A yellow rose bloomed on Marheinekeplatz. Year after year, Annette ran to her to see her up close. One day the rose was gone. Someone had roughly grabbed her handle, jerked and broken it. Annette stood in front of the empty space and asked her friend Taki: “Why do people do this? Why are we destroying the beauty around us?”

On March 17, Taki stands by Annette’s bedside in the hospice. He is holding 27 yellow roses in his arms. Annette held out until this day. On that day, 27 years ago, she and Taki had come together. Finally got together, on a second try. The first went like this: She went with friends to the “Bermuda Triangle” on Gneisenaustrasse, and so did he. They talked to each other for a long time, they really liked each other, but neither of them were free. The evening ended, they lost touch, years passed, until that day in March, a chance meeting again in the same pub, both unattached by now. At the end of that evening he had taken her hand on the way to the bus stop. “We were already in love,” he says.

Annette lies in this bed and cannot go on. For years she has felt exhausted. It all started so cheerfully and happily, everything flew to her, the future seemed open for all eternity. She spent her childhood and youth in Rheine in Westphalia as the youngest of four sisters. The father was a senior technical officer, the mother stayed at home with the daughters. At 15, Annette became tennis champion in her age group, at 17 she passed her Abitur. She acted in the school theater as Gretchen, performing the scene in the garden through which she walked with Faust while plucking the leaves from a flower and murmuring under her breath, “He loves me – loves me not.” He loves me!” Whereupon Faust took her hands: “Oh, don’t shudder! Let that look, let that handshake tell you what is inexpressible: To give yourself completely and to feel a bliss that must be eternal! Forever! – Their end would be despair. No, no end! No end!”

Theater, thought Annette, theater studies and German studies, that’s it. She moved to Berlin and began studying. But the city works by its own laws, absorbing some who come to it from the provinces, full of possibilities, hostile and seductive. Annette threw herself into these opportunities and increasingly missed the lectures. Until she finally gave up. One of her sisters had a law office in Wilmersdorf. Why not take this route? Get in with the sister. She completed an apprenticeship as a legal and notary clerk. Resist the temptations of the city. “She was an either/or person,” says a friend. Annette worked in this law firm and in that one, including some very large ones. Dig deep into the cases, stayed until well after work, then had two or three glasses to relax, accompanied processes in which a lot of money was at stake, the lawyers were enthusiastic about her. But did she really want that? Get even more out of tons of money? That scratched her sense of justice. One case led them to a decision: homeowners versus renters. She increasingly took the opposite side, that of the tenants, and gave them legal advice. There was a break with her employer.

Actually, she had other dreams anyway: travel around the world, for example. But now the money was missing. She worked her way from one mini-job to the next, and she was tired of the incessant official requirements. she drank She didn’t seem to mind the precarious situation. She said, “I don’t need much.” Stumbled through life. Dressed a bit carelessly, lost weight. “What’s that about?” one of her sisters asked. “You are so talented and beautiful. Why do you make so little of yourself?” Yes, why? She didn’t know how to say it. And her head didn’t clear with the drinking either. Even though there was so much beauty in him.

She didn’t own a television, but listened to the radio all the time. Buried in her apartment and read. The day after an election, she sat down with a stack of newspapers and meticulously analyzed every result in every district. She walked through her Kreuzberg district, looked at the flowers, planted trees. Occasionally supported the Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche on Blücherplatz in legal matters. Always been generous. Talked and laughed. But when the demons, fueled by the alcohol, got the better of them, “when she believed,” as the friend wrote in an obituary, “someone had wronged her, the empathy sometimes turned to pitiless antipathy. It was as if she was enchanted by a good, but sometimes also by a merciless fairy.” The good ones showed up in small, almost childlike gestures. There was a stuffed animal lying on the street. A huge white battered dog with black and brown ears. She carried him home, washed him thoroughly, patched up all the damaged areas and named him Ulrich.

On March 17, Taki stands in front of Annette with the 27 yellow roses. She lies motionless in the hospice bed. Her arm wraps around the plush dog. Annette’s friend has also come. They look at her face. The girlfriend says to Taki: “She’s still here. You get the feeling that she’s still breathing.” And Taki replies: “That could be Annette’s last trick: wake up and keep talking.” As he says this, he holds her hand.