TG Universes & Series:
Mart joined the back of the queue for passport control, a little bewildered and surprised still that he was here, here being Manchester Airport in England. It was all a bit cloak and dagger of course, from Bernie’s phone call to being here was less than a week. He’d agreed to Bern’s plan the other week so he could hardly renege on that but he’d never envisioned travelling to England to make good on the promise.
He hated lying to his parents; they thought he was travelling to Berlin to check out the university with Jorge who’d agreed to be his alibi. And checking out universities was the cover story here too; he’d be staying with the Rose family. So he’d meet the in-laws in person -although that wasn’t going to be revealed to them.
The queue shuffled forward slowly, he recalled Gab complaining of the long queues here when she came to England last year, he thought she’d been exaggerating but clearly not. Eventually it was his turn, he presented his ID card and moments later he was through and in the arrivals hall. Now then, bahnhof, Bern said it was across a bridge of some sort.
“Daddy’ll be here soon,” Bern told her daughter who in turn smiled and gurgled as babies do.
Platform one of Sheffield’s Midland Station wasn’t the warmest of places but she wanted to be sure of spotting Marty. Her Dad had stayed in the car with his paper, he’d agreed to be the taxi but that didn’t include freezing to death on the station. The arrivals board ticked over to ‘due’ and Bern spotted the trains lights as it emerged from the tunnel that all through which all trains from the west and south approached.
The train squealed to a halt and a veritable tide of people swarmed off towards the exit.
The young German looked about for the source of the call.
“Mart, uber hier!”
He was even more perplexed at the German call. Then he spotted his girl, girls, Andrea being in her mother’s arms.
They embraced for a long moment.
“Come on, Dad’s waiting in the car.”
Drea was returned to the warmth of her pushchair and Bern directed her beau into the ticket hall and out into Sheffield. Mart tried to take everything in, he wasn’t well travelled, yeah he’d been to Berlin with the school and the Preiser’s had taken a few foreign holidays, driving down to Italy a couple of times and flying to Majorca several times. But really this was his first time in a foreign city, one that had black cabs like they have in London, Polizei with those strange helmets and everyone speaking English that he couldn’t understand for the speed and content.
Bern took them past the taxis and into a multi-storey car park, a lift up several levels and they approached the rear of some sort of estate car.
“Dad!” Bern rapped on the rear window.
The passenger door opened, no Mart corrected himself, the driver’s door and Herr Rose climbed out.
“’bout time,” he came to the back of the car.
“Dad, this is Mart, Mart, my Dad.”
“Nice to meet you Herr Rose.”
“And you lad, good English,” he took the hand Mart offered and pumped it warmly, “let’s get loaded and out of here eh, that all your luggage?”
The drive from Sheffield to Warsop, Bern had explained it was either two trains or two buses or a combination of the two taking at least two hours for the thirty five kilometres between the two had Marty fascinated. The train ride from the airport had been different to his imagination, several long tunnels, beautiful scenery and the strange almost rural suburbs of Sheffield. But now they were climbing through tiny close built houses, wide roads, three section trams, double deck buses and traffic lights in profusion.
Jack Rose concentrated on his driving; he hated cities and Sheffield in particular, those flippin’ trams. And the route they direct you to get out to Worksop. Over the ring road and along the old A57, over the tram tracks and into the rolling countryside.
“So Bern tells me you’ve not been to England before.”
“No this is my first visit.”
“Bit of a mixed bag, not so pretty round here of course but out in the Peaks or up in Yorkshire, can’t beat it.”
“Was just saying.”
Dads, daughters and boyfriends – it’s always awkward and the conversation, such as it was, soon dried up.
The road spent most its time going up or down, then, after one particularly straight climb they turned off and through a village of modern houses mixed with much older honey coloured buildings. Across a junction and suddenly they were in a much less dramatic landscape of wide gently rolling arable land dotted with woodland. Through another village of tiny terraces and newer brick and back out into the Nottinghamshire countryside.
It was, to Marty, almost alien to eyes used to the Eifel’s vineyards, meandering valleys and volcanic peaks. The sheer variety of agriculture, of housing was mesmerising. They turned onto another wide main road, the road sign suggested they were headed towards ‘Mansfield’, a name he vaguely recognised from listening in on Gaby and Bernie talking. They crested a hill and the road headed down once more.
“Here we are, Meden Vale,” Jack Rose announced, “soon be home.”
Indeed, it was barely five more minutes before they were climbing from the car on the Rose’s drive.
“It’s not exactly the Eiffel is it?” Bern mentioned slipping her arm through the crook of Marty’s.
“It’s different, yes.”
“There used to be coal mines all around here, none left now though.”
Mart wasn’t sure what to answer, here he was hundreds of kilometres from home, maybe on a fool’s errand, the pair of them walking slowly through the bungalows and seventies builds that link Warsop with Meden.
“I was thinking,” Bern went on, “that I might come to Germany in the summer?”
“For another holiday?”
“With Drea? Where will you live?”
“I haven’t worked that out, what do you think?”
“What about your parents? Have you told them?”
“Not yet, what about you though?”
