Without a Trace – Chapter 30

January 31, 2013

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 30 of a new online serial novel, Without a Trace, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.

“It’s true that I invited you to give you a dressing down, so to speak,” Yehuda admitted, “but that was not the only reason. I really was looking for a friend to come here with me. Clear so far?”

“Let’s say.”

“And I don’t think there’s any reason to pity you, particularly. Okay,” he said when he saw Zevi’s grimace. “I imagine that you’ve experienced some tough stuff, but overall you are, baruch Hashem, healthy, and I don’t think that your foot gives you a lot of problems in your day-to-day life.”

Zevi peeked at Yehuda’s face out of the corner of his eye as they walked side by side through the pathways of the moshav. They took care to keep their voices low. Here and there, they heard an isolated moo from a cow suffering insomnia, and there was a chill in the air. Zevi shivered for a second, although he didn’t know why. He wasn’t cold.

“It’s not as simple as you think,” he said finally. “Doesn’t give me problems? I wish. You try to live with the constant pressure that people shouldn’t see your foot, and you’ll realize how complicated it is. My feet have to be covered all the time. I never go to the beach, and there is no such thing as slippers, even at home—as long as my little brothers and sisters are up.”

“I didn’t think for a second that it was a simple thing,” Yehuda agreed. “Didn’t I see how pressured you were in yeshivah? But I said that it isn’t the foot that’s causing the problem.”

“So what is?” Zevi stopped, discovering that they had reached a stone bus shelter. He entered, without saying a word, and sat down on the stone bench adorned with black scribbles. Yehuda sat down beside him.

“You,” Yehuda said simply.

Me?” Keep Reading…

Without a Trace – Chapter 29

January 24, 2013

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 29 of a new online serial novel, Without a Trace, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.

“What is this all about?” Eliad wrinkled his nose at the big box that Don seemed to pull out of nowhere.

“Something natural,” his friend announced and opened the cover. “As natural as could be. Where do you think I disappeared to these past two hours? I took a little trip to Kfar Yona, to Sol. He sent you this.” In the dark, Don’s eyes looked unnaturally large. “For everyone, really,” he added. “If you want. Lots of people are very pleased with the things that Sol mixes together himself.” Several pairs of eyes rested on the container of translucent white cream in the box. Its color was not uniform.

“It looks gross.” Eliad wrinkled his nose again. “What are those white blobs?”

“And the odor…” Nat said, turning his head to the side. “What is it, exactly? Skunk spray mixed with sour milk?”

“I’d rather keep scratching and not throw up,” someone else joked. “Really, Don, what is this stuff?”

“No problem.” Don smiled nonchalantly and closed the box. “Go and smear Vaseline. Good night, ‘Liad.” It was clear that he was deeply offended.

“Hold it a minute.” Eliad’s tone was contrite. “Don’t run away. What is this cream? Maybe you can explain a bit more about it to us?”

“Sol has a line of products that he makes at home.” Don spoke slowly, as if his listeners were slow to comprehend. “It’s a mixture of herbs that needs to be under the effect of the moon’s rays for a certain amount of time. It’s excellent for small lacerations and localized irritations. I don’t know exactly, but I’m planning to study under him after the army.”

“Cream with an odor from a guy who mixes them under the moon’s rays…” Tzachi muttered. “So, who’s smearing first?”

“Ha, ha,” Don replied. “Get to the point. Does anyone want?”

“Me,” Eliad hurried to say. He couldn’t offend Don too much, and besides, perhaps Sol’s cream was worth something. He had to check it out; in the worst case, if it didn’t do any good, it wouldn’t do any harm.

Anyone passing the group in the next few minutes would have laughed at the strange scene. The boys all stood silently, pressing tissues soaked with the white substance to the affected patches of skin. Don stood in the center, waiting for reactions. He wasn’t tense; he trusted Sol enough to know that his cream had to help. Eliad would also have to admit this time that Sol knew what he was doing.

“Wow!” one of the boys said suddenly. “Amazing!” Keep Reading…

Without a Trace – Chapter 28

January 17, 2013

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 28 of a new online serial novel, Without a Trace, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.

Now, fourteen years later, Eliyahu watched as Chanoch and Shoshi approached. He stood up straight from the wall he’d been leaning against and walked toward them. His steps were confident, his hand outstretched to Chanoch. Shoshi hung back and observed the exchange of half smiles and handshakes between the two men, followed by the inevitable awkward silence.

“Shall we sit?” Eliyahu asked, motioning to some armchairs in the lobby.

“Good idea,” Chanoch agreed and fell in step beside him. Shoshi followed behind them. The carpet that swallowed their footfalls contributed to the loaded silence.

