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12 décembre 2011 1 12 /12 /décembre /2011 21:08

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The Béret

"Honey,

You're now ten years old baby. I'm sorry for what happened. I know you're going to be angry at me for what I did, and I don't blame you. That's why I'm going to tell you why I did it, because I think you deserve the right to know, and you're old enough now. I can imagine you reading this, I think you'll be surprised about how far in the past this story starts. It all begun in 1914, your grand father Tom was very young by that time, and when the war bell rang that day, he was only five years old. A very quiet boy, full of qualities. He didn't really understand what was happening to him, but it all went very fast : your great grand father left the house to enter the UK army, and very soon after that, your great grand mother died from a very bad disease. Tom was an only child and he had no family so he was sent to a household where you could find any kind of people, people they didn't know where to put. When this silent little boy got there, he kept his mouth shut the whole time, probably shocked, and waiting for his dad to take him out of that sad, awful place. But his father never came. The first time Tom realised he wasn't going to see him again, he was sitting alone at the household cafeteria in 1917. He cried for the first time since he arrived. He couldn't stop. Eventually, the destroyed face of a nice guy who used to be a soldier, smiled at crying Tom. He came and sat beside him. Not able to fight anymore, he had been sent there because of his crazyness, people said. But not only this man was mad and hurt, he was torn too. Torn by his son's death at the war, but the worst was that had been shot in front of him. His madness reason, Tom guessed. This meeting between those two broken-hearted people resulted as a great friendship. And that's how the hat I'm joining to my letter was given to your grand dad : the soldier, named Peter, put it on top of Tom's head and said with a strong Scottish accent : "Stop crying Jimmy, the war is almost over, we'll see your mom soon wee-boy! Not later than this morning, I killed ten germans in three shots : PAW PAW PAW !". From that day, they never broke apart. They were meant for eachother, they needed to be a team, they stuck together. And it didn't matter if Peter called Tom by his son's name or if Tom considered Peter as his father. The went through the end of the war together. The hat never left Tom's head, he wore it day and night.
Unfortunately, Peter died in 1921 and Tom couldn't get over it. He was the saddest homeless boy in the world for six years... Until he met Sally, in 1927, your grand mother. They wed a year after they started dating and Tom had found happiness again, eventhough it seemed like they couldn't have children. That didn't matter for him, he was found of her, crazy about Sally. But she was worried, so they would try everything.               
Suddenly, the second world war started. Too fast. They were living in France by that time, Tom had to go to fight and he wanted Sally to hide in South France. Their split up on that train station, waiting for Tom's train, was wet of the tears they cried, it started with a quiet weeping, and got to screams, both wrung by the idea of being away from the other. And for how long ? No answer could be given. Eventually, when your grand dad really had to leave, he recommanded : "This is way too dangerous to go back to London right now, go to South France as we said, and wait for me until the end of the war. I'll come back and we'll find eachother, I promise. I need you in my life. That's why I'm going to give you this hat." he said while taking it ou of his head. Sally protested, saying it was his lucky charm, he couldn't get rid of it, but he answered romanticly that she was his lucky charm after all. So she finally let him go on the train, and at the kiss moment, she whipered "I'm pregnant, we'll be waiting for you." That's the last time they saw eachother.
Arrived in South France, Sally lived for three years in a cute little house she bought with her economies. She had no way to contact Tom though, he didn't know her address and she didn't know his. That time was pretty harsh for her, but her pregnancy was amazing. She gave birth to Simon, your dad in 1940. She raised him like the best mother in the world, and your dad wore Tom's hat every single day of his life. But they were sometimes hiding jews too. Tha became dangerous, especially when the Germans started to get closer to the victory. But Sally was the nicest woman, and she did die because of he generousity...
