Israel Book Shop presents a new online serial novel, The Cuckoo Clock, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.
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With a hungry look in his eyes, he looked out to the distance, gripping the wrought iron bars. His cheek already had a reddened imprint of a leaf, left there by the metal carvings, but he didn’t feel anything. His eyes gazed into the night in an effort to see something.
But, like every night, nothing happened.
He shook the gate and wept quietly, tearlessly and soundlessly. The gate responded with thin wails of its own. Perhaps that was why he didn’t hear the footsteps approaching from behind him.
“Gustav, what is going to be with you?”
The child shrugged but didn’t respond.
“Again you’re out here, shaking in your pajamas? Are you waiting for the soldiers to come and kill you, or do you prefer to die from pneumonia?” The man behind him laughed at his usual joke. “Maybe I need to try and leave you outside one night,” he said. “Come.” And he stuck his big hand into the boy’s small hand.
“No!” the boy objected. As usual.
“Don’t tell me no. Come!” Theodore gripped Gustav’s shoulders forcefully, and the boy writhed away, flailing his arms and legs every which way. He closed his eyes, waiting for the blow. But remarkably, it did not come.
Theodore left him alone.