The simplest, and saddest fact that Ludwig Beilschmidt ever learned, was not that humans had such a short time on the face of the earth, but that as a country, he had to watch their lives ebb away like a melting candle, while he remained an everlasting flame. He was old; and while he looked young, the more he looked upon his ageless features in the mirror, the more he felt his age, no matter how physically healthy or youthful he was. He felt it; he felt himself tire of the world he’d watch evolve over time, the world he helped shape. He felt with every fibre of his sinuous body the pain that he inflicted, and the agony he had to endure, as he watched the lives of the humans slip away day by day.
As a man with no definitive lifespan, he found the world around him become grey, dull, and listless, no matter how much he tried to find activities to bring back meaning to his strict lifestyle. But there was nothing new, nothing exciting; he’d seen it all. Life had lost a lot of the beauty it had once held. But, perhaps that was why he’d been drawn to ________ as much as he had been.
________ _________ was the type of girl the representation of Germany felt as if had never been on this earth before, and never would again. She wasn’t stupid, but she wasn’t Albert Einstein. She had her virtues, vices, faults and in his eyes, perfections. She was kind and she was patient, she was gentle, and she was wise. She sometimes ate too much, sometimes her pride got the better of her, and despite her patience, she could become frighteningly angry if pushed too far. She didn’t love herself, but she didn’t hate herself. She knew what her downfalls were, but she knew her assets. But, to Ludwig, she was as perfect as perfect could be; because ________ was real.
She’d broken into his colourless world spectacularly, but all she’d done was step through his office door. Her bright smile was accompanied with a firm handshake and a warm greeting that sent Ludwig’s mind reeling. It was also the day that Ludwig began not to scoff at the idea of love at first sight; because he knew that’s exactly what had happened. However, within the next ten seconds, he would become all too aware of the earth-shattering disappointment to find that ________ was in fact his older brother’s girlfriend.
But Ludwig fancied that he’d always known that the relationship between ________ and Gilbert would end; Gilbert loved women, but that didn’t mean he was unfaithful. In fact, the relationship ended simply because it didn’t work, and after the breakup ________ and Gilbert had retained a good friendship. But it was due to the type of men that _______ appeared to prefer, Ludwig wasn’t going to approach her romantically at all. She liked men who were open, always smiling, publicly affectionate and so obviously charming that it was practically tattooed to their foreheads.
It still baffled Ludwig as to why ________ had approached him at all. She’d just asked him out on a date one day, and though he would’ve normally refused, he heard himself accept the offer before his brain had even registered properly what it was she’d actually asked.
He often smiled to himself at the memories he’d shared with ________. One was his shaky proposal in which he almost lost the wedding ring down a storm drain after proposing to her in the street after a date, and when she finally accepted after getting a grip on herself again after laughing so hard she was in tears. Another one was the eventful wedding in which both he and _______ had asked Gilbert to be both Best Man, and a bridesman. Instead of choosing one or the other, Gilbert had chosen to do both, and preceded you down aisle with your other bridesmaids, then stood beside Ludwig and give a speech as Best Man; but all the while, wearing a bridesmaid’s dress.
The, the day he’d burst through the doors of the hospital after driving like a madman from his meeting proved to give him yet another splash of colour to his life, with the birth of his two children; a boy and a girl, joint personifications of the city of Berlin. That was one of the few days he’d ever shed tears, let alone tears of pure joy. Even just the memory of the happiness he felt still caused tears to burn the corners of his eyes.
Years passed by, the seasons changing, and ________ aged every day, the gap in their physical appearance broadening by the second, but he never aged, and his children had all but stopped aging altogether after they passed twenty. It was with every passing moment Ludwig had become more aware of how much closer to the end of her life she was. And at the old age of ninety-one, ________ just didn’t wake up.
It had been ten years since that day, and as always, Ludwig stood before _______’s white marble grave, with his brother Gilbert to his left, and his two children to his right, and they all looked the same as they had the day she’d passed. Ludwig had never stopped loving her, and never would. She’d always be his one and only, because there never would be someone else like her. No one could fill the void left behind inside Ludwig’s heart, but he never wanted anyone to, because that was the place only open for his beloved.
It was the simplest and saddest fact that Ludwig never wanted to learn; that his life would pass like this, revisiting the grave over and over of the human woman he’d married. But at the same time, he would’ve preferred to feel the pain of having to lose ________ after being blessed with the unimaginable happiness she’d given him, than to have faced decades of loneliness without ever knowing her.
Even in that moment as he turned and took a step away from the resting place of the other half of his heart, Ludwig was happy, because through rain, shine, Hell and high water, he knew she was there, walking beside him with a smile on her face, like she always did, as the sunlight broke through the clouds, lighting up the brightly-painted world that she had given him.