The door closed and Luise took a last gulp of her strong coffee. She was the disciplinarian in the household, although none of Hermann’s yard crew would ever believe the soft spot Hermann had for his grandson and his inability to scold the boy; not this man of great strength who could focus on the most minute of problems in the din of the yard while cursing at a new worker because his rivets went in at a slight angle.
Luise looked at her grandson and her grey eyes took on a shade of sadness. Rudolf was so like his father Erich when he was the same age. He had the same strong jaw, blond hair and sky-blue eyes. It was almost as if her son and grandson were twins, but still, there was something different about Rudolf. Erich’s personality had been much like Luise’s. He was unafraid to voice strong opinions, and that had caused a lot of trouble in the household when Eric was growing up, particularly when he was a teenager. Rudolf, however, was quiet, introspective. There was a part of the boy Luise could never reach, no matter how much she tried, and Luise never failed to tell Herman that Rudolf’s “slut of a mother” gave the boy that trait.
At fifty-eight, Luise’s long blond hair showed only a few stands of gray. She had hurriedly pulled it back into a loose braid when she got out of bed and now she absentmindedly reached back, undid the ribbon, and tightly re-braided her thick hair while watching Rudolf slowly eat his bread, his eyes gazing far off into the distance. When she finished fixing her hair, she tapped the table with her forefinger in a silent attempt to show her grandson he needed to finish quickly if he was to get to school on time. The child looked at her and smiled, but she would have none of it.
“Rudolf, quit playing with your food!” she said sharply.
“Yes, Oma,” he said as he gulped the last of the dark bread. He jumped up from his seat and rushed from the room, skipping stairs to get his coat and books from his small bedroom. Luise made a “tsking” sound with her tongue against the roof of her mouth as she swept the crumbs from Rudolf’s chair onto her hand.
“What will become of this boy?” she muttered.
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