Just one last time, she wanted to say goodbye to the theatre. Just once more, she wanted to wave goodbye to the masks she had been allowed to wear so often and, of which she had by no means had enough. Acting was her life, but Vienna didn’t want to let her live. She wanted to go to Paris next, then London maybe. But the main point was to get away from this unspeakable man to whom she had said “I do” four years ago. Vengefully he kept her from doing what she wanted to do, from being who she wanted to be – both artist and inventor. Besides, the climate in Austria and Germany had become toxic. No, there was no way around it, she had to get away from this city, from this country. At the time, she did not yet know that there would be no return.
Later, when she had grown old, she liked to remember her Vienna, while drinking milkshakes, brushing her teeth or even while talking on the phone. Vienna – the city of her youth. The city of music and literature. Then she would hum the Danube Waltz and think of her first role in the Josefstadttheater. Back then under Max Reinhardt in “The Weaker Sex”. Those were the days.
That was before the greatest achievement of her life: the frequency hop. She only developed it in exile, after she had finally turned her back on Austria.
It was actually quite simple, she thought, but nonetheless the method was unbreakable for a long time. Frequency hopping helped to protect a message from being overheard by others in wireless data transmissions. It did this by not only transmitting on one frequency, but scattering the message over several. Only if you knew the pattern, could you receive the message as a whole.
The military, as is so often the case, first took a liking to the idea, in order to enable secure remote control of their torpedoes. Then, however, quite suddenly, it was everywhere: in cordless phones, in Wi-Fi and in Bluetooth.
When she told her friends that it was all on her account, no one believed her. After all, she was an actress, not an inventor. Few believed that one could be both. And although she had invented what was now a widespread piece of technology, she got neither recognition nor money for it during her lifetime.
Maybe that’s why she thought so fondly of the two masks in Josefstadt. When no one knew her, the two of them had been there for her. She saw them every day. She stood in front of the entrance to the theatre and stared into the eyes of the figure in front of her. Only there were no eyes. It was a face without features. A shadow of herself. Only a reflection. And that’s what she was in essence: a copy, a twin. Her double. There were also two Hedy’s. Hedy the actress, the star, and Hedy the inventor, the unknown Hedy.
One mask with its mouth tragically open, the other cooking up new shenanigans. Two sides of one person. Two sides of one story. The masks always looked a little grumpy, which she found quite fitting to the Viennese sentiment. In those days, the masks were a wonderful informant of the latest gossip. And, she trusted them with her ideas and inventions. The masks knew. They became confidants, in a situation that didn’t leave room for a lot of trust.
She wondered what became of them? Did they still watch grumpily over the foyer of the theatre, as they did back then? She liked that Viennese grumpiness. Sometimes she even thought one of the masks was winking at her. She wanted to know, whether someone was still talking to them, as she had loved to do in the past? Or whether they now lived out their existence lonely and forgotten?