UKArchive ID: 16358chrissytotoro
Originally published on May 15, 2006 in Fiction
A story. Don't normally do stories but I thought I'd give it a try.
I watch the ground below and wonder, even at this moment when it would be far too silly and embarrassing to say that I've changed my mind, am I doing the right thing? I've done the research, painstaking, painful research, I've made the contact and I've made sure that everything is running smoothly at home. I shouldn't worry, but there are the what ifs. What if the baby, my first grandchild and a boy, bless him, should arrive while I'm out there? What if something should go wrong with the birth?
Oh, no, I mustn't think like that. I MUST NOT think like that. The baby will be fine and he won't come early. Esse will be fine. She has first class medical care and I've made Moshe promise on his life, that if something should happen — it won't— but if something should happen, he will call me and I'll come back. No matter if I have to get off one plane and straight on to another, I will come back.
Then, there are the other what ifs, the more frightening what ifs. What if there's no one at the airport to meet me? I'll just have to get a taxi. But, what if the taxi gets hijacked and I end up being part of a Palestinian suicide bombing?
No! Stop this Sarah Stern. Stop this right now. Calm now, deep breaths, remember why you're doing this. This is supposed to calm me? I tell my head. Thinking of why I'm going half way across the world to people I don't know and who don't know me, is supposed to give me a sense of wellbeing? I think not.
A steward hovers close to me and asks if there is anything I need and for a moment I wonder if he sees me or just a middleaged, Jewish lady all dressed in black, going "home". I decide it doesn't matter what he sees and say no thank you, I'm fine.
I'm not fine though. I haven't been fine for over forty years. I've pretended, I've believed the lie made for other people so they shouldn't worry about me, but I am not fine.
I close my eyes and try not to think, but there it is, like a film running in my head.
My mother and father, their faces all pale and somehow crumpled. My grandmother had died, quite suddenly, and going through her papers with my dad, I'd found papers concerning me, my adoption. I suppose had my dad been thinking straight he wouldn't have let me anywhere near the papers but he was upset and then so was I.
My parents were gentle and kind, but it still changed things, irrevocably and forever.
By the time they had trotted out all the platitudes about my being special and them loving me all the more because they chose me and all the other things that parents say to ease the pain of their adopted children, I could think of nothing but all the clues there had been. The fact that no one ever said how much like my parents I looked. Not like they did with my sister.
'Oh, she's got your eyes Francis' or 'Doesn't she look the image of your Nancy when she was that age.' And they would even bring out the pictures to prove it.
There was my grandmother too who never quite managed the same tenderness when she spoke to me that entered her voice when she spoke to my sister.
Then my father was saying something else and my mother was trying to stop him but being dad he soldiered on any way.
"I think you should know about your real mum." They didn't use 'birth mother' or 'biological parents' in those days.
Mum butting in with, "It's enough for her take in at one go, Billy."
But I wanted to know. Real mum, real dad, I wanted it all.
Someone nudges me, the Rabbi sitting next to me.
"I'm so sorry," he says. "Did I wake you. I apologise."
"That's all right," I say. "I was just thinking."
"Your first time going home?" and he asks it like he means it.
Do I look Jewish? I've never really thought about it. People know I am, just as I know I am but do I really look 'Jewish'.
I tell him, because it would be rude not to answer, that it is my first visit to Israel and I say it like that perhaps because I don't think of Israel as home and maybe because I don't really want to talk to him.
He seems to take the hint and I close my eyes again and go back to my thoughts and memories without feeling too guilty.
Things really changed for me when I found out about myself. I became a different person. Even before my parents explained every thing about my mother, I changed. I didn't want to but I was different. For one thing, I wasn't my sister's blood relative any more, somewhere I had a twin brother and that was really painful. Until then I had been close to my sister, she and I had been real friends and then suddenly there was someone else. Someone I shared blood with. Yes, I admit it now, I pushed her away.
Everything changed. My parents tried hard not to let it, they really did but there were too many questions I needed answers to and some of them were questions that they couldn't answer. I suppose I chose to believe that they wouldn't answer them.
