#150 Winter in July

by Cheryl Manning

I clutch my mother’s hand. I’m as motionless as the stone statues in our garden, except for my eyes. They follow the strange man marching through our house in his shiny black boots. He looks at me with so much hate that I can’t breathe.

“Mama, did I do something wrong?”

“Shhhh, sweetie,” she whispers.

The man stands at attention in his starched uniform and announces, “Take the clothes. The contents of the kitchen. The furniture on this list. That’s it. If you take any jewelry, silver, antiques, books, or money, you will be arrested.”

“What’s happening?” I cry after he exits.

“We have to leave. We’ll start a new life. Summer in December. Winter in July. We’ll learn a different language. It’ll be fun.” Mama tries to smile, but her face shows only fear.

The more she explains, the less I understand. Why do I have to leave everything I know and love? My school. My friends. My cat. My library. The musty smell of books is comforting. I love sitting next to mama as she reads to me. The characters jump off the pages to become my best friends.

“But . . . why can’t we stay?”

“Because we’re Jewish.” Mama suddenly looks older. “Pack only clothes.”

But I also grab my favorite book. I don’t care. I won’t leave without it.


Bruce Roush said...

Your story was concise, yet complete. Very gripping. Well done!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Aw. Poor kid has no clue but clutches to the one thing that has brought her pleasure. I love that her security blanket is a book. Well done.

Dino Parenti said...

My only critique of this otherwise compelling story is that perhaps the mother could've said something more subtle than that they were jewish--i feel that was already clear early on. Maybe something that implied they were jewish rather than directly? Not sure what that would be. That said, i think the story is taut and powerful.

Cheryl Manning said...

Thanks all for the kind comments and constructive feedback.

Thomas Joyce said...

I have to echo what Bruce said. So much was expressed in such few words. A very powerful scene.

Cheryl Manning said...

Thomas, thanks for the kind comments. Although my piece is not as cinematic as yours, I went through the same process. This is my first Flash Fiction, but it won't be my last.