Saturday, May 31, 2014

One Will Come Back

                                                 
Jennifer and Olivier, high-end commuters, traveled daily from their well appointed homes on the Main Line of Philadelphia to offices in New York City on the 15th and 33rdfloors respectively. One an American Jew, and the other a Lebanese first generation American had a great deal in common. Each day they boarded Amtrak’s 6:10 a.m. train and returned on the 7:15 pm.  Thin laptops and even thinner cell phones, however, ensured they saw screens, but never one another. The fire on Regional Train 127 that Thursday evening permanently altered this routine.

When seated in the exit aisle of an airplane a stewardess asks, “In the event of an emergency, will you be able to follow directions to aid in an evacuation? “ No one asks that on Amtrak. If someone had, Jennifer would have simply said, “No,” and moved her seat. Anxiety was her earned middle name. That feeling that something quite horrible might happen at a moment’s notice flowed in her like plasma, but she worked hard for no one to know. To keep it silenced she took a tiny pill and stayed away from heights, open spaces and high risk. 

The blaring alarm and the smell of smoke filling the car was proof positive that worry is not always a figment of imagination. She fumbled with the red handle marked “Emergency Exit.” A red sticker instructed “Three easy steps” to turn the window into an emergency door.  She read out loud, wishing she were wearing her leopard half-rimmed reading glasses.

1. Locate red plastic handle on window and pull handle toward you.
 2. Use red handle to strip away rubber molding.

 Olivier standing behind her, held his composure for steps one and two, but was not willing for more smoke to fill the car while this petite woman read step three. He reached over her, grabbed the red lever, and yanked on it until the rubber rim and then the glass gave way.

“Go, damn it, go,” screamed the man behind him. Olivier abandoned his trained middle-eastern etiquette, placed his hands on Jennifer’s derriere and began to shove her out the opening. Fortunately she was more afraid of heights than smoke. Resisting, she dug her black heels into the soft cushion of the seat, pressing her hands against the frame. The conductor, sweating through his uniform, shouted “All clear. Fire in the bathroom. Must have been a cigarette. Return to your seats. I’ve put out the fire.”

“Inconsiderate bastards,” mumbled the conductor as he leaned over Jennifer and Olivier to close the window, insisting they sit down next to one another. And if he hadn't, Olivier and Jennifer may never have shared three days in Jerusalem.

And without those days among the sand colored stones of the holy land, Jennifer, very close to the end of middle age, may have reached the official title of senior citizen as an outwardly dutiful wife with an inwardly hardened heart. Instead, her adventure with Olivier returned her to Amtrak Regional Train 127  with the knowledge that passionate adulterous sex is actually not the greatest release from the naturally accruing wounds of married life.  

                                             *****

“Call me for coffee,” Olivier had said causally, handing her his business card when the train had reached 30th Street Station. She could have easily thrown the card in any one of the metal security trashcans that lined her way. But, instead she placed his offering in her exquisitely neat leather wallet behind the Saks Fifth Avenue credit card. It was a receipt for a valuable transaction.

By the time two weeks had passed, the business card of the man who had touched her most privately with his words, and, yet so publicly on a train, was no longer pristine. She had taken it out. Read it. Held it. Turned it. Felt the raised lettering. Lifted it up to the light to stare at the Crane Stationary watermark.

For a few days his card rested in the back slot of her wallet next to the American Red Cross Donor Card. Every September right before Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and every December, during Chanukah, the holiday of miracles, Jennifer lay on the crinkly paper, a needle in her arm, giving up a pint, because her husband intoned that if you, “Do a mitzvah, one will come back to you.”  

Really?  Her time at the law firm confirmed otherwise: “Do a kindness for another and it will surely bite you in the ass.” However, to keep the peace at the holidays, she drove belted into his van to the synagogue basement for the blood drive. The mustiness and rubbing alcohol were only bearable because she worried that if she broke the blood giving ritual she might be struck down. Logic and worry are without question mutually exclusive life forces.

Sometimes, after the band-aid was placed on the crook of her arm, she’d sip the orange juice, feeling miracles and atonement were possible. Maybe there was a glimmer of truth in her husband’s mantra  “Do a mitzvah thing.”  By time she crunched the plastic cup, those infantile thoughts evaporated.

