1933 July

The train, halted and hissing, sits in splendour, its engine half under a local foot- bridge. This is much to the annoyance of all on board but to the considerable delight of the local children and other idle passers-by. It is the nature of trains to stop interminably once the journey is near completion and this is such a pause. For exhausting hours it sped upon its rail-consuming way but now so close to home it inconsiderately stops.

Its passengers are anxious for home, anticipating welcome arms, wanting to exchange their news with people who are more than passing strangers. Long journeys spent contemplating home and friends change the nature of time so at journey’s end each minute held apart hurts more than earlier hours.

The trains are important to Dresden and now, in 1933, it is important that they run on time. They are five minutes ahead of schedule thanks to the kindness of wind and weather and the passengers must therefore wait. Let them enjoy the brilliance of the sun even if it shines on such an unworthy setting. The houses back upon the line, the fence line often nothing more than broken wood tied irregularly into place. These are small houses with-ill kept back gardens, littered with old bikes, motor cycle parts, wood, rubbish and cans. Unpainted, peeling, rotting houses on the edge of this historic city of the arts. Ahead the passengers can see the silhouette of the castle and the towers of the city churches but here , where they are stopped, there is none of that grandeur, only the signs of human tedium; washing, waste and decay.

The unwanted stopping of a train is the most enduring memory of any journey, despite the disproportion it represents and its disappointing mediocrity. But every pause has its ending and at last they edge forward. Seated passengers, eager passengers, train and engine, all moving forward counting off each bridge and roadway crossed.

That last sweep into the station is welcome despite the smoked blackness of the walls. The advertising hoardings stand out in their clean, newness but it is the platform that is watched by many who now lean out of opened windows in their eagerness to see.

The crowd that waits sees smiling faces, happy excited faces; no hint of tiredness in their perception of these lucky wanderers.

A rough sorting of the crowd takes place as each identifies the carriage where the new arrivals wait in impatient eagnernesst. Waiting, while queues file out, break into groups, hug, embrace and slow the exit of those still on the train.

Carolin’s mother and father are both there, both almost as excited as Carolin but only one of them displays it.

Eventually Carolin, Marlene, Rover and luggage are all ready, a part of the leaving throng pressing through the exit stiles. There is a horse drawn cab waiting for them, so it is only a few minutes before they are all back home. Marlene slips her cases inside her own door and crosses back across the road, glad to be welcomed back in such hospitable fashion.

They are already past the summary exchanges with which returned voyagers are welcomed. Carolin is assuring her questioning parents of her well being and the results of her tests.

"Jim, that is Dr McCarthy, says I’m all right. Its just a growing up thing that happens because my body’s changing. He says it may last six months or a year or two but that it will go away.

"Yes. I could get more blackouts but he thinks I can probably control the dreams if I want to. He thinks they only need to last a few minutes and the fact that the first one went longer was because I didn’t want it to end.

"Well, yes. I did have another episode. I told Jim and Marlene about it. And no, I didn’t try to control it. I probably did enjoy it. It was about Asian kings who lived five hundred years ago.

"Why Asian kings? Dr McCarthy lent me a book on Tamerlane which probably explains it.

"And out of it I’ve worked out what I want to do. I want to study ancient languages and the history of people of the past. I think I’d be good at it and I know it interests me.

It was here that her father added news of his own.

"You may have to study it somewhere other than Dresden. We are disturbed by the changes happening in this country and much of Europe. I’m trying to get back to Australia, America or Canada even if it means a lower position and lower pay. We can’t live there permanently but with luck we can be away long enough for this government to run its course. I have had a positive response from the people in Perth and it looks as though we might be able to go back there.

"There’s another reason we want to leave and this affects both you and Marlene. That policeman has been seen parked just along the street. And more than once, so it’s not just chance. One day he even came to the door and demanded to know where you were. Muller, I think he’s called. I think the sooner we can get you away from here the better.

There were many other things to discuss with Marlene and Carolin telling of their adventures in the south of France.

By the time they had finished all their stories and Marlene and Rover had left, it was quite late. Carolin could feel her tiredness overwhelming her and gladly retired to bed.

It is one of the unusual affects of tiredness that it can stop an exhausted person from falling into a deep sleep. Carolin was not just exhausted, she had stayed in an excited state for a great number of hours.

She fell asleep but after about two hours she woke feeling hot under her heavy quilt. It may have been a dog barking that woke her, perhaps Rover. Whatever it was she could not get back to sleep. She kicked the quilt lower but now she felt cold. Carolin tossed restlessly and eventually went to her cupboard to get a lighter quilt. By now, it made little difference, her mind was roaming over thoughts of Australia, Tamerlane and Muller.

Carolin felt irritated. No matter what she tried her mind would not let her sleep. At last she resolved lying restless in bed would not resolve her needs.

She sat up, slid both feet into slippers, put on her dressing gown, tucked the quilt under her arm and quietly tiptoed into the kitchen. The creak of floorboards was worrying for it might wake her parents. The light across the road dimly lit the room, aiding her to cross to the stove, reach to the left and pick up a candle and a box of matches,

The house was quiet as she crossed to the stairs and using the rail as a guide she made her way up to the tower. Not without mishap, however. She slipped on something on the stairs, banging her knees. Luckily, it was neither a noisy nor a hard fall but she was aware of blood on her knees.

Once in her tower she settled in cosy warmth, a candle balanced on the floor giving a flickering light to this special place. She peered out of the window for a while. A horse plodded by, a cart behind, its owner pleased to let it find its way. As it passed a silver streak showed on its back. A silver illusion created by the light across the road.

Only one other event occurred. A car came by. Stopped. Waited and then went away.

She closed her eyes as it parted. The beam of its lights a dazzling beacon to eyes adjusted for the dark. The dark, the dark, it is a restful pleasure. She stands resolved to go back to bed. Her eyes are open but they see no light. The bright lights of departing car still remnant in her brain. Light spots, dark spots, within her mind presaging numbing loss. Her hand feels the tingling sensation of loss passing to her arm. With panic in her mind she lets the quilt fall to the floor and tries to take a single step into this fearsome void.