Things got put away after a while, feelings and resentments got shoved to the back of my mind and I tried to carry on like it didn't matter but I couldn't do it, not really, not and have any real honesty in my life.
I survived school, family gatherings but only by pretending, by playing a part. That's what hurt more than any thing because it wasn't just me playing. My whole family knew that I knew and they didn't mention it. After awhile it felt wrong to be Jewish, like it was something you should be ashamed of.
The holocaust was something I learned about in school and suddenly it was my history they were talking about, my people who had allowed themselves to be treated like that. How could I be someone like that, someone who didn't fight back? Decent people fought oppression, always you read that or saw it on TV. Why hadn't the Jews fought back? Where were the Maccabis?
As I grew older, got in to it more, read the history they didn't teach you in school, my opinions changed. I understood why it was easier to let things happen. I saw that if you feel no one is going to come down on your side, that you are alone in your struggle because other people really don't care what happens to you, it is simpler to roll over and take the kicking. When enough people tell you or at least let you know you're not worth defending, why defend yourself?
Somewhere between Heathrow and Telaviv, I fall in to a troubled sleep. All the things of my life get mixed up in my mind until I wake, confused and flustered, what seems a lifetime later with the Rabbi telling me that we should do up our seat belts.
The first thing I notice, after the security people have practically removed my costly bridgework looking for only they know what, is the people waiting to meet and greet. There seems an urgency about them, a need to grab whoever they have come to collect and to get the hell out of here. As if they believe that even with the guards with their Ouzies or AK whatever number they are on now, they have no chance of protecting them.
And then someone is saying my name, quite firmly but with a touch of friendliness and I am very glad that I e-mailed the photograph.
"Sarah Stern," he says again.
I look at him . He is tall, much taller than I, has close cropped grey hair and he is in uniform.
"Ariel," I say. "Thank goodness you managed to download the photograph..."
He looks straight at me. "I didn't," he says, holding out a large, very clean hand. "I had only time to read the e-mail."
It puzzles me a little and something of that puzzlement must pass between us as we shake hands.
"You are very like mama."
I press my hands together hard. My trick for stopping tears. This was something that worried me more than anything else in the what if moments. What if I look like my father? Given the history that would not have been good.
We hurry away, moving towards the outside world. I am afraid.
His car isn't so much a car as military transport and for the first time I start to wonder if this, all of this is right.
Why couldn't I have been contented with the kind letters from the Red Cross, the detailed explanations of how chaotic things were after the war and especially with the Jews who wanted to get to Palestine. Why couldn't I have trusted my parents. "We love you Sarah. It doesn't matter where or who you were born. We love you." But then there was the legislation that made it possible for adopted children to find out about their birthparents and personal computers, the Internet and yes, my own children and it suddenly became more important than anything that I knew.
I notice Ariel's driver is a woman. Woman? Girl, not more than twenty-two, twenty-three and she too is in uniform.
I ask him, "Are you a career soldier?"
"Yes. A lot of people think we're just a conscript army..."
"Oh no," I say. "I remember seeing pictures of Moshe Dayan. My daughter is married to a Moshe."
I smile. "Ester really but she got stuck with Esse when her brother was small.."
And we chat amiably until we reach the hotel.
Ariel tells the driver to park at the back of the hotel when we are out of the vehicle then turns to me with a smile. "It's safer for her."
The hotel is good, very clean and modern and Ariel comes up to my room on the fifth floor and tips the young man who brought my bags up.
"I could have done that," I say.
"Habit. Will you be all right here?"
"Is there any thing else I can do...tell you.."
"Is..well.. mother, is she all right with meeting me?"
He closes in on himself a little bit and I think maybe she isn't all right with it, that maybe he at least thinks that he has forced her in to this.
"I will be honest with you, Sarah," he says, "I don't really know how she feels. She seems to accept it, the natural justice of it but how she really feels is something she is keeping very much to herself. I can't guarantee what she'll say to you."
I touch his shoulder. "Don't worry. I can't guarantee what I'll say to her."
