines, tells her to finish it.
“After I landed in the USSR with Natalya everything was upside-down. She got a job at a local hospital after a short training, which was pretty damn convenient considering half my leg was shot off recently and felt like it was ready to fall off. The things she smuggled out of there kept me sane those first period. But the mental pain never went away. I was living in a country where I didn’t belong on borrowed time. I wasn’t supposed to exist. And then the days get pretty damn long by yourself. I had a little illegal vegetable garden where I grew things I’d sell on the black market, and I’d use that money for….welll…” she looks down at her own fat midriff “...food, mainly. Food keeps me company. Eases the pain.” She takes another deep drag of the joint. The painful memory of her time in the USSR is muted along with all the other bad stuff. “And now I’m here. Off to find my family, or what’s left of them.”

“What’s left of them?” Jörg looks at her quizzically. During the Wiederanschluß great efforts were made to keep civilian casualties to a minimum, or at least that’s what the East-German media reported.

“My sister is somewhere here in Berlin, though nobody knows where. Mom and Gregor have left to a navy base near Travemünde, or so says my old neighbor.” Nina takes a deep drag of her joint. She finds that it blocks out the negative thoughts quite well. Nina looks at the half-smoked roach in her hand. This is good stuff. “...and then there’s the question of Elizabeth.” she mutters to herself. She sighs and silently smokes the rest of the joint, occasionally coughing as she feels herself getting lightheaded.

Jörg is silent too, a rarity in his life. He looks over at the woman on the couch next to him, watching her soft body jiggle as she coughs. Slowly he feels her warm softness snuggle against him. One of her large breasts is pressing against his forearm. He doesn’t dare to move, lest she notices it and corrects the placement of her boob. It’s heavy. Heavier than he had expected. And so soft.
He’s never dated much. A few years ago he had a fling with a woman he met. It was fun for both parties involved, but eventually it sizzled out. Back in high school he always noticed Nina. How she’d lean over her desk, her then already quite large bosom smushed against the little wooden table, occasionally needing to get repositioned. How she’d fill out an FDJ-uniform like there was no tomorrow, straining the buttons with her soft womanness. And now here she is, propped against him, smoking his weed and with her abundant curves within arm’s reach.

“Aren’t we a pair?” Nina softly says.”A conscientious objector and someone who by all accounts should be dead.” She closes her eyes, lets the echoes of the words reverb in her brain. Slowly she falls over onto her friend’s lap.

Jörg looks at her, her head now firmly in his lap, eyes closed, enjoying the world in a brief moment of silence and peace. It takes all his effort not to direct his gaze downward to her plump young body as he’s fighting off an erection threatening to poke her in the neck. He strokes her hair, moving a few strands out of her face. Her eyes open, looking at him with that indirect stare only someone who is completely and utterly stoned can muster up.

“Do you know you really do have beautiful blue eyes?” he says as he runs his hands through her long soft brown hair. He grabs the nearly smoked joint from her hands, a soft protest coming from her lips.
“Before you set the carpet on fire, sweetheart.” Her eyes follow his hands, only vaguely aware of what’s going on anymore.
“I’m so in love with you.” he says softly to her.

“I’m in love with sheep. They are important.” Nina replies in a daze, unaware of what’s going on anymore.

Jörg smiles as he gently places her head on a pillow, and gets up off the couch. He can hear her snoring before he’s even left the room.
 
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