February brought an embarrassment of riches; my sister has a new baby, my son was bar mitzvahed, we have a litter of baby bunnies. Also, two of my stories were published, and another has been selected to be in the inaugural issue of a new literary magazine. I am reproducing here the first 357 words of The Messiah, which is presently appearing in Jewishfiction.net, an exciting new online journal showcasing, you guessed it, Jewish fiction. To read the rest of the story, click on the link below.
At around two in the morning, my mother shook me awake. The Messiah was coming. There was no doubt about it, he’d been spotted ten miles outside of Wlodawa. At this rate, he would be here by morning. Get up, get up. We had to pack.
She left me to dress. It was a cold November night, gale force winds rattling the roof tiles and chimney pots. Reluctant to surrender the warmth of my bed, I shut my eyes tight and snuggled down into the covers to consider this information.
It wasn’t as if there hadn’t been signs. Strange lights in the sky, unusual weather. A dybbuk had taken possession of the tailor’s wife. An actual Golem had saved the lives of two-hundred and fifty people being led off to slaughter. A whole battalion of Deutschen, wiped out by mysterious forest creatures. The news was on everyone’s lips. We were in the throes of an epic showdown between good and evil. Messianic times, for sure.
Downstairs, I heard the sound of my mother’s voice, hurried, anxious. There would be time for exhilaration later. Now, she had to make certain that everyone would have enough food and clothing for the long journey to Eretz Yisroel, the Promised Land.
It was then that I heard it, a tread as light as a cat’s footfall. The rustling of cloth, the faintest of sighs. The end of my bed depressed, just a bit.
“Get off of my bed, Temma,” I said loudly. My sister liked to sneak in when she could. When I was little, I allowed her under the blankets with me, but I was twelve now, almost a man. There was no answer. Annoyed, I stuck my head out from the covers.
A stranger was sitting there, in a long white gown tied with a rope around the waist. Over it, he wore a long robe woven with stripes. On his feet, sandals.
“Hey, kid. Do you mind if I stay here for a minute?” he said. He had long brown hair that he wore parted in the middle, and a small neat beard. “It’s been a long night.”