The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 35

December 30, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 35 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. 

“You know what condition I was in when I got to my parents’ house that morning…” Blumi folded the blanket with jerky motions. The hotel room was beginning to feel stifling, as if it was closing in on her. She wanted to be in her own home, in her own room. But how could she go home now?

The simplest solution would be to ask Beri who the bachur who had been at the house that night was. But she couldn’t admit to Beri the fact that this was what had been on her mind during those moments. It was bad enough admitting it to herself.

“Not that that was on my mind at the time,” she heard herself explaining to Gideon. “Really, it wasn’t!” She sat down on the bed, fingering the orange cyclamen flower printed on the velour blanket. Who drew orange cyclamens, for Heaven’s sake?

“What wasn’t on your mind?” Her husband was trying to follow her train of thought—albeit not very successfully.

“The yad. My father’s silver yad.”

“Hmmm,” he said, with commendable patience. “And then?” A banal phrase that doesn’t give away how much you don’t understand what the other person is talking about…

“I wanted to go into the room where Abba was,” she said, her eyes wide. He could see that again, she was reliving those difficult moments of frantic packing, the flight, landing in Eretz Yisrael…

“And then I saw that the cabinet in the hallway was open. It was a little strange, because when had it been opened, and what for? I got nervous that thieves had managed to enter. The shelves there were almost empty; it hadn’t usually been a very full cabinet to begin with. I stuck my hand in and felt the envelope.”

“The envelope?”

“Where my father had hidden his silver yad.”

“I see. Nu?”

“It was only when I stood at the door of the room that I saw…” Her voice broke. “That apparently the one who had opened the cabinet had been Beri, to take out my mother’s old copper candlesticks. You know, when they got married after the war, my father didn’t have money to buy her more expensive candlesticks, so he purchased something simple. Beri had just taken them out to light two candles…” She stared at the orange cyclamen.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 34

December 23, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 34 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. 

A busy signal. And then again it was busy. Finally, on the third try, Blumi reached her husband.

“Gideon? Gideon, where are you?”

“What do you mean, where am I? I’m on the kitchen porch. I had an urgent call to take.”

“I don’t like it when we are with my family and you go out for urgent calls, but whatever. The point is that I need your help now.”

“Fine, I’m done. I’ll go back to the dining room. But wait, where are you?”

“Shhhh…” Blumi pleaded into her cell phone. “I don’t want them to figure out that you’re talking to me. I want to leave.”


“Yes, let’s go back to the hotel. I can’t go back to my brothers right now. Tell them something, whatever you want to make up…oh, and don’t forget my pocketbook. The mustard-colored one. It’s on the couch.”

“I don’t understand, Blumi,” he whispered. She hoped he’d understood and gone back into the kitchen, and that this conversation was not taking place in front of the open eyes and ears of her older brothers. “Where are you? Here in your parents’ building?”

Zichronam l’vrachah. No, I went out for a few minutes. I’m downstairs now, near our car. I want you to come down so we can leave.”

“But what should I tell them?”

How could someone who was so smart in business not understand something so simple? “I don’t know; tell them whatever you want! That I left for a few minutes, and I can’t come back right now. That I’m not feeling well, and I feel like I’m going to collapse. I don’t know what, but could you just come down already?”

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 33

December 16, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 33 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. 

Blumi didn’t care for the cakes and petit fours that her sisters-in-law had sent for the siblings’ meeting; it seemed as though they were competing for the title of most talented pastry chef. The fact that she wasn’t at all a good baker herself was just a side point. After all, she could buy as many of these cakes as she liked, if she wanted.

But she didn’t want to. Who needed all these elaborate cakes here? As if they hadn’t just gotten up from shivah yesterday…

“Why aren’t you eating anything, Blumi?” her oldest brother, Beri, asked.

“I don’t have an appetite,” she replied, glancing grimly at the empty china closet. They should send all these cakes straight in there. They were pretty to look at, but that was all, at least in her opinion.

“Oh, you’re wondering about the china closet?” Beri had misinterpreted her glance. “I told you that the first time Abba was hospitalized for a longer time, he asked me to take all the silver to my house, for safety.”

“Yes, I remember,” she said tersely.

“Those need to be divided, as well,” her second brother, Shmulik, remarked.

“That’s the simplest thing,” Beri said. “We have some more serious things to deal with, before the silver. Things like Abba’s factory, and the buildings in Yerushalayim. What is with those?”

