The Farm on Nieuw Land Road, Book 2 in The Jenna Kroon Series, is the sequel to The Cottage on The Border was published on 7 October 2016 by 13th Sign Publishing. We follow the main character, the modern dancer Jenna Kroon de Coligny after she has found out her entire biological family is dead. The Farm on Nieuw Land Road starts three years later. This book is a lot calmer and less extreme than number one. It’s the lull in between, so to say. Jenna is still experiencing a lot of trouble but also has moments of bliss and belonging. The farm and her first ever friend Denise Jansen help her to make a leap and shine again… although at a price.
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.”
A taster …
New York, 22 September 2002
Where Manhattan’s streets with their towering colossi of steel and glass were already plunged in shadow, the late September sun, deep-red and autumnal, still had full access to the low-rise built Village, playfully lighting the arched windows of the Madison Ballet School on 6th Avenue. Not that the New Yorkers on their rush home seemed to pay much attention to the position of the sun or the end of summer. If they thought of anything other than the evening ahead, it would of the gaping crater in the city’s heart – that open artery – which had wounded them all, not the slow call of nature, no matter how grim that call would be a couple of weeks later when Jack Frost and his henchmen came riding in.
In the rented studio on the second floor of the Madison Ballet School stood a tall, dark-haired dancer in black tights and a white loose-fitting t-shirt, his feet in the thin-soled ballet shoes planted apart on the polished wooden floor. His hair, long and wavy, was kept from falling in his eyes by a thin elastic band tied around his head, the black strip only visible on his tanned forehead. His posture was one of intense concentration while his hands with short-clipped nails cupped the slender waist of the blond girl facing him. He was about to lift her up into the air when his dark-brown eyes caught her glance. He halted his intended action. Only the music went on, the violins in Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker going faster and faster.
“What is it, Jenna? What’s going on?” His hands still on her, he felt her rib case under the pink leotard tremble under his fingers, as if she was losing her solidity, would collapse under his hands any minute. This wasn’t like Jenna, strong, dynamic, no-nonsense Jenna. In the almost two months they had been dancing together at Madison’s, he had never experienced anything like this. It felt as if only by holding his hands on her waist, he would keep her essence together. It made him afraid to let go of her. But at the same time the young man felt uncertain whether it was polite to keep his hands there, now they weren’t dancing. After all, their relationship was purely professional. Boras Mardin, the 21-year old dancer from Istanbul might physically and mentally be a force to reckon with in the hip-hop scene but this sculpted exterior still housed a rather shy boy, whose origins lay in the distant Ardahan Mountains, close to the Georgian border.
The slower part of Tchaikovsky’s Suite with subdued tones and the far-off tinkling of bells sounded from the stereo in the corner. Jenna now seemed to have difficulty breathing, which increased Boras’s anxiety. In vain, he looked around him, as if assistance was at hand but they were quite alone. Not just in the studio they had rented to practice their pas-de-deux one more time before the exams on Tuesday, but apart from the concierge downstairs, the entire building was devoid of people as it was a Sunday afternoon. The music picked up again, rising quickly to almost hysterical heights. Boras pressed his hands once more in Jenna’s waist as if to give her solidity before he let her go. Speeding over to the stereo, he jammed his finger on the stop button. A salutary silence descended on the room. Under stress, violins can work on the nerves of even the steadiest nervous system. And this was what Boris experienced right now. He could not have taken another second of the music he usually quite enjoyed.
When he was quickly by Jenna’s side again, she waved off his offer for support. In what vaguely resembled her former voice, she muttered, “Thank you, I’ll manage.” The words conflicted with the look in her eyes, puzzled and forlorn, as if only her outer shell was kept upright while her ego imploded. With the remains of what was left in her, she squeezed out from between tight lips, “When you lifted me up in Act two, I had a horrible vision and now… and now I daren’t go up again for fear it returns.” She broke, shivering and sweaty. The helplessness in her violet eyes made the young dancer suppress an urge to draw her close to him, to comfort her, shoo the ghosts away but instead he let his arms hang limp by his sides. Silence returned.
