Monday, January 4, 2010

Chapter 9: Her Father's Name

When Brachy was thirteen, she had a problem on her hands. She was a teenager, almost a grown up. She couldn't go around calling her father "Daddy". It sounded so babyish. She listened to what the other girls said, the words they used. It was mainly "Abba", sometimes "Tatty", or "Dad". But none of the names were him. This is what she'd called him all her life. This is what he was, her daddy. And how could she start calling him something different; how would she explain. He'd be hurt.

She tried to minimize the damage to her adult image. In public, she'd speak about him as "my father". That sounded reasonable. And when Shuli and Miriam came over, when any of her friends were around, she'd try not to call him anything at all.

Then came the point where they all knew his name. She went from classroom to classroom, every morning, writing his Jewish name in big curvy letters on the blackboard. Shimon Yosef son of Rachel Devora. Never mind that he was only Shimon Yosef for Aliyos in Shul, that he was Sam the rest of the time. This was the name they had to pray for.

That last week, the week he lay in Intensive Care, and slipped day by day away from them, she still called him "my father". She passed a cluster of classmates, gathered outside the grocery store, as she made the trek from hospital to home.

"Where've you been Brachy? We haven't seen you in a while."

"My father's very ill." She said. 'Please Daven for him. Please Daven for my father."

But what she wanted to yell was "Daddy is dying. Inside that cold white building. While you're standing here."

And now, Abba, Father, Daddy, it didn't make a difference anymore. She didn't have to worry about sounding childish. There was no one to call. God had taken that problem away from her.

"Do you remember how Daddy used to make us pancakes, on Motzai Shabbos?", she asked Shlomo.

Shlomo nodded slowly, "Yes, he was so proud that he'd learned how to. We used to add ice cream on top."

He didn't want to forget Daddy, either.


  1. so touching. u've got a talent

  2. Touching, moving, brilliantly written....
    But doesn't feel at all like it belongs in the book.

  3. Really it belongs earlier on, but Brachy only came into the picture recently .I'll do some rearranging of chapters once it's all written.

    This does belong in the book though, because Brachy's father is dead, and I'd rather describe it this way than write "Brachy's father died when she was a teenager".
    A rule I'm aspiring to is 'Show, don't tell'.

  4. I like this chapter, it's very touching, but I have a question. It certainly accomplishes the "show, don't tell" thing, but is it too much of an unnecessary distraction?
    Couldn't you show that her father died by throwing in a line in an otherwise relevant chapter?