The unforgiving wind whipped her grey toned skin as she lay bare under the chill of a February sky. Her body tangled up in layers of seaweed. Her ginger curls had lost their spring, long soaked by the waves lapping up from the shore. It could still be quite a while before someone happened upon her in this isolated bay in the middle of winter. Perhaps a hardcore fisherman who ignored the harshness of the season. This abandonment had been well planned to give plenty of time for the elements to do their thing. There would be little left of her by the time the authorities became involved.
Who is she? How did she end up lying on the shores of the majestic Oslofjorden, lodged between a few hefty boulders and covered in seaweed. Wrong place at the wrong time? What was her involvement with “The Group”? Was she followed and then eliminated by a master plan? Did she know too much? Was she inappropriately inquisitive with the wrong people?
Anita generally asked too many questions. She needed to know every detail. Her discernment meter could be a bit off when it came to certain people. She trusted too much. Martin had been leery of her ability to follow orders when it came to discretion. He questioned Otto’s judgment in bringing her into The Group in the first place. During her training, Martin would call out instances of weaknesses in her approach to various assignments to the higher ups, only to find his opinions batted away. They liked her. More importantly, Otto liked her. They all wanted to believe in her. Martin worried about her safety and the safety of his comrades. Would she end up being their worst vulnerability? Could her personality and innocence result in harm to the team, or worse yet- a disastrous end to a vital assignment? Otto was unconvinced that she had been a mistake. He kept repeating over and over again that she could be the Ace up their sleeve, the honey to draw the bees. With her supple body, brilliant red curls and sultry ruby red smile, she could be useful in uncovering hidden plots through the plying of her charms to the enemy. It was risky, but he felt she could be that sweetheart that softened a Nazi soldier into giving away secrets. It had perhaps been a naive proposal.
At any rate, she had not received enough training and they had not allowed enough time to fully ensure that she had the full understanding and scope of her difficult assignments; that she had the right appreciation for the necessary precautions that she must take. They had needed more time to hone her instinct. They had likely sent her out into enemy lines way too early. But time was not something for which they had a surplus. Each day and each month deepened the hold the Nazis had on Norway. Letting time pass was not something Martin or any of the leaders of the Group wanted to nurture without some progress in thwarting the Nazi master plan. So they pushed her out of the nest early, and hoped she could fly. And she flew like the best of them for a time. What they had not counted on was that her heart would get tangled up in a romance with one of the Nazis. They had not fully considered that she was a feeling young woman with hungers and hopes for a future that included full fledged romance and belonging. And, poor sweet Anita had trusted the wrong man. While her parents had no idea where Anita ended up, The Group had a strong suspicion that her disappearance had something to do with Helmut. She had not returned from that last assignment, and that assignment had everything to do with Helmut. He had been the key to advancing their project, to gaining better insight into the next steps.
Was this her fate,then? Lying in a pool of seawater, her eyes staring up at the heavens as if asking for help a bit too late. Her face was void of any meaningful expression, her soft green eyes offering only a blank stare up at the sky, as if to say: “look there, a fluffy cloud”. The innocence of her death would break anyone’s heart, even the coldest enemy couldn’t take this scene in without knowing that on both sides, people – human beings, were casualties of this war. Regular citizens trying to make a difference, becoming involved in the layers of intelligence that in a normal healthy world, would never have been necessary. These civilians would have led simple lives with regular jobs and marriages and children. But in these years of occupation, people stepped up. Ordinary people. And in some cases, these ordinary people did not have the skills or insights to properly navigate the traitorous waters of war.
As Anita lay in this agitated pool of seawater, one could not see any trace of a final fear or any strain in her soft face. There was no detection of tragedy to mark her final moments of life. It was as if her death had been a soft and simple comma in a long string of hopeful words. There was no exclamation point to be found here. This was a fade to black moment on an otherwise beautiful sun drenched horizon which invited the waters into a soothing embrace of her body, leaving behind dark green moist ribbons of seaweed to cover her up from peering eyes.
No one in her personal circle missed her because she had been absent for so long. It had been years since her parents and sister had seen her. Thinking back, her family might say she had been gone almost since the moment that those u-boats headed up the Oslofjorden in the Spring of 1939. But it wasn’t quite that long ago. It was actually just over a year into the conflict and occupation that Anita had found her way into a friendship with Otto, and it had made all the difference in her world. Her parents had never met Otto, but they knew of him. Anita had mentioned Otto to them early on in her friendship with him, but then just as suddenly, she stopped talking of him. Her parents did not know this, but her silence came along once she had been officially recruited into The Group. When her parents would ask about him, she would offer vague responses and then change the subject. In fact, on most topics, her usual bubbly and energetic responses were lacking. She had become more and more secretive. She had changed.
When she disappeared on that day in late August of 1940, they were not that surprised. They had a feeling she had gotten involved in something to do with the underground, but they were not sure of the exact details. They missed their sweet Anita. She was one of those people that commanded an audience. She always entered a room with a full voice and lifted people out of the doldrums. She was a mood booster. She enjoyed people and they enjoyed her. Her absence was definitely felt. The world was not the same without her. As with most people, Anita’s mother hated the war, but she despised it all the more because it had taken Anita from her.