“Married thirty years can make a pair of shoes lose their shine” she had told Olivier on their train ride back to 30th Street. Olivier, obviously younger with only the faintest creases around his eyes when he smiled had been married only 14 years, yet seemed to know exactly what she meant.

He had three children and a wife who cared for them all extremely well. When his parents had come to this country from Lebanon they didn’t know any better, so they moved to West Virginia. Life would have been very different if they had gone to Dearborn, Detroit or New York. Growing up Lebanese in that part of the country was miserable.  His yellow and blue thick silk tie and his briefcase with his own letters monogramed on it telegraphed confidence and accomplishment. How could misery be his founding story?
 
“How many times can you listen to the same joke, and laugh.” He had placed his hand gently on hers to say, "I know."

On the Northeast corridor it is widely understood that you do not even say the shortened “Hi” to address the person sitting in the adjacent seat. Sharing the unexpected danger had caused Jennifer and Olivier to violate that cardinal rule.

In the weeks following their first encounter, Olivier’s card rested in every slot in her wallet except the one next to the picture of her husband and two sons. No sin had occurred, but Jennifer  refused to allow Olivier’s card to touch the photo in her wallet from her youngest son’s bar mitzvah.

At the bar mitzvah, eight years ago, Jennifer, the boys and her husband posed for photos. Posing is as much a part of this right of passage as reading from the Torah. Of course Jennifer had been happy. Her sons did well in school and had friends to keep them busy. Jon looked like his mom. Both had crystal blue eyes. They both had blonde hair. Jon’s was natural.

Jennifer had tried to remind herself the day that photo had been taken that she had “what to celebrate.” She and her husband were permitted to stand on the bimah together. Many of their friends, divorced or separated, couldn’t say as much. The rabbi’s rule:  “If you can’t speak nicely to each, you’ll take turns on the bimah.”

Jennifer’s expression in the photo looked like her dress: perfectly tailored. Her husband, tall with brown hair curling at the back of his neck, always needing a haircut, had worn the same suit to Steven’s bar mitzvah four years previously. This time a round paunch protruded. She had asked, and then pleaded with him to buy a new one that fit. She, as her husband had said, had nagged.  And then she lost it.

“You look like you are still at the hardware store,” she yelled.

“What’s wrong with that? No one seems to mind how I dress, but you.”

“I’m your wife. I’m supposed to care. What happened to you? Where’s the man who bothered to comb his hair? Where’s the man who didn’t leave dirty socks and underwear by his side of the bed?”

“And where’s the woman who wanted to sleep on my side of the bed?”

“Oh shut up.”  His truth hurt. Hormones. Stress. Boredom. The pills she swallowed to quiet anxiety? His fault. My fault?

“You shut the fuck-up,” he amplified. Her husband slammed the dresser. How could she confess, “It’s my fault” while he was yelling at her? How could she say, “I don’t feel very sexy when I know the sound and the smell of your farts, and you know mine. You think that’s sexy?”

The front door thundered. He drove to the synagogue that morning of Jon’s bar mitzvah alone in the van with  "Brown’s Hardware” scrolled across the doors.

 “Dad had to go early to check with the rabbi.”

In those days it was easy for her to pretend the boys couldn’t hear what went on. She thought a house that was so big it had special rooms for shoes and wine and her husband's stamp collection could hide the sound of bitterness. Years later she learned no home, regardless of size, conceals from the children the truth between and a husband and wife.

The photographer had posed the boys solidly between them. What had the photographer seen?

Now, eight years since that photo was taken the doors slammed less often, the boys were out of the house, and the mattress she shared with her husband had a dip in the middle that was rarely crossed.

The day Jennifer decided to make the call from her smart phone she had left that photo on her desk. Enough arbitration. She didn’t need to pull out Olivier’s card. She had it memorized
Olivier Berbera, Vice President, Financial Management International
         Serving the Global Finance Community  
Promoting high-quality research that extends the frontiers of financial knowledge
Phone:  212 200 1515 email: Oberbera@financialintenerational.net



                                                          *****

Basso 56, a neighborhood restaurant on 56th Street, midway between their offices, right off of 7th required walking down a flight of steps to enter. For most people, bending your head on the last step was part of the charm and even helpful when trying for an hour or so to shut out the traffic above ground. For Jennifer, however, it increased her queasy feeling, as it was reminiscent of her early days as a public defender at Holmesburg State Prison. The door frames of the prison, built by Quakers, were intentionally short, forcing criminals and lawyers alike to bend their heads with repentance when entering and exiting a cell.