Words were tossed around, ideas were aired, and thoughts were shared, but Blumi didn’t hear any of it. She sat with her chin resting in her palms, her eyes staring blankly at the wall. Gideon stood near the window, smoking. Strange how a domineering businessman like him could suddenly become practically invisible here, despite being in the same room as the others. He didn’t like getting involved in her family’s financial affairs—she knew that. But her brothers often asked him for help and advice. Beri had been the one to ask him to come now, as well.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 32

December 9, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 32 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. 

Blumi walked into her hotel room and kicked off her shoes. This week had been draining beyond belief. She sank into the rattan chair in the corner of a room and passed a hand over her eyes. When she’d first arrived in Israel, she’d planned to stay at her father’s apartment for the week of shivah, but Gideon claimed that her brothers would not take kindly to the idea.

“What will they think, that I’m planning to take over the apartment?” she’d argued. “That I’ll lock the door from the inside? That I won’t let them in? What, exactly?”

“I don’t think they’ll suspect that those are our plans, especially since we are not lacking for such an apartment by any stretch, baruch Hashem. But family members never like it when one of them displays an especially strong connection to one of the possessions of the parents who have passed on, and certainly not something the size of an apartment.” He took a deep breath. “Inheritances are always a sensitive subject.”

To her relief, he did not mention the rift with his own brother, Shimon. She had no energy to hear about his complex family entanglements right now, and anyway, it wouldn’t happen to her. She wouldn’t fight with any of her brothers over the yerushah; she’d know how to go about it in a smart way.

“Fine,” she’d murmured then, a bit dazed. “So we’ll sleep in a hotel.”

She didn’t mention the idea of staying at her father’s apartment again, even when, on the fourth day of shivah, the last visitor didn’t leave until after two in the morning, for some reason, and she and Gideon were almost collapsing with exhaustion. But the warning note in his voice stopped her from suggesting that they sleep there. Gideon had had a bitter experience with regard to inheritances, family relations, and brothers, and she didn’t want to step on any toes. She wouldn’t overtly display to her brothers any special connection to her father’s apartment, just like she’d made sure that they hadn’t seen the envelope she’d given to that bachur. She had no idea who, if any of them, even knew about it, although she had a feeling that her brothers knew something. But whether or not that was the case, it was clear that they would not take kindly to her interest in the yad from the shelf in her father’s top cabinet.

But what did they want? Or rather, what would they want if they would know about it? Over the years, her brothers had always been so practical, so lacking emotion for anything nostalgic. Who had always been Abba’s listening ear? To whom had he told his stories from the past? And to whom had he said, “You want it? Then it will be yours after my one hundred and twenty”?

Only to her. Only her.

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The Cuckoo Clock – Chapter 31

December 2, 2019

Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 31 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. 

At 6:40 a.m., when Binyamin was awakened by the tumult around him, he still felt quite ill. But when he opened his eyes a second time an hour later, he felt somewhat better.

“Ima?” he croaked, half asleep—and then suddenly blushed into his pillow. Why was he calling his mother like a little boy?

He washed his hands into the basin that someone had placed near his bed, and got up. Yes, he was more steady on his feet than yesterday. No, actually not. He sat down again quickly.

The morning noises that he loved, and which he’d almost forgotten, wafted into the dining room. Dishes clinking in the kitchen, and cries of, “Where’s my brush?” and, “Who’s helping me find Nati’s other shoe?” and, “Ima tell him to stop; he’s touching my chocolate milk!” Rapid footsteps, a falling chair, a giggle, a whiny wail, and Devoiry’s voice asking Itzik to please tell her already what he wanted in his sandwich.

“Binyamin?” Ima walked into the room. “How are you? How was your night?”

Baruch Hashem, I think I feel a little better.”

“Really?” She looked at him doubtfully. “Because you don’t look better. I’m leaving to work in a few minutes. I made you some tea in a thermos. I want you to make sure to drink a lot, okay? Do you want another blanket?”

“No, if I get cold I’ll take one of the blankets from the other boys’ beds.”

“Fine, they’re folded up in Nati’s crib.”

“Thanks.” He tried to smile, but his facial muscles ached. He must really have the flu or something.

Little heads kept popping in from behind the accordion door.

“Bye, Binyamin!”

Refuah sheleimah!”

“Get well soon!”

“Don’t leave before we get back, okay?”

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