Love of the Forgotten

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This is how it’s going to end. In my mind I’m alone but in reality, I’m surrounded by over 20 people. I never thought it would end like this with no one. My life has been filled with tragedies, but none ever so big. I’ve pushed everyone I ever loved away, and at the end of my life, I realize how horribly wrong I was.

Looking back on my life, there’s only one thing I regret. I don’t regret that summer but I do regret that decision. And now, in my last moments, I’m still plagued by it.

Summer, 1702 Berlin, Germany

Standing in the bustling market place, I never felt so connected to my people. I could stand there in the summer sun and not be recognized, for the people hadn’t caught a glimpse of my curly blonde hair and sapphire blue eyes since I was a child. None of them would have ever recognized the heir to the throne as a young man at the age of 22.

Being so much higher than the crowd, I could see everything that was going on. It was as if our height differences represented our place on the social scale. That is, if the social scale mattered. All men should be treated equal. But no, not in Germany. It was my parent’s job to insure that that didn’t happen. They see the importance in that type of discrimination. My breed of people finds it important to have peasants dying of hunger in the streets, to have workers without stable income stealing to feed their families. That’s what’s important; that’s what is necessary.

The chaos on the street in front of me seemed to represent the chaos within the people. People were unhappy with some of the laws my father was making, as was I. Stumbling blindly on a busy city street wasn’t my ideal Saturday morning. As I walked along the street, many people ran into me. I ran down an alleyway to escape it all. Soon enough, I’m standing at a fruit stand on a distant street.

“Excuse me Sir, but do you need any help?” A girl of about 19 asked me from behind the stand. I looked up and was taken aback. She had gorgeous chestnut hair and emerald green eyes. Her skin was as pale as winter snow with a hint of blushing on her cheeks. She looked exactly like a porcelain doll.

“I, um, yes, I need help. Can I please have four oranges and three apples?” I asked her.

“Why surely! That’ll be one thaler.” The girl said responded with a shining smile as she bagged my fruit and handed it to me. I smiled at her graciously as I handed her the thaler and walked away. I had to see her again.

The next three weeks were a repeat of that day. I went to the fruit stand every day at noon and continuously bought four oranges and three apples. One day before I stopped at the stand, I ran to the local bakery and meat store and bought a loaf of bread and put it in a basket.

I walked up to the fruit stand and she had my bag all ready. She handed it to me and I gave her the thaler. I turned around and walked away. Suddenly, I had an idea. Why not ask her to join me for lunch?

“Excuse me, miss. But I couldn’t help but wonder, would you like to join me for lunch?” I said, walking back to the stand.

“Oh my, thank you so much. My shift ends in 12 minutes. Where shall I meet you?” She asked me.

“How about we meet up at Hirsch Park? Oh and by the way, my name is Henry.” I said as I grabbed her hand and kissed it.

“Well, Mr. Henry, that’d be lovely. My name is Emma Rosenthal.” She responded, blushing.

I hastily walked to the park and set down a blanket by the pond for us. I placed everything I had bought at the butcher and the baker on the blanket and began to make a few sandwiches. As I waited for Emma to arrive, I took a walk around the pond and began to think. I was studying in Berlin for the summer as an art student and had no one in the city. What was the possibility of me finding such a great girl?

All of a sudden, I felt a tap on my arm and turned around. I looked up to see Emma’s smiling face.

“Hello!” She said as she waved at me.

“Hi!” I responded. The two of us then proceeded to have lunch together underneath an oak tree. We talked and laughed until sundown. We chased birds around the pond. It was probably the best day of my life.

Around 8 pm, I walked her back to her flat and made sure she got in safely. When she gave me a thumbs up from her window, I waved to her and walked back to my apartment. I climbed up the fire escape as to not wake my neighbors, and collapsed on my bed and smiled.

The next few months were magical. Emma and I made it a priority to go out to eat at least once a day. On Sundays, we would go to church together. Then autumn came, and I knew I had to tell her. I didn’t want to say to her that I was the heir to the German throne, so I thought I’d show her. I invited her to my winter home in the country side.

“Henry, are you sure we are at the right address?” Emma asked me as our carriage pulled up to the house. I will admit it wasn’t a house. It was more like a mansion.

“Yes, I’m very sure. I spent a great majority of my childhood here.” I said as I gave her a smile. I jumped down from the carriage and helped her out. We walked inside and the maids and butlers got our things.

“Emma, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.” I mumbled, looking down at my feet.

“What is it, Henry?” She asked, seeming concerned.

“I’m the prince.” I told her. I looked up and saw her smiling at me.

“Silly! I knew that!” She giggled as she wrapped her arms around me for a hug.

The two of us unpacked our things in our separate rooms and then went down to the dining hall for dinner.