At their first meal, Jennifer and Olivier learned they both enjoyed dry gin martinis, Hendrix, with extra olives, and like most people who regularly spent time in New York, shared vivid images of human beings jumping out of buildings with plumes of smoke against clear skies. Of course, their mishap on Regional Train 127 did not compare to that, but they admitted to reliving that burning smell over and over again.

“On a train or in an office, a few seconds pass, and life ends. So, live it now,” Olivier said emphatically, pulling the toothpick quickly through his full lips to release the olive into his mouth. She hadn't remembered the small scar under his right eye. On a man it was intriguing.

Filling in the outline of their lives was easy to do over eggplant and buffalo mozzarella in the dimly lit restaurant.

She refused the bread. Every bite at this age had a penalty. Olivier, on the other hand, ate it with gusto, smearing the soft side of the bread into the rich green olive oil with flecks of red pepper and smashed garlic.

“Penn Law School,” Jennifer said over their first martini. “My husband was supposed to go too, but his father died suddenly, heart attack.” Olivier nodded, “Ah, live now, tomorrow it is a heart attack, a building hit by a plane, or a fire on a train.” Didn't that mean you should worry more, she thought.

Her husband had gone to work in the family hardware store to help his mother, and then never left.

“Channel, Sears and K-Mart came and went. Brown’s Hardware remains.” Over the years, her husband made sure his employees knew the difference between a toggle bolt and a molly bolt. She surprised herself with the pride that accentuated her bullet points about the store she had grown to hate for  swallowing up her husband’s ambition.

“‘Even when the customer is only there to compare prices with Home Depot…do a good deed, and a good deed will come back to you.’” She was careful in her telling to replace her husband’s word mitzvah with the English translation “good deed.”  The good deed translation given to her by her grandmother, her Oma, when she was a little girl, fit more neatly with the white tablecloths of the restaurant, or this Arab man of high finance.

Her story was bland compared to Olivier’s. Since a backpacking trip through Europe in college, she and her husband had only gone to Florida, mostly to visit his mother. Planes crash, explode, disintegrate and disappear. So she did everything she could to avoid them.

Olivier spoke Arabic, French and Spanish. He traveled the world for his job, but hadn’t been to Lebanon in ten years. His parents, now in Ohio, still owned a farm in the south of Lebanon where cousins grew, well he wasn’t exactly sure, dates or goats or something. In the near future he’d be selling the farm. “Farms are for farmers, and that is not me.” His silk lavender striped tie resting against a crisp white shirt, framed by a deep grey suit looked more Manhattan than Beirut. His dark eyes and deep voice could go anywhere.

Jennifer had paid the bill. To reciprocate, he would treat next time. The following Wednesday at 1:15 worked for both of them. Basso 56.

At their second lunch he was even more interesting and more interested. While enjoying salad with goat cheese, walnuts and fresh figs, Olivier asked Jennifer many questions. First about her work, what kind of law she practiced? Why arbitration? What did she like least and best? Her work was like Solomon. Yes Christians and Jews know that story. She was surprised to learn Olivier was a Christian and more surprised he had figured out she was Jewish. What had she said? Jennifer Brown, she thought  sounded quietly American. She had been glad her husband’s family had dropped the stein off the name. It hadn’t fit well in the hardware store window.

Then the questions got more personal. What were her parents like? Her grandparents? What was it like to be  a Jew in America?  How was it different for her than it was for her parents? And her sons, did they think of themselves as Jews or Americans?

As for being Jewish, well that is something she rarely thought about it. It felt odd sharing thoughts about being Jewish with an Arab. Yes, he was an American, but still was it a betrayal to tell someone who had cousins that probably were at war with your cousins that being Jewish meant little? She was an American first and foremost.

Her childhood home had a menorah that was kept in a plastic bag. The family lit candles occasionally. Miracles, her mother was very clear, did not happen outside of Disneyland. The family always had a Christmas tree. “You live in America, so you act it,” her mother insisted drowning out the voices of her Oma.

She assumed her sons would carry on the tradition. They really didn’t talk about it. Maybe they’ll have a menorah in a plastic bag too.

 “I don’t usually talk to people about having immigrant parents who barely spoke English,” said Olivier leaning closer. “Sure, every American comes from somewhere,” he said, "but, you are not fully American, until that fact is a forgotten footnote.” He liked how Jennifer was fully American. She wasn’t sure how to take that.

