In response to photo-fiction #31
It was Fur Elise we heard, as we hid in the woods.It was the song Nan had played on the old baby grand. To get us to sleep, or to be quiet when Mama had reached the end of her wit and Papa was not there to quell us with his stern expression.
We had listened to her play the night the men had come. Stopping abruptly the music and the spell of sweet Nan, who smelled like peppermint and her tincture for her fingers and old age. Stopped it with shouting in their harsh voices, the splintering of wood as the door frame shattered beneath their boots and the wailing of an old woman, and the arguing of an old man. A ruckus made only to allow Mama to herd us all out the kitchen, across the way and to Papa, the Rabbi and the family who gave our kind shelter.
We heard Fur Elise in the forest three weeks later, as we tried to reach the border in stealth. To escape the concentration camps, the mustard gas, the manifestations of the Fuhrer’s hatred. Six of us, listening almost dreamlike to the sound of a piano in the middle of the forest.
The smallest among us ran to the sound, looking maybe for Nan. It was a man he found instead, one of them. The same one that had ripped our life apart with a heavy boot to our front door. He never stopped playing, even as we skidded to a halt before him, as our hearts stopped and we each said our own version of the benediction. Each saying in our own way, goodbye to this life. He did not stop, his masterful hands gliding gently over the keys, until he was finished, and all that was left to temper the ear was the sound of my mother weeping.
“I am sorry.” He turned to us, he too was in tears. Tired and sadness carved deep in the lines of his face, he let us go.