Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 21 of a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.
Copyright © Israel Bookshop Publications.
Senica, Czechoslovakia – 5708/1948
Ulush struggled with the window, but was unable to close it.
“It’s a little bit broken.” Her hostess’s pleasant voice came from behind. The young woman turned around, slightly embarrassed at the sight of the tray that had been placed on the round table.
“Just some coffee,” said Tessa Lieber as she poured milk into a cup of boiling water. “You haven’t eaten a thing since you got here.”
“Thank you,” Ulush said, and tried not to inhale the odor of the cows that wafted into the room together with the darkness and the cold. “But…I can’t really drink right now.”
“You have to,” Tessa insisted. “You don’t plan to fast, do you? You mustn’t!”
“I’m worried.” Ulush took the cup of coffee with trembling hands. “And you are so nice, welcoming in two people who just knocked at your door with no advance notice…”
“The pleasure is ours. We love having guests.” Tessa sat down on the edge of the bed in the small room. “And the fact that my husband knows your husband from before the war gives us a very good feeling. Drink, Ulush.”
“I’m so worried. And the smell of the cows bothers me. And I miss Edo…” And suddenly, Ulush burst out crying, and put the full cup back on the tray. A few drops splattered onto the floor.
“Who is Edo?” Tessa asked, rising to draw the curtain. If the window didn’t close, at least the curtain could filter out some of the smell that bothered her guest.
“It’s the child who was with us for four days. I helped smuggle him out of a gentile institution. He’s so small…and alone…and now, after Gustav suddenly disappeared on him, we also did!”
“I imagine that you had no choice,” Tessa said, trying to make sense of what Ulush was saying, despite not understanding much of it.
“It’s true. The risk was too big after Gustav disappeared.”
“And who is Gustav?”