Two girls sat on the stone balcony railing which was all that was left of the upper floor of the old house. The weeds and bushes were cleared, leaving a dewy garden smelling of climbing roses and fresh Autumn grass. Though it was evening, the low sun setting over the hills generated a golden pathway of radiant light streaming over fields and seeming to rest on the site where the hosue had been. Tbe atmosphere was of a cooling world but still held those factors of July that are always there: grasshoppers singing in the grasses, birds singing in the trees, and additionally a trumpet and a flute singing on the breeze.
The trumpet's sound was full and round, though not overpowering the more delicate flute's harmonious pipe. Together the instruments blended and wove patterns, and the sound rose and filled and showered the hillside.
The notes of the piece were not difficult; it was difficult, impossible to most people, to capture the right feeling. It needed a strong, modest, clever and brilliant pair to work together in playing the extraordinarily wonderful music. And the two children were together strong, modest, clever and brilliant. They were best friends, which counted for the amazing requirement to play together as one; not for oneself, not for another, but together as one instrument strong enough to experience the music. They were also related, however distantly, which contributed to the connection between each other and the music; the pristine telepathic link that flowed through the music like lifeblood. Together Vienna and Carla suffered with the music, rejoiced with it, sympathised with it and expressed their inner beliefs and emotions with the music as their tool; not, not a tool, a guide.
They did not end the piece, for Carla was overcome with an overwhelming inclination to cry. She did not break down, yet the lump swelling in her throat made it impossible to play, and she trailed off after a heart-rending trill played by Vienna.
Vienna stopped at once as if she were prepared for that breakdown.
"Are you alright?" she inquired anxiously, and a very vigilant listener might have heard her suppress a catch in her own throat.
Carla wiped a drop from her cheek. "Yes," she whispered. "It was just too much for a moment." She gulped and took a sharp intake of breath.
Vienna sat there loyally, a hand on her friend's shoulder.
"I'm fine," insisted Carla as she streaked another tear across her cheek. "I was just playing and as I played I saw Ilsa knocked down by a falling beam of the old house, perhaps right here where I'm sitting. The trill is where it is hovering over her, then it falls and she is broken."
Carla began to cry and choked the tears back angrily. She didn't know why, but this wasthe type of place where music truly touched her heart.
"I'm fine," she persisted.
Vienna said nothing, but she offered her friend a tissue.
"I felt it too," she said very softly in a steady voice. I saw it. Ilsa and the fire and the beam. The music tells the story. It's built into the music, even though it was composed years before it happened."
"Then it isn't my imagination?" Carla gaped incredulously, tears forgotten in suprise.
"If it is then it's both of our imaginations," Vienna replied gravely.
Carla stared speechlessly, her eyes dry.
"Poor Ilsa," she croaked finally.
Vienna nodded. She gazed into the July sunset, wondering if in composing the piece of music, Heinrich Eichmann had unconsciously sealed his and his wife's fate.
"I'm sorry I was horrible to you," Carla said distractedly.
Vienna pushed her thoughts away. "When?"
"When I first met you. I thought you put on more airs than anyone I'd ever met and I wouldn't be friendly with you for the world."
Vienna smiled a watery smile. "I liked you as soon as I saw you. I thought at once, 'I want to be Carla's friend.' But I saw you could have any friend you liked just with a comment or a smile. And I didn't want to spoil you. I didn't want to make you think that you can always get friends. I wanted to be a real friend to you, and not just someone you were friendly with. Or else I wanted to challenge you to be friends with me, which you resented, and it didn't work out for me at all. I wanted to be your friend so badly I couldn't let myself be nice to you. That sounds odd, I know."
"I know what you mean," Carla encouraged. "Vanity on my part, I think. I shouldn't just be friendly with people for the sake of it and I know it. It's all for my own ends anyway. I should actually take the trouble to know the people I'm friendly with. I'm no good at that, unfortunately. Mum was the same. It's Rosie who takes the trouble to look at everyone and analyse everything about them, and yet she doesn't find it as easy to be friendly to everyone as I do. You can't have everything, I guess. I think I'd prefer to be like Rosie, to be honest."
"That's okay. You're you, and that's the important thing," Vienna heartened. "It sounds quite silly really: you hated me because I wouldn't respond to your charm, and I like you took much to do so."
"I didn't really hate you," Carla said. "Not really."
