Disclaimer: I own nothing about these people's lives, the fact that The Sound of Music is already a mostly fiction based tale makes it so I do not feel bad about doing this. I do not own, nor wish to own The Sound of Music rights, even though the music is quite enjoyable.
Interpretation: Partially script based, movie based, director conversation based, with a little bit of research thrown in (very little).
"In my life
There are so many questions and answers
That somehow seem wrong
In my life
There are times when I catch in the silence
The sigh of a faraway song" – In My Life
Liesl (Age 16)
She knew when their mother couldn't move from her bed that something was wrong, very wrong. At eleven years old you can pick up on these things easily. Her mother looked so sick the last time she had seen her. Her mother had made her promise two things; to look after the children, which was a task she would have done that anyway and to forgive father. She had promised not fully understanding what her mother was asking,. That was the day before their mother had died. It was the day before they had been confined to the property. It was one of the many new rules she would break later.
At the funeral, Liesl was worried; their father had not spoken a single word or looked at them since mother had died that morning. No words of comfort, not a single touch to show them that they everything would be ok. He had always had a smile ready, or some kind word whenever they were sad but today there was nothing. She hugged Kurt and Louisa with Brigitta between them; he might not be able to comfort them today so she would do it. She had promised to take care of them all. She had done so not knowing that she would have bear the weight of the Von Trapp family on her shoulders almost alone for the next few years.
Liesl flew to her bed in anger, Father had yelled at Kurt. Poor, kind Kurt who only ever looked up to him. Grief, she knew logically, can make you do things you wouldn't normally. But she didn't care, she was angry because you don't do say things like that to your children much less to a six year old. She had heard Frau Schmidt and Franz talking to each other, that father might leave. Well good, was all she could think, if this was how father was going to treat them, it was better if he wasn't around at all for a while.
When she had thought that, she did not think it would actually happen. Never did it cross her mind that their father, who was awarded a medal for bravery, would desert his family when they so desperately needed them. And worse that he would continue to do it for years. For a couple of weeks, she thought that they could make it work without him. That they could survive without his help, his presence.
She changed her mind a month later when Friedrich came practically crying asking for her. She had left Brigitta in the family library promising that she'd help Friedrich. Liesl blamed herself; she had been ignoring Friedrich's needs because he had seemed to be coping fine, at least up until that moment. It was obvious he needed a father, someone to look up to, to learn from. Liesl couldn't do it, no matter how much she wished she could, she was still learning about life herself.
She wouldn't have been able to cope with it all if she hadn't had help. Surprisingly Uncle Max had stepped up in the wake of their loss, dropping by once in a while when father was away to give her educational materials that he had gotten through his job. With his help she made sure that the others were on track with their education but his visits were few and far between. And Frau Schmidt was a big help, while she had never had any children of her own, she had seen how the children were raised and in her free time helped watch them. Unfortunately she was getting on in years and could no longer keep up with so many of them around but she was always ready with advice should Liesl need it. She even ignored the fact that Liesl was sneaking out to the town, in fact she even sent Liesl on "errands" with on the children for company just so they could get off of the property. But it depended on the governess. She also, conveniently pretended to not know how they were playing tricks on the governess, even going as far as deliberately putting the governesses' in the same room. Without these two, Liesl was sure she would have broken from the stress.
And Rolf, amazing Rolf, came as often as he could. Scatterbrained, Frau Schmidt liked to call him, but to her he was the kindest boy Liesl had ever met. Somewhere along the line she fell in love with him, she wasn't quite sure when it happened. Maybe she was always had been. They were growing up learning to make their way in the world at the same time. He was wonderful to converse with; he supported her when she was down or lonely. She couldn't imagine what her life would have been like without him. Gradually she began to understand her father, how he had been crippled by an invisible wound that was impossible to heal. The anger she felt at his abandonment of them became pity and understanding, and eventually grew to include forgiveness. She now understood why he had taken his grandfather's violin and his precious guitar he had been teaching her to play on and burn them the night of the funeral. She wasn't sure if he'd ever come back to the person he once was but he deserved to watch his children grow up as much as she could manage for that to happen. She didn't want to see him realize how much he had missed out on, that by leaving he had forced her to grow up until she was not a child anymore.
