The summer had finally arrived. Now, Peter’s freezing cold attic was stifling hot. He struggled to open his small window, as a horse neighed quietly in the pasture nearby. Then he picked up the opened package he’d received from his mother several months ago. Inside the box were chocolates that had melted into their wrappers, sheet music, and a letter.
He licked a bit of chocolate left in a corner of a wrapper and read the letter again: Dear Peter, Baby Lilly and I miss you and Becca so much, but I am so grateful you are safe in England, even if you aren’t together. Things here seem to be getting worse, but I know if we wait it out, someone will do something, and things will eventually improve and we will be able to join you. Hopefully, we can be together again soon. Please ﬁnd Becca and play your beautiful music. No matter what happens, I will love you forever. Mutti.
“No matter what happens,” Peter repeated to himself, as he took one of his new sheets of music and spread it on his thin dirty mattress. The song was called “God Save the King,” Britain’s national anthem.
He studied the music, memorizing the notes. His fingers moved in the air to make the soundless tune that only he could hear inside his head.
He blew the dust off his violin, and, carefully, pulled it out of the case. He wiggled his fingers and grabbed the bow, holding it poised in the air and hesitating. Then, he played a few notes.
His blistered fingers fumbled on the strings. Mad that his fingers could no longer summon the melody, he gripped the bow and intentionally made the screeching strings howl like a lonely wolf. The startled horses in the field neighed loudly and bolted wildly, frightened by the violin’s harsh, reverberating sound.
Peter’s fingers were thick and slow, and their dance of music was gone, sucked into the chores of a farmhand. His angry music scared horses. His beautiful melodies had been reduced to the terrifying wolf sounds his mother used to hate.
He hung his head and gently put the violin back in its case, like a dead body in a casket.
He looked at his hands, turning them over. “I am a butcher,” he said to himself.
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