“So, how long have you been in hiding you’re Majesty?” Emma smirked at me.

“Not too long, just this summer. But my parents were never big on the public life, so that’s why no one recognized me.” I said as began to eat the food that was in front of me. The meat was the same salmon color as the walls, so I didn’t bother to touch that.

Soon after we finished all three course of our meal, I walked over to Emma and helped her out of her chair. We walked over to the ballroom floor and I cued the harp. The harp player began playing some new sonata by a composer from Austria.

As we twirled and waltzed around the room, no diamond chandelier could shine brighter than her eyes at that moment. When the music stopped, we came to a slow stop and stared deeply into each other’s eyes. We both slowly leaned closer to the others face and…

“Henry! What are you doing?” A shrill voice called out.

“Mom, what are you doing here? I thought you didn’t arrive until next Thursday!” I exclaimed in shock. My mother stormed over to me, hiking up her gown, with my father in tow.

“Henry, who is this peasant standing in our house? You have to hide her before Alexandra comes!” She screamed.

“Who is Alexandra, my Queen?” Emma asked, curtsying to each of my parents.

“Why, my darling, Alexandra is Henry’s future wife.” When my mother said this, I saw a shower of emotions on Emma’s face. She went from shocked, to angry, to hurt in a matter of three seconds.

“Oh, well excuse me, you’re Majesty, I will be leaving now. It was an honor meeting you both.” Emma said, choking back tears.

“Emma!” I screamed, as I ran after her. I finally found her in the garden, sobbing behind a statue of the Greek god Apollo.

“What do you want? You made me believe you loved me and yet, and yet you’re engaged!” She cried even harder.

“Emma, I’m so sorry. I was planning on announcing that I was going to break the engagement. You’re the one I want to be with. You’re the one I want to grow old with!” I exclaimed, as I began to tear. I solidly planted my lips on hers and we sat like that for about a minute.

“But Henry, if you and I are to be together, you can’t rule and you’ll be exiled for life!”

“Who cares Emma? I love you. I will have my carriage man take you back to your flat in Berlin and I will meet you there. Then we’ll run away to Austria or France! Somewhere no one will find us!” I said as I kissed her on the lips once again.

“Henry, you have no idea how much I love you.”

“Now go! Go! I’ll have my butler bring your stuff out into the carriage house soon.”

“Wait, Henry! Before I go, I want you to have this!” She said as she ran back to me. Emma unclasped her tiny gold chain with the diamond hanging from it and put it around my neck.

“Emma, I love you so much. Now go!” I said, hugging her one last time.

I went back inside the house and explained to my parents that it was just a misunderstanding and I was trying to make a peasants life a little more joyful. They both congratulated me.

“Henry, you’re going to be a fine Kaiser.” My father said to me as he walked upstairs with my mother. Shortly after, I climbed up the stairs, crawled into my own bed, and fell asleep.

Winter, 1770 Hannover, Germany

That night was the last time I ever saw Emma Rosenthal. I never met her at her flat. We never ran away to France together.

Instead of living the life I wanted, I lived the life my parents wanted for me. I married Alexandra. I became Kaiser at the age of 30 after my father stepped down. I had five kids with Alexandra who were all married off and are now are prominent monarchs in many European countries.

I don’t regret not going on that night. I don’t regret having my kids. I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I don’t regret marrying Alexandra. We’ve become quite fond of each other over the years. What I do regret is that I never got the chance to say goodbye. I never said goodbye to my one true love.

Throughout the years, I had heard snippets about her from people. She became an actress. She fell in love with a fellow actor and had four kids together. But the thing that caught my eye the most was she wrote a play. She wrote a play about a doomed relationship between a Spanish prince and a pauper. Emma died in her sleep five years ago at the old age of 82, and now as I myself lay here dying, I hope it is her who comes and escorts me to Heaven.

I look over at my beloved wife and kiss her hand one more time. With the little energy I have left, I grasp the necklace that has forever been around my neck and kiss that too. I can feel my body giving in and my heart beating its last few beats.

Suddenly, I see a dim light in the corner of the room and my eyes glance at it. All at once, I’m struck with the epiphany that it wasn’t any sickness that killed me. It was the persistent idea over the past 48 years the Emma hated me, hated me for what I had done to her.

Almost as if I were dreaming, Emma appeared in the light. She wasn’t an old woman, but the 19 year old Emma I had met years ago. The one I had loved. She extends her hand out to me in love and friendship and with the little amount of energy I have left in me; I reach out to take it. But almost just as abruptly, she draws her hand back and walks away. My angel, the love of my life, has left me to die alone. I can feel my heart break as it beats for the last few times…..boom……….boom……….

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