Reflections of a Summer in Bingen
The retired schoolteacher struggled with his journal entry about his missing Ella.
Old age, loneliness, despair, anger gnawed at him. He crumpled the page he had
been writing on and tossed his pen down the stairway in frustration. July 2009 – the
midst of a blackout in Shreveport. The flickering light of emergency candles on the
large wooden table did not soften the octogenarian’s grief over the sudden loss of his
dearly departed wife of 50 years. Dwight shouted, “I need you Ella. I need you.
Come and join me honey. I cannot live without you.” The flashlight that he
retrieved from the mahogany cupboard illuminated memories of the summer of
1975: Bingen on the river Rhine, the blonde-haired Fraulein Helga. He smiled as he
recalled that first meeting with the beautiful blue-eyed Rhineland maiden. His
reminiscences about the secret affair with Helga soothed his misery and loneliness,
while guilt deluged him at the thoughts of leaving Ella behind in Baton Rogue. He
wept in a stuttering voice, “El-, El-, Ella, how, how, how could I’ve, I’ve done, done
this to you. For-, for-, forgive me, me, for cheating on you.” Afterwards, Dwight
wondered, what became of Helga?