After a while, after he reinforces his information about her stroke and how often she seems to have good days and bad days all of which I understand completely, he leaves with a promise that the driver will be there at ten o clock the following morning to bring me to his house where mother lives. I kiss his cheek as he leaves. He has been good and kind and gentle in the months of our Internet acquaintance and I am grateful for that.
I don't know what the time is in England but I phone home and Josh answers immediately.
"Mazletov," he says "You made it."
"Don't be a clown and don't say anything that might be misconstrued." I'm not sure if I believe the phones are tapped but it wouldn't surprise me if they were.
"So, the flight was all right?"
"I think I slept through most of it."
"That's good. And your," he hesitates because brother, in relation to me is a relatively new concept for him. "brother met you?"
"Yes. He's in the army, a colonel. We've talked a bit."
"That's good too."
"Gave birth to quins two hours after you left."
"Can we have the one with the pink nose?"
"I'll see what she says. She's fine. We're all fine except me and maybe the dog who are missing you like crazy."
"Silly old man," I say, "and silly old dog too. I'll be back before you know it."
There's a lot of small talk, the big talk won't really come till tomorrow when I tell him word for word what I say to her and what she says to me but the small talk is always important for us, for Joshua and me.
Eventually, when we decide that the 'phone call is costing more than the room, we hang up on a count of three.
No bombs or gun battles, no wailing crowds or sirens disturb the night but I do not sleep. I do not close my eyes so the morning does not catch me unawares.
I wash, dress choosing black and grey. I am small, fifty-four years old, slightly overweight for my height. Black helps.
Breakfast is simple. I am normally not a breakfast person but I haven't eaten for hours and my stomach is making noises.
At ten o'clock precisely, the "Little Drummer Girl" driver turns up, pretty and smart as paint. I check my bag, that I have my photograph albums. She checks my bag, that I don't have anything else, and the sweetheart, she apologises for doing it, then I follow her down to the car. She holds the door for me and looks around. She drives fast, knowing we are a target.
Ariel's house is large, clean and white. The sun strikes it and makes it shimmer against a cloudless blue sky. Shrubs and flowers grow in terra cotta containers around the small courtyard and I'm reminded of our holiday home in Tuscany. Our sign of having made it.
Ariel greets me at the door. He is warmer and friendlier out of uniform.
"Shalom alaychem," I say and he grins broadly.
"Alaycham shalom. Come on in."
I hand over a book of poetry I had published two years ago and the delight on his face is good to see.
"You arranged for flowers to be in my room," I say.
From what I presume is the kitchen a young man appears, so obviously Ariel's son he needs no introduction. He comes forward and takes my hand. "I'm Daniel," he says. "And you are my aunt Sarah."
"I am indeed."
For a moment I think about it then I hug him because that is what I want to do.
A girl comes in and Daniel introduces her as Miriam, his fiancée and for a while we sit and talk and drink sweet black coffee and eat biscuits that taste sweet and crumble in my mouth. I show everyone my pictures, carefully telling each story. I watch their smiles and think I want nothing more than this, this interested, warm, acceptance. And now I understand the Rabbi from London calling this place home.
Ariel goes through the wars, the struggles, the hardships that have given him this life and I think, would I have fought so hard? But I was not given the chance to find out.
She enters the room like a ghost. Her wheelchair is well maintained, silent and she steers it with comparative ease.
Daniel brings her forward. Silently, she pushes his hand from the back of the chair.
I know she is seventy years old, from my time online with a man called Emmanuel Horrowitz who was in the camp in Cyprus and remembered her. She had survived the camps, the turmoil after the end of the war. She had found protection with a doctor and his wife but the doctor had abused her, raped her, made her pregnant and she had finally fetched up in the British run camp where she had given birth to twins on the fifteenth of May 1948.
Professionally I judge the results of the stroke. Left side partial paralysis, her left eyelid droops and her left hand occasionally contracts into a spasmodic ball. There is a tremor in her left knee which shakes the folds of her black dress.
