Chapter Two Thousand One Hundred Thirty-Two
24th March 1972
Anything she wanted, within reason. That was the promise that had been made to Sophie when she had been told that she should start making plans for her thirteenth birthday. Just the idea of turning thirteen filled her with a lot of trepidation. Kat told her that her birthday should be special this year. That it was one of those that were important milestones because it would mark when she would no longer be considered a child. When Sophie turned sixteen, she would be introduced to the wider world, at eighteen she would legally be considered an adult and finally at twenty-one she would come of age.
Ziska felt that Sophie had been given the greatest opportunity ever. She could have anything she wanted, and Ziska had made several suggestions until Sophie had pointed out that the words “Within reason” were a part of the deal. Still, Ziska still had a whole lot of ideas which she had made on the train all the way from Tempelhof to Mitte. Once they had gotten there though, Ziska had been distracted by the window displays of the shops that lined the streets of the Central Shopping District. It was the entire reason why they had come downtown on a Friday afternoon, to go window shopping.
“Perhaps you should ask for a new wardrobe” Ziska said as she looked at a sundress that was intended for the upcoming Summer Season. It was yellow with blue zig-zagging stripes, cut from light fabric and meant to be worn on the hottest of days. “Something fashionable.”
Sophie loved her friend’s enthusiasm, but there were a few practical realities that they had to contend with.
“When would I wear any of it?” Sophie said, “We wear uniforms to school and on the weekends, who would see?”
“If you ever went out, there would be the local scene” Ziska said, “There are others around.”
“What would you know about that?” Sophie asked.
Ziska paused before giving Sophie a sour look and walking towards the next shop.
A few days earlier Ziska’s older sister had commented that she better get used to being alone unless she was prepared to marry a creepy fetishist. Ziska’s mother had reacted furiously when she had overheard that comment, but it had been a bit late by then. That barb had hit the mark and it was something that Ziska feared. That boys would only be interested in her if they somehow got off on her deformity. Despite clearly being interested in them, Ziska avoided introductions because she already knew what the first asinine question would be. Ziska had been in a funk since her sister had made that comment and Sophie had agreed to accompany her on this trip in an effort to cheer her up. An effort that she had just apparently messed up.
“I am not saying that you wouldn’t know per say” Sophie said trailing after her friend. “But you get out less than I do.”
Ziska looked at her. “We should do something about that” She said, “Do you think Marie would know?”
Sophie tried to think of an answer for that. Kat’s youngest daughter, Marie Alexandra, was for lack of a better word, strange. Marie had been a couple years ahead of them at school and everyone in their class had talked about how she often showed up for class after radically altering her appearance, frequently barely keeping within the Gymnasia’s dress code. The trouble was that Marie’s antics stopped impressing anyone after she had done them a few times. Everyone seemed to know that except Marie. She was coming home for Easter and Sophie hoped that she didn’t catch wind of what everyone was saying about her. That she hadn’t been sent to a Swiss boarding school for the School Year but had gone to a sanitorium where they were frying her brain with drugs and electroshock to get to something resembling normal.
“What about something formal?” Ziska asked as she stopped in front of a store window. “The Fürstin would probably be overjoyed if you asked for that.”
The mannequin the window was wearing an elegant gown made from shimmering violet silk that Sophie knew she didn’t have the figure for. It was made for someone who wasn’t built like a flagpole like she was.
“I couldn’t wear that” Sophie said, “Tatiana probably could though.”
“You think so?” Ziska asked with a smile. “I’ve never even seen her wear a dress much less something like this.”
“Kat had her try on a grown that was from a trunk that was pulled out of storage” Sophie said, “She said it was the same one she wore when she danced with the Old Wolf. Doug said it looked as stunning as when Kat wore it ages ago, though he also said he was hardly unbiased.”
Sophie remembered that Tatiana had been embarrassed by what her parents were telling her. Sophie felt that she didn’t need to be though. To her eye, Tatiana had looked as glamorous as an actress at Cannes, Vienna, or Potsdam when they did the annual festivals.
“I see” Ziska said before walking on.
Sophie started to follow, but the door to the shop opened and a woman stepped out with a girl who looked slightly older than her carrying a garment bag. To Sophie’s astonishment, she saw the shape of the girl’s face was nearly identical to one that she saw in the mirror every day. She must have noticed the same thing that Sophie did because she stopped walking and just stared at her.
“We need to keep moving Gabi unless you want to be late to the…” The woman started to say, then she noticed Sophie and a look of anger crossed her face. “You need to stay away from us.”
“But… What?” Sophie asked, completely bewildered.
“I know who you are” The woman said before she practically dragged the girl, Gabi, away. “Please, leave us alone.”
Then they disappeared around the corner, Sophie stood there trying to figure out what had just happened.
“What was that about?” Ziska asked. Echoing Sophie’s thoughts.