By Joan Stevenson
The street was dark but calm, for once, as I walked home. It seemed that I had been
walking for hours. Thinking it was no use, I entered the door. Mother was there to greet me when I arrived. I broke the bad news to her, but by now she had gotten used to hearing it day after day. I was so glad to be home once more, tired of roaming the streets looking for work. The supper was already on the table. Although it never looked inviting, it was better than nothing. My sister Louise and twin brothers, Pierre and George, were already seated. After
greeting them, I collapsed in my chair, then dug into the stale bread and coffee, made of roasted grain.
Our house we shared with two other families, and there wasn’t nearly enough room. Mother and Louise slept together in a little room. My two brothers and I slept in the other. The living room which was fairly good-sized was also used as a dining room and a side of it, the kitchen. This was all I could afford and not even that, soon. The money was almost gone that Dad had left, for we were rather well off at one time, and he had saved a little. I was old enough and would have to support the family.
Everyone was quiet tonight at the table, except for the twins who were scrapping now and then anyway. After discussing a few things about the money situation and the hard day, Louise, Mother and I all retired to bed. Of course the twins had already gone after supper.
I could hear planes in the distance. Gritting my teeth and clutching my hands together,
I lay there. The noise hurt. They were getting nearer and nearer. Usually I went on with what I was doing or fell asleep, but now it was hard. Thinking that I might never get to see Marie and hoping that she would be all right, I sat up in my bed and looked at the picture of her that was sitting on my bureau. Then sinking back in my bed, I soon fell asleep in spite of my troubles.
Mother didn’t wake me early as she usually did. I guess she thought I needed the rest. For the first time in ages, I woke to find the sun beaming in my window. It was well on in the morning. I had the whole bed to myself. I hadn’t seen a morning like this in ever so long.
After having my breakfast, I started on my way. I had told my mother that I thought I might not be home til late and not to wait up, for I would have to find work today. My destination was far out in the country. It was a grand day for walking, though. The fresh air of the country was nice for a change. As I walked, the breeze was just enough to keep it from being too hot. This beautiful, peaceful day seemed like Free France before we were at war.
By the time I arrived, I was tired and very curious to know what was happening to Marie. I went in the house, but very cautiously, so as not to be seen by anyone passing by. This was just a big old house, very old, and it looked vacant. The cellar was where all the newspaper work was done. As soon as I got in the door, the Gestapo was gathered ‘round me. I was handcuffed and just about thrown downstairs. There I saw Marie and the rest of the workers being questioned. I was too late!! I could see that Marie was very happy to see me again, although she pretended not to know me to keep me out of trouble. I played innocent
as though I was just hiking and had just come to look around, thinking the house was empty.
The other men of the newspaper office followed through with the plan, too, saying they had never seen me before.
They didn’t let me go, though, because one of the Gestapo said he remembered seeing me with Marie often in town. So we were all taken to a concentration camp for me and women which was nearby.
That night after dinner, I met Marie, and we took a walk around the camp. She was still her own beautiful self. I was so happy to be with her once more, even if we were in this place, although I was very worried about Mom and the kids and wondered what would happen to them. Marie felt very very bad about getting me into this mess, but I told her that we would soon find a way out and would be free once more. That made her feel better.
I made a point of seeing Marie every evening. It seemed like old times. In the day we carried out the usual activities of the camp, both doing our work the best we could, knowing that we would soon be together with freedom once more.