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Beethoven's Death Mask

Page 3

Peter Symons

Well, half of Germany was good. The other half was still bad and needed to learn some lessons.

We stayed in a hotel. You could ask for food to be sent to your room and people in uniforms would give it to you and be very polite. On the first day, my father told me to stay in our room. He had bought a colouring book and some pencils. “Do this,” he said. “I’ll be back later. We’ll go to a museum in the afternoon.”

I didn’t tell my father that I hated museums and thought they were boring.

He walked out briskly and shut the door with a thud.


I coloured in the book for a little while. Staying in the room was more boring than going to a museum. After a while my father burst in. He was carrying his work bag. A brown briefcase.

“Right,” he said. “Did you finish that colouring book?”

I shook my head.

“Good,” he said. “That means there’s more to do on the plane. Are you ready to leave?”

I had taken my shoes off while I was waiting and, despite never leaving the room, had no idea where they were.

“Right. Find your shoes.”

I scampered around the room while my father watched.  His face was set. Undecipherable.

One shoe was under my bed. The other had wound up in the little bathroom joined to the room. I didn’t remember putting it there.

I pulled on my shoes – the laces were still done up – and waited for instructions.

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