“Let me get you some water.” Boras shot into action, already at the windowsill where her water bottle stood. Regaining his posture, he turned to face her, “Let’s take a break, okay?” Slowly, on unsteady feet she came over to him to take the bottle. It struck him how thin and white she looked. Too thin, too white. But she seated herself in the broad windowsill with her usual flair, elegant and poised. Boras followed her example, placing himself opposite her. Jenna’s forehead, always so calm and smooth with the perfectly arched eyebrows, now had a crumpled look as she rested her cheek against the cool glass of the window. The last rays of the sun shone on the crown of her head, giving her golden hair an even more ethereal glow. The violet eyes with the dark lashes, one of her absolute attractions, avoided Boras’s concerned gaze. He took a gulp from his own bottle, deciding to give her time to tell him what she wanted to share with him; if she wanted to share anything, which was an altogether unsure thing with this Dutch girl. She was the biggest puzzle he’d ever met, a heavenly dancer but as tight-lipped as a sealed bag. Staring out of the window, he waited, absently taking in the pedestrians on the pavement, and suddenly missing home with such an aching pain it made his chest constrict.
“I had the weirdest sensation when you lifted me up in Act two.” Jenna repeated. Her voice was soft, with a hesitant touch, very unlike the usually imperative voice the dame of modern dance. Another silence fell. When she didn’t continue, Boras shook himself from staring down at the strangers in the street, and hiding his own pain, he faced his dance partner again. Her eyes were on him now, those mesmerizing, unknowable eyes, sometimes half-inviting, almost friendly and then inexplicably reverting to that shut-in, concentrated look that didn’t seem to notice the outward world, hard as amethyst marbles. But what he now saw in Jenna’s eyes unsettled him more than the sudden mood swings he’d encountered before. A haunting, deep fear as if she was staring down a ravine, expecting to be pushed over the edge at the next breath. He was at a loss how to react, what to do or say. It wasn’t in Boras’s timid nature to probe and Jenna had so far cut off any familiarities between them, so he sat still and waited. In his dark eyes was a friendly look as if to encourage her to unburden herself, the onset of a kind smile at the corners of his closed lips. It took a long time before Jenna continued to speak.
“The moment you lifted me, it was as if my feet stood in a pool of blood, and as I went up in the air the blood went up with me, it clung to my soles. My feet were connected to the pool of blood as if to a huge membrane. When you put me down, I was still standing in that red membrane. The image wouldn’t go away. It was so frightening because it seemed very real, very real blood. I tried to concentrate with everything in me to make it go away, tell myself it couldn’t be real. Then it slowly disappeared, sinking into the floor. Still I just didn’t dare do another lift after that. What if it would return?” She shot him a quick glance and then averted her eyes. Her hands were folded tight around her knees, the knuckles white from the tightness of her grip. Boras blinked, even more at a loss now how to react to this sudden poignant revelation.
All they really knew about each other was their shared passion for dance. And the few facts their Madison teachers, Angelica Maradona and Claus Birkenbach, had announced when introducing the ten international dancers they had hand-picked for this exclusive ballet course. So he knew her posh name, 23 years old, modern dancer from the Rotterdam School for Music and Dance, several years of professional stage experience, invited to New York to extend her repertoire with classical ballet. In his turn, Boras had been introduced as a devoted folk dancer in his home village at the tender age of four, discovered hip-hop at fifteen and trained at the Hip Hop Dance School in Istanbul for two years, then street dancer, no international experience but due to an amazing feeling for classical music and, according to former teachers at the very top of breaking, locking and popping, had showed enough originality, determination and flexibility to attract international acclaim. Boras had been greatly impressed by this Dutch star dancer, whom was whispered could well become the second Isadora Duncan. Besides, the aloof girl had the looks of a film star. He had been flattered, yet surprised Jenna had chosen him as her partner on that first rainy Monday morning of his New York adventure, stating in her off-hand manner, “You look like the only one with the bit of a body. Let’s see where it takes us. Different disciplines fascinate me. I might like to learn some hip-hop from you.”
But it hadn’t been their different dance backgrounds that drew Jenna and Boras together like bees to sticky lemonade. They immediately descried in each other that craving for the intense, wordless communication that makes two dancers move as one. The vibrant energy of their performance drew all eyes to them. They were a pair of extraordinary beauty, the tall strong dark male and the very slender blond girl. Their dance evoked the archetypal human longing for the sublime. In their continuous search for the perfect dance dialogue, they found the source from which to slake their thirsty souls, their own and that of the audience. Both being intelligent and flexible dancers meant they absorbed the new information seamlessly. Though Jenna was slightly quicker than Boras, his in-born male authority to lead his partner ensured she only had to give him hints but never had to take the lead. They practiced without missing one day, long hours from dawn till dusk but during all the hundreds of hours of classes and rehearsals they never exchanged anything personal. A simple goodbye when the glass-panelled door of the ballet school shut behind them and they each went their separate ways. Jenna to her exclusive apartment on Grove Street and Boras to his modest digs, which he shared with other Madison students a little further down 6th Avenue.
