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Neither Life Nor Death

Friday, 24 June 2011

Photo courtesy of Fotolia

She awoke with a start. Her exhausted sleep punctuated by the same haunted images.

A curly-haired 4-year-old. Wandering from stall to stall, eyes frantically searching for his mother. “Ima, Ima, where are you?” His pleas grew fiercer and fiercer. She could hear him over the din of the market. “Stay right there, b’ni (my son). Ima is coming.” Hurriedly, clumsily, she moved towards the voice. “Ima, Ima…”

Giladi. It was the same dream she had been having for one thousand, eight hundred, twenty-three nights. And it always ended the same way; waking up without her boy. Without her Gilad. In the dream, or in reality.

There is no handbook for parents of captives. No guidance for living… No! Not living. But existing in this vapid netherworld between life and death.

Life has, to some extent, continued. Five years, after all, is a long time for the young. Gilad was barely a man when he was stolen. She wondered what he looks like now that he has passed into adulthood. Yoel graduated university today. And Hadas, now a woman, was still in her girlhood when this nightmare began. Gilad had missed it all.

She has said little, these past many months. What is there to say? That part of her dies with every passing day? That few mothers have had to suffer this limbo without being afforded any assurance that her son still lives? That giving in to her worst fears is tantamount to giving up hope?

But as awful as her sleep has been, she is dreading tomorrow. Like a yahrtzeit, the anniversary of the death of a loved one, but without the closure. There is no word for the anniversary of captivity. There should be, she thinks. Five years is surely long enough to create one.



Red Writing Hood is a writing meme. This week, we were asked to write flash fiction – 300 words maximum – inspired by the word “Life.” With tomorrow marking the 5th anniversary of the abduction of Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, I explore what might be going through his mother’s mind as she faces waking again to a living nightmare. As always, constructive criticism is appreciated.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, 24 June 2011 12:30 am

    powerful. thanks for the explanation of where the story came from …

    a lot that you’ve given your readers in under 300 words!!

    (writing at haverecklessabandon.blogspot.com for TRDC)

  2. Friday, 24 June 2011 3:51 am

    This would be the most horrible thing that could ever happen to a mother (or father for that matter). The unknown is what hurts the most… My heart broke for this woman as she dreamed of her lost son… What a great post.

  3. Friday, 24 June 2011 6:15 pm

    A terrible sort anguish of limbo and uncertainty, between grief and hope. I find it interesting how you have really thought about how to put yourselves in this mother’s shoes. Its often not easy to imagine well how another would feel when we haven’t actually gone through the experience ourselves. I love how you’ve incorporated the Jewish culture and language in the piece too. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog from RDC this week, great to meet you.

  4. Galit Breen permalink
    Friday, 24 June 2011 9:43 pm

    So informative and powerful. You really wove the prompt into your niche beautifully.

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