She didn't like the new rules that he enforced, many were selfish and as much as she tried to follow them, there were only two she consistently broke. They weren't allowed to go off of the estate anymore; they used to go as a family to town sometimes to greet some of their parents' friends. Now she had to sneak out to escape the prison that was also home. One day Frau Schmidt caught her but instead of scolding her, Frau Schmidt had handed her a list of items that was needed from town. Liesl had stood gaping at the housekeeper, she only ever took orders from father, and was about to thank her. Before she could say anything, Frau Schmidt left without saying a word and closed the door behind her.
The other rule was one she blatantly disregarded when father was not around. Knowing it made him sad she reserved music for when he was out off town because she understood that music reminded him of mother. Nonetheless, she still sang Gretl to sleep, it was the easiest way to get the crying baby to calm down. It didn't help that music was a part of her, as it was of her mother and of him. She had grown up surrounded by it, it's not something that just disappears because someone tells you to stop. It's not that easy to pretend you don't now how music works, or that it doesn't exist. At least that was until that one governess. If she hated anyone in her life, it was that person. She took music from her.
She had been caught by their twelfth (or was it the eleventh?), governess singing a two-year old Gretl to sleep. She abruptly stopped in fear, but when Gretl stirred she continued despite the punishment she was no doubt going to receive. Usually, the governesses ignored that particular rule because it was the best way to get Gretl to stop crying or to sleep. But it was different with this one; she liked to punish them for the smallest things like using the wrong fork or even for made up reasons. Her favorite target was Liesl, if there was anything that Liesl did wrong the punishment she got was several times more than what would be considered reasonable. Liesl supposed it was revenge for something in the past that happened or that she reminded the governess of someone but whatever the case, this one had made it her personal agenda to stop music in the house. To Liesl's shame, it had succeeded. After being punished unjustly again and again, when she reached for music it disappeared as though her mind and body revolted at the idea of the pain that was to come next.
Somehow, her father had finally intervened and dismissed the governess, not because of stopping the music but because Frau Schmidt had finally threatened to quit if she was not removed from the house immediately. It had been her last card to play, Liesl found out, because she had sent so many letters before asking for the present governess to be removed. Liesl couldn't find the will in her to be angry at her father for this, just sadness and some kind of loss that he didn't seem to care. But she didn't understand, but she had to forgive him, how could she not? When she could remember the times before, his smile and tenderness he handled the younger children, when their mother was still alive. She had been small but her mother had taken her out to the hills and told her to close her eyes. That there was music to be heard no matter where you were. That their father found such joy in listening to the mountains around them, it was strange now to think of father doing such a thing. Eventually she began to hear what they both could, but that was taken away from her suddenly like so many other things.
There were still times when she would sit out in the garden, the others were occupied with their studies, and just listen like her mother had taught her. But she couldn't seem to hear it anymore, sometimes she thought there was a whisper of a song that she once heard come from the hills. But whenever she tried to hold on to it, she was unable to.
To say she was wary of Maria when the governess first arrived would be an understatement. Some of their past caretakers had tried to pay attention to all of them, but ultimately all failed, driving out, or revealed their true natures. She had learned quickly that not all governesses who pretended to be nice turned out to be. She watched as Maria won each of her siblings over, and didn't want to ruin the fun with her misgivings of the new governess. So when they all looked at her expectantly to come and join them, she did. And she found that maybe, just maybe, this one will be the one to stay. It was almost like having the piece of a puzzle that you didn't know you were searching for to come back. Even father on his last visit had seemed less reserved than he usually was, with the addition of Maria, it looked as though maybe they could be a family again.
Before the party started, the one to welcome Frau Schraeder, father had taken her aside and asked her with the most serious but kind expression, something Liesl hadn't seen since their mother had died, if it was too late to salvage their relationship. Liesl looked at him and saw regret and worry. She took his hand in hers, and told him with unshed tears of happiness in her eyes, that it was never too late. They had all just been waiting for him to come back. She hugged him and whispered in his ear, welcome home.
"I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return" – For Good
Special Thanks to Lindsey who played Liesl on the stage and (unknowingly) inspired this piece and Aida who played Gretl. Their interactions with each other created this entire idea. Collin who played Rolf also deserves a mention because he was brilliant, as does Kaylee who was Brigitta, the rascal of a child who made me want to write Brigitta.
And of course thanks to all those who read/reviewed/favorited/and just in general were great people. I hope you enjoyed the story and I hope I did it justice.