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copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The Informer

Cross-legged on the attic floor, contents of her grandmother’s chest spread around her, dust motes dappling the air, she gently opened a yellowed letter which had been roughly torn in half, then taped back together, folded around some pretty, but inexpensive jewelry.

The language was old-style German, the letters beautifully formed. She scanned it curiously, lessons from half-forgotten language classes returning, her brain registering just fragments.

“Ich habe Sie seit jahren gesucht,”*

“Ich war es, die Sie gespitzelt habe.”*

“Ich bete fuer ihren vergebung.”*

Her glance dropped to the signature.

The letter shook.

The ornately written name was her grandfather’s.


*I have searched for you for years.
I was the informer.
I pray you can forgive me.

  1. Beautiful, Janet. Is this a letter he never sent or did it somehow come back to him? Either way, you wrote it exquisitely!

    • He looked for her after the war for forgiveness, wrote her the letter and they eventually married. The power of forgiveness and love.

      • Oh, good. That thought crossed my mind, but I wasn’t quite sure there were enough clues to support it, except that the letter – assuming it had been sent – was found by the sender’s grandchild, which could (and did) mean that somehow the recipient and sender ended up together. I love this even more, knowing the fuller story!

  2. Janet, I love all the mystery here. Why was the letter torn apart and taped back together? Was it meant for the eyes that read them in this story? The grand daughter? Really well done!

  3. Joyce says:

    I can’t read the three lines in German, but am sure it conveys a message related to the story. But, I am curious anyway. What does those three lines say? I had to use the translator a lot when I was doing research for my own novel since it is historical fiction about the Holocaust and Nazis occupying Russia during the war. The picture of the trunk also fits right into the scheme here.

    • The translation is right below the trunk by the asterisk. If you read it again, that should make that story clear. I’m glad you thought the trunk fit in. It belonged to one of my grandparents and came from Germany.

      • Joyce says:

        Sorry Janet for missing the important footnote. I will get to that part. I wish I knew German. Both sides of my parents family were German and it wasn’t until several years ago after thirty some years of research on my family history that I was able to confirm my father’s side was from Ashkenazim German Jewish descent which started a new direction in my genealogy research for my family history historical novel. Another story in itself. 🙂 Anyway, you had a great story as usual. Loved it.

  4. Nicely done. I didn’t get that they were married but for me it enhanced the mystery and the prospects for forgiveness that I did not. Works well that way too.

    • Perry, I realize it’s one of those things that seemed clear to me as I wrote it because that’s what I was thinking, but really wasn’t. I’m glad it worked anyway, but I could have said “her grandmother’s trunk” to make it clear. Thanks for coming by. I look forward to reading your story but today’s a travel day and I’m off and packing in a few minutes. Have a glorious day.


  5. muZer says:

    Nicely done. I liked the way this story unraveled.

  6. Dear Janet,
    Jawdropping! Stunning! Made me shpilkhes*.
    *teary eyed…emotional.

  7. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Janet,

    Thanks for making me clear the cobwebs off of forty year old German lessons. Your story was rife with mystery and love and the power of the written word to reach across generations and touch us. Very good job.



    • I had to ask my s-i-l how to say these sentences in German, I have to admit. My two years of high school German are quite a few years in the past. I’m pleased you enjoyed the story and felt the love and forgiveness.

      Blessings on your day,


  8. Abraham says:

    I like you intro 🙂

    I like your story. (Though I also did not see that they got married)

    • Thanks, Abraham. I see that I did’t really make the married part clear, although you should have read my mind and known it was her grandmother’s trunk! 🙂 I’m glad you liked it all, though. Hope your day’s going well.


  9. In the interest of full disclosure and based on the initial comments, I changed “the cedar-lined chest” to “her grandmother’s chest”, having realized that none of you are able, thankfully, to read my mind. Although it works the other way, the bigger twist that was originally intended, is that her grandmother not only forgave but eventually married the man who turned her in. The power of forgiveness and love shine even brighter this way, I think.


  10. So, we have this little romance here? A good story i must say…and, tell to the MC, it is not safe to peek at grandma’s belongings without her consent?! LOL 🙂

  11. vbholmes says:

    A remarkable woman, your heroine–extraordinary in her ability to forgive, forget and to love. Well- told touching story.

  12. Sandra says:

    Very powerful.

  13. great&touching – it tells all with some words. Thanks!

  14. Joyce says:

    Oh, yes, Janet. I did read those last three lines. I thought perhaps you meant another few I did not get, but got it all. Great story.

  15. 40again says:

    I like this. Wasn’t sure about their relationship on first read through and wondered if she ever forgave him; then thought, to have kept the letter, they surely married. Love and forgiveness, truly powerfull emotions.

  16. elappleby says:

    A very touching story – all the secrets people keep locked in trunks in their attics 🙂

    • Our attic has more books than secrets, although I did just recently go through a box of letters, cards and memorabilia from high school and college, so… I’m not telling!


  17. yerpirate says:

    Stnning – great build-up…clever, clever clever use of German to intrigue, to make us try to work it out – even though I saw the asterisk I still wanted to guess – then, from where the letter shook…amazing. Great description…and what a secret! Could I forgive? No, I don’t think so, not a man anyway. This one is in the top 3 100words I’ve read, if not the top 1.

    • I’ve always been amazed that Corrie Ten Boom could forgive those who put her in a concentration camp and those in charge there. I don’t know that I could do it, either, but it has been done. As for the rest, what you said is so nice that I can say nothing other than thank you from the bottom of my heart.


  18. Your story raised in me the terror of being an informer, and the overwhelming and unappeasable guilt in realizing the horribleness of betrayal.