They took their places, the silence broken only for a moment by the rustle of the threesome settling into the chairs, before once again enveloping them as before

Eliyahu leaned back, knowing that they were both waiting for him to speak. This was it. The time had come.

“I wanted to speak to you about Zevi.” His expression was serious, far more so than Shoshi ever remembered seeing it. “You haven’t heard from me all these years, because I didn’t know what…”—he hesitated for a moment—“what actually happened to him. I thought there was no permanent damage from that incident, but recently…” He paused again.

From her place in an armchair off to the side, Shoshi observed him. He had definitely filled out over the years, and was significantly heavier than she remembered him. That, together with his longer beard and more serious features, made him look more mature than the last time she had seen him. She wondered what Chavi looked like today. She and Chanoch probably didn’t look the same as the last time Eliyahu had seen them, either. When had that been? She couldn’t remember. The two men spoke in low voices, and she observed them from the side, feeling detached. Keep Reading…

Without a Trace – Chapter 27

January 14, 2013

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 27 of a new online serial novel, Without a Trace, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.

“You’re biting yourself, Shoshi,” Chanoch said quietly. Only then did she notice the drop of blood that had dripped onto her sweater. Bloodstains were a hassle to get out in the laundry, and it was more difficult when the garment was 100 percent wool, like this sweater.

Laundry. What was laundry? Which world did it belong to? To a world where a child wakes up in the morning and chirps that he wants bread with cheese for kindergarten, and then later in the day, his mother gets upset because the bread comes home whole, and she berates him that he shouldn’t ask for something that he knows he doesn’t like to eat. Laundry was a word that belonged to a world where the child is very tired at lunchtime, but his mother doesn’t want him to fall asleep, because then he’ll dance around all evening. But sometimes, the child falls asleep anyway, on the floor, because he really is so very small and tired, and then, at twelve o’clock at night, the mother is running after him, trying to get him back into bed. She runs after him. She doesn’t go down to wait for taxis in the heavy rain to get to the hospital, only to hear that they had gotten there too late…

Hashem! Another drop of blood dripped onto her light-colored sweater as Shoshi bit her bottom lip again. Hashem, make Zevi well again. I’ll never get angry at him again. About anything. Let the antibiotics help; let him be fine; make his leg better; don’t let anything happen to him because his mother didn’t take him to the hospital in time.

Tearstains joined the bloodstains on her sweater. She didn’t even have a Tehillim with her, and had no idea where she could find one now, at 6:30 in the morning. The doctors had waited four hours, giving the massive doses of antibiotics a final chance, but when nothing changed, they announced that they were taking Zevi into the operating room. Not one of them asked, “Where were you until now?” or “How come you didn’t notice that the color of his leg is terrible?” They just asked for a signature consenting to the operation, let Chanoch have fifteen minutes to try and reach Rav Shulman by phone, and left them there alone, in the waiting room.

It was so empty. They were the only two people there. Were there no other operations at 6:30 in the morning? Keep Reading…

Without a Trace – Chapter 26

January 3, 2013

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 26 of a new online serial novel, Without a Trace, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.

They stood in the backyard, near the darkened store. Zevi was sleeping in Shoshi’s parents’ house. He still wasn’t himself, but Ima had promised to watch him closely and to alert Shoshi if he would wake up and cry.

“A bit of fresh air, Shoshi’le—you need it! Days upon days, closed up in the house— it isn’t good for you or for Zevi!”

So Chasida had promised to take Shoshi out for a short walk around the house. In the back garden, near the window of the room where Shoshi, Chanoch, and Zevi slept, Chasida stopped.

Nu?” Shoshi stood and faced her sister in an almost combative pose. “So what’s happening with the Blum shidduch?”

“I think he’ll have to wait patiently until after Zevi’s foot heals completely and this will be behind us.”

“Why, because then we won’t be here anymore, and you’ll have a calm, quiet evening?”

“That, too,” Chasida said, “but also so that we’ll be calm and the shidduch won’t raise associations in our minds of the terrible things that happened.”

“What type of terrible things?”

“You’re very tired, sister dear,” Chasida said and stuck her hand into her jacket pocket. Something metallic was clinking inside. “Don’t you understand what I’m trying to tell you? The Blum shidduch came up at a problematic time, although it wasn’t our fault. The evening we sat down—me, Abba, and Ima—to analyze the shidduch from all sides, you suddenly showed up, as did the sweet, young Katz couple. We managed to fight with Eliyahu and injure Zevi—so you can understand why Ima isn’t really in the mood anymore.”

Shoshi looked at her sister penetratingly. “Because you were talking about the shidduch just before all this happened, you’re rejecting the idea?”

“I’m not rejecting it,” Chasida said, her lips pursed.

“So what’s the other reason?” Keep Reading…