3 October 2014

Published October 1, 2014 by rochellewisoff

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The following photo is the prompt. Does it speak to you? What does it say? 

My story follows the photo and the blue froggy fella. Comments and suggestions appreciated.

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Copyright-Kent Bonham

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Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100

REQUIEM IN C MINOR

            “You must practice an hour a day,” said Mama. “People will come from miles around to hear you play. You have a gift.”

            “I hate the violin,” I yelled. “I don’t want to be a musician.”

            Once Mama made up her mind she only heard what she wanted to hear.

            What choice did I have? I was only six.

            Eight years later Mama’s prediction came true. People came from miles around to hear me play. My music was the last thing they heard on their way to the gas chambers.

            Sweet music, the only color in Theriesenstadt, saved my life.

Author’s note for those who may ask  how I arrived at this.

At first glance, this photo said nothing to me other than, “Yuck. Where’s the story in this and why did I choose it for a prompt?” At second glance I thought ‘dead bird.’ Nah. Trashed lollipop? Okay, forget about the articles, what about color? I didn’t see much of that. My mind went to the Holocaust, a part of history I think of in shades of gray. (Not the racy novel 😉 ) Next, Terezin, a town in Czechoslovakia that was turned into a ghetto and renamed Theriesenstadt came to mind. There the Nazis made a propaganda film to show the outside world their kind treatment of the Jews, when, in reality, it was a holding place on the road to extermination for most. My research path ultimately inspired me to write REQUIEM IN C MINOR. Thank you for reading.

Shalom,

Rochelle

116 comments on “3 October 2014

  • Ah, it’s a bird feather. At first glance I thought it was some sort of strange tribal spoon. Anyway, good story Rochelle, with a sad twist at the end. I shall use the rest of the day to ponder on the picture I thinks!

    Like

    • Dear Liz,

      As a Jewish person, one generation removed from the Holocaust, I’d answer that with a resounding yes. I grew up under the grey cloud of it. Even more affected are the children of survivors.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Lovely story Rochelle, all these poor kids trying to survive, seeing all the horror around them, instead of playing and making plans for the future, but at least this one in your story was saved by the music.

    Like

    • Dear Elizabeth,

      At the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem there is an incredible exhibit. It’s a room that is lit with candles and the walls are line with mirrors. As you walk through a recording of voices reciting the names of the children who perished is played overhead. I weep when I think about it. So many cut off in childhood. What kind of monsters can do this?

      At least there were survivors, particularly these amazing musicians.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Really moving story Rochelle, and beautifully written. We never know where music will lead us.
    And I have no idea what that thing is, so hopefully we’re all allowed to let our thoughts wander this week.
    Claire

    Like

  • We have a Swedish opera singer who did music by some of the composers of Teresenstadt, Ann-Sofie Von Otter.. After listening to that I wrote a FF story I think. Such personal stories you get from that one… I will have to think about this story a while..

    Like

    • Dear Björn,

      There was some incredible music to come out of Theriesenstadt, wasn’t there? There are so many stories from the Holocaust. Amazing that anyone lived to tell about it. It hurts to see those voices dying off and their plight being forgotten.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • A horrible time that, alas, has been replayed to varying degrees all around the globe. I hope one day we look back on this with disbelief. As it is, atrocities are still happening with no end in sight and we take it as a matter of course. Wonderful but disturbing take on this difficult prompt.

    Like

  • Peace and light to you Rochelle.

    A terrible period – revisited in mind, research and memory – powerfully written and evocative – and certainly a prod in the minds as we watch, yet still – at the terrible and horrific tragedies unfolding today – globally. History is such a narcissist.

    Shalom

    Pat

    Like

    • Dear Pat,

      History has certainly produced some card carrying, self entitled narcissists, hasn’t it? Hitler’s neither the first nor the last, but certainly the most well documented. The savagery is unbelievable and those who dare to say it never happened are doomed to see it happen again…perhaps to them.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • I find everything about the holocaust impossible to comprehend and all the more terrifying for it. One element that brings it to a universal understanding is the undividual fickleness of fate – the fact that a simple choice like whether to learn music, could save a person’s life years down the line. That’s what I take from your story, and from so much that I see / read about the Holocaust. It is too big a topic to comprehend en masse, but individual stories make it real.
    Hope that makes sense.

