Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Employment (01/26/12)
TITLE: The Curtain Fell
By Tracy Nunes
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Tateh (Father) would often say, "This nonsense will surely pass. We will do what we can to get along, to show them that we are no threat."
My brother's eyes never failed to flame at my Tateh's words. Seeing the red glare of anger on Yakob's face, he pleaded with him to reconsider his contrary ways,
"My son, sometimes you must set aside your pride to protect your family. Pride will not feed your family, or keep them from the snare of evil men."
Yakob's fear and frustration overcame his respect for our father. "You are a fool, Tateh! They will keep coming, more and more of them. They will keep coming until every one of us is dead. My contrary ways might not guarantee our safety, but your conforming ways will surely bring death to us!"
The sting of Yakob's words hit Tateh in the face like the back of a hand. Shock gave way to grief and gentle Tateh slumped in his chair, a sigh of resignation falling from his lips.
Yakob's anger ebbed as he realized the impact of his words. The man he'd always looked up to - strong and capable of anything - look defeated. He regretted the harshness of his words, though he was certain they were true.
A few moments of uneasy silence, then Tateh spoke,
"Like you, Yakob, I fear for our family, our home...<i>my practice</i>. I fear that no matter what we do, we will meet a bad ending. But, I must appeal to their hearts. I have delivered their babies, doctored their aging parents. I have wept with them when their loved ones died too soon."
Tateh paused, taking in a ragged breath, "I have to believe that means something. That keeping peace with them will make a difference."
"We can run, Tateh! If you will not fight, you must run! Hadassah and Mameleh (Mother) will not survive the camps if they come for them. Neither will you!"
Mameleh, quiet until this moment, turned to Tateh, her eyes full of both the fear of what the Fuehrer would do and love for her husband,
"Perhaps, it is time to question if the path of least resistance will save us, my Beloved. Already, our neighbors, once trusted with the lives of our children, are cold and unwelcoming. If it is not too late, perhaps we should hear Yakob's words. Perhaps we should flee."
Tateh rose silently from the kitchen table and walked to the room at the end of the hallway, his office.
"I will sleep on it tonight. Perhaps Yahweh will show me His way."
I tiptoed down the hall and watched him quietly from the door as he walked slowly around his office, fingering his stethoscope and moving his hand lovingly over his medical books. When his chest heaved with sobs I backed away, unable to bear his anguish.
Morning came and found us hushed and waiting; no words were said as we awaited his decision. Tateh went to the window overlooking the courtyard, standing with his spine straight and his shoulders back. We held our breaths as the silence ticked on. Finally, he turned around, looking each of us in the eyes one at a time,
"There is a time to stand and a time to flee. One of my patients told me of a safe house taking in our people. I will go to her and see what we must do. We will have to leave everything behind except the few things we need to survive."
The next morning came in hushed once again; its silence sharply broken by the sound of trucks, the stomping of boots and angry shouts to open up. Receiving no answer, the wood of the front door was splintered, the hinges pulled off.
A sudden gust of wind disguised our flight with the billowing of the curtain at our back window. As we turned the corner the alley, Tateh looked back at the window. The now stilled wind brought the curtain down and with it, his life's calling.
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