Split decisions

d’Verse prosery

“I never thought I’d see you again, Meir. Bissel1 of a schlep2 from LA.”

“Tateh’s3 dying, Elisha.”

“So?”

“He asked me to come, Bruder4. He wants to see you.”

“Takeh5? Just like that? Gut6, I’ll get Charlotte and the kinder7I’m sure he wants to…”

“No, Elisha. Just you.”

“They’re his grandchildren, Meir. I’m not – ”

“They’re not Yidden8,9, Elisha.”

“Yes, and I’m dead. The mamzer10 said kaddish11 for me, Meir! Go home.”

“Bruder…”

“Get out of here. You’re wasting your time unless you’ve come for some fresh oysters12.”

“Elisha, biteh13!”

“Look around, Meir. What do you see? This is Tomales Bay!”

“He’s dying!”

“So? Anyone can do that. I did once already! You know, I used to cry every night, Meir, but my tears dried up years ago. No. I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”


The prompt

d’Verse prosery is flash fiction with a beginning, a middle and an end, in any genre of the author’s choice, no longer than 144 words. This very short piece of prose must include an assigned line from a poem, within the 144 word limit. Writers may change the punctuation of the assigned line, but they may not insert words within the quotation.

The assigned quotation was:

No, I do not weep at the world – I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.

Zora Neale Hurston, from “How Does it Feel to be Colored Me” in World Tomorrow (1928)

Footnotes

  1. Bissel (Yiddish): A bit
  2. Schlep (Yiddish): A tedious or difficult journey
  3. Tateh (Yiddish): Daddy
  4. Bruder (Yiddish): Brother
  5. Takeh (Yiddish): Really
  6. Gut (Yiddish): Good; Okay
  7. Kinder (Yiddish): Children
  8. Yidden (Yiddish): Jews
  9. According to traditional religious law, one is born a Jew only if born from the womb of a Jewish woman
  10. Mamzer (Yiddish, Hebrew): Bastard
  11. Kaddish (Yiddish, Hebrew): Prayer for the dead
  12. Eating shellfish is forbidden according to traditional religious law; i.e., not kosher
  13. Biteh (Yiddish): Please

70 thoughts on “Split decisions”

    1. heheheh – me too – I don’t speak Yiddish (all of my grandparents did tho)… but it feels sort of like home to me, and there are a few words that I use all the time – schlep included!


      David

  1. Thank goodness my father was a Goy mit a Yiddishe kopf.. I didn’t really need the glossary 😉
    And it is a sad state of affairs when families do this to each other.

  2. That line has so much meaning when thinking about it in this situation. Took me a moment to read the footnotes and realize the sadness of this dialogue. Offering the fresh oysters made me smile though! 💕

    1. yeah, that was actually a very cutting remark on Elisha’s part – it was said with bitter irony, given Meir’s religious restrictions.

      Thanks, Tricia ❤

      -David

  3. Those last three lines I would have sworn were a direct quote from my journal if I had not lived long enough in this world to know such experiences are both unique to the individual while common to the world at large. Well done.

  4. Full of the ache and complexity of existence.
    “So? Anyone can do that. I did once already!”–that line especially pulls at me (K)

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