January 18, 2010

Evan stood at the bottom of the stairs. “Mo-ommm?” he called. He knew his voice wouldn’t carry over the horns and drums coming from the attic. Not the geezer rock she usually listened to.

Photo by Pam Wells

Audrey was absorbed in an old newspaper clipping.

“Mom,” Evan said loudly, just as the music turned peaceful. Audrey jerked her head up.

“Evan! I forgot you were home.”

“Three-day weekend, mom. Can I go to Max’s?”

The phone rang. “Uh—hang on a sec.” Audrey paused the music as she answered the phone. “Susan, hi,” she said, and took notes on a lined yellow pad.

Evan sighed and splayed out on the couch, a striped monster from the ‘80s. He took a paper from the recycling box. It was printed only on one side. Evan got his mother’s irate attention as he mimed writing on the back of it.

Audrey hung up and looked hard at Evan. “That was the composer,” she said, restarting the music. “My interview.”

“Sorry. Can I—”

She cut him off to listen. “You like it?”

Evan shrugged. “Yeah.”

“It’s called ‘Declaration.’ She dedicated it to someone who loved music.”

“Oh. Can I—”

“Someone who was all about human rights.”

“Ohhhh. It’s good,” Evan said with a wise nod. He crossed to the door as horns gave way to strings.

“Someone who was killed eight years ago.”

He stopped. “Okay, I know Martin Luther King died in the sixties,” and he nudged her aside to search the web. He was missing something.


“Pakistan,” she said, and he found the stories about the American journalist who had been kidnapped and murdered by terrorists in 2002. Daniel Pearl.

As strings yielded to the bittersweet brass finale, she gave him the article she’d been reading when he’d walked in. It was about a stolen Stradivarius, by Daniel Pearl, Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal, dated October 17, 1994.

“He wrote this the year I was born,” Evan said. “Is that why you kept it?”

Audrey didn’t know why she’d kept it. She was a keeper, that was all. She filed it in a crowded folder. “Be home by dinner,” she said.

Evan walked to Max’s house in time to the music stuck in his head.

© 2010 Pam Wells

You can listen to ‘Declaration” by Susan Peloza at


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