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  • Night and Tarts

  • Passionate Pen

    Member
    May 8, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    Rejected by the ami living 🙁 yet I still hope to publish one day Iyh

    Night and Tarts

    The daily life in the DP camp was anything but monotony. Yes, we were all doing our tasks day in day out, but we were grateful for our own beds, showers and privacy. Everyone had their chores that needed to get done so that our schedules would run smoothly. The exhilarating feeling of doing what you enjoyed most was renewed each day.

    I was a chef and baker. My culinary skills were buried in a deep place within me for the past years, forgotten by the hell I endured. Now, when a cook is needed to fill the hungry masses of people that stopped by then moved on to rebuild their lives, I was dubbed with the title “Breindel the Baker”.

    A look at my build, slight and petit one wouldn’t believe that I can lift barrels of stone and piles of bricks. The Nazis took care of that, making me fit to cook for a full house, all three meals, without trouble. Yet, my distinct red hair did give away my steel determination.

    Our hearts and bodies were still recuperating from gehinom. If an outsider would gaze at me living life on a deserted lot making do with whatever I’ve got, they wouldn’t notice the nightmares and sudden memories that would hit me in broad daylight.

    In the darkness of the night a calm serenity washes over me. I take long walks around the perimeter of the camp. The inky blue sky stretches over my head as far as the eye can see. I walk beside the fence enclosing my present home, the yellow glow of the lamps illuminate my way. I quicken my pace as my mind feverishly fights with the petrifying thoughts. I am so afraid. Afraid of day, afraid of light, scared of everything that used to be. Blocking out the noises, the voices the screams and the shouts I inhale the silence. In the pitch darkness I feel somewhat safe.

    *1940- 6 years ago*

    It was a warm night in the summer of 1940. Standing in our backyard surrounded by leafy green plants and rose bushes. At the young age of 18 and 3 months I was celebrating my engagement! Standing beside my husband to be I beamed at my friends and family. My fathers younger brother suggested his chavrusah, Aryeh Muller, for me. Before I knew what was flying my parents informed me they have found my bashert. Simcha and gratitude to Hashem knew no bounds. I was in seventh heaven!! The night was filled with promise and dreams that enveloped me in a warm embrace.

    The very next morning found me in our cramped kitchen at the break of dawn. My apron spotted with flour, sugar and lemon zest. Expressing my profound emotion in a way I knew best.
    My baking hobby has taught me many tricks of the trade. But it was my special custard tart that I slaved over. It was a mouthwatering delicacy that I perfected over the years. I spent all my empty hours in the kitchen producing scrumptious dishes. I measured and weighed, pounded and shaped putting my heart into the dishes that made me a famous baker in our town.

    The golden brown crust of the tart lay pristinely on the china platter. White whipping formed luscious swirls and curled lemon peels adorned the top of the tart. It was ready to be shipped off to my future family, yet, needed a stamp of approval from my fastidious grandma. I laid it carefully on the window sill peeking at it every few moments to make sure its still there.

    Yet cruel plans were in store for us. That afternoon the German soldiers marched into our town disrupting our peaceful lives. The delicious aroma of my tart wafted out the window mingling with the strong smell of the gasoline of the tanks. A trio of beasts stormed into our home grabbing and shoving us out the door. We were unable to take anything with us. The last glimpse of my precious kitchen, I watched a young Nazi slam down his wooden stick crushing my creation. With the crumbling of the cake went my dreams. Down down down. However, our spirit and hope for salvation stuck with us throughout.

    *1946- Now*

    The nightmares keep reoccurring, the day that was supposed to be my happiest turned out to be horrific. The night of my engagement was the last I saw of Aryeh. The last custard tart I baked was for him.
    The tears leak out of my eyes, awakening me harshly of my fitful slumber. Throughout the war in the camps my feelings were frozen. I didn’t allow myself to wallow in the pain and grief. Just continuing to plow on, hoping for the punishment to end.
    But, now when I’m free, surrounded by broken souls, we go back in time and experience all of our emotions. The pain of losing someone I was supposed to build my life with crashes down at me and tortures me every minute of my day. The happiness that surrounded me on my engagement day haunts my very being.
    Days merge into months and life carries on. The sun rises than sets, forcing us to get accustomed to reality. It takes nights of self-talk, baking and use of my everlasting emunah that I start looking forward to the future.