    Like

    • Dear Jennifer,

      You make perfect sense. I’ve heard and read so many of these stories. It boggles my mind what a person can survive. (And millions didn’t).
      I suppose I come back to this subject often because it was so ingrained in me growing up. It as the elephant in the room. Many relatives perished. When I look at photos from that era I see faces with familiar features that could very well be related to me.
      At any rate, thank you for your comments. I take them as compliments.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • That’s powerful, Rochelle. I think no artist wants anyone to visit them for such a reason. A cruel fate for the protagonist. It’s one more of the macabre things the Nazis did. Excellent as always, Rochelle.

    Like

    • Dear Eric,

      Of all the camps and ghettos I think Theriesenstadt could be the most macabre. It was there that the Nazis staged a propaganda film to satisfy the American Red Cross that the Jews were being treated humanely.

      These stories touch my heart and anger me to no end.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Amy,

      I’ve watched that video several times. Alice, the pianist, I believe, passed away this year at the age of 110.

      Unfortunately these survivors are passing on, making it to easy to forget.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • That took my breath away. Such a powerful, powerful story — it moved me deeply!
    I have always been astounded by the very presence of a Theresienstadt , one of the more macabre and ironically cruel Nazi camps. The fact that music and art were allowed, even encouraged in that way blows my mind. Even more astonishing was the fact that the Nazi guards would sometimes thank the performers for the music.
    Have your read “A Century of Wisdom: Lessons from the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer?”
    I recommend it. Also, see if you can watch the Oscar-winning documentary “The Lady in No. 6” — it’s about her music, her piano-playing in Theresienstadt. She is my heroine. I want to be like her.

    Like

    • Dear Vijaya,

      Alice is a great heroine to have. She maintained a loving, positive attitude until she passed at 110 years of age. Amazing lady. I will have to look for that book. I haven’t read it, nor have I seen the film…yet.

      Thank you for your powerful compliments. I can’t ask for better.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Rochelle, this is truly one of the best yet. I too saw those things you mentioned (have yet to look/get past the fuzzy lollipop, actually 🙂 ) but your story is inspirational and so very true. Well done.

    Like

  • bravo on creating such a deep and moving story with a photo of what looks like a hairy animal lollipop. but then you’re always great at seeing past the surface and thinking outside the box.

    Like

  • As always, your historical fiction holds so much meaning and emotional content. I loved the video you added. I’m currently in a rehab center getting physical therapy to get back on my feet (or at least back on my cane) after surgery. When they play jazz in the therapy room I so do much better! Music is life, and the musicians in the video are truly inspiring,

    Like

      • Dear Jan,

        I wondered what happened to you. I miss your stellar writing and really am happy to see you here even if it’s only to comment. Hope you’re on the mend.

        You, of all people, know the healing virtue and power of music. I’m pleased you enjoyed both the video and my story. Those people in the film are amazing, aren’t they?

        Thank you.

        Shalom,

        Rochelle

        Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    I took music lessons once and enjoyed it, but my teacher didn’t. She threatened to kill me on several occasions. My parents sent me to a music camp and then moved. My teacher ended up dying from an infection she got in her busted eardrum and I had to give up music. Not quite like your story but someone’s got to keep things light around here. Didn’t you get the memo about that?

    Your story was stellar, as usual, and serves to reinforce the lesson that each day is precious (and study hard in music class as you’ll never know when it will come in handy). Well done.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Like

    • Dear Doug,

      I’m so sorry to hear about your music teacher. Did your parents leave a forwarding address? Y’know this explains a lot.

      Life is precious and so are friends who fill it with song.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Wow, I wasn’t expecting that ending, I was trying to think of which famous violinist it would turn out to be. I should have realised that one of your stories wouldn’t be quite so mundane.
    Great story and thanks for the explanation of your thought process.

    Like

    • Dear Ali,

      I suppose I could’ve gone that direction. 😉 Thank you for such nice comments. Happy to share the process. Sometimes I’m not even sure how I arrived at a particular story.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Very well written Rochelle. And, We had the same initial reaction seeing the prompt only that I was pretty much more clueless than you 😀 (still am 😉 ) Honestly, I am enjoying posts on this prompt more 🙂 Keep up the good work. Best Wishes.

    Like

  • That story is brutal right there at the end. Well done.

    I also liked your analysis of how you got to this story – working with the colours in the picture to derive the themes of the story was interesting.