It was a beautiful day in 1942. A jew family had been living in their house for almost a month, and Sally was really getting along with the woman. They were telling eachother every detail of their lives, and had become best friends. But the headlines of the newspapers were all saying that the Germans won the war, and Vichy's Government was falling apart. Sarah, Sally's friend, had a fake identity, as well as her husband and her daughter. They were preparing their departure so  Sally and Simon wouldn't get in trouble. But it hadn't been fast enough : when the Germans came to the door, they hadn't left already. Sally put Simon in his bed and told Sarah and her family not to move, and if something wrong happened, they could take the backyard door and run as fast as possible. The forest behind the house could hide them. But that was very risky. Sally went to open the door. From where they were, they could only hear voices, not distinguish what the conversation was about. But it got louder and louder, and they finally heard an gunshot. Terrifyed, they knew Sally got killed when the big German shoes noise resonated all over the house, making the walls and the floor tremble. The three of them ranto the secret door, but Sarah stopped : ignoring her husband's protests, she ran to Simon's bedroom, put a hand on his little mouth, and carried him. She was about to open the bedroom's door when she turned and see Tom's hat. Sally told her the story of this hat, she knew it was important to her, she she quickly took it and crossed the hallway to come back to her family. But she suddenly stopped : because of the small crack of the door, she could see outside : her husband and hr daughter being taken by the Germans. She bit herself so she didn't scream. Warm tears were rolling over her cheeks and she waited there, about half an hour, knowing she indirectly killed her family, holding Simon, who didn't understand a thing. Then, the German car left, so she went outside, and ran as fast as she could. She ended up in a small abandonned house in the woods. She cried all the water that a body can contain. Screamed. Your dad, even if he was very little, remembered a bit that night.
From there, Sarah became his second mother. She raised him, telling him everything about his mother, his father, and even her family. But at the end of the war, none of Sarah's family or Simon's father came back.
Simon and Sarah went back to London after the war, and he grew up with the strong idea of being a great journalist. And that's what he became ! your dad, darling, was the best journalist ever, he loved his job, maybe a little too much sometimes. HE was always wearing his hat, just like his dad did his whole life, because he knew what it meant, thanks to Sarah.
One day, your father had an interview to do for a The Times, and it was about world war two, an ancient soldier had to answer his questions. And as you can guess, when he met this soldier, it happened to be... his dad. Tom. Tom was the soldier he had to interview. To, he father who never found him after the great war. He was there, waiting inside the room for the interview ! Obviously, Simon had no idea.
When they met in the interview room, they both sat. The soldier seemed absent, not looking anywhere, lost in his mind. But when he raised his head and saw Simon smiling, wearing THE hat, he instantly knew. The only thing he could say was "You..." and suddenly fell to the ground. Simon didn't understand and stayed still for a couple seconds before jumping almost on Tom to see what was wrong. Your poor grand dad was having a heart attack... Your father called the ambulance, but it was too late. They took him on a stretcher. Simon was kind of shocked. then he realised something had fallen from the man's pocket on the ground : a picture. But a picture of a face he knew : his mother's face. Simon just found out he saw his own dad for the first time, and he died.
Simon had always been affected by this event. He never really got over it. Then, he got married with me, and we had a wonderful little girl, you. The three of us were very happy. But then, as you know, your dad was employed by this magazine "Travel" which always forced him to leave us.
Last week-end, when you dad left, it was to cover a war article. He had to go to Afghanistan. So I asked him if I could get something from him, something that would have been nice to have to remind me of him. And with his big charming smile, he asked me what did I have in mind, and I asked for the hat. His face became instantly serious again, and he told me this whole story. I guess I didn't understand the power of this hat, because I forced him to let me have it, and he gave it to me. Then he left. And yesterday, I got a letter. A letter saying your father died. I'm sorry to tell you that like this, but I didn't have the strength to do it. I didn't have the strength to live either. Hanging myself was selfish, but I couldn't live with that in my conscience baby : I killed your dad. I didnt mean to but I did, by taking his hat, I took his life at the same time. I'm guilty. So I punished myself. And I wrote this letter to you, joining the hat, because then I made the tradition thrive. I think you should wear it too, your dad would be honoured.
I love you forever, even from where I should be while you read this.

Your mommy, Sharon."

 

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