How does it feel to see a ghost from the past? Actually, bone-shivering-take-your-breath-away-startling!
I saw him on the deserted subway platform. We both aged, I, now a mature woman, and he, now quite frail and elderly, stooped, tottering along, barely being able to walk, leaning heavily on a very, very European cane. He still had a full head of silvery hair that gleamed and sparkled from the reflected light. He looked up and down the platform to see if a train was coming and looked at me. His piercing blue eyes, not faded with age, were still able to search out and pierce my soul. At least I thought he was looking directly at me but in retrospect, it was hard to tell. I walked towards him, and he towards me. Two silent shadows passing in the empty night.
The last time I saw him was over 75 years ago. I was a child, but our encounter was irrevocably seared onto my brain. The nights then were always long and dark. Sounds were muted except for trucks coming to a screeching halt and the harsh sounding shouts of jackbooted men clambering down on to the paved streets. The sharp pounding on the door, the directives to open reverberated in the early dawn. I tumbled from my bed, sleep fogged eyes that competed with the hair tumbling into my face to obscure my vision and stood behind my mother. I saw a strikingly blond blue-eyed officer, commanding his men to follow him into my apartment.
My mother quickly pushed me away from the door, whispering to me that I should hide in the farthest corner under the bed. I, a mere child, always protected, understood danger, if not the cause of danger. However, living there, in that time, even young children fear the sudden and the unexplained…the silent tears coursing down a grown up’s cheek, the conversations that end in whispers, and the quick darted looks in my direction.
I didn’t need to be told twice. I grabbed the navy comforter, rolled into it and rolled under the huge bed, into the farthest recess against the angle where the two walls meet within the dark shadows. I heard commands which I did not understand; the sounds were guttural; not my native French. Drawers were opened, contents plummeting to the floor with the soft thud of many papers falling. Armoire doors banged against the apartment walls. The soft sounds of tumbling clothing and then the harder sounds of large objects being lifted, and I think stacked, one by one. I heard my mother gasping for breath between tears; I heard my father trying to say things; I heard them being slapped and shoved. The door slammed behind them; I never saw my parents again.
Neighbors came in after they left; they swept, sorted, and straightened up the mess the soldiers left behind them. They hugged me and told me to come with them and to take the small suitcase that they packed with some clothing for me along with a small black leather notebook and papers salvaged from the mess.
I never went back to the apartment. I kept the papers which I read years later, but didn’t understand at the time. I also read the small black leather notebook. They referred back to papers which had been confiscated and/or salvaged. I didn’t understand them, not only because they were written in a language foreign to me, but in my later years, after learning that foreign language still made no sense to me. I detected codes and stealth. I smelled the whiff of secrets beyond my scope until I developed professional expertise in my parent’s field of research. Of course, many years had evaporated, many developments discovered, many hard-held ideas re-examined with the passage of time until today.
My saviors, my neighbors who took me in, my parent’s friends, the neighbors loved me dearly and frequently talked about my parents, keeping their memory alive in spite of their disappearance. I lived with my memories and my loving neighbors. They supported me and encouraged me to continue my studies instead of going to work at 16. With their help and support, I was able to complete my graduate work in the same profession in which my parents worked.
My neighbors, my saviors, had no children; I was their daughter for all intents and purposes. As they aged, I returned their love, overlooking their comfort as well as their decline. When the inevitable happened, I made some life changing decisions, left the city where I was born and accepted a position with a prestigious scientific research institute in New York. I shipped some things, took my memories, sketchy as well as formative and made sure that I had the small irrevocable and tangible link with my past, the discarded papers and the little black notebook.
Obviously I had a vested interest because I had come to understand why my now yellowed papers and the little black leather notebook that was so important to an officer with platinum hair and blue eyes. It contained references to long dead heroes and villains engaged in subtle, suspect even today, shadowy research from a bygone era.
And there he was, my parent’s murderer, the thief who stole my life slowly approaching in my direction. How did I feel? How would you feel? What might you do? I saw the bulletin board light up with the arrival of the next subway. I heard the train, saw him teeter near the edge of the deserted platform. How would you feel? What might you do?
How Does it Feel? (Fiction)
Written by Mireille Taub
Feature Photo by Karen Zhao
I Won’t Apologize for Being a Woman
by Zorina Jerome
“The author shares her world of pain, loss, love, spirituality, hardships, and victories with the readers through her literary prowess. This book is truly something valuable. It reaches out to every sister, mother, friend, and most of all, to every woman who has fought tooth and nail for her independence and for her sanity.”
~Dominique Campbell for Readers Favorite
Why should women apologize for having alluring curves? It can be said that if a woman embraces all of who she is, which is a journey of living, learning, and understanding, she will love and respect herself, eventually becoming a stronger person. And if by chance, she stumbles and falls victim to a scandal of her own desires all the while remaining true to herself, she will survive. She will be O.K. All because she wouldn’t apologize for being a woman—expressing what she thinks, feels, experience, and even though she may might make bad choices, she will always rise again, stronger, humbler, and wiser. That is living. That is not apologizing for being who you are. That is you.
- Paperback: 78 pages
- Publisher: IWA Publishing Services/IWA Publication, January 20, 2011
- ISBN: 978-1456336561
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
You Can’t Make This Sh*t Up Journal
A Record of Incredible Shenanigans
That I May or May Not Have Engaged in and/or Witnessed
The English print on this custom leather-like graphic design and matte paperback finishing offers a blend of old-world charm and modern flair. Use this notebook as a daily planner or journal. This novelty journal with white lined pages makes a great gift and is sure to be appreciated by writers and anyone with a busy schedule.
- Paperback: 149 pages
- Language: English
- ISBN-13: 978-1700068170
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
2 Comments Add yours
One of the most compelling short stories I have ever read! … so well written. What WOULD I do?!