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Thank you to Indigo Spider’s Sunday Picture Press for the inspiring prompts. I appreciate the hard work that goes into this and am glad when I have time to participate. Thank you for giving many of us the opportunity to take part in these writing pleasures! I have chosen the picture below to write my story.

Visual Prompt 2 — Untitled by Imke Rusk (http://imkerust.com/)

SURVIVAL STRETCH

Helmut positioned his seasoned body and crouched, yoga-like, into himself as he folded his knees into his upper trunk. One arm he tucked under his chest, the other he stretched and wrapped around the back of his head, cradling it while extending it beyond the space that was his body. The ridge of each vertebrae stretched to the point of relief. He felt the slight arch as he lay, frozen in time, remembering a different life, a time before he knew this survival stretch.

His old fingers felt young again as his mind touched the black and white, the ebony and ivory of his piano. His eyes closed and memory began to play his composition. Melody, chorus, melody, chorus, change up, chorus, melody. He felt the audience lean forward in unison, engulfed in his creation, drawn in by the emotion of his piece.  The burning inside, the intense fervor for his music carried him and embraced his being as his passion intensified, kindling his movements. Always, he felt honored at their standing ovations, at the sense of accomplishment he felt knowing they were at one with him in their appreciation of his work.

Slowly, Helmut disentangled his body from his survival stretch. He was still grateful, all these years later for the empowerment his stretch gave him, for the good memories it was able to bring up, for the ability to hold on to the richness of life he and his family had known at one time in his beloved Germany.  It had been a country of his people, Jews like him with a passion for the arts, an intensity for life itself.

He thought of his father, a talented doctor who often gave his time to those of his kind, his own, while maintaining a prosperous practice. And his mother, ahh, his mother…a beautiful and talented musician in her own right who had nurtured his love for composing and his ability as a pianist. How eternally grateful he was for them. Dachau may have taken their bodies but he would make sure their memories, their souls, lived on.

Helmut checked the calendar on his desk for the date of his next lecture. Chicago, next week, Tuesday. How many lectures had he given? How many schools had he visited? How many questions had he answered? Never enough. Never. Never must they forget.

He smiled as his talented pianist fingers, worn and wrinkled, picked up the picture of his family, taken years ago.  He, his wife and their three children. This wasn’t just a picture. It was a celebration of survival. He and his wife had, miraculously, made it beyond Auschwitz. Their three children were now carrying their family history as part of who they were. They would spread it forward to their children, too. Helmut’s mother’s vivid brown eyes were now being worn by both of his daughters and their musical ability was her gift passed to them. His son walked exactly like his father and his affinity for medicine was a testament of what one can be given.

The piano in the corner of his living room stood ready, beckoning him to sit and touch the lovely keys, no longer made of ivory and ebony, but of plastic. An elephant somewhere was lifting its trunk in approval of the change.

Helmut, too, lifted his trunk, straightened his head, and walked to his piano, in approval of the life he had lived and the choices he had made. Sitting down, he touched different parts of his piano, then closing his eyes, he let his fingers work magic until his ears tingled with pleasure.

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