Originally entitled "The Gift"
By Brad Weisman (sometime in 2011)
Footsteps outside. Racing footsteps. “They’re here! They’re coming! I can hear them!” He faced the terror-stricken messenger of this news – news that boded nothing but evil. “So?”, he said, raising a aged, frail hand and placing it on the young man’s shoulder. “I have nothing to fear, for I am old. I have lived. I will not run, I will not hide.” The soldier shook his head in frustration and disbelief. “Old man, are you deaf? Can’t you hear the tanks, the bombers? They’re coming! Are you mad? I have others to warn.”
The man turned around half-dejectedly, and picked up pace, carrying his message of impending doom to others. The old man watched him. He turned around slowly, for he was of the aged, the bearers of a hoary crown. He shut the door. It was an old door, handmade by his own hands when they were much stronger. He fondly ran his hand over the old, peeling, paint. He turned and climbed the stairs to his high apartment, soaking in every step, every glance, every smooth, worn tread, every inch of railing polished bright by hands over the years. It was his last trip up these stairs. He knew well what was happening. it had happened at last, the razing of Warsaw, the deadly blitzkrieg. He reached his apartment, turned the tarnished key in the lock, and with a shaking hand, closed the door. He looked around at his beautiful home of nigh five decades. He gazed, through tears, at the many photos of his achievements and triumphs. That concert in the Staatsoper, this oratorio in St. pauls, those sonatas in Berlin. Those happy, peaceful days were over forever.
The droning of the tanks, the booms, the distant screams of people being burned and blown apart, reached his ears.
It was time.
He picked up his sweetheart, his friend, his love; his violin, well worn with 80 years of expert playing. He picked it up. His arthritic fingers softened as they closed around the instrument. He raised the violin to his shoulder and placed the bow on the strings. He began.
It was time for the final gift, his gift to this worn, broken, worthless world.
Music, such as had never been heard before. No composer could have written such magic, beauty, and love, into a single piece, not even if he worked for a thousand years.
People outside, fleeing into their shelters, paused in the streets momentarily to hear the flowing music. The birds stopped fluttering, and paused, listening. It almost seemed as though the planes’ cacophony was drowned out by the final gift of this dying Orpheus.
The boom and crash of the bombs grew closer, ever closer. He played on, ever on, more brilliantly, more scintillating. Now the explosions and crashes were upon him. He played so scintillatingly bright and beautiful that no sort of time or space could contain that beauty; he had earned his place among the stars, even among the gods, by this exquisiteness.
At that moment, a spirit left a body, and a violin. They rose towards heaven, and now the music could not be contained by sound, for the music was his spirit.
The master had given his final gift to this ungrateful, harsh world, and had gone above to play before the Great Master.