Sips of Wine from the Grapevine Presents!: Of Happiness and Sadness, fiction Honorable Mention by author Trish Hubschman #SpecialFeature #WordPressWednesday

Sips of Wine from the Grapevine Presents!: Of Happiness and Sadness, fiction Honorable Mention by author Trish Hubschman #SpecialFeature #WordPressWednesday

This afternoon, to close out what has been another wonderous WordPress Wednesday, I’ve a special treat for you.

Not long ago, I heard that author Trish Hubschman had received an Honorable Mention in the magazine Magnets and Ladders. I don’t suppose I need to tell you that if I were a peacock my tailfeathers would be fanning out to the max with pride.

Well, needless to say, after I read the story she wrote which garnered such attention, I decided it must have a special place in my world as well.

So, it is with great pleasure I offer this special ‘Sips of Wine from the Grapevine’ for you.

If you enjoy this as much as I have done, I hope you give a like and share. I also hope you’ll leave a comment here to let Trish know.

Of Happiness and Sadness, fiction Honorable Mention

by Trish Hubschman

My name is Myra Cortez-Costa. I was born in Israel in 1951. My mother,

Selina was from Egypt. She grew up in a well-to-do family and had the

spoils her doting parents could give their four children. She went to an

all-girls private school, had dance lessons, wore pretty clothes. Mom made

her debut into society when she was sixteen. Sadly, there are no pictures

of any of this. Mom’s family was Jewish. In the mid-1940s, bad people came

into Egypt and stripped her family of everything. They were forced to live

in poverty.

My father, David came from a big family too. He didn’t grow up rich. He was

also Jewish and spoke up against anything he felt was wrong. Dad was

arrested in 1943 and held in a relocation camp for three years. I think

that’s when he met one of Mom’s brothers. They stayed friends after they

were released and my uncle introduced my mom and Dad.

Selina and David fell in love and were married in 1948.

They were happy. Two years later, they were preparing for the birth of

their first child. That’s when they were told they had to leave Egypt. All

Jews were being forced out. They had no idea where they were going to go.

Dad was about to be arrested again for talking against the government. Mom

was advised to divorce Dad and go to America where she’d be safe. Dad was

in favor of this plan. Mom refused. She was going to stay with the man she

loved and have their baby.

In January 1951, just six weeks before I was born, my parents migrated to

Israel, the Promised land for Jews.

I was a happy child. I know my parents loved me. As I saw it, growing up in

Israel was idyllic. I didn’t see any of the bad things going on around me.

When I was six, my brother, Edmund, was born. I was happy to share my

parents, my cousins and friends with my little brother. I had a best

friend. Her name was Judy Berkowitz. She lived on the next block from us.

She had a dog. We had so much fun playing together. Whenever I went to

Judy’s house Mom walked with me. We always walked fast and she was cautious

and looked around us. Judy told me her mom was the same way. We didn’t

understand this, so we just shrugged and giggled and went back to having

fun.

When I was eleven, Judy and her family disappeared. She wasn’t on the

school bus one morning. I thought that was odd. Judy had an almost perfect

school attendance record. I asked my teacher, Miss Katz, if Judy was out

sick. Miss Katz didn’t know, but she said she’d ask the principal. Later

that same day, she pulled me aside. Before Saying anything, she glanced

around to make sure nobody was listening. I was becoming nervous at seeing

so many people do that. No one was in ear shot.

“Myra, dear, Judy’s family is gone,” she said.

My head popped up. “Where did they go? Are they coming back?”

She shook her head. “I doubt it. They left last night. This is hush-hush,

so please, we must forget about Judy and her family.”

When I got off the school bus that afternoon, I raced home. Tears poured

down my face. I found Mom in the kitchen. I blurted the whole story out.

She responded calmly. That infuriated me.

“Yes, I know about their leaving. I spoke to Judy’s mother yesterday,”

Mom replied.

“Is that going to happen to us?” I screamed.

Mom turned to face me. “At some point, probably. You must be strong,

Myra, always prepared and keep quiet about it,” she said. I didn’t answer

her. I just stalked off to my room.

Two weeks later, Mom, Dad, Edmund and I snuck out of our house in the dead

of night. A friend of dad’s drove us to a train depot far from our home. We

boarded and sat quietly for a long journey to a strange city. Then we took

a taxi to an airport. Before the four of us got on a plane, Edmund and I

got to go to the bathroom and have something to eat. Again, we didn’t say

much to one another. When we got off the plane, we went outside the

terminal to meet up with someone who’d been sent to pick us up. I was

excited to see that it was daylight. Twenty minutes later, the car pulled

up in front of a high wrought-iron gate. Behind it, was a big, beautiful

house. My nose was pressed against the car window. I was mesmerized. Was

that going to be our new home? Oh yes, oh yes! We got out of the car and

went inside. There were a lot of people. Mom hugged and kissed everyone.

“This is our family,” she squealed. “I’ve missed all of you.”

I didn’t understand.

Dad’s hand slid into mine. I glanced up at him and smiled. “Come on,

honey, I want you to meet your Uncle Ted,” He said, leading me off.

“This is his house. We’re going to stay here in Geneva until he can

relocate us permanently.”