They laughed weakly.
"You know," Carla said slowly, "a long time ago Jess and Rosie said something about you birtday party last year. I was wondering..."
"I only invited you, Rosetta and Jessica," Vienna admitted. "It was after Alice moved. Poor loyal Alice, I do miss her. I was hoping you'd read the invitation. I wrote that it was only the four of us, but they said that nothing would persuade you to read it."
Carla blushed. "They said that you said something, but I refused to listen to them. Was it important?"
"I said, 'Quaver is my friend.' 'I wish', I said. I wanted to see how they reacted, and I hoped they'd pass on the message to you. Of course, I knew about the shed and the sale and the keys and your nicknames, because I'd been spying on you for ages. I'm sorry about that, by the way. But I wanted to get to know you. Rosie and Jess's faces were pictures! I quickly said I meant music, as I was showing them my flute, but they were startled and I'm sure Rosie knew what I meant straight away."
Carla chuckled. "I bet they were confused as to how you knew so much."
"Rosie guessed how. She could figure out anything, I should think. She doesn't have to look closely at things; she just knows."
"She's always been like that. Both her parents can read her mind, which isn't too enviable - I'd hate it! I suppose that's where she gets her insight from." Carla smiled uncomfortably.
Vienna was silent for a moment.
"I stole a flute and a letter this time last year."
"From here. I came here and nosed around, just out of interest. I found Heinrich Eichmann's flute - at least I suppose it was his - and a letter. I took them."
"That's what you were talking about that time in the shed in September," concluded Carla. "It didn't bother me at the time but later I wondered what on earth you meant. But they were on your land, I suppose."
"I didn't know that then. I also found the old name-plate of the house. That's how I knew where my house was. It was called Das Flotenhaus, and when it's rebuilt that what it will be called. The flute sounded lovely after I cleaned it up." She hesitated. "I have the letter here," Vienna said shyly, pulling an old piece of paper from her pocket.
Carla took it almost reverently, mindful of its extreme age, and read it with a deepening frown.
"You're the baby," she said gravely, so gravely that whenever she looked back in the future she erupted in an overflow of mirthful giggles.
"No, I'm not. The rumour was invented, made up. There was no other dark-haired woman in the ward. Mum remembers clearly being the only one who wasn't blonde. Secondly, I was a very small baby. Thirdly, Mum was never in danger. She was in hospital for a few days before, then had me and went home the next morning. Unless this Synnove Cederberg got the hair fact wrong. That woman caused a lot of trouble."
"But if she hadn't she wouldn't have this house."
"No; Mum would! It's one and the same. She told me that Ilsa and Heinrich promised to bequeath her most of their possessions in their will, but as she never heard from anyone, she supposed that they had changed their will, if they had died, of course. She was going to visit them in England she couldn't because of me, and they lost touch, she thought."
"Have you decided what to do with this place yet?" Carla wondered eagerly.
Carla's face fell. "What?"
"When we're older we're going to make it into a music school of course!" Vienna said.
Carla erupted into grins of joy. "I hoped you'd say that," she said.
"The building begins in September," Vienna explained. "I'm funding it from the money Heinrich and Ilsa left me. It's a lot, Carla. They must have been double millionaires and more, because the money is nearly half a million. We'll be helping discuss it all with the architect, who is a friend of Dad's. I want to keep it as close to the original plan as possible, and adding a wing on for the school part. We'd both have to live there, I think, and if we get married and have families we'll need more space, but that's in the future."
"Still, sometimes the future can be foretold," Carla said. "Music, for instance, tells the future."
"The unremembered memories in our minds," Vienna agreed. "Quite creepy really, but it's real alright. Ilsa Krause was composed five years before it came true. I don't expect Heinrich Eichmann knew it would actually come true. But if he was a musical genius as everyone says he was, he couldn't fail to feel it."
They picked up their instrument once again and began to play. Birds and grasshoppers silenced, hypnotised, and the sunset seemed to speed up. A cool breeze caught the air, carrying the music farther and farther over the hilltops, but it was all part of the fascinated scene absorbed in music. The scent of the roses bloomed and prospered and soon it was music and perfume cleansing the landscape. Flute, trumpet and rose; trill, horn and scent. The music foretold the future. But this time the future was not mystery and foreboding, but melodies and family and felicity. The music proclaimed everything in existence. And everything was joy.