The Dance Goes On
Synopsis: Taking place before and during the German invasion of Poland. Eugene Nowak is an artist, musician (he plays accordion) and dancer. Despite being Jewish, his blue eyes and conversion to Christianity keep him safe from being carted away to Auschwitz. Even though his life changes considerably, he falls for one of his models, Angelina Gorski. Before he has a chance to ask for her hand in marriage she is taken away by the Gestapo.
Chapter 1--A Time to Dance
Eugene Nowak had always been a joyful, jubilant soul ever since the day of his birth. It was almost as if he had been born dancing, and his parents Deborah and Stewart fostered this development from the beginning. On his seventh birthday, his favorite grandmother, Sylvia, gave him an accordion. In her honor, he named the accordion after her and took it almost everywhere he went, except to school.
It had been perfectly fine for him to grow and thrive in his loving Jewish family but there were foreboding clouds in the distance. Eugene was still a child, so he didn't understand what was happening.
"Mama, why are the Germans fighting with us again ? It seems like we are always in disagreement with them. It's inane, asinine ! Ludicrous !", Eugene would often bluster, stamping around. For his age, he could be quite precocious, especially since he knew his homeland's history so well. After all, dear old dad had served during the Great War to fight alongside the British and had gotten a purple heart for bravely risking his life for one of his commanding officers. Stewart's left arm was lost in the process but he managed to do fantastic and even miraculous things despite his ailments. One of these great, wonderful acts was playing the harmonica. Someday, he hoped to teach Eugene since he already had a knack for music and rhythm.
Those ominous 'clouds' that Eugene had noticed from a young age continued to advance into his neighborhood. He was now older and had a comfortable lifestyle on his own. He had become an artist and entertainer, dancing in local weddings and playing for all sorts of people, even royalty that came to visit. The sight-seers had stopped coming recently. Only stern-looking Germans in black, wearing odd arm bands had come into the community, stealing away his friends. Eugene feared for his family members, since they were Jewish. He had read about Krystalnacht, which had started this whole mess to begin with. It was nothing more than a case of misunderstandings and bigotry, but thankfully, Eugene's family had been spared from whatever miserable fate awaited his friends as they were taken to only who knows where. Wherever it was, Eugene knew it was horrible. Even if he secretly felt helpless, he prayed for everyone who was being taken from him. He knew it was fine to cry, so long as no one else knew he was crying. As he always said, the dance must go on and this time of mourning would cease soon, he felt.
Chapter 2--A Time to Embrace
As the bombings, fires and conquering became worse, Poland had been overrun by the Gestapo. Since Eugene's family had converted to Christianity, they had been passed by and allowed to live their lives comfortably. Bizarrely, one of the SS officers liked to hear Eugene play his accordion and marvel at his artwork. Art was something that Eugene had gotten interested in during his teenage years and now he was an adult, earning his own keep. He lived in an apartment that was a bit of a walk from his parents' home. Grandmother and grandfather lived in the country, but at least his family was still safe thanks to their religious affiliation.
One day, while sketching in the salon, a model Eugene had never seen came in to have a nude portrait drawn. Eugene was used to such matters and found the human form aesthetically pleasing as well as an unspoken praise to God.
"Make yourself at home, Miss. If you need something, let me know. Believe it or not, I'm a superb cook and I'll take care of you if you want.", Eugene stated, generously. The young dark eyed, long raven curly-haired Jewess smiled in return and tittered, tickled pink by his hospitality.
"You're a dear. I'm Angelina Gorski. I already know who you are. You're sort of famous around town. I have heard so many people praise your artwork and it seems you're making a fairly comfortable living from your art. It's all spectacular.", Angelina said, honestly. He felt his face flush as his eyes followed the perfect lines of her frame and the roundness of her curvaceous breasts. Her voice was even more lyrical than the folk songs he had grown to love and sang so much.
"Thank you kindly. You flatter me too much, Lena.", Eugene answered, bashfully. He continued to draw, surprised at how fluidly his hand moved despite the fact that Angelina made him feel nervous. Her ravishing nature was enough to stupefy him and there had been no woman before her that had ever made him feel this way.
Eugene's meetings with Angelina continued and they grew closer together. He even confessed his love for her and planned on marrying her some day. Their love was strong despite the fact that war was raging all around them. Eugene had been spared a lot of destruction. Once, while drawing a portrait of his beloved, a bomb strike occurred and he took her in his arms, clothed her in a throw he happened to have lying around, he took her to the cellar and the two of them waited until the Messerschmitt had passed over.
"Do you suppose that inquisitive onlookers that saw you taking me to the cellar in my birthday suit thought we were up to no good ?", Angelina laughed.
"I would think that would be what would be running through their minds. But you and I both know we are chaste until we marry my dear, Lena.", Eugene said, kissing her. He hadn't shaved in a while and his stubbly chin tickled her. She laughed and kissed him in response as they embraced and snuggled together.
"Is it safe now ? I don't hear those horrid German fighter planes anymore.", she said, hugging onto him. He stroked her hair to calm her fears.
"The sirens have stopped. It should be safe for us to return the salon. I'm almost through with your portrait. Then, I will make dinner for us both.", Eugene said, smooching her forehead affectionately.
"Gene, you really are too good to me. It is no wonder I love you so.", she said as he escorted her out of the cellar and back to the salon to complete the gorgeous portrait.