She is taller than me and a lifetime of work has coarsened her. Her hair is grey, slicked back in to a tight fold behind her head. Her eyes are midnight black and they stare at me.
I have imagined this moment, turned it around, viewed it from every angle possible. I have thought about my hugging her, her hugging me, my leaving, her leaving. I have turned it upside down, made it beautifully good and hideously bad. But I have not seen this, have not heard this empty silence. It hangs between us, almost unbearable. I have a thousand questions Ten thousand words bubble in my mind, then finally distil themselves in to just two childlike words that slip from my mouth and fall in to the silence. "Why me?"
She leans forward a little. "Excuse me?" she says and I hear in her voice the retained German accent. "Why you? What do you mean?"
"Why did you give me away and not my brother?"
She sits back, almost smiles but the left side of her face isn't up to it. "After fifty years this is all you want to know?"
I nod, unable to say more to her and hating myself because there is so much more I should say, but my trick with my hands is not keeping the tears away this time
"You think I had the choice? You think I said here, take this baby. I have two, this one I don't need."
I resent her making me feel ridiculous but I say nothing.
"Please believe me, it was not like that. I was sixteen, still in many ways a child. I had thought that surviving the camps was enough, I had paid my dues but there was still more to pay. For eighteen months after the end of the war I was looked after by a doctor and his..."
"I know this," I say, "I just need to know why I am sitting here as the visitor in your life. How was the choice made if it wasn't made by you?"
She sits forward again. "Tell me, have you had a good life so far?"
I realise that this is what is important to her, that she can exonerate herself. I'm tempted to lie, to tell her my childhood was one long term of abuse, but I don't. "I have had, so far, a wonderful life."
"Then why is it so important to you to know why?"
"Because there is in all of us an irrational child. The child who takes the blame for all the wrong things that happen..."
"You were seven weeks old when the Red Cross took you. I do not know if what they did was legal, if there was any legality in what was going on in that place, but they took you because I could not take two children to Palestine. They took you because Ariel was circumcised, they took you because you were a girl...I can think of many other reasons but that's not what you wanted to know. You wanted to know why I let them take you."
I can feel the tension in the room, Miriam's embarrassment because she is still outside all of this. I can imagine the many conversations between father and son, mother and son, that led to my being here and causing this pain but I can do nothing about it now.
"Like I said, I'm not that rational. Even after forty three years of knowing, I can still not be rational about this." I look at Ariel. "If this offends, I'm sorry. I'll go."
"No," he says. "No one wants you to go, Sarah."
So I stay and I listen and I talk and somewhere, sometime, between her and me there is understanding.
It isn't anything we say in words, it isn't one moment when everything becomes as I wanted it to be.
It doesn't change what has happened, knowing the whys and wherefores, knowing that she did not choose but it changes how I can let my self feel about her.
When I was growing up, after a while of 'knowing', I had started to think that I had accepted things, that I understood her reasons, that perhaps I might have done the same thing under those circumstance but all that was false, a pretence.
I could convince others that there were no issues for me regarding my adoption but I couldn't convince myself. I had never understood the pain I'd felt, never really understood the betrayal I felt, the guilt, the irrational 'it must be my fault' and maybe I never will fully understand why I felt like that but knowing her version of the truth feels better.
Daniel takes my pictures and scans them in to the computer and then he takes pictures with his digital camera, very swish, and he prints them out for me. Me with my new — no — my old family.
I stay for a week. I get to know her, a little and I make sure that she gets to know me, that I am proud of what I have made myself, that I think I did a good job of becoming a Jew, and then there are just too many things that call me home and I'm driving back to the airport with Ariel and Daniel. I've said my goodbyes to Ruth and Miriam. I've said the usual, that I'll stay in touch and as I kiss my brother and my nephew goodbye, I really mean it.
Plane journeys are boring and this time I don't even have the Rabbi for company and I don't have my thoughts either, not the same thoughts.
I take out the pictures and look at them. Oy! Is that really me in Israel? Can I believe that is me?
Joshua smiles. His face is beautiful when he smiles, his eyes light up and he sort of lolls his head to one side as he holds out his arms to me. And there's my boy, my Jacob all embarrassed smiles and big hugs.
