Back Into the Routine – Johannes

So… now we’ll follow Hans for a while.

**

Johannes glanced around as the other kids began running around, playing. He hugged Herr Braun a bit closer and then sighed. Her headed over to the dome-shaped climber at the center of the playground and climbed under it. He sat there, hugging his bear and thinking. It had been nice to see Liesel and Frieda when he came out to play, even though they had been headed inside.

“Hey, Hansel,” a voice called.

Blinking, Johannes looked up. Miss Brighten had introduced him to the class as Johannes. She’d called him that all morning. Who knew his nickname? How? He blinked at the pair of blond boys that were grinning at him. “How’d you know that people call me Hansel?” he asked, tilting his head to one side and blinking again.

One shrugged. “It’s what we’d call you at home,” he said. “I just guessed. I’m Fritz and I’m really good at guessing.” He pointed at his brother and said, “He’s Erik.”

“Hi,” Erik said, his voice softer than Fritz’s was. “Why are you hiding, Hansel?”

Johannes hugged Herr Braun closer. “Everyone is playing, but… I don’t feel like playing,” he said, his voice soft. “I’m too sad to play.”

Erik settled down beside him. After a moment, Fritz sat down on his other side. Then, Erik said, “Is it because of what Miss Brighten said?” When Johannes nodded, he asked, “Muti gives us hugs when we’re sad.”

“My Muti went to heaven,” Johannes said. His vision blurred and he rubbed his face against his bear. A moment later, he felt both of the other boys hugging him. He cried for a little while, just letting them hug him.

After a moment, an adult asked, “Is everything all right, boys?”

“Hansel is sad,” Erik said, pulling out of the embrace. “His Muti went to heaven, so she can’t hug him anymore. But he was sad, so we hugged him for her.”

Johannes lifted his head off his bear to see the playground monitor watching them. She was an older woman, like a grandmother would be. She met his gaze and held out a tissue. “Are you all right, sweetie?” she asked. Her voice sounded strained, like she was having trouble speaking.

For a moment, Johannes didn’t know what to say. Then, he shook his head. “I miss Muti and Vati,” he said, his voice soft. Then, he shrugged. “I feel better, though. They wouldn’t want for me to be always sad and Brother says they’re always with us – like guardian angels.”

Nodding, she said, “It’s almost time to go back inside and continue with your classwork. You’ll have music class after recess. Won’t that be fun?”

Johannes smiled. It wasn’t a big smile, he knew, but he was smiling. “I like to sing,” he said, nodding. “Will we get to sing in music class?”

“Probably,” the grandmother said, nodding. “Maybe you’ll get to play instruments too. Would you like that, Johannes?”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, smiling just a bit more. He turned back to Fritz as the boy straightened to grin at him. “I feel better now. Thank you!”

“You’re welcome,” Fritz and Erik said at the same time. They climbed out from under the dome and Johannes joined them, bringing Herr Braun with him.

Fritz poked the bear lightly. “Does Herr Braun have a first name?” he asked, his tone curious.

Johannes blinked. In truth, he didn’t have one. He was Herr Braun, but on an impulse, Johannes decided that he should have a proper name. He nodded and said, “Friedrich. He’s Herr Friedrich Braun.”

Erik and Fritz laughed and then Erik pointed towards the climber a few feet away. “Do you want to go on the slide, Hansel?” he asked.

“Yes,” Johannes said. He hugged his bear as he followed the twins over to the slide. “My sisters are twins, but they don’t look the same,” he said, as he watched one of them climb up the ladder to the top of the slide. “How can I know who is who?”

The twin beside him frowned. “I’m Erik and I’m left handed,” he said. “My name has an e in it and so does the word left. Fritz is right handed and they both have the letter i in them.”

Chuckling, Johannes nodded. He would have to look closer at his new friends to see if he could find little differences between them. Even identical twins would have little differences. He knew it would take time and effort, but he also knew it was important. As alike as they looked, they were different people. That was what his sisters always told people after all.

By the time that Miss Brighten was calling for them to go inside, Johannes felt better. He scampered over to the door with the rest of his classmates. Then, he lined up with Erik in front of him and Fritz behind him, while Miss Brighten brought them down to the music room.

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