Rated: E · Short Story · Death · #1742274
Rena Raus is a nine year old Jewish girl living during the second world war in Holland.
|Dear Diary, August 13, 1942|
“My name is Rena, I am nine years old and I love to sing.” That is how normal nine year olds would start a diary, but not me. I have no reason to be that cheerful anymore. I used to be aglow with happiness, my broad smile clear to anyone. Now mama has passed away, I don’t often feel that way anymore. The only people who make me feel like that these days are Papa and Pauline, my best friend in the whole world. My name is in fact Rena Raus, I am nine years old and I am Jewish. Papa got me this diary to help me cope with Mama’s death, and I feel obligated to write in it, although I do not usually enjoy writing. He said that it would help me express my thoughts, which rush through my head in a blurry swirl. Unclear and without a beginning nor an end. Pauline is my antidote to these thoughts; she makes me laugh and giggle to no end, making me happy whenever I am around her. She has glossy blonde hair down to her waist and sparkling ice-blue eyes framed heavily by lashes, “a typical Dutch girl!” as she often says. She is not Jewish, but she seems almost unaware that I am. These days, your religion is a big part of how you’re treated in everyday life. To be Jewish means that you are deprived of many things, which seem normal to others. We have to shop in separate shops from non-Jewish people. We are not permitted to ride bicycles or go to the local swimming pool. Papa and I live in a small house; which is cold in winter but often stiflingly hot in summer. We live just outside the city and at night, I lay in my bed and listen to the city sounds, which often lull me to sleep. When Mama was still alive we lived in the city, but when she died, Papa said it was not a good idea to continue living in the city. He says that he doesn’t want the same to happen to me as it did to Mama. Papa is not Jewish, only Mama was. He has dirty blonde hair and brown eyes. I have his eyes but Mamas dark wavy hair. She used to plait it for me every day, but Papa does not know how to plait and so I wear my hair hanging loose around my shoulders. My last memory of Mama was on the day that she died…
“Reeree, come with me. We’re going to fix your hair” Mama said to me with a cheeky wink and the sparkle in her eyes that I missed so much. I remember feeling terrified as she pulled out a pair of scissors. She cut my waist long hair short, so that it barely brushed my shoulders. Then she washed my hair with the shampoo that’s only used for special occasions. She had been talking about cutting my hair for a while, but she had said she needed to think about it. She died that afternoon, Papa won’t tell me what happened. He says it’s better I don’t know.
Dear Diary, August 17, 1942
While I was at school today and Papa was at work, our house was raided. They took the one valuable thing that we have managed to keep throughout the war. Mama’s jewellery box with her diamond wedding ring in it. The box is handmade, carved from oak and Papa bought the wedding ring for her when he proposed to her. It is quite a small diamond, but he gave away everything he had to get it for her. When I come home from school, I go and look at the box and I hold the ring, pretending it brings Mama back to me. Even for just a second, I can smell her sweet perfume, I can feel her soft dark curls brushing my cheeks, her fingers wiping away the tears that never fail to fall bitterly down my cheeks when I touch her ring. Papa is distraught, he tries not to show it but I know him. When I look into his eyes, there’s panic and fear there. Suddenly I hear an engine outside, far away, but clearly on the dirt road that leads only to our house. Papas eyes widen in fear and he mumbles something under his breath. He starts to move around the house fast, pulling open drawers and cabinets, clearly looking for something. At last he turns towards me.
“Rena!” He whispers urgently at me, “take this, keep it with you at all times.” He says as he shoves something into my hands.
“What?” I say, sounding breathless, “Papa, what are you doing?”
“Saving you.” He says. “I love you Rena, you’re an amazing girl. Don’t you ever forget that.” A tear rolls down his cheek, but he quickly swipes his hand across it. Obviously trying to hide it from he. He’s trying to be strong. I realize. “Run Rena, through the field of corn behind our house, don’t come back. Be careful. Go. Now. RUN!” He yells. I run out the back door crying, with the package that he shoved into my hands clutched tightly between my fingers. My vision blurred by tears, I can only see the faint outline of a field of tall green cornstalks rising in front of me. I sprint towards the field and just before I get into the safety of the corn, I hear a shot. Distant but distinct. Papa. His face flashes through my mind and my knees buckle under me. I crash to the ground and let out a scream as I fall. I turn my head to look back at my house, I see men coming out of the back door. Running at the field. No, get up Rena. Papa didn’t die for you to give up. I pull myself up and start running. I hear shots and yells, but I reach the corn. As I run through the field, the sharp leaves cut my cheeks and get tangled in my hair. I hear pounding feet behind me, mens voices yelling at me to stand still, but I ignore them. Suddenly the ground is coming at me face at a staggering speed, a flashing pain shooting through my ankle. I look back and see nothing, but I can hear the footsteps. I try to regain my footing, but I can’t put any weight on my ankle and fall back down. I drag myself forward on my elbows, staying low. The stubs of corn that have been cut, scrape my body, leaving gashes all along my legs and stomach. I. Can’t. Go. On. I drop my head on the ground. Memories flashing through my head. Mamas beautiful face, the look in Papas eyes whenever he looked at her. Then there’s a pressure on the back of my head, pushing my face into the dirt. I can’t breathe! I squirm and struggle to get out from under the weight and after what seems like hours, the pressure is lifted. I flip myself over on my back and stare up. German soldiers, eight of them. All holding guns, which are pointed at me. One of them drags me up by my arms and holds my arms behind me back.
“Vuur!” he yells.
The last thing I hear is a deafening shot. My body goes limp and I feel something wet spreading across my chest. Then I feel it, a white-hot pain in my chest. I scream out in agony, trying to clutch at the pain. The soldier clutching my arms drops me to the ground. I see red all around me. A hot tear slides down my cheek, blurring my vision. I roll into a foetal position and hug my knees. It makes the pain worse but I don’t care. The tears are now freely falling, I have no control. No choice. To live or die, my choice seems unimportant. Papa said I could do it, but I can’t. I’m sorry I’ve let you down Papa and Mama. This isn’t what you wanted. I’ll be with you soon.