His cell phone rang.

Jennifer had put her phone on vibrate. She had told her secretary that she had a doctor’s appointment. There was no reason to lie. Nothing but friendship had happened between them, but she didn’t want Nancy, who tended to be nosey, asking about her black v neck dress or her new perfume.

Olivier stepped away from the table to take the call near the open kitchen. His full brows went up and down following the movement of his hands. The words weren’t clear, but his strong emotion was. Was it his wife?

“I’m furious” Olivier said returning to the table, placing his cell phone back in his breast pocket.

“Young employees have no work ethic. Things get hard. They bolt.”

Jennifer didn’t want to shush him, but people sitting two tables away turned their heads to see the commotion.

“Monday we leave for a conference in Jerusalem. Just like that my assistant quits. You can be sure he won’t get a recommendation.” Olivier ran his hand down his silk tie trying to return it, and himself to a previous state. He scooted his chair fully under the table.

“I’m sorry,” Jennifer said.

“Oh, just work,” he said stirring the fine lines of vermouth back into the gin.

“Ha,” he erupted out of his silence, “You said you’ve never been to the Middle East. Come to Jerusalem.”

This was much more than she had hoped her black dress could evoke. In the past decade, she had occasionally day dreamed about such a proposal. She had never had, or tried to make the opportunity real.  Marriage was a contract, and contracts were not to be broken.

But it was her Oma’s voice that urged her on. “If not now, when?” Oma would say to her when she was deciding something little like going out to play or something big like if she should take ballet lessons. Oma, would stroke her hair with advice that sounded more like, “I love you more than life itself.”  If not now, when was the next time a man with a full head of dark hair and a trim body was going to invite her to an exotic destination?  How many pills would it take to get on the plane? She couldn’t say that out loud so the only objection she could utter was, “I don’t have a passport.”  

“You can get an emergency passport in 48 hours. I’ll have the changes made and email you everything you need. I’m leaving Sunday. My assistant’s ticket is for Monday.”

Olivier paid the bill. After climbing back to the bustle of the street, he bent over to kiss Jennifer on each cheek.  “See you in Jerusalem.” Instead of taking a cab, she walked forty blocks back to her office in her black patent high heels.

                                              ****
Ari Ben Cannaan, courageous underground Haganah leader, and Kitty Fremont, American-gentile nurse and grieving widow, were an unlikely couple in this Promised Land, sipping martinis as they began their love affair with polite conversation on the terrace of the King David Hotel. The full orchestra plays, “This land is mine. God gave this land to me, this brave and ancient land...”

Ari, played by dreamy blued-eyed Paul Newman, and Kitty, played by the seductress Eva Marie -Saint, hears the theme song revealing what’s bubbling deep within Ari’s heart.   “So take my hand and walk this land with me. Though I am just a man,” the violins soften, “when you are by my side with the help of God I know can be strong.”  How could Kitty resist? She joins Ari, against the British, the Arabs, and the whole wide world so the Jewish people can have a homeland.  

Now, Jennifer sat on the very same terrace of the King David Hotel, vividly recalling the 1960’s movie of her childhood, Exodus. As a little girl, Oma dressed in her usual floral house dress, pockets filled with tissues, had let her watch the movie on the wooden TV set with a rabbit ear antenna. Once her mother caught them and threw a tantrum. “That crap is for old people and superstitious idiots.”

Walking on the very stones where Ari and Kitty had stepped made the movie replay in Jennifer’s memory. In the morning sun, she had goose bumps. Was this going to be her story too-- joining with an unlikely lover in the Promised Land?

Her tour guide, Liran, or if she found it easier to call him Ron, met her for a full day of touring. Olivier would join her on the terrace for dinner at 9 o’clock.

Their only stop of the day was the newly renovated, surprisingly impressive, Israel Museum with exhibits on everything she had only learned bits and pieces of as a child. Each room of artifacts told a story about things grounded in the superstitious myths her mother had banned.

Dressed in khakis from head to toe, Ron, a former army officer, explained as if she were a Christian, how Jews have marked the life cycle for centuries. Well, she knew about bar mitzvah, her husband had insisted on that one. The rest was mostly foreign.

“Brit,” she read under the white lace infant’s gown. “This ceremony brings a Jewish boy into the covenant between God and the Jewish people.”

