Secret Service

Photo prompt © Roger Bultot

 

“We used to go in through that side door,” Mama said.

I stared at the narrow wooden portal. “Because you are a girl?” I knew that Jewish traditions relegated women to a separate area in the synagogue, sometimes a designated entrance.

“No,” Mama’s voice shook and I reached for her hand. Her tears surprised me.

She seemed reluctant to cross the street. I couldn’t blame her. The building looked forbiddingly cold, sealed shut.

“No,” she repeated, a note of defiance in her eyes. “So no one knew services were held. They’d have come for us if we were found out.”

 

 

 

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Simon’s Snack

Photo prompt: © Ronda Del Boccio

 

“Peach jelly and olives?! Are you serious?”

“As a heart attack.”

Jack shuddered. This may well be the end result.

Jill’s pasta sauce concoction reminded him of “after-school snack” on days his mother had to work late and the school-bus would drop him off at his uncle’s house. Uncle Simon would have a tall glass of bluish milk waiting, alongside a dish of crackers topped with lemon-lime marmalade and loaded with sardines.

The mere thought of Jill’s recipe gave him the runs.

Good. Saved by the throne.

“Sorry, Hon. I must’ve caught something at work. I better have plain toast.”

 

 

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers

Note: Dedicated to my cousin Noam, who reportedly loved sardines-and-jelly sandwiches. I remember being horrified by the very idea and saddened that he would never enjoy them again. Four years my senior, he died at war, just weeks past his nineteenth birthday. We miss you, Noam (sandwiches and all)!

 

Empty Promises

Photo prompt: © Fatima Fakier Deria

 

He came down to find the kitchen cold. The coffee machine bereft of beans, the range orphaned of the pan that sizzled on it every morning as far back as he could recall. His lunch boxes waited on the table, naked in their transparent emptiness.

He was sure that the vacant orange juice glass was put on them just to spite.

He never believed her that she’d up and leave if he kept ‘forgetting’ her papers. He never thought she’d have anyplace else to go. But there he was. Alone. The servant that had been a fixture for him, gone.

 

 

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Momma Jean

Photo Prompt: © Jean L. Hays

 

“Don’t you go spendin’ no money!” Momma Jean announced.

In a whirlwind of industrious determination, she began rummaging through shoe boxes and ancient suitcases, closets, and plastic bags, flinging this or that onto the table.

I didn’t dare to offer help. Once Momma Jean got like this, it was best to keep out of the way.

“Now!” She finally straightened, hair askew and dust-bunnies clinging to the edge of her house-dress. My inveterate neighbor was out of breath and in her element. “You tell me what that costume look like, and I make it for you. You win first prize.”

 

 

 

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Lost Halos

Photo prompt © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 

She’d been surprised to find out there was property overseas. Grandma raised her, yet no word was ever said about it.

“You should go,” Abe said. “Check it out. See about selling.”

She took Daniel with her. Heritage for him. Distraction from grief for her.

The small apartment above the Shuk was dank and cramped. Her grandmother had bought it decades earlier. Investment in the Holy Land.

“We couldn’t pay much,” the ancient tenant said, tears and wariness in her eyes, blue numbers on her arm. “She was an angel. Kept saying we were doing the mitzvah on her behalf.”

 

 

 

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The Bag

Photo prompt: © Ted Strutz

 

She stopped by to check on her elderly neighbor and saw a bulging bag on the curb. Odd. Trash-collection was two days away. Ethel could get ticketed.

She grabbed the bag. The thing was heavy! How did the ancient women lug this? She carried it up the path to the door.

“Ethel?” she knocked. “It’s Belinda.”

Silence. Was Ethel sleeping? Belinda knocked again. Waited. Rang the bell. Used her key.

There was no one home. All personal effects gone.

Heart pounding, Belinda rushed to untie the bag.

A mess of photos spilled out, scattering Ethel’s life to the ground.

 

 

 

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The Memo

Photo prompt © Dale Rogerson

 

“What are these things?” Kyle pointed.

“What things?” Patty barely glanced up from the tablecloth she was wrestling for the birthday party. Forecast said “mild and pleasant” but the breeze apparently hadn’t gotten the memo.

“These,” Kyle insisted.

She sighed. Looked. Frowned. The contraptions hadn’t been there last night. Some modern art nonsense?

“Hold this,” she gave Kyle control of the tablecloth’s edges.

It looked like an assembly of pipes, but the closer she got, the less she wanted to go nearer. She checked her watch. Where was everyone?

“Mama!”

She spun at his shriek. A lumbering pipe-man had Kyle.

 

 

 

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Hold My Spot

Photo prompt: Na’ama Yehuda

 

The rain swelled and lessened, as did the line of people, standing dutifully in the raw, spitting day.

“How long?” A woman asked, leaning heavily on her cane.

“They’ll let you in,” I said, pointing. “You don’t need to stand in the long line.”

“What if they won’t? I don’t want to lose my place,” she fretted.

“Don’t worry,” a young hooded man motioned in direction of the building. “I’ll hold your spot.”

I smiled at him.

“Come,” I linked my arm in hers, round sticker prominent on my jacket “I’ll show you. I’m so happy you’re here to vote!”

 

 

 

For Rochelle’s FridayFictioneers

Note: Thank you Rochelle for using my photo! 🙂 Yay hurray! (It was, indeed, taken during an election day, where people stood in the pouring rain for over an hour, as the line stretched along sidewalks and around the corner in my neighborhood. The above is a depiction of real events). If you are in the US and aren’t registered to vote yet, please do! And, when elections come – any election – Vote! Your voice matters. Don’t let anyone convince you it does not.

The Skylight

Photo prompt: © J Hardy Carroll

 

She always loved that skylight. The one thing she’d insisted on when they’d rebuilt the old farmstead. Every day since, the sun streamed in or the rain puttered on or clouds swam above, transforming the indoors into a moving tapestry.

They’d kept the bones of the building, but the roof had been rotten. It needed redoing.

Like her bones.

She lay on the flagstone floors, sauce dripping onto her from where she must have upset the pot as she’d slipped and fell and something in her broke.

The skylight her only companion. The light fading. The day still long.

 

 

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Read To Remember

Photo prompt © CEAyr

 

“I read to remember,” she said, her voice steel and quiver. “I read because he no longer can and because I know he was, most very likely, reading at the very moment his life stopped, evaporated, in mid-word. I read because mine almost stopped in the loss of him and in the enormity of the awfulness that took him and so many.

“I read to not forget. Because there is a bigger spark in life than in sorrow, and because he never would have left us, and certainly not this way. If it weren’t for the planes.

That September day.”

 

 

Note: Dedicated to all the lost, and to all those who lost so much, and to all that has been changed — insidiously and indelibly for so many — on September 11, 2001. I was here. I remember and I understand why we remember and what we must remember about ourselves and about who we can be. May we hold truth. May we be the better, kinder, more humane version of ourselves.

For Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers