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Martha looked back at the burning city. Her father told her so many times,
"They will never bomb Dresden. There is nothing here to bomb -- the war will
soon be over, Martha -- then we can live as we used to."
If Martha had not been to the Lutheran Cemetery on Kaiser-Strasse she would
be dead by now. She knew that; yet the full realization that her family must
have perished in the flames of this holocaust had not yet set in.
"But everything will be as it was." She said to herself. "I will put flowers
on my brother's grave. I will go home again and we will have tea -- and Mama
will ask me -- what did they teach you at school today, Martha?"
.... and then she remembered it was Valentine's day. She expected a love card
from Werner, but the bombing began before the mailman came.
There was such a wind feeding the flames -- everything was sucked into them.
She could see people fighting to stay on their feet, hanging on doorframes, to
trees, anything to stay out of the flames. "If I had not been here ..." she
said. But even here everything had changed. The stones were toppled and the
monuments that once guided her to her brother's grave were gone. She could not
find it, the stones were scattered and the grass was scorched. She could not
find her way.
She saw a woman, an old woman in black, sitting on a stone holding a bouquet
of cut flowers in one hand and a rosary in the other. She looked up at Martha
and asked her what time it was. "I am waiting for the funeral to arrive." She
said. "They were supposed to be here at eleven o'clock. They are late. Do
they think I can wait all day?"
The woman stood up and walked to the entrance gate and looked left and right.
Martha saw her skirts billow about her. Her flowers were ripped away; she
looked back at Martha and took two or three stumbling steps, and was suddenly
swept off her feet in the direction of the flames.
Martha felt as though she might be the last person alive in the world. "What
will I do when the flames die down? Will someone come to get me? Will someone
take me home?"
She looked back again at the burning city. "There is nothing here to bomb."
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