The days can still be remembered when music filled the air, or when there was a new play in the theatre and paintings lined the walls of the museums. Those were the days before the empire had taken over the Canary Islands. The year was unknown to the people; after the Great War ended no one bothered to keep track of the time.
One day a rumor had made its way to the not-so-secret secret police. There was a law that strictly prohibited any form of art to take place, and apparently a citizen had in their possession a painting called “Madonna” created by Munch. Vivian, Captain of the elite squad of the secret police, knocked on a hickory door and patiently waited, listening to the echoing footsteps from within the house. An elderly man opened the door wearing his faded blue plaid pajama pants and a torn sky blue T-shirt.
“Sir, we need to search the premises immediately,” Vivian demanded. He stepped aside and the squad entered the house bringing dread with their black uniforms. “Now, where did you hide the painting, I wonder?” Vivian shut the door and walked casually into a small sitting room that was very well lit. In this room was a stained off-gold couch with the man’s wife sitting on it shaking slightly. Fear etched its way across her frail features.
After a few minutes of violent ransacking, the elegant canvas was discovered. “What a shame…” They were cuffed and shoved into the back of a black SUV. The house was torched in front of them as a reminder to the couple and the public that the government was still in control.
Three years later Vivian made the discovery that changed her life. Every piece of art, every musical track and every record of plays that had ever been taken from the people were in a large cubical room beneath the headquarters of the secret police. The door to this place had the words “Pandora’s Box” written on it as a cruel joke. Upon this discovery she had tried many times over to continue her work, but she found it nearly impossible to think that these things were being taken from the people and then hidden away for her bosses to take pleasure from. She handed in her resignation and peacefully walked out the doors of the headquarters with a music player and a small painting in her backpack wrapped in the safety of her spare clothes.
She headed home and once she was inside her apartment she placed her bag gently on the floor by her chair, sat down and turned the television on to the news channel, not that there were really any other channels to choose from. She stared at the screen waiting for a special event, but all that came on was the weather forecast predicting rain. She glanced out the window; not a cloud in sight. The weathermen still could not accurately predict the weather. “We’ve just received word that the official government headquarters has had some sort of accident,” the TV reporter announced. “There seems to have been a gas leak. There is no other information available to us now. You are all advised to keep away from the site. Any information on this accident can be told to any police official.”
The next morning before the sun rose Vivian took the painting that she had stolen and hung it in the middle of the town with a large note reading: ‘They keep the arts for themselves! They must be stopped!’ Vivian hooked up the music player to the town’s announcement system speakers and had music playing so loud that it began to wake people and draw them out of their houses.
“The arts are still alive!” She began to yell to the people as they began to form a mass around her. “The government keeps the paintings and music hidden from us for their own pleasure!” The police rushed to the site where she stood. The music played and the people swayed in time with it. The police in the back of the crowd set up a sniper rifle to take her out. “Bring back the arts! Bring back the right to express ourselves for the years to come!” The crowd cheered after a brief moment of uncertainty. The rifle was set up behind the people and Vivian knew what was about to happen. She had been in charge of the police. “Don’t let them stop you!” She called out before the gunman pulled the trigger. She fell to the ground before the crowd of people with a dart stuck in her shoulder.
The new head of the police walked to her body and faced the people, “Unless you want to suffer her fate, I suggest you all return to your homes immediately.” The head of the police was a man in his early thirties. He unplugged the music.
“What are you going to do with her?” A man called out from the safety of the crowd.
“Well we haven’t decided the exact details just yet… but whatever is decided won’t be pleasant.” The crowd began to grow loud as they considered all that had transpired before them. “Return to your homes or we’ll have to arrest you.”
The arrest of Vivian did not scare the people as much as the government had hoped. In fact it did the opposite. After Vivian spoke to the people and showed them the evidence of the corruption that the empire had brought to them the people created a rebellion that would work for many years against the government to bring back the arts. As promised by the police officer Vivian’s fate was not pleasant. In fact more often than not she would wake and wish for death rather living through her punishments, but her sacrifice was not in vain; she had gotten the people working against the government which was all she had hoped to do that day.
© Copyright 2017 Robyn Center. All rights reserved.
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