Carl told me Luke gave him a carrot and shared an egg. I cried.
Carl was eating cake. I was at the next table with a pot of tea. We shared the cake and I bought him a coffee. We chatted and discovered we both knew Luke.
We were under military occupation when I met Luke. He wore grey rags. He had a number tattooed on his chest and back. Nine hundred and seventeen. It has been my lucky number since. I never win anything.
He was thin and looked ancient beyond years. Although hungry myself, I had to help him. I gave him two carrots and our only egg. He said he was digging tunnels.
Ho said “I am nobody, but you call me Luke.” I did not dare tell him mine.
“They bury us in concrete” he said, “I hope, it makes weakness”.
My mother beat me for feeding him. I was arrested and could have been shot. Instead, I was sent to jail for two years. It was my age that saved me. I was only twelve.
They opened the cells the day before the marines arrived. We were lucky, we all just walked away. I was fourteen by then. I was two stone lighter than when I arrived.
Luke’s mother met me ten years later. She knew I had been jailed and hoped I could tell her about “Luca”. She surprised me. She was a healthy fifty year old émigré. Luke was seventeen when he went to fight. He was lucky. He died before that year was out. Carl envied him.
Luke’s mother found no record of her son. She found no name on the list of prisoners of war. She found no record of his death, nor how he died. She found no body.