    Cheers
    KT

    Like

    • Dear KT,

      One of my greatest and guiltiest pleasures of the Friday Fictioneers challenge is to find an obscure piece of the prompt and turn it into a story. It doesn’t always happen this way for me but when it does, I love getting asked “How in the world…?”

      As for my story, brutality begets brutality.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Enjoyed your story … so sad and poignant but the odyssey of how you came to your story from the first look at the photography until inspiration was a great story in itself. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  • I’m speechless. So much in so few words. Such a brilliantly written but heart-wrenching piece. To think of all the gifted people who were exterminated in the gas chambers, yet still today atrocities are happening all around the world, which brings to mind the song “Where have all the flowers gone?” and the chorus of “when will they ever learn?”

    Like

    • Dear Patrick,

      I’m amazed and appalled at what people are capable of. All one has to do is watch the news to know that we’ve learned nothing from history. Thank you for reading, watching and commenting.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Dear Farrah,
    I know this is a stretch, but when I read your story I thought of the old Merle Haggard song “Sing Me Back Home Before I Die.” A lot of us are like Mama. We hear only what we want to hear.

    Like

    • Dear Russell,

      Hm. I may have to check out the song. And we are indeed like Mama. Although in this case I’m sure her child was glad she never took no for an answer.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Shalom,

      Farrah

      Like

    • Dear Marg,

      One of the things that keeps playing over and over for me as I get older and so much of my past is in the history books is the humanity of history. I like to put faces on it for myself as well as for others. Hope that made sense.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Rochelle,
    Great story and a wonderful photo prompt this week. I also thoroughly enjoyed your author’s note at the end. I often find it fascinating to learn how writers come up with their stories.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

    Like

    • Dear Marie Gail,

      My own process sometimes takes me by surprise. 😉 Melete is a capricious little muse at best and leads me in unexpected directions. Gotta love the ride as much as the destination.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Hi Rochelle,

    Very touching story. The little musician reminds me of my neice and nephew, both of which are learning to play violin. The connection to that horrible period of history puts an interesting color on that instrument choice.

    Take care, and as always, thanks for hosting this.
    Emilie

    Like

    • Dear Emilie,

      My story was written before I even noticed the image of the little boy with the violin at the end of the film clip. My instrument choice stems from the fact that violin is my favorite.

      Hosting Friday Fictioneers is one of my greatest passions.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Great story, Rochelle. There’s always a story in everything. I had trouble, too coming up with a story. But it did come. I did the lollypop. 🙂 It was my nickname in school.

    Lily

    Like

  • When I think of such horrors – happening differently, but still today…seems hopeless. I’ve read of these musicians. Can’t imagine reaching deep or far enough to find such determination. We give what we can and they gave a true gift.
    Thoughtfully written piece, Rochelle.
    Ellespeth

    Like

  • Thanks for the explanation of how you got to your story. I hadn’t noticed the absence of colour in Kent’s photo and went with the shape.
    As usual the characters in your story are so full and strong. It is bitter sweet that something the child fought against became the thing that saved them. Very well told and emotive.

    Like

    • Dear Sarah Ann,

      A friend pointed out to me that there are some flecks of color in the pavement. Nonetheless it looked monochromatic to me…all grey.

      Of course the struggle between the child and his mother is from my imagination. But it is a commonality. I wonder how many famous musicians fought the lessons only to find a passion? In this instance what the child found was salvation through music.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Dear Rochelle,

    This reminds me a nurse’s aid, who spend the afternoon with an elderly female patient in a nursing home. The aid spent extra time washing and fixing the woman’s hair and dressed her in one of her best dresses. Much later the same day, she peacefully died dressed for the occasion.
    I know your story is a bit more sad, but it made me think of the last gift before one is forever gone.

    Like

  • Dear Rochelle, you always surprise me and for good. What a way to look at a pic and come up with so great tale. I am still figuring what is it. You always think something different. I learn something as always. Thanks.

    Like

    • Dear Indira,

      I never bothered myself with what it is. Kent doesn’t even know and he snapped the photo. I thought it would be a good one to force people to use their imaginations. Judging from the stories this week, I’d say my plan worked.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • It’s as fascinating to learn the journey of the writer to the story as the story itself. As for your story, I saw a film (movie) recently with Vanessa Redgrave about death camp musicians. It beggars belief, the Holocaust. Yet here we are in the midst of more. When WILL we ever learn?

    Like

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