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2010-11-01 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Both his parents lived through the war, but they were almost the only ones who did. Both lost parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts and cousins and siblings, all of Feliks's family history gone in one clean sweep. They both moved to America and that's where they met, tattered creatures with a past of shared tragedy. Feliks has never been to Europe but he's always felt like World War Two cast an unfair shadow over his entire life.
His mother is worse, she coddles him and tells him over and over that he is a precious gift, that his relatives fought and died so he could live a good life. She pets his hair and tells him how much he looks like his great-uncle Anya, who Feliks feels a very uncomfortable kinship with because Great-uncle Anya died wearing a pink triangle. She tells him that he must always be proud, but proud of what she never says. His mother is a little bit mad.
His father is merely stern, with sharp lines engraved along his brow which give him absolutely no sense of humor. He kept his Polish accent through sheer force of will even though he hasn't been back to Poland in twenty-four years, because he says it is a mark of pride to proclaim that he is Polish. He always seems vaguely unhappy that his only son was a skinny little runt like Feliks.
Feliks has grown up feeling like he's stuffed in a shoebox of what his parents want him to be. His mother, traumatized by losing nearly her entire family at a young age, never lets him go out for sports. She's too terrified he'll get hurt. He's not sure he'd ever want to play sports anyway, he's afraid the weight of his father's disappointment would crush him flat.
Once, in junior high, when he was still trying to figure out who he was and what his place in the world was, his mother walked into his bedroom without knocking to find Feliks sharing clumsy kisses with another boy that had come over so they could study together.
Rather than being angry or even horrified, his mother had gone white as a sheet, and collapsed. She'd had to be hospitalized, and had woken up babbling nonsense about pink triangles and no they can't take my baby away too I won't let them. Feliks had tried very, very hard to repress his sexuality from then on.
He found out about the meetings in college.
It's easy, so easy, and such a relief to become Poland for two hours every two weeks. It isn't because he's Polish, or at least not entirely the reason.
Poland is the Phoenix.
No matter what happens, no matter how many times Poland is knocked down or beaten or trampled on, he always gets up and fights on. He isn't scared, ever, and he won't let anyone tell him what to do.
Poland is a spitfire, he can yell until his throat hurts if he wants, venting his nameless frustrations on Germany - you destroyed my parents' lives my mother has hurt so much because of you how could you - on Russia - you've oppressed my people for hundreds of years you stamp us down and don't let us shine do you think you're my father or what.
(And Ludwig and Ivan don't mind, they know they're all here for a reason, it's nothing personal, and after the meeting is over they'll go out for a beer and Ivan will let Feliks wear Russia's scarf because it's so very cold outside.)
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