Old Love of Monsters: Part 2 The Matron

Lana De Lacey was the granddaughter of the grandson of a kind, old blind man. She had lived in her little cottage most her life, like her father before her and his father before him. And when he had passed he had given it to her. Her family has been German for several generations now, however at one time the De Lacey family had been French. Her grandfather’s father had been a good man who had helped a Turk merchant escape from a French prison. The merchant had been the father of what would become the man’s wife. For aiding a criminal in escape he and his family had been imprisoned for a time before they were cast out of France to later reside in Germany.

Her family had started out in Germany very poor however thanks to good investment and luck their wealth had risen to a state of moderate wealth. They had a small, stone cottage that had been built in the late 1700s after a fire had destroyed the first cottage. It had two bedrooms, enough for a family that typically only has one child, which sit on either side of the main room. The main room is average in size with room enough for a small kitchenette, dining area and sitting area.

As a child she remembers sitting on her grandfather’s knee listening to stories told to him by his grandfather. Stories of lonely monsters and misleading appearances. As her grandfather’s grandfather was blind he told stories through touch and sound. He explains the hesitance in the voice as it talked, words coming high above, spoken from a giant. He describes the voice of a man, gravelly from lack of use, but spoke so cleanly with an air intellect. He described the rough calluses on large hands that held incredible power but were so gentle. He tells of the scars across those hands that ran up is wrists and disappeared into clothe but stood out further on his face. But most of all he described how tense the skin had felt, as if waiting for ugly words, and how relaxed it became the more they talked. A scarred, lonely creature who wanted companionship and had come to the one person who could not see the monstrosity that he was.

Lana had loved to hear those stories. They had felt so tragic and lonely and in truth she would feel better about her life because she did not have it as bad as that sad creature. Her grandfather would also tell of how his father would describe the creature, beastly and raging. But Lana preferred the tales of touch and sound. They taught her to accept people for who they were and not what they were. Because of this whenever she went into town she would go to the loneliest people on the streets and talk to them and get to know them, they had the most wonderful stories.

She met her late husband this way, not that her late husband was some lonely man on the street, rather he had tried to warn her away from a prostitute she was trying to befriend. She had shut that man down in an instant. Just because she was a sex worker and doing thing she didn’t approve of, did not mean she was less than human and not in need of a friend. He had apologized and agreed and asked her for coffee because he found her way of thinking fascinating. It was love at first sight after that.

She had moved from her family’s cottage when they got married and for many years they were happy. A few years into marriage they had a baby boy who they named Felix, a family name, and life was heaven.

But then came World War I, and despite being a new mother she felt a call for duty for her country. Leaving her son with her parents in the countryside, she became a nurse for the army during the war and had helped save many lives. It wasn’t uncommon during that time to see horribly injured or scarred men and in times they would remind her of the stories of the monster and remind her to accept people for who they are and not what they looked like. That became all the more important when her camp was attacked.

It had been a flurry of activity. Bombs and bullets flying like flocks of birds. People dying and screaming and there she was running between gunfire to give aid to the injured, whether they be enemy or ally. Then, in one moment, she was stopping a man from bleeding out, and in the next being flung by fire. It had been so hot, sometimes she still has nightmares of burning, but in the panic and pain she had remembered to gather fistfuls of dust to throw on the fire and set herself out. In the end the damage had been done and burn scars marred the side of her face and all down her left arm.

She had felt ugly, after the war. She was unclean and monstrous and everyone on the street would draw away from her. She had taken to wearing a veil over her face, but even that didn’t seem enough to cover the scars. On some of her darker days she would refuse to leave the house and her husband began talking to her parents about moving into her childhood home and her parents could have their house in the town. That was the only good thing during that period of her life. That her husband was so good and loyal that he loved her despite how marred she was. Yet at times it felt like a burden. He deserved someone better, someone beautiful. Often time she would flinch at his touch, afraid he would feel her scars and shy away. But he was always there, refusing to give up on her.

After several years out in the country side, the peace and solitude helping to heal her, she started accepting what she had become. Her parents had kept Felix, now five, after she the war. She had been so weighted down by her appearance they were afraid having a hyper and naïve child running around underfoot would do more harm than good to her already fragile psyche. However every weekend they would take him to visit Lana and despite her scars he would always run up the drive to give her a hug and tell her about his week. With the unconditional love of her husband and baby boy Lana began to accept her scars and a year after the war Felix moved back to live with his mother in the countryside.

Though she had accepted her appearance, Lana still wore a veil whenever she rode into town. She knew that while she could see past the ugly scars to see something beautiful within, not everyone could. In town she rekindled her friendship with her friend, the former prostitute, know a loving mother married to a rich man. Her friend had the most beautiful daughter who had the brightest smile. Her name was Francesca and when Lana caught her son giving the biggest doe eyes at her she knew she would be family. And family she was.
The day Francesca came of age was the day Felix, two years older, dropped to his knees and proposed. Their wedding had been small but held all the comforts of a loving family. After the honeymoon, Felix moved to the town to live with Francesca and like his mother’s marriage before him, they were happy and after a few years they were expecting. Also like his mother’s marriage was the rise of another world war.

Before the war had even started, Lana’s husband had been killed. He had been in town late one evening and saw a group of drunks hassling a passing Jew. The generous soul that he was, he had tried to help the Jew but had paid for his generosity with is life. It was a dark time for Lana, only brightened for a moment with the birth of her granddaughter.
Hope De Lacey had her mother’s smile and her father’s loving eyes. She was a light unto her family in an age on the brink of war. Lana loved her very much and had been afraid the babe would be scared of her scarred face, but the fears had been dash from the first moment she had smiled at Hopes splotchy face and received a giggle in return.

Then, ten months after her husband’s death, and five months after the birth of her granddaughter, war was official. Hope was placed in Lana’s care for a time as Felix and Francesca worked in their town to curb the hate against Jews. And then permanently when they had decided to travel the country and help smuggle out and rescue persecuted Jews. They did that for many years and Lana herself harbored a few in her shed for a time.

However one day her son and daughter-in-law did not return from a trip. For several months Lana waited for news but the longer she waited the more she began to accept the possibility that they would not come back. Those fears were confirmed a year after their disappearance when she received a letter from a family that they had helped. The letter explained that her son had created a diversion when Nazi soldiers had closed in so that the family could escape. Her daughter-in-law had gone with them for a time before heading back, whether to look for Felix or return home, the family did not know. She never made it either way.

Heartbroken, but determined, Lana began raising her granddaughter. Telling her stories of the family she would never know and teaching her to accept and befriend others. No matter the pain and sorrow that Lana felt, she had Hope and that was enough. But oh, how she wanted to love again, to feel the companionship of another. But no one could love a scarred, old woman. No one could love a monster.