“Well of course I’d like you nearer but is it the right thing? This place, it’s different to home but it’s not a bad place, it’s your home.”
“Is it? Okay I live here but I don’t feel welcome here – or safe. That scumbag’ll be out of prison soon and he’ll want retribution, he’ll make trouble, I know it.”
“You have friends here.”
“I have friends in Germany, better friends.”
“But how will you live?”
“I’ll get a job, I’m not useless.”
“And Drea?” Mart posed.
“I’ll think of something.”
Mart was taken aback by this latest statement of Bern’s plans. He loved her, really he did, why else would he be here now but this, well he’d never thought that far ahead.
“You’re serious about this?”
“Of course I’m serious, why wouldn’t I be?”
“Your mother is okay having Drea now?”
“It’s Saturday night, it’s not like they do anything other than watch telly.”
It wasn’t really an answer but he had to accept it at face value.
“Gab used to live just up here, that one with the green garage, Helen lives there now.”
He looked dutifully where she indicated and chuckled to himself, if Gab knew he was here.
There actually was an open day at Nottingham University on the Sunday, as it was the cover story Bern had managed to make it into a family trip. Once at Nottingham the grandparents took Drea shopping in the centre whilst Bern and Mart headed for the Uni.
“So what are you going to do?” Bernie queried as they followed the group of parents and offspring through the main library.
“Biology if I get the grades at college.”
“I wanted to do history but I mucked that up didn’t I?”
“You could still do it at college.”
“Maybe sometime, making a life for Drea comes before me.”
“You have to think of yourself too.”
The tour lasted a couple of hours ending with snacks in the refectory, for Bern it had been something of an eye opener, the fact there was a crèche changed her thoughts on further education a little. Neither of them had a great deal of money to spare so the sightseeing was restricted to free stuff finishing up in the Castle Gardens. It had been a good day, the University a necessary side show and they were happy when they re-joined the rest of the family to head back to Warsop.
They stopped for dinner on the way back, maybe a bit early but the two teens hadn’t eaten and they were, neither of them about to turn down a free meal. The whole carvery concept seemed a bit odd to Marty, not that it stopped him enjoying what was effectively his first English roast dinner.
“You eat this every week?”
“Some people do,” Bern noted, “we usually have something lighter.”
They spoke in German, mostly from habit, Cheryl and Jack oblivious as they
were entertaining their granddaughter.
“What if I was to come here to study, would you stay here then?”
“Maybe, but that’s years away.”
“Not even two,” Mart pointed out.
“It’s an option I guess.”
“So I’ll pick you up later,” Cheryl told them.
“Thank you Mrs Rose.
“Well enjoy your day.”
“We will, later mum.”
It was only a ten minute walk to the centre and the bus ‘station’, Marty getting his first look at downtown Warsop in the daylight. Ahrweiler it wasn’t, in fact it reminded him more of Koln’s less well to do suburbs than anything. They joined the group at the bus stop, waiting just a couple of minutes for a new looking double deck bus to arrive. They were soon on board, Mart slightly disappointed that they had to sit downstairs with the pram.
Worksop, when they arrived about forty minutes later, was much more like the country towns in the Eifel, not the same of course but similar in content to say Mayen. Bern directed her pram pushing boyfriend to the registry office; she’d researched everything and was armed with a pile of papers hidden in the pram from her mother. She’d previously been to the Mansfield office but there was no reason to return there, well worst case scenario they could go down there but that would be a pain.
For his part, Marty was more than a little apprehensive, officialdom is something to be cautious of and this was foreign, English officialdom. They found the right place and took a ticket and prepared to wait their turn. In the end it wasn’t long, about thirty minutes before they were summoned.
“…and you are the father young man?”
“Er yes sir, you know how these things are.”
“Indeed,” the registrar looked up briefly from the paperwork,”well everything seems to be in order Miss Rose, so the child, Andrea Mary Preiser born...uh huh, mother Bernadette Alice Rose, father Martin Dieter Preiser. Right, that’s all correct, cancel the old certificate,” he rubber stamped the original document, “there we are, all done.”
He passed the new certificate over to Bernie, “thank you.”
“Yes thank you sir,” Mart added offering a hand which was duly taken and shaken.
“And good luck with the wedding.”
“Thank you,” Bern allowed.
That had been part of the story, not actually needed but she had been flashing her ‘engagement’ ring at any opportunity, it wasn’t difficult to get the hint of impending nuptials – even if they were only implied.
“Thanks Marty,” Bern threw herself around his neck once they were outside and gave him a significant kissing.
“What do you want to do now?”
“We told your parents we were going to Sheffield,” Mart pointed out.
“Well come on then, and don’t forget your daughter daddy!”
Mart looked down through the clouds; he hadn’t got a clue of the geography below but somewhere down there was his girlfriend and daughter. Daughter, with a stroke of a pen he’d become a parent – the virgin birth he chuckled to himself, they might’ve been sort of a couple for nearly a year now but they’d never got beyond a snog and grope. The cloud blocked his view of the ground and he settled down for the flight home.
Maddy Bell 04.10.16
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