Beethoven

I think it was the early eighteen hundreds because of the way the townspeople were dressed.  I was in one of those large dresses typical of that time – nothing fancy or elaborate but not too dull at the same time.  It looked like some sort of simple festival was going on at the town square – for a bunch of men and some women were all clustered together in the midst of some active game, all running across the cobbled streets with laughs and cries of exhilaration.  I was among the spectators who crowded around the players, clapping my hands and [craning] my neck to catch a glimpse of what was going on.  For a moment, I took a brief pause in my excitement and stepped back to the fringes of the crowd where I deliberately made the decision to stand next to a German man whom I knew to be Ludwig van Beethoven.  I didn’t look at him or pay special attention to him – just kept my neck [craned], my eyes focused ahead, and my hands clapping.  He looked at me calmly, at how excited and happy I was, and then he said, “Would you like to come to dinner with me?”  I was astounded, aghast – and altogether thrilled as I accepted his invitation.

[…]

I remember being in a store with him once – it looked strikingly modern, like a [JCPenney] or the makeup section at Macy’s.  There were whitewashed walls and long counters with mirrors and jewelry.  Beethoven and I were laughing and joking as I led him up to one of the counters and I looked at myself in a small mirror propped up on the countertop.  It was one of those typical mirrors that department stores usually have on their make-up countertops – with those fake gold-metal linings.  The reflection that I saw was a young girl in her late teens who was as cute as anything.  She resembled me in a way, only much lovelier, and with a face that was all smiles.  No wonder Beethoven loves me, I thought.  I’m prettier than anything.  My dark hair was done in elaborate braids – pulled back in two fishbones, I think, that ran across the sides of my head.  It was hard to tell exactly what hairstyle I had from the reflection.

Beethoven […] reached forward and picked up a set of beautiful earrings – one in each hand.  They were small hoop earrings, studded with rows and rows of tiny diamonds – they were absolutely gorgeous.  He held them up next to my face, right underneath my ears – and they made me look even more lovely.  “Oh, they’re wonderful!” I exclaimed.  “They’re so beautiful!”  And so he bought them for me.

The next thing I remember, we were in a bookstore together – a modest one with wooden walls and a single storekeeper behind a small, wooden counter – early nineteenth century again.  I think [Beethoven] was looking out a window, all sullen and worried, and I was coming to the realization that he was deaf.  I noticed that he never responded to anything I said unless he could see and read my lips. […]

Napoleon was invading and we were grim as we stood in the bookstore.  Beethoven wanted to save the books from being burned and so […] we pulled the books from the shelves in a frenzy, loading as many as we could into a cloth bag that I carried.  I asked him some urgent question that I can’t quite remember – something like, “But what if they don’t know…?”  I was referring to Napoleon’s troops.  However, Beethoven couldn’t hear me.  I touched him on the shoulder so that he turned and looked at me while I repeated my question.  But the time was too chaotic and I said it too fast – he did not understand me – was unable to read what I had to say.  He embraced me anyways and told me what to do with the books.  Then he left ahead of me, walking out the front door.  I remember thinking about how misunderstood the man was.  And I remember seeing a glimpse of myself running after him in my big long dress – down a dirt road in the middle of town.  As I ran, I thought, Who would’ve known that from dinner would come this? […]  And I was so glad he had asked me to dinner.

Then I was back at the bookstore, walking out the front door and leaving the books next to the front steps in a bag that was now plastic.  It was what Beethoven had told me to do.  I looked out at the town and saw a great many people lying dead or dying upon the ground – civilians that Napoleon’s troops had slain.  To my left I saw a woman on the ground […].  To my right, Beethoven was making his way among these dead – hurrying towards a particular building.  I picked up my skirt and ran after him.  As I did so, I noticed that my skirt felt like plastic bags. […]

I followed Ludwig into the building, which was all fancy and lavishly adorned inside – like a nineteenth century palace.  There were a number of gentlemen in a particular room going about business – dressed in suits appropriate for the time.  As Ludwig entered, one of the gentlemen – rather round in face and feature – approached him and greeted him with, “How’s that ringing in your ears, Sir?”  Apparently, they either did not know of Ludwig’s condition or were making fun of him for it.

Ludwig ignored the man and proceeded to the desk of another gentleman who was taller, more well-built, and more business-like than the previous gentleman.  This man had a dark mustache and wore over one eye a spectacle attached to a cord.  Beethoven threw what looked like a manuscript in front of the man upon his desk.  The two argued about the books Beethoven had been trying to save.  There was some elaborate scheme, but ultimately, the gentleman wound up taking the credit for rescuing the books.

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