“Oh, Bris.” Jennifer said with some recognition. She hadn’t known the Modern Hebrew word. She had refused that ritual the traditional way when the boys were born. Her husband had insisted they do something so he had the doctor in the hospital perform the circumcisions. Her husband sing sang some prayers.

Ron explained “berit” means covenant, which is a contract. “A boy gives some skin and in return he is connected to his people.”

“Quid pro quo, I give you this and you give me that, it is the fundamental of any contract,” she went on a bit about her work to Ron. Contracts, Jennifer understood. And she was readying herself to break one that evening. Loopholes are not that hard to find.

“A ketubah, also is a contract,” Ron pointed out when they walked past the white bridal gowns from Yemen, Russia and England. The marriage contract is between three parties.

 “Three?”

 “Yes, between a husband, a wife, and God.”  Where had God had been in her marriage?  Where had she been for the last decade or so? Her husband? Was the contract null and void? 

“The chupah the marriage canopy, is a symbol, of the home you build together. The sides are open, there are coming and goings. And sometimes you need more of one than the other,” Ron said holding his tour guide badge with Hebrew letters as if this were the most official of instructions.

“See,” Ron, pointing to the glass resting on a napkin, "the husband breaks the glass and everyone calls, ‘Mozel tov.” The glass symbolizes the fragility of happiness. So easily broken.”

She and her husband had been married in Philadelphia’s City Hall. The only broken glass was out on the street left from drunks.

Toward the end of the day they walked passed the ritual objects for death. Her parents had been cremated according to the instructions in their will. Oma was buried in a white shroud like the one behind the glass case.

“You wear this when you push up daisies and on Yom Kippur,” Oma had shown her the white coat folded in the cedar chest by the foot of her bed. “Remember,” Oma had said, “At Yom Kippur, like the day of your death, which can be any day, you stand before God who asks you, “Have you lived only for your self, and if you have, what are you? “ This very instruction guided all of Jennifer's pro bono work.

Liran had done an excellent job of guiding her through the museum filled with light and art and inspiration. Really it was like any you might see in New York. Jennifer expressed appreciation and said it was more than enough for a day. By six o’clock he returned her to the King David Hotel.

Jennifer’s flight had arrived in Tel Aviv at five that morning. After ten hours on the plane and a full day at the museum, she’d shower, rest a bit then meet Olivier for dinner.

After the cool shower she rubbed almond cream bought at a special counter at Saks on her elbows, knees, heels, and soles. They were dry spots that daily said, “You’ll look more like Oma soon.“ Eye cream, neck cream, and face cream followed, and then cover up, blush, mascara and lipstick. She washed down her pill for cholesterol, with two pills for anxiety and reached for her new white dress.

Treating herself to nice things was something she had learned from Oma who had quoted a rabbi “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” Jennifer turned to look at her figure in the full-length mirror, to the right and to the left. She took pride in the fact that she was the same size as she was in her twenties. Same size doesn’t mean same figure. A dress can only cover so much. The dark would certainly be kind to her nakedness.

Thirty minutes until meeting Olivier for dinner. Butterflies just like a teenager. She rested her head on the pillow. She woke again at 4 a.m. Her dress was damp. She clicked on the light.

Trying to orient herself to the fact she was standing in an Israeli hotel in the middle of the night sweating and alone, Jennifer put on her half-rimmed glasses to read the note, “Saw you were sleeping. See you tomorrow for dinner. O.”

Her mouth was parched. The dream she had just had, played back in fits and starts.

A judge swirled overhead. Was she wearing a burial shroud or a wedding gown?

 “Liar,” The judge banged. “You broke it.” The bearded judge threw glass bottles at her. Run. Run.  

Yes, she had lied when she told her husband there was a conference in Chicago. She’d be taking the train. Always supportive, he kissed her goodbye. Jennifer had hoped he couldn’t smell the excitement on her. She told Nancy she was taking a few days vacation. “Call my cell for emergencies only.”

In the dream, the bottles shattered across her face. Kitty Fremont wiped the blood while Jennifer sipped orange juice from a martini glass on the terrace of the King David Hotel. Smoke. Burning cigarettes. Atone. Run. Was that her husband or Olivier covered in blood?

“You broke the contract,” John Quincy Adams and the rabbi screamed. The rabbi was Oma.

