Priceless Joy and Autumn
This story is not true, but similar experiences are probable! It's based in WW2 Belgium.
Ava was 15 years old. She lived with her mother and father. They looked like a pretty normal, ordinary family, but they were not normal. They were not ordinary. They were illegal. They were hiding Jews in their house. And if they were found out, it meant almost certain death.
Ava lived on a farm in Belgium. She was a typical country girl and she loved the country and felt happy. But when the Germans invaded Holland, things changed. For a while, everything was fine. She felt far away from everything, and she heard that things were relatively normal in the cities too. But then the Nazis started persecuting Jews. Things got worse and worse until the entire Jewish population was in danger, and many had no choice but to go into hiding. Ava’s family gave refuge to a family of 4. Then Ava found herself in a dangerous position.
“Now Ava, remember, never say a word about this to anyone. Not even your closest friends. Do you understand?”
“Yes ma. But ma, what will happen if the Nazis find out?”
"Ava, the importance of this all is doing the right thing. If we are found out, then so let it be. But that doesn’t mean we should not be careful. We have to try our hardest to keep the Krey family and ourselves safe. But we are not in danger yet. The Nazis are not here. Yet.”
Ava had a beautiful palomino horse, Priceless Joy, and a bay, Autumn. She had got them for her 9th birthday, and they went everywhere together. She loved them and they loved her. As the Nazis were not nearby yet, she sometimes let Karina and Eric ride on them. And she sometimes took one of them behind her, as she rode. Karina and Eric were good at riding. They said they lived in a farm in Germany before, and escaped to Belgium in 1937. Then they could not get out again. And that's when Ava and her family came in.
1 year came and went. And by then, the Krey family was in hiding. They could not go out. It was too dangerous. Then the Nazis made an abandoned farmhouse nearby their quarters. Ava and her family decided it was too dangerous for them to stay here anymore. They had to go. But where? Things were desperate. They finally decided they would have to cross the border into Switzerland. But how? Ava saw a strange look on her parent’s faces. She squeezed Karina and Eric’s hands, each beside her. Her parents looked at her. They had a questioning look.
“Ava, things are too dangerous for them to stay here. But they will be exhausted, crossing the border on foot. Will you let them take Autumn and Priceless Joy? Please, Ava.”
Ava didn’t know what to say. She was overcome with emotion. She left the house and went to the stables. Then she hugged Priceless Joy and Autumn, and cried as if her heart would break.
“Oh, Priceless Joy! Oh Autumn! How could you go away from me? I can’t let you go! I love you both! You are amazing, I can’t let you go!“
Ava didn’t know what to do. She heard footsteps behind her. It was Eric. He hugged her. Then he stroked Autumn and Priceless Joy.
“You know, Ava, its not a goodbye forever. You’ll see them again, when the war is over. But right now, we need them. Or I don’t think we’ll make it. Karina is only 11, and she can’t keep walking. Please, Ava. Can you? Don’t worry, though, if you can’t.“
Ava looked into Eric’s eyes, and threw herself into his arms, sobbing. “I will, Eric, for you and your family. You’re right, I’ll see them again. But maybe I won’t see you again if I decide otherwise. So I will.“
The day came when they left. Eric kissed all of them goodbye, and held Ava’s hands in his. “You’ll see them again, I promise.” He whispered.
It was night. They silently left, with Karina and her mother on horseback. They would swap with Karina's father and Eric, later. A trusted friend of Ava’s father was leading them to the border. And they were gone.
Ava thought of Priceless Joy and Autumn in bed. They were heroic horses. The look in their eyes told Ava they knew what they were doing. The Key family could trust them to be silent. Priceless Joy and Autumn. How she missed them.Please comment if you like it and want me to continue!
It was August 1944. Ava was still missing Priceless Joy and Autumn Bay. And she was still missing Eric and Karina and heir parents. She knew they were safe. But they were not with her! She was now 17 years old. And she felt that everyday was torture. Everyday she saw them in her mind. Everyday they haunted her.
She remembered the rides she had on Priceless and Autumn. How amazing it felt to be on top of a horse. How it was the best thing in the world. And, back to the present, how it had been taken away from her. Or rather, she had taken it away from herself.
But she persisted in believing she had done the right thing. She KNEW she had. It was definitely right, but that didn't make her feel much better. That ache in her heart wouldn't go away.
Things were getting better now. It was September, and Ava had heard on the radio that the Allies had arrived in Brussels on the 4th. Hope fluttered in her heart. Autumn! Priceless! She would see them again! Soon! It was too good to be true! And Eric and his family! To be continued...
It was December... almost Christmas. And yes, things were getting better. Belgium was getting liberated. But the Krey family wasn't taking any risks. They were waiting till the full, complete liberation. And they wouldn't be here for Christmas.
Ava remembered that family tradition, of going to the barn and reading the Christmas story, with Priceless, Autumn, Daisy the cow, a few of the sheep-it was always a wonderful experience. Now they would have it-yet again-without Priceless Joy. Without Autumn Bay. It was not the same. And then she remembered those rides she had with Eric and Karina, and how she laughed with their parents. How Eric had hugged her...
"Ava! Come on, dear. Have you forgotten the cookies? They will burn! Its not daydreaming time!" Her aunt Carol told her. None of their family relations knew about the Krey family.
"Oh yes, aunt Carol. I forgot." Ava went to take out the cookies. Christmas music played in the background. The children danced. Yet nothing stirred in her heart. She kept a frozen, fake smile plastered on her face all the time.
The family went out to the barn. Father told the Christmas story. When it got to the part of "Peace on Earth, goodwill to men" that did it. Ava looked around her, trying to believe Priceless and Autumn were there. They weren't. And she thought the world was hardly peaceful right now. There was war. She wanted to cry, but she didn't.
When they were all inside, Ava went to her bedroom and sobbed. How long would it be until the full, complete liberation? It was oh so hard.To be continued...