Chapter 3--A Time to Mourn
Sadly, the dinner between the two lovers was interrupted by the Gestapo.
"Angelina Gorski ?", one of the commanding officers questioned. Angelina was greatly afraid, and Eugene, despite his stoic and protective nature of his dear Lena was petrified.
"There is no one here by that name.", Eugene lied through his teeth, nearly seething. After seeing so many of his friends and extended family disappear by being carted away in cramped convoys to the place he had now learned was called Auschwitz, he loathed these Nazis with every fiber of his being.
"Not according to our papers. We already rounded up her family members, and she's going with them.", another officer, who was shorter stated, matter-of-factly.
"I do hope there will be no skirmishes. We have no quarrel with you, Mr. Novak. All we wish is to take the young Jewess with us and we will be on our way.", the commander said. He was a muscular man with a square jaw, robin's egg blue eyes and platinum blonde hair in a crew cut. Without a fight, Eugene allowed the officers to take his beautiful love away from him. He had never gotten the chance to ask for her hand in marriage and he feared that he would never have that opportunity again.
"Wait ! Before you take her, I want to say goodbye.", Eugene said, with an ache in his heart. He did his best to keep himself from crying, which was difficult. Even if he did, he didn't think it would make him seem less masculine.
"Fine. But make it fast. We have others to take to camp.", the commander said, stuffily, slightly annoyed with the situation. Angelina was in tears, doing her best to keep her composure.
"It won't be for long, my love. We'll be back together soon.", she said, optimistically. Eugene wiped her tears and kissed her passionately, stroking her back and arms, then her face.
"That's the best attitude to have, Lena. Trust in God. He'll get us through this.", Eugene whispered to her, still trying to hold his tears back as he stood and watched the Gestapo take Angelina away. She was excessively brave and didn't act out in violence once. Eugene wasn't certain if the optimistic words he had said had any merit or if he believed in them or not. All he knew now was he had to stop crying and continue with his work as though nothing had occurred. That, of course, was easier said than done.
Chapter 4--A Time to Reap
It seemed as though years had passed before Eugene had heard anything. He had kept up to date by reading the newspaper and listening to the radio. Even though it was forbidden to listen to certain programs, he did it anyway without any reprimands or punishments. The war was seeming to drag on but good news had come on the airwaves. Only recently had Mussolini fallen from power. And now since he was dethroned, Hitler would be likely to follow. Eugene only wondered who had survived the camps, if anyone. He had known certain Jews in his community that had hidden successfully in safe homes without the Nazis' knowing of their secret havens. Unfortunately, many of the friends and extended family Eugene had known had died horribly in the camp. He feared that his sweet dear Angelina was gone for good, even though he had never given up on her and continued painting her unforgettable image on insurmountable canvases, amongst local waterways as well as landscapes and even some hopeful scenes from the aftermath of the war.
One day, while dancing at a local wedding, a somehow familiar woman came in to the reception, dancing along with the crowd. Her form wasn't so curvy as he had remembered, but her face made his heart sing.
"Lena ?", he questioned, almost afraid to say her name out loud. The raven-haired young lady turned to look at him and her face filled with inexpressible tears.
"Oh, Eugene ! I knew I'd see you again ! I never gave up, and now we're together again.", she said, breathlessly as she practically fell upon him and kissed his face repeatedly.
"Before we continue this celebration, there has been something that has been picking my brain for years.", Eugene said as Angelina helped him to his feet.
"Whatever could that be ?", she asked, inquisitively. Her brown eyes hadn't changed since the last he had seen her. They were still full of merriment and life as well as deep affection for him.
"Marry me, Angelina Gorski !", Eugene blurted, not caring that everyone else in the wedding hall could hear him. Angelina was dumbfounded. For a moment, she stammered, finding the right words difficult to say.
"Y-yes ! I do ! Surviving has proven that I'm supposed to be with you.", Angelina said, as she hugged him close to her heart to the point that he had trouble breathing.
He lifted her up effortlessly. There were no more words for such a touching moment as this. They simply remained in their embrace and began to dance to the rhythm of the waltz that the band played. Eugene even played his accordion along with them as he twirled Angelina around with one arm effortlessly.
Just as it had been only two weeks before, Angelina and Eugene had been guests at a wedding and now they were having their own. Eugene even sang a traditional love song to his bride, which caused her to beam radiantly and blush at his heartfelt affections. He had never ceased loving her and even though he couldn't write to her he knew that she was one of the lucky prisoners, who, although she was jostled around, she wasn't harmed by any of the Nazis, raped or experimented on by any of them. She had been starved, sadly enough so when she saw food, she savored every last morsel. The images of the camp would always haunt her because she saw so many dying in droves all around her, and their piercing screams would never leave her mind.
But she knew she was a survivor. It didn't make her a better person but it meant that her will had kept her alive and her faith had seen her through another trying time in her life.
Eugene hadn't pictured his life any happier or fuller since he had been blessed with marrying the love of his life as well as having fraternal twins, Ruben and Rachel. The two were quite a handful, but he felt that the world that they were coming into would be far better than the world that he had known. Even if it was harsher than what he believed it would be, he would raise Ruben and Rachel with love, care and knowledge that would equip them to handle whatever slings and arrows life threw at them. Whatever lay around the bend, they would know that they were loved and that even in adversity, love can flourish and temper the starkest, vilest tempest.