Adalasia: First Entry – Sicily, August, 1943
A curious thing happened today.
It’s amazing how different things are now amidst the shelling. The incessant shooting, screaming, and shouting. Hardly a week ago I was making pies for Father’s bakery, whistling cheerful tunes and thinking of boys. My every day seemed filled with that of joy and glee. All of the things that should occupy a young girl’s thoughts.
Yet tonight I find myself coddled in a corner, trembling as I hide in this dusty cellar. My every bone chilled at the sound of the slightest footsteps, constantly fearing I might be discovered. Terrified by images of what horrors will assuredly befall me should it come to pass. Every night, without fail, I pray that the Almighty send these invaders elsewhere; freeing our once-jubilant city from their menacing grasp.
I’m told the town is pivotal to the supply lines. Our block seems to change hands every day: Allies by morning, Axis by night. Its hard to keep up. After the printing press was destroyed, my only connection to the rest of the world trickles through reluctant inquiries to our occupiers. Today I had to feign support for the Reich, asking a Nazi bullying Father for more of his goods if the mainland still stood…or if the Fuhrer’s blitzkrieg had overcome it as it has so many others. Tomorrow, for all I know I’ll be asking the US 7th again.
There was a shimmer of light among all the darkness, though. Yesterday, my path crossed upon that of a man unlike any I’ve met – Italian, or otherwise. Never in my years have I been struck as that what I experienced during our exchange. Usually the American soldiers offer chocolate bars, or perhaps a postcard of famous Hollywood actors and the like to obtain our good graces. This one however…this one was different. He must have noticed me as I was in tears, sobbing over this most recent Nazi bombing that took the life of my beloved best friend and neighbor, Rachele. As his unit was clearing debris nearby, he approached me without words glazed in tears, taking my hands as he peered deeply into my eyes. He offered no sweets, nor meaningless trinkets to impress; devoid of displaying a desire for the shallow affection the men are always after. After a brief moment, which felt more an eternity, he voiced how sorry he was for the pain he could tell I was feeling. He said he despised that there are people in this world who cause such atrocities as those that took my Rachele – and that throughout his time in the war, felt as if he was trapped; glaring through the same window of helplessness as I.
The depth of his sincerity, not to mention the instant connection to him which swept me…rendered me speechless.
Before I could muster a response, the mysterious American released my hands, he looking somberly to the ground. As if speaking to himself as much as I, he then tearfully described the pain that courses through him after every pull of the trigger. How he cannot help but wonder what kind of life he is taking and who it will affect. A life which belonged to someone else. A life that, through his own actions, will never . As he finished, his somber gaze slowly returned from the hallowed ground to my own. The glimmer from his tears created a kind of mirror in his eyes. I recall peering at them, mesmerized, taking notice to the blurred reflection of my own, tearing expression.
Before turning to rejoin his unit, he told me he was grateful for sharing the moment with me. That he was touched by how it made him realize that life’s unavoidable pain sadly, yet beautifully, binds us all.
He said his name was Adam.
How dearly do I hope our paths cross again.