Frank Benner
piano technician

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A Piano in the Garden

The piano music floated in through the open doors.
The fingers of Rebecca's mother were dancing on the black and white keys.
Ruth listened quietly on the terrace of the big house. Only at Rebecca's house she could still hear music, everywhere else in the sjtetl was without.
For some time people with a star have not been allowed to have a radio.

Are you not coming in?
Ruth stepped in to where the piano was.
Rebecca's mother was playing the same song her memme sang when she was sad.
Was Mrs Rosenfeld feeling sad?
You can sing along, she said.
But Ruth stayed silent.
She rather listened to the music.
Ruuuth? Ruuuth?
Rebecca's voice was sounding out over everything.

All of a sudden Ruth forgot the piano and ran through the kitchen and the garden to the sawmill.
She knew exactly how to find Rebecca because she was at the Rosenfeld's very often.
The schools were closed and every day she could play with Rebecca now.
At the last tree she came to a halt.
It was very quiet in the sawmill.
She could not hear any machine, she did not see any wood or planks.
"Rebecca?" She asked in a shaky voice. "Rebecca where are you?"
Cautiously she entered the great building.
The storage was completely empty.

Rebecca sat in the middle of a stack of wood-shavings.

They took everything, she said.
Yesterday evening. On big trucks.
Men in uniforms with high boots.
Boots, boots, boots, the wall were echoing.
Ruth shrinked.
Is this war? She thought.
Yellow stars, no radio's, not being able to play hide and seek.
My peppe will buy new machines, Rebecca went on.
He says Jewish people will never give up.
They will always start again.
Ruth silently turned the wood-shavings around her finger.
She did not understand the things Rebecca told her about the Jewish people.
Why were things changing every day at the sjtetl?
Suddenly she longed for memmes soft arms.

from: Een Piano in de tuin by Katrien Seynaeve 1995 published by Altiora Averbode

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