Today's Reading

Tereza thrust her child into Donata's arms. "You take her, Donata," she gasped. "Take her to freedom. Keep her...from her father. Keep...her safe..."

"No!" cried Donata. "No, Reza! Not without you! Please, no..." But now the whimpering baby was in her arms, wrapped against her body, and she felt Pavel's strong arms dragging her through the fence. "Come!" he cried. "Get in the truck! You cannot help her now." A jagged barb tore her arm. As if caught in a nightmare, Donata heard more gunshots, a shout in Russian, the sharp barking of the dogs. She saw Tereza fall in slow motion to the riverbank. So still.

She felt Pavel push her into the truck, heard the gears grind as the wheels caught the road and the truck roared forward. Clutching her tiny goddaughter to her chest, Donata twisted to look out the window.

In the new darkness, the scene in the meadow was dreamlike. The air glowing purple and silver with ambient light. Three soldiers, standing frozen and black against the vast shimmering sky. Her best friend crumpled on the ground, one slender arm stretched toward the fence, her hair glinting like fire in the last of the light. The gray shawl, fallen beside her, was red with her blood.

And then the truck careened around a bend, and Reza was gone.


PART I
"MAGGIE"

"Like a shadow, like a dream... "
The Iliad, Homer

CHAPTER ONE
THE PRESENT—MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS, BOSTON
TUESDAY, APRIL 8

Maggie O'Shea's fingers flew over the piano keys, the final tumbling chords of Chopin's Heroic Polonaise soaring, filling the museum's high, glass-walled courtyard with the chords of its glorious coda. Too soon, the last notes echoed. Then silence.

She dropped her head, trying to breathe, her hands suddenly, achingly still. And then the applause began, rising to thunder in the lofty glassed space. Maggie opened her eyes and willed herself back to earth. Back to the beautiful Boston Museum of Fine Arts atrium. Night was falling, and she saw herself reflected in the tall windows, a slender black-haired woman in a tube of charcoal velvet.

Her eyes found the huge atrium's centerpiece—the forty-foot high lime-green Icicle Tower, the gorgeous blown glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly. Sometimes, when she played, an aurora of bright colors flew like silken ribbons across her mind. Sometimes the roof disappeared and she felt herself flying high into the star-filled sky. For darker pieces, she found herself wandering alone, lost in deep shadows. And sometimes she simply stepped into the music like a river and flowed with it. Felt it flow through her. Today, those lime-green glass crystals had tumbled through her head. What would Chopin have thought?

Amused, she took another breath to center herself once more in the here and now.

Maggie stood, turned to the audience, gave the slightest bow. Faces floated like cameos, light and dark, in front of her. Then the guests rose, surged toward her. She smiled, murmured thanks, clasped hands, answered their questions as honestly as she could. Yes, Chopin's Polonaise is one of my favorite pieces. No, I won't be soloing with the BSO until later this summer. I, too, find a definite link between color and music...

The number of classical music lovers she met never ceased to astonish her. Some so knowledgeable and educated, many musicians themselves. But others who simply gave themselves up to the sheer emotion and beauty of the rhythms and melodies. It was why she did what she did—because music filled the emotional spaces, resonating long after the room fell silent. The year after her husband's death, when she had been unable to play the piano, was the longest, most terrible year of her life. Where words fail, she thought, 'music speaks'. Now, finally, after months of therapy and hard work, she was making music again. At the invitation of the museum, she had performed several short piano pieces this afternoon, all connected, in different ways, to the museum's current exhibit. Musical Paintings-- an exhibition focusing on the music in art, and the close links between painters and musicians of the late 19th and early 20th century.
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