inglourious basterds. shosanna dreyfus, fredrick zoller. we have called this survivor's guilt. ~1500 | pg13
See, what a scourge is laid upon your hate,
That heaven finds means to kill your joys with love.
And I for winking at your discords too
Have lost a brace of kinsmen: all are punish'd.
-“Romeo and Juliet”, Shakespeare</center>
If they had but met twenty years later, ten even, if Fate had been a kinder mistress, it would have gone like this:
He will say, “Bonjour, je m’appelle Fredrick.”
And she will take pity on him, and smile prettily, the sweet perfume of her cigarette obscuring the lovely lines of her face, her long blonde hair like a waterfall around the paleness of her flesh. His French is atrocious. It’s hardly a surprise.
In stilted English she will say, “I am Shosanna.”
(you see, this ten or twenty years from then, and Emmanuelle Mimieux has not even a thought of existence, instead she sleeps quietly in Shosanna’s chest and the world is better for it)
He invites himself to sit with her, and she considers being irritated at this boy but well—he has a pretty smile, doesn’t he? What’s the harm in letting him sit for a turn?
The saddest part of Romeo and Juliet is that (if only they had waited)
“You think he is cute, no?”
She turns her head, eyes Marcel as they lounge naked in their bed above the cinema. She considers spitting at him, and instead swats him with her foot. He catches it, strokes a powerfully dark hand down her slender ankle.
“Nazi swine,” she curses, rolling away.
Marcel climbs on top of her, ghosting kisses across her pale skin, stroking a hand down her hip, black fingers lost in her blonde hair.
“We must not hate them so much, Shosanna,” he tells her with a trace of a sadness he had long before she stumbled into his life, more broken than he would ever be. “To hate them—we would be no better than them.”
Shosanna turns to him, captures his mouth with hers, and cannot tell him. She hardly thinks herself better than Nazis.
Fredrick’s thoughts are simple, innocent, and what a great shame that is, a travesty, war is delivered to children who do not know any better than to pick it up.
He thinks: she is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.
Fredrick will never know that it is her terror and her grief and her rage that draws him to her. There are pieces of him that recognizes those pieces in her, and resound with the familiarity. Instead, she must simply be beautiful.
If Shosanna had known, she would have hated him even more. Her thoughts were never so innocent.
Shosanna is carefully readjusting the fourth reel of her masterpiece. She is ignoring Marcel, behind her, pacing and smoking and pacing. Sometimes, Marcel wishes he had not met her. Sometimes, he cannot imagine his life without her.
But she is not paying attention. Marcel worries that to her, he does not really belong to Shosanna. That he is Emmanuelle Mimieux’s, and she hates that woman nearly as much as she hates the man who murdered her family.
Shosanna seals the last of the reel together, smiling fondly down at her macabre act.
(for a moment she thinks: what will Fredrick do as he burns?)
She cannot force herself to look at Marcel. She will be the death of both of them.
(all of them)
She dreams of the day underneath LaPadite’s floorboards too often to mention.
She dreams of her little sister, pressed against her side, hand closed around her mouth. They were told, should the Nazis come, speak no words, do not breathe. They will kill you.
(do you understand, Shosanna? do you understand death?
monsieur, but I do not. not yet. )
Landa’s voice is so harmless and warm, like a papa returning home from a day of work in the city. When he speaks to LaPadite in his perfectly cultured English, she can almost relax. Almost think nothing will happen, not to them, not today.
Her sister can utter little more than a cry of shock as the bullets rip through her. She’s covered in last bits of her family as she drags herself out from the floorboards and into the fresh, perverted green of her former home, Landa calling out to her as though bidding adieu to a friend who must hurry home—
—sometimes, before she can escape, Fredrick peels the floorboard from over her head and reaches down for her, hand outstretched.
“Come with me,” he says.
Shosanna wakes up just as their fingers clasp and showers for nearly an hour, trying to wash away the feel.
Fredrick has nightmares too. They have become more frequent since coming to France. They are normal, he is told, everyone has them.
He is lost in a sea of blood, and sharks and those silly monsters he used to fear as a child storm onto his singular island of a home. So he shoots them with the gun (but he did not have a gun, not in the beginning) in his hands, and they twist and before his eyes they change. Into women, children, people that he killed. Not monsters, just people, and his bullets in them.
After meeting Emmanuelle Mimieux, they all have her face.
He wakes up every morning, and vomits into the wastebasket, telling himself it will get better.
He walks her back to the cinema, Shosanna still trembling with rage and hate as Landa’s voice mocks her at the shells of her ears, her blonde hair covers the scar where his bullet grazed her.
Fredrick is awkward, and wants to take her hand, wants to walk with her like a normal French couple would, but the wool of his uniform is heavy and his black, shinny boats squeak with his steps, and will he never be normal again?
They reach her cinema and finally (finally) his hand is around her wrist, and the touch stops them both. Or it stops her, and not him because he leans forward and he kisses her. And the world is dark around them, and he leans her against the cool brick of the theater, hands on her shoulders. He strokes the insides of her cheeks with her tongue, shoves his hand into her hair and sighs her name.
“I am Shosanna,” she says.
It’s like falling in love. Or being shot.
(this is when you know it’s a dream)
She wraps her legs around his waist, he holds her aloft, struggling with buckles and belts and snaps. France has never been so quiet, not in five years, their sighs like butterflies stretching out and dying on the pavement around them.
“Shosanna,” he says, like a prayer. “Shosanna.” It’s enough to save him, her name.
(but it’s a dream)
He shoots her. There is no poetry here, because he shoots her. There are parts of him that protest, that scream and rage against the cell of his body, but he shoots her anyway.
There is enough childlike rage in him to do so. He thought she would save him.
But he was wrong.
(or perhaps he thought it was just the dream again)
What he doesn’t know. He has killed her a thousand times over already.
A scene that could have happened, twenty years from then:
She is French, so she likes to lounge in bed in the mornings. He is German, so he’s used to uniform schedules.
“I really have to go,” he says. “They’ll be expecting me. It’s my duty.”
She laughs, sits up from her relaxed position on the rumpled bed and eyes him, his plated pants and carefully ironed dress shirt.
“Oh, you’re a bore,” she says at last, her voice teasing and light. “I’ve no time for bores. Get, then, and I should like to never see you again.”
It works. With a great yowl he leaps onto the bed, and they twist and turn, Shosanna’s laughter is breathless and feathery as he kisses her breasts, and traces her arousal with his fingers. She strokes her hand down his hair, across his back, and peels off his clothes with aching slowness. She has just realized that she could fall in love with him.
(but twenty years before now, they’ve shot each other dead)
Shosanna knew she could not dodge bullets forever. That is her retribution, for leaving her whimpering sister to die while she scrambled and clawed her way to freedom.
Fredrick grasps her wrist (she remembers the dream—stop it) and does not speak. Blood rolls down his chin like scarlet ribbons, like he’s eaten her dress to shreds. He cannot speak past his pain, but she knows what he’s asking.
“Jewish,” she manages. “I am Jewish. I am Shosanna.”
(“Shosanna,” he breathes like a prayer. “Shosanna.”
this is a dream)
His eyes are distant, far away. Perhaps he is dreaming. Shosanna wants to say, do you know I have dreamt too? But all she can manage is a dying gurgle of pain.
And then he performs his greatest sin of all. He looks her in the eye, his fingers tightening over her wrist, and says, “I don’t care.” And then he dies.
She must be in hell, already, the world is burning around her.
That play ends with Romeo and Juliet killing themselves.
They, at least, manage to do one better.