I look and there's my Esse with Moshe and I hold her so close I could crush her. My hand rests on her belly. The child moves. And I am filled with joy. I look into my daughter's face and see she trusts me.
I am home with my family and who I might have been had things been different is not important now.
© 2004 Chrissy Moore-Haines
Archived comments for Choices
blackdove on 15-05-2006
I'll have to try your trick of pressing my hands together for this has me on the brink of tears.
I was almost put off by the number of words, thankfully I wasn't.
This is an excellent short story (I think it's too long to be flash fiction).
It really ought to be published.
Your writing was so controlled and clean. I just loved it. The retelling never flagged once.
Best story I've read in ages.
I don't know if it's true but it sure had a ring of honesty about it.
Jem, many thanks for reading (it is a long short story) for your overwhelming comments and for generous rating.
I don't often 'do' stories, I think I've only posted three here, which is why I didn't really know where to put it. I guess it should be in drama or somewhere.
I'm really pleased that you enjoyed it.
Dargo77 on 15-05-2006
Chrissy, I agree with Jem, it is definitely of publishing standard and a read I sincerely enjoyed. I will look forward to reading more of these...I hope.
Thanks Dargo for reading, commenting and for the generous rating.
I'm really glad that you enjoyed the read. That you also think it's of publishing standard is a huge bonus. I do have it on my site in a slightly different form but it has never 'been anywhere' maybe it should.
glennie on 16-05-2006
Hi, Chris. There is some remarkable writing here. The characters are so individual and real they're... well real. I have to ask myself is the autobiographical? I think you should write more stories. I pretty sure I've read at least one other of your three because I remember mentioning the way you split words up like 'my self' instead of myself and 'any one' instead of anyone etc. easily sorted. Glen
Glen, many thanks for reading and commenting and for the generous rating. I'm glad you enjoyed the story.
I thought I'd taken care of all the 'idle thumb mistakes'. Ah well, nobody's perfect, I guess, certainly not me. Thanks for flagging it up.
Bradene on 16-05-2006
Chissy! This was such a touchingly sad yet happy tale. It had me crying and smiling both. Please write more stories. Loved every moment of it. love and admiration Val x
Val, many thanks for reading (it is quite long) for your lovely comments and your generous rating.
The subject is sad and happy because it is a very special circumstance.
I'm glad I got it right!
qwerty68 on 16-05-2006
An excellent piece of writing. Emotionally, you hit the right notes all the way through. If this isn't auto-biog, then you must be an extremely insightful and empathetic person. Please keep writing stories.
qwerty68, many thanks for taking the time to read and for your lovely comments and your generous rating.
Stories are harder for me, I find poetry a lot easier, mainly because I tend to think the whole thing out in my head (sometimes I even say them out loud) and while wandering talking to yourself is OK for a shorter poem, you get one or two odd looks if you're telling yourself a story. LOL. I suppose I could always stay in for the duration of the story.
RoyBateman on 17-05-2006
An excellent piece all round - beautifully written and encompassing all the horrors and terrible decisions of that time of statelessness after WW2. It's still a period that's unravelling now, and it will continue as long as the people involved still live and need to know who they really are. It sounded extremely authentic, too - always a plus point when so many writers just don't bother and ruin it for the poor reader with sloppy errors. Very, very good and well worth the nib.
Huge thanks for reading and for your truly lovely comments. I tried very hard with this.
Sadly such things happened and to write about them honestly was very difficult.
I'm glad this worked for you.
Claire on 17-05-2006
Hey there hun,
What a fascinating read, I did notice a few minor typos, but after half way through I stopped noticing them as I was pulled into your story. You should deffo write more prose.
Congrats on that worthy nib. ;^)
Claire, many thanks for reading and commenting and for the generous rating.
I think, with help from Tai-Li, I have managed to put some of the typos right but thanks for ignoring them.
I'm really pleased you enjoyed the story.
