Before she could make sense of what was happening, the men were there inside the room. She wanted to scream, to flee, but she knew the slightest movement could be her undoing. She shook and her eyes filled with tears. But she discovered that if she concentrated on each breath, her lips tightly sealed, no sounds would escape. Crouched beneath the desk, she pressed her hands and feet against the floor to keep them from knocking against anything.
The two men spoke casually to each other, almost lightheartedly, in contrast to the deadly terror she felt. Though she struggled to comprehend what they were saying, she couldn’t decipher all the words. She thought about reaching for the dictionary that lay by her side, but that was too risky. The Germans had turned on the lights and were walking from desk to desk, apparently looking for something. Oh, God, what if they are looking for the supply log? She considered putting it back in the drawer, but instantly realized how foolish that would be. They’ll find me anyway, if they approach this desk, and I can’t make a move without giving myself away.
Every second was agony, as if death might come at any moment. But she admitted to herself that a swift demise would be easy compared to her fate if discovered. She would face humiliation, torture, and then finally, mercifully, death. The thought made her throat constrict painfully, as if a noose were being tightened around it. Was this what Marco felt when he died? Fear evolved into despondency. Just breathe...slowly, deeply...focus only on that—don’t think about anything else. Concentrate only on breathing.
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