    One day as I skim through my calendar I see a big day approaching. My engagement day. Although the feelings of loss still fills me. It stabs me with lesser pain letting me think logically. Yearning for closure of the terrible chapter of my life I decide to bake a large custard tart, something I haven’t done since that fateful day.
    Although I’ve baked plenty of biscotti and bundt cakes, I never had the courage to bake my tart. It brought a flow of memories I wanted to erase from my mind. But to prove to myself I have healed I was going to bake a custard tart today.
    The hot tears interrupt the process of the baking but when the tart finally emerges from the oven a strange serenity I haven’t felt in years washes over me.

    That night I take a brisk walk around the fence. I served the tart to my neighbors celebrating my acceptance of reality. Hashem took my chosson but I can still bake. And for that I needed to be thankful. Breaking into run I circle the camp another two times then, panting, I settle into a worn bench. I breathe the silence, the darkness, and the calmness of the night.

    Suddenly words interrupt my privacy. A voice calls out in the night “Breindel when you finish your walk please stop by. I have a surprise waiting for you.” It was my close friend Chava. I jump from my place, a surprise these days can mean from a silly gift to a lost relative. Wishing it to be the latter I gently knock at her door and what greets me there, startles me to the core. Aryeh Muller.

    Over custard tart and tea Chava dispels my confusion by explaining the course of events.
    “Aryeh is my first cousin. His father and my father were brothers. He arrived late this morning. When he identified himself to me I bombarded him with questions about his whereabouts throughout the war. But de did not want to answer any questions before I answered his. His first inquiry was, “Do you know someone that by the name Breindel the Baker?”

    Chava was breathless after rehashing the days events. Starry-eyed, I stumble out of her kitchenette into the solitude of the night. With the stars twinkling at me I marvel at Hashem’s ways.
    Six years of survival.
    The anniversary of our engagement.
    My decision to bake the tart.
    My acceptance of the harsh reality.
    And, finally the reuniting with my chosson.
    To me it seemed like a fairy tale. A tale that included sheer agony, torture and suffering. But some real life tales do end in Happily Ever After.

  • Elisheva Halle

    Member
    May 10, 2020 at 2:12 am

    I think the story is amazing and the message is so crucial: acceptance. Something so relevant for our lives today! I think the story can be enhanced in this way: focus on showing and not telling. I struggled with this for years, but when I learned this tip, my writing was greatly enhanced, and I think will make this story publishing material. See this link to learn more about the art of showing v.s telling https://jerryjenkins.com/show-dont-tell/

  • riva pomerantz

    Administrator
    May 10, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Truly haunting, Passionate Pen, and written with beautiful, tragic imagery where I can visualize the luscious custard tart juxtaposed with the barbaric Nazi brutality. I also want to commend your for utilizing our Gentle Critique category where you bravely put out a piece for other writers to offer feedback. This is how we get better–together! And I love how Elisheva Halle truly gave gentle, constructive feedback–great link, @Elisheva Halle! Thanks for sharing!

    One thing I would also suggest is to look at your tenses. There seems to be some present and some past tense at different parts of the story. It can be an amazing literary technique to shift tenses–it can make a story really come alive. We just have to use it carefully so that it doesn’t confuse the reader. We never want our reader to have to backtrack to try to figure out where s/he is in time or space.

    I want MORE from you!! 🙂

  • riva pomerantz

    Administrator
    May 10, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Truly haunting, Passionate Pen, and written with beautiful, tragic imagery where I can visualize the luscious custard tart juxtaposed with the barbaric Nazi brutality. I also want to commend your for utilizing our Gentle Critique category where you bravely put out a piece for other writers to offer feedback. This is how we get better–together! And I love how Elisheva Halle truly gave gentle, constructive feedback–great link, @Elisheva Halle! Thanks for sharing!

    One thing I would also suggest is to look at your tenses. There seems to be some present and some past tense at different parts of the story. It can be an amazing literary technique to shift tenses–it can make a story really come alive. We just have to use it carefully so that it doesn’t confuse the reader. We never want our reader to have to backtrack to try to figure out where s/he is in time or space.

    I want MORE from you!! 🙂

  • Tziri Schwartz

    Member
    May 10, 2020 at 8:06 pm

    Thanks Elisheva! I had never learnt that before! So true… Story-showing is so much more gripping to read

  • Passionate Pen

    Member
    May 10, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    Thank you all for your feedback!

    Elisheva, I so appreciate your advice.. I’ll definitely work on it!

  • A Willing Pen

    Member
    May 11, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    Wow…this story is incredible! Really moving and touching.
    One general tip I’d suggest is that when writing historical fiction, research helps tremendously to get an accurate picture of our characters’ mindsets, and the world that they live in. A very helpful way to see the world through their eyes is to read a memoir/biography of that era, or interview someone who lived through those events. It’s all in the details!

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