When the late afternoon sun sunk too low to even bathe Greenwich Village with its golden rays, darkening the windows of the Madison Ballet School, the two young dancers still sat wordlessly in the windowsill of the rented studio. So far, the silence between them hadn’t been tense, used as they were to only communicate skin-to-skin and uttering short, technical term, once more this arasbesque, now jeté entrelacé, that pirouette should be longer, count for heaven’s sake: un, deux, trois, quatre! But now sitting apart with time ticking on, a new distance set in and words were desperately needed. Words both of them weren’t familiar with. Boras keenly felt he was the one to break the ice as a reaction to Jenna’s earlier confidentiality. He sought for words all the time, cursing his empty brain. Then he heard the kind voice of his grandmotherly whisper in his ear. Be honest, talk from the heart. He took heart. Damn her superiority!
“I don’t know what to say about your vision, Jenna. It sounds awful. Do you have any idea where it came from?” Jenna shook herself from her trance-like posture. Her expressive eyes darted to his face. From the way she slowly shook her head, Boras saw she was suppressing something. Thank you, Babaanne, for making me trust my intuition again. He had to smile.
“We know nothing about each other. Only that I come from Istanbul and you from Amsterdam and that we both love to dance. Perhaps you can tell me a little about your background?” Jenna shook her head again but he could see it was harder now to suppress the volcanic emotions inside. He saw her eyes grow moist, which she tried to hide by quickly wiping the back of her hand across her eyes. A deep sigh followed.
“I thought I had really left all this shit behind. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am now. I really, really don’t want to go back to the shit of the past. That’s over and done with.” Another silence. The tension was now palpable. There was so much anger and despair in Jenna’s words and also a deep longing to live only in the present, for the present. Boras had no idea what pain lay beneath these utterings but his Babaanne would have told him it was too big to be ignored.
“I know it may be totally off the mark but sometimes it is not by will that we can let the past be the past. If there’s something we have to clear up, life has a way of checking up on us.” Jenna’s fiery eyes shot him another glance. She seemed to weigh his words, then shrugged. She looked away.
“I guess so, but I won’t let that happen to me if I can help it.” Energetically she jumped off the windowsill and walked over to the stereo. “Come on. Let’s try the lift one last time. Tombe, pas de bourree, glissade, lift.” She pressed the start button and Tchaikovsky’s violins once again occupied the room. Walking to the centre of the wooden floor, she took up her position. Then Boras understood. At this moment in time Jenna could only communicate with him through her dance. He also let himself glide to the ground. With all his kindness, he honestly hoped she would make it, that she would reach the goal she worked for with all her might: dance this pas-de-deux for their teachers on Tuesday and get her certificate. Then face the future from there.
As far as he could see, Jenna lived to dance. To dance only for this moment. Outside this dance, the future was but a blurry affair. Something or someone had made her this way and she believed she protected herself by keeping it this way. Paradoxically, the hidden trauma created the sublimity of her. She danced as if tomorrow might never arrive. For today, this tieless girl had tied herself to him, Boras Mardin, not because he was another human being to bond with, but as a means to an end unknown to her. He too, had no idea what would happen to them after Tuesday. Would Jenna decide to do the choreographer’s course at Madison’s? Would she return to Amsterdam? The world was at Jenna Kroon’s feet. At 23, she could dance with any modern group in the world but headstrong as she was she had given her career another turn, deciding she’d shine in a leading role in Giselle and Swan Lake. Well, he was equally ambitious and would do anything to reach the top alongside Jenna Kroon de Coligny. Both their names in neon letters on the Bolshoi Theatre and the Met. But there had been no promises, no attachments and if he knew anything about his dance partner, it was that she was as volatile as water vapour. He, who would try to tie her down, would lose her. Perhaps only the world’s powerful dance master was capable of managing Madam Jenna. And Boras certainly wasn’t that person. He willingly adapted himself to play his insignificant role on the fringe of Jenna’s life.
They danced their pas-de-deux including all the difficult lifts without further problems. Jenna seemed to have recovered from her lapse, the only visible difference being the beads of sweat on her forehead and a crimson spot spreading on her neck. When they decided to call it a day, she switched off the stereo with a decisive turn and picking up her bag, left the room with a short:
“Tomorrow morning at eight?”
“Okay,” Boras replied to her back, quickly grabbing his stuff and switching off the lights. While he locked the door behind him, Jenna was already at the end of the corridor, not waiting for him to go down the stairs together. Boras shrugged his shoulders. She may not be the friendliest of partners but she was a damn good one. If he had any chance to pass the exam, it was with her. Unless, of course, she would let him down with that lift. No thinking of that now!