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222 49 A wonderful summer is drawing to an end. Maria is perfectly happy. All her free time has been spent preparing for her future household. On Sundays , she has sewn bedlinens on Luise’s sewing machine in Eilendorf. She has made sheets, pillowcases, and quilt covers and trimmed them with lace she crocheted herself. She has sewn loops on towels and tea towels. Maria buys a thick notebook and writes down in it all the recipes she has learned from Mrs. Heumann and Mrs. Kau. With the money she has earned, she buys cooking pots and other kitchen utensils. She can hardly wait to be a housewife herself. It is Sunday, and she is waiting for Wilhelm to come and pick her up at the Kau’s. The whole morning, the sun has been shining on the brightly polished kitchen floor. The aroma of the Sunday meal cooking fills the house. After the meal, Maria clears the table. Now she is trying to wash the dishes quietly so as not to disturb Mr. and Mrs. Kau, who are resting in the living room. She must be careful not to knock the dishes together as that is noisy, according to hearing people. If only she could be with Wilhelm all the time! The time until the wedding seems to be dragging on. She keeps an eye on the window to watch for Wilhelm. Because she cannot hear the doorbell, she has arranged with Wilhelm to wait down on the street until she notices him. When she sees him, she waves to him and throws the key down.Then she quickly puts away the last dishes, puts the cloth on the table, and takes off her apron. Smiling, she waits for him at the door. Almost before he can take off his hat, she puts her arms around him and presses her face to his, tenderly, longingly. But this time he is different . His small, slim figure is stiff, as if she were holding a lifeless object in her arms. She kisses him, but Wilhelm’s mouth is unyielding. She presses her face to his again, expecting and seeking his response to her affection. Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 222 4/26/2017 12:17:46 PM The Stories They Told Me 223 But she feels nothing. Dismayed, she lets go of him and takes a step back. What is the matter with him? Why doesn’t he kiss her? Wilhelm looks very serious and a little embarrassed. “Why you different face?” Maria asks him. Wilhelm shakes his head. Maria is now alarmed. “What is wrong? You please tell me!” she urges. She pulls a chair out from under the kitchen table and asks Wilhelm to sit down. She remains standing at the table, her hands gripping the edge. Wilhelm keeps silent and looks down at his folded hands. Maria knocks on the table to make him look at her.“Why you strange? Please tell me!” she begs. Her question troubles him, but his face appears cool and distant. Fear begins to well up in Maria, and when she reads from his lips,“I finish with you! Not marry!” she stares at him as if she had not understood. She cannot understand it. Then she sees that he is not wearing the gold ring. She feels wretched. Her face turns white. Then she just says,“Why?” It is embarrassing for Wilhelm to say what he has to say. He has promised his mother to break it off with Maria today. She has wanted him to end the relationship for a long time. His mother thinks he still has plenty of time to marry and that he can find another girl from town who is more suited to him. Also, the last time Maria visited his parents’ house, she said she did not like the wallpaper border Wilhelm had put up below the kitchen ceiling. That was a bad sign, his mother said, because in marriage, Maria would certainly always want her own way, and that would be bad for him. Finally, Wilhelm mentions his mother is sad because he does not hand his money over to her like he did before, but instead puts most of it aside for Maria. His mother needs his money for her living expenses, as his brothers and sisters make no financial contribution toward the household. He sits there, dejectedly, and helplessly shrugs his shoulders. Maria has understood everything Wilhelm said; her face is paralyzed...


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Subject Headings

  • Prisoners of war -- United States.
  • Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp.
  • Prisoners of war -- Cuba -- Guantánamo Bay Naval Base.
  • Afghan War, 2001- -- Prisoners and prisons, American.
  • War on Terrorism, 2001-2009.
  • Khan, Mahvish Rukhsana -- Diaries.
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