As for more prose, dunno. It's scary.
discopants on 17-05-2006
As others have noted, it held the attention throughout. Let's see more of your prose.
Many thanks for reading and commenting.
I'm genuinely pleased that you enjoyed the piece.
Hazy on 19-05-2006
Chrissy, I agree - write more prose!!
Gave me goosebumps in places! My last prosey piece was on adoption as I was adopted as a baby - so obviously this had me totally absorbed! Your last line "I am home with my family and who I might have been had things been different is not important now." was fantastic. It's something I often feel thankful for. I don't wonder about my natural family, their lives or 'why?' (I know they were together but extremely young, maybe still at school) but I do wonder about what I would have been like if I'd stayed as 'her' (me? - oh it's very confusing lol). My piece was really done from the opposite angle and wondered about the fate side of it all and whether or not I'd be the same person if I'd remained with my natural parents as I am now. I like me now, the life I have and the family I'm truly blessed with - and thank my lucky stars more often than not.
Today is actually my 'adopted birthday' (the day my parents got me, 5 weeks after I was born when all the paperwork was sorted). My mum and dad always celebrate the day with me - I get a card and cash (pressies when I was young), and my mum texted this morning to say 'happy special day'. My sister was always really jealous of me being adopted as I'd have two birthdays with cards and pressies lol (she used to get stuff too but it wasn't her special day, was it?!).
I believe all adoptees should be told from day dot. All this sitting them down when they're old enough to understand is utter tosh IMO. All the adopted people I know who were told later had huge problems and issues and didn't turn out particularly 'well balanced'. A few went off the rails a bit.
Have done a couple of projects on adoption and nature/nurture over the years and I think your story would work really well written up as a psychological piece too rather than fiction.
Anyay, a really insightful piece with some interesting viewpoints - and told so, so well.
Hope you don't mind me babbling on, I know some hate it!! It's a subject I love hearing about - planning to write another story about it soon (incestual love - surprisingly common when adopted siblings, etc meet up after a lifetime apart).
Take care. Thanks for a very enjoyable read.
You can babble all you like when it's as interesting as this. There seem to be quite a few adopted people on this site. Interesting.
Many thanks for reading and for babbl ... commenting.
I'm glad you enjoyed and that the piece worked in the way it was meant to.
Your interest is truly appreciated.
eddiesolo on 21-05-2006
Great write Chrissy. Held my attention and really enjoyed it!
Well done on ya nib.
Si, thanks very much for reading and commenting and for the very generous rating.
As I said in the intro, I don't normally do stories and so I had no idea how it would go down.
I am pleased that it worked for you and that you enjoyed it.
Many thanks, chrissy
sirat on 21-05-2006
This is the kind of story that the Anthology exists for in my opinion, the genuinely outstanding. I was totally involved from the first sentence,the pacing was just right, the characters (even the minor ones) came to life for me and there was an elegance and craftsmanship about the structure that set it completely apart from a merely "good" personal account. I wanted to argue with the writer when she suggested that the Jewish people could have or should have defended themselves in some way against the Holocaust. That seemed like blaming a man in front of a firing squad for allowing the bullets to hit him. But it was completely and precisely balanced by Sarah's own realisation of how unfair she had been to blame her birth mother for "giving her away", or for imagining that she had been offered a choice between whether she should keep her son or her daughter.
The whole story dealt with the sense of belonging, whether to a family, a nation or a people, and the ending was absolutely perfect.
I agree that the story deserves publication, and I would suggest using it as a competition entry. I'm sure you know all about the larger competitions and if you don't you'll find them in the UKA resources pages.
Tiny things that perhaps need to be tidied up before submitting the story:
"we should do up our seat belts" (I think this should be "we should undo our seat belts" since the aircraft has landed)
"to wonder if this, all of this is right" (comma after the second "this")
"who brought my bags up" (this is awkward. You are writing in the present tense so to keep the tenses right you would say: "who had brought my bags up", but it sounds ugly so I think you should just say he tipped the porter)
You already know about separating words that normally run together and running together words that are normally separated, as in: "in to a tight fold", "every thing", "any thing", and "awhile". Very minor things but worth putting right.
