The crater was not so large that he couldn’t climb in. It was not so small that he couldn’t fit. The blast had been just large enough to lift 22 of his neighbors, his countrymen, heavenward.
The promise of bread had brought them there. The promise of further violence left him alone in the square, alone except for one small boy.
“Grab my hand,” Vedran called to the youth. The boy took Smailovic’s left hand and watched in horror as the musician stepped inside the crater holding his beloved cello in his right hand.
“It’s good. It’s good. You can let go.” Vedran signaled for his bow, which the boy handed him with hungry mouth agape. His tear-stained eyes were the only witnesses as Vedran placed the bow upon the strings and began Adagio in G Minor.
Smailovic played the piece 22 times, one time for each soul, for each family. Each time he played, the square filled with disbelieving eyes and hopeful faces.
From the ruins of 22 deaths, Vedran pulled life from his strings and sent his prayer aloft.