At seventeen my Bubby phoned me every night and my Zaide never failed to pick me up Fridays for Shabbat. He was never a breath late and we had the same conversation every week, as the sun threatened to set. My grandparents lived at the edge of town, and we often had to drive through heavy snow and over treacherous roads, thick with black ice.
He pretended Shabbat dinner was cheap take-out Kentucky Fried chicken and my mouth watered the whole time, as I wondered what dishes my Bubby had really prepared after a whole week of eating sticky plain noodles.
“What’s for dinner Zaide?”
“Colonel Sanders,” or sometimes, “Scott’s Chicken Villa.”
Every Friday the same story and I’d press him,
“Come on Zaide, is it a chopped liver and brisket Friday or a gefilte fish and chicken Friday?”
“I told you, we got a bucket of Colonel Sanders waiting. You like French fries, don’t you?”
Somehow he managed to make me laugh out loud every time. After Shabbat my Zaide would drive me home. It was the cheapest, seediest place to live in the city, but the bus stop across the street was along the university route and it was all I could afford.
My Bubby was terrified to wait alone in the car.
“Don’t be long,” she half-pleaded each time. I could see she was already shifting unsteadily in the front seat, anticipating those few moments alone in the parking lot.
I kept a cat who ate the cockroaches and I always left my balcony windows open, as an emergency entrance for the truckers next door, who frequently locked themselves out. There was a large flat rock below my balcony that allowed them that extra foot of height they needed to grab the first rung. One of them would allow the second to stand on his shoulders, and he would hoist himself onto my balcony. From there it was a drunken hop home. I was too young and naïve to be frightened.
After Shabbat it took about three days for my Bubby’s phone call, “They called me from the bank. It’s my name on the back of those checks, you know.”
“Bubby I’m sorry. It was supposed to be different this time.”
“Well, I paid it, dear.”
“Thank you, Bubby.”
“You’re coming Friday eh, dear? Don’t keep your grandfather waiting.”
I pulled myself from my memories and brushed my lips against the hard stone. I placed a rock on each of their graves. I was not at the funeral; a price I pay for living across the world. It was my first visit.
Image from The Microsoft Office Clipart Collection
Guest Author Bio
CANADIAN GILA GREEN is a writer, editor, and EFL teacher. As the daughter of a Yemenite- Israeli father and an Ashkenazi- Canadian mother, she often writes about the immigrant experience including dislocation, alienation, and racism. She spent a year living in South Africa before she settled in Israel between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. She is the author of Passport Control (S&H Publishing, 2018), White Zion (Cervena Barva Press, 2019) and King of the Class (NON Publishing, 2013). Her stories have appeared in dozens of literary magazines in five countries including: The Fiddlehead, Fiction, Akashic Books Mondays are Murder Series, Many Mountains Moving, and Jewish Fiction.
Please visit: www.gilagreenwrites.com