Towards the end you say: "When I was growing up, after a while of 'knowing'", but I thought it was only after Sarah had grown up that she came to know about this.
Finally, there's somewhere that Sarah says she is pleased at the job she made of becoming a Jew, but from the family names it's pretty clear that her adopted family is Jewish, so it isn't really something she did for herself. Maybe I misunderstood what was meant?
Many congratulations on an excellent piece of work.
Sirat, thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to read Choices and for your lovely, considered comments.
I think perhaps the confusion about doing up the seat belts occurs because the story starts with the plane taking off and Sarah considering where she is going and what for and should she change her mind. She thinks and dozes and is woken by the Rabbi as they are coming into land.
It's a hell of a long time since I flew anywhere but I've got this idea that the seat belt is on at take off and then you can undo it during the flight but you have to do it up again for landing. If I'm wrong, blaming it on my failing memory.
The idea of Sarah blaming the Jews for their lack of resistance to what was happening in Germany from 36 onward, stems from my own recollections of receiving very little in the way of historical, factual information concerning this period when I was in Secondary education. From what I can remember, I was only taught that Hitler was a bad man who wanted to take over the civilized world, did a lot of bad things to a lot of good people and was finally trounced by the British and the Americans. Simplistic, I agree but you get my drift. It wasn't until much later, when I learned of the 'general lack of interest in the plight of the Jews', that 'I' understand the reason for their lack of 'fight'.
Sarah is adopted by a Christian family. Some of children born at Caraolas on Cyprus were. I did not think that I had given her adoptive parents 'Billy' and 'Francis' particularly Jewish names.
Sarah discovers that she is adopted and that her birth mother was Jewish when she was quite young, still at school. She is told by her adopted parents.
She finds out about her mother later in her life but she has already made the decision that she wants to be a Jew and therefore 'converts' and in fact marries a Jew, Joshua. This is why she is proud of her own commitment to being Jewish.
I will go through this again very carefully, not only for the typos you mention but also to see if I can tidy up and make clearer the things that you have pointed out. If it confused you it will certainly confuse others.
Many thanks once again for your encouraging comments.
iQueen on 30-05-2006
I agree with all of the above comments, particularly those of Sirat.
I found the story extremely well written. The pace was just right and it flowed properly. The subject was treated exactly right too - I could actually feel the nervousness and the introspection. As the birth mother of an adopted child, I could identify, to some extent with the mother - no reflection on your writing, just different circumstances.
On the grammatical points, I should say that I am currently reading Saki and he also had the style of separating words, such as 'every one'. Mind you he was writing in Edwardian times! So it is probably somewhat archaic to do it now.
On the other hand, I think that there are times when these words may be acceptably separated, as it can change the meaning or emphasis slightly, eg 'everyone had a good time' and 'every one had a label on it', and 'It was a while before he turned up' [noun] and 'she stayed awhile' [adverb].
Having made those comments, I was so engrossed in the story that I did not notice anything irritating... and I am usually REALLY pedantic! Nice one, Chrissy! Let us know when it is published!
iQueen, many thanks for reading and commenting and welcome to UKA. The separation of words is something I've had trouble with only since I started using a computer. I call it the idle thumb syndrome. I think the digit gets a bit bored with having nothing to do but do spaces and it therefore does more than it should. I have tried to train it but it is, alas, now far too old and I have to go through things several times just to make sure it isn't up to any mischief but in my case the devil really does make work for idle thumbs. 🙂
Much thanks for your kind comments and I'm genuinely pleased you enjoyed the story.
jay12 on 04-06-2006
This is one of the best pieces of fiction I've ever read on UKA. A fave for me. You say you never normally write prose but I would if I were you because it would be a shame to waste the obvious talent you have for it.
Jay, many thanks for reading and commenting and for the generous rating. I'm glad you enjoyed reading the piece.
Re writing more stories, I probably will but poetry is and always will be my first love and what I really like doing. Might get my thinking cap on for a collection of short stories though. That sounds like a plan.