    It raises the unspeakable and inexcusable for me – the wretchedness of mankind towards herself – and the remorse and regret which can never never undo the wrong, the destruction, done.
    6 million times over.

    Strong words said…. strong words written

    • Forgiveness is for the benefit of the person doing the forgiving, not the person being forgiven. It doesn’t undo what’s been done but it can undo some of the effects.

      Always good to hear from you, Randy.

  19. nightlake says:

    This was gripping..and really brilliant

  20. wmqcolby says:

    Wooooooo! Did I feel a CHILL!!!! That’s the stuff, Janet! I LOVE this story! Indelible!!!!

  21. kz says:

    janet, this blew me away!

  22. Debra Kristi says:

    That would take some seriously deep love to overcome. I’m glad they possessed it. Nothing shallow there. Could you imagine making such a discovery? Gave me chills!

    • It would be very difficult but as I said to Randy, forgiveness is for the person doing the forgiving. Any other benefit, such as in my story, is icing on the cake. This kind of love would have to be real, not superficial. Thanks for the comment and I’m so pleased you liked it.


  23. rgayer55 says:

    Dear Janet,
    The story worked for me. The fact that the letter had been torn apart and taped back together indicated that initially there was anger prior to forgiveness. I thought this was one of your best.

  24. I felt the emotion of this. I found the inclusion of German language into the post intriguing (and thank you for the translation-or I would not have stopped until I found out what it said 🙂 ). After the second reading, it all came together. Granddaughter, Grandfather, click Grandmother. This time in history must have been so difficult with horrible decisions and choices to make.

    • Although it’s sad that not more people stood up, it’s difficult to imagine how hard it would have been to make decisions that could be literally life and death, not just for you, but for those you loved, and torture, rape and being experimented on, too. It should make us thankful for our lives and freedoms.

  25. claireful says:

    So much more story behind this one. Lovely.

  26. Hi Janet,
    Using the German was very effective at creating suspense, which you then resolve with the translation. Great story. Ron

    • Ron, I wanted to use the original language and, thankfull, it was one I could have one of my s-i-l’s translate for me so it would be correct. Otherwise, it would have reminded me a bit of the WWII movies where all the Germans spoke beautiful English with British accents. 🙂 Not that the movies weren’t good, but that always struck me as amusing and incongruous.

  27. Beautifully written and very chilling

  28. Wow. That story was really good. Finding family secrets seem to be a denominator here. Thank you for sharing.

    Tack så mycket 🙂

  29. keliwright says:

    Glad you gave a bit of an explanation. At first I thought it was tragic, the grandfather informing on his wife, and her somehow escaping. As you explain it, it becomes a story of almost unbelievable love and forgiveness. Opens all kinds of avenues for thought.

    • I hadn’t thought of that interpretation. 🙂 It’s so easy to see it just the way you write it and mean it. Thanks for the feedback and for taking the time to read.


  30. YJ says:

    Cliff hanger…I want to know more. Is the Grandmother still around to explain or give more details? What seperated the husband and wife team?

  31. Sunshine says:

    a beautiful moment that took 100 words or less to express just as asking for forgiveness can take just three words: please forgive me.
    (have you thought about reducing the size of your photo? nothing major. just wondering.) ❤

    • My laptop was having some issues this week, so I was using my iPad. I couldn’t figure out how to get it smaller, although on my laptop, the picture looks fine. It just looks weird on the iPad. Do you have an Apple product? Just another thing I have to figure out about the iPad, with which I have a love-hate relationship. :-0

  32. Sarah Ann says:

    Very powerful.

  33. Parul says:

    It is never easy to forgive.
    Beautiful and touching story.

  34. Oh my. Such horrifying implications in those few sentences. Now, let’s see, the narrator has her grandmother’s chest, so obviously at least one of the grandmother’s children survived. And grandfather seems to have assumed that grandmother survived in spite of his betrayal. Or was it only that he found out the child – his child – had survived and that’s who he wrote to? The questions tease at me, and yet you’ve answered the biggest question. It sits like a stone in the middle of the story.

    Very effective, Janet.

    • My vision/version, which may not be the same as that of others, is that the grandfather betrayed the grandmother before they were married, repented and searched for her to get forgiveness, and they ended up marrying. No matter how you read it, I’m glad you liked it and I always value your comments.


      • Actually, I like your version of what happened, though I have to admit my mind immediately leaps into the many ways in which things could go wrong – he turns out to be chronically untrustworthy and manipulative, or she emotionally blackmails him, or – well, there are so many ugly endings. What would make a great story (though very hard to write) would be how they work their way past or around or through all those temptations to mistreat one another and end up with a stronger love than they would have had without the problems…

      • I’d need at least 200 words for that! 🙂

        How come NJ and OH (or IL) are so far apart??

      • Remember those folding maps people used in the olden days before GPS? We need a way to fold up the real world like that – then anyplace can be right next to anyplace else 😉

      • What a great idea! Sounds like the makings of a good children’s sci-fi/fantasy story.

  35. Tom Poet says:

    Looks like we missed each other….

  36. Tom Poet says:

    I liked this line ” lessons from half-forgotten language classes returning” has a nice rhythm…

  37. rich says:

    did the letter shake, or did her hands shake and thus shake the letter? the assumption would be the hands, but you just never know. wanna make sure. well done.

  38. Anne Orchard says:

    A story of love and forgiveness, with the underlying backstory of terrible times. Very effective storytelling. I liked it, even though I never learned German and so needed the footnote and to return to the story.

    • That’s alright. I had to have my s-i-l tell me what the correct German would be. 🙂 Thanks for coming by, reading and commenting. Glad you liked it.