Oma never screamed. She cooked and talked and hugged, but never screamed.

“This ancient land of mine.” Paul Newman held her in his arms and kissed Jennifer's cheek, lips and then her neck.  He touched her breasts, ran his hand across her stomach and up her thighs. He rubbed between her legs, again and again. Some version of a dark hair Ari pressed his engorged force into her. As she remembered her dream, Jennifer felt the touch, she had been penetrated. She was naked, old, and naked. Kitty in her white nurse's uniform picked up the pieces and made the bottles whole.

Jennifer twisted open a plastic water bottle and drank it quickly before falling back to sleep.

In the morning, the dream echoed like the aftermath of a migraine, but instead of it pounding in her head, it stayed in her chest. She called the desk with a message for Ron, “Today, I’ll be on my own.” For Olivier, “Loved the roses. See you at dinner.” 

                                                      *****
Dinner was grand. On the terrace, figs and goat cheese, they agreed, tasted so much better in Israel. She was sorry for last night. He totally understood. The conference was going extremely well, despite not having his assistant. Tomorrow afternoon when the conference was over they could spend the day touring the Old City. He wanted to show her his cousin’s store in the Arab market. The two of them, once strangers, now connected, knew how to make peace, and if anyone would listen, they could teach these countries a thing or two about getting along.

Jennifer wanted to tell Olivier about her visit to the Western Wall, how she had gotten a map from the front desk and found it on her own, despite fearing bombs, grenades, terrorists and explosions, and how when she stood there she felt compelled by the weight of the stones and the heat of the sun to say a prayer for the first time in a very long time, but found she couldn’t. Did he want to know what that prayer was?  Didn’t he want to know what she had been hoping for, once more, before she was too old to know that touch?

“Tell me more about your sons," he focused the conversation.This was the first time she saw him in an open collared shirt. Jennifer tried to avoid looking at the dark hair on his chest.  She hoped the moonlight was doing for her half of what it was doing for him. 

“What did you do so they became fully Americans?”

His own parents had not done such a good job.  “’Be American,’ they’d say, then they’d dress me from Goodwill. You cant’ be like the rest of the kids when your house is the only one that smells like olive oil and goat.” She could taste the sadness in his voice.

Olivier had been teased and beaten mercilessly by kids at school. Like the time four boys held him down to wrap a pillowcase around his head. “I could tell you much worse, but I won’t ruin your meal. I am not doing anything as obvious as cooking goat in the backyard, but I know there is more I can do for my children. Jennifer, tell me what you did. Can you help me?”   

There it was, on the terrace of the King David Hotel, in the moonlit night, where Ari and Kitty had fallen in love, Jennifer could see Olivier was a hurt boy, and a very handsome man, who wanted a friend, a mentor to help him  be a parent who didn't make his children feel like foreigners in their own land. That’s what he wanted from this woman who was leaving the end of middle age, well creamed and misdirected.

The next morning, before leaving for the airport she went back to the Western Wall finding her way without a map. The streets were filled with the noises of cars, cats fighting to survive, and people rushing past each other on the way to the next errand. She turned the corner from the tourist shops and the smells of food sizzling waiting to be wrapped in pita to see the wide open space of the Wall of Jerusalem stone. Ron had told her, everything in Jerusalem, ancient and modern is cut from this same sand colored stone.  

Jennifer covered her head with a brocade scarf bought for accent and now used like the women standing at the Wall moving to a rhythm she didn’t know. She tried to move a little, and then a little more. She didn’t know the words, but something was calmly opening in her chest, muscles and tissue and toxins released and she dared to reach out to touch the smooth worn stones. 

“Oma” she heard, a little girl say. She opened her eyes to see a child tugging on an old woman’s floral dress. “Sha. Think about what I taught you this morning,” the old woman patted the girl on the head, ‘Rabbi Hillel says, If I am only for myself what am I? If I am not for myself who will be for me? If, not now when?’”


The possibility of miracles and atonement, that something totally unexplainable can happen, and the chance that she could begin again at her age, flowed from a crack in the damn around her heart, enabling Jennifer, without fear of judgment or explosions to write a new prayer on a small piece of paper, and to place it in the cracks in the Wall like she had seen the other women do. Her plane would be leaving in six hours. Jennifer was ready to come back.

Copyright, spiritual fiction, One Will Come Back, by Cyd B. Weissman