The few weeks we were in Switzerland were the best ever. They went by so

fast. We were on an airplane headed to our new home before I knew it.

Brazil was a whole different world.

Our new house was ok. It had two levels. There were three bedrooms

upstairs. There was a kitchen and main room that had a color tv downstairs.

We had a big backyard and Dad said we could get a dog. I was excited about

that.

“But under no circumstances are you to tell anyone we’re Jewish,” he

said.

I didn’t understand, but I didn’t ask. It really wasn’t a problem with me.

I didn’t know anyone here and I didn’t want to.

It was May and too late to finish out the school year. In September, Mom

would enroll me starting in seventh grade. In the course of the next few

months, I had to learn a fair amount of Portuguese, the main language in

brazil. I always had my translation dictionary with me, even when I was

watching tv. I did pretty well. When I started school I was able to

communicate with my teachers. I didn’t talk to many other people. I didn’t

have any friends and I didn’t want any. I just went to school and returned

home and did my homework.

That changed when I was fourteen, I met a girl named Elaina. She was very

nice. We spent a lot of time together. She knew I wasn’t from around there

and kept asking where I was from.

I didn’t know what to say. Finally, I blurted out, “We came here from

Switzerland.” That wasn’t a lie.

Alaina’s eyes widened. “Oh, Switzerland is so beautiful. Why would you

leave such a gorgeous place like that?”

I shrugged. “My dad got a government job here, so we had to move.” It

sounded good.

When I was seventeen, I went to a party with Elaina at another one of her

friend’s houses. There were a lot of people. They were drinking, smoking

and doing other things that made me uncomfortable. I told Elaina we had to

leave. She said she was staying, but told me I could go home. I was annoyed

at her for brushing me off. I walked out of that party and ran back to my

own house.

My parents were in my bedroom early the next morning. I was sitting up in

bed. “What time did you get home last night?” Mom asked.

I had been super quiet when I came in. “About ten, I guess,” I replied

and told them about my leaving the party early.

“Did Elaina leave the party with you?” Mom asked.

“No, she said she was having fun and would go home when she was good and

ready,” I replied. “Why?”

Mom gave Dad a look. Dad said, “The girl is missing.”

I didn’t understand. Where was she?

A week later, Elaina’s body was fished out of the river. The theory was

that she left the party the night after drinking too much and fell into the

river. I didn’t believe that. I was certain something sinister happened,

but I kept my mouth shut.

I moped around after that. I went to school and came home. I didn’t talk to

anyone.

Three weeks after Elaina’s funeral, I came home to find four suitcases

standing in the front hall. I knew what that meant. I climbed the stairs to

my bedroom and stuffed some small personal items into a duffel bag. Mom had

already packed most of my clothes. I had my language dictionaries and some

photographs.

It was March 1968. The four of us were on a plane headed north to the

United States. Dad said it would take about ten hours to reach where we

were going, a place called Queens, New York. A cousin of Mom’s, who I

didn’t know, was sponsoring us. We would stay with her till we set up

stakes there.

Edmund sat in the seat beside me. He was eleven, the same age I was when we

had left Israel six years ago. My little bother looked glum. I could

understand that. I wasn’t depressed about leaving Brazil. I just felt

unrooted from having to relocate

I squeezed Ed’s hand. “What’s up, kid?” I asked, trying to keep my tone

light.

“I don’t want to move,” he said. “I like Brazil. My friends are

there. And what if they don’t speak Portuguese in the United States?” He

asked, looking at me with daring eyes.

I smiled. “Well, if nobody does, at least we’ll still have each other to

talk to.”

Cousin Angele picked us up at the airport and our new lives began.

I met a cute boy at Queens College in September. His name’s Anthony Costa.

He’s Italian and his English needed as much work as mine. We learned it

together. We enjoyed learning together and fell in love.

In 1972, both of our families gained United States citizenship. The

following year, Anthony and I got married. My parents helped us buy a nice

house on Long Island. Anthony drove a taxi in Queens. I babysat the

neighbors children while they went to work. We were both making decent

money, though there was no medical insurance.

I gave birth to our son, Francis in 1978. Our daughter, Judith, came five

years later. Dad passed away from colon cancer in 1986, less than twenty

years after he moved his family here. In 1990, I began working for New York

State Civil Service. Finally, we had medical insurance. I worked my way up

the ladder and I enjoyed my job.

In 2001, when the World Trade Center was bombed, I felt my heart go cold.

So many horrible memories that I didn’t know were inside me flooded to the

surface. I fought desperately to push them away.

Mom passed on in 2009. She had a heart attack during the Super Bowl.

Now, it’s 2020, the year of the covid-19 pandemic. I’m working from home.

In November, I had my thirtieth anniversary with my job. I’ll be seventy in

a few months.

After all the early years of hardship, I think I can truly say at this

point in my life, that inside me again is that happy little girl who grew

up in Israel. I’m in a much better time and place now and I very much love

America.

Bio: Trish is deafblind. She’s the creator of the Tracy Gayle Mystery book

series, *Tidalweave*, *Stiff Competition*, and *Ratings Game*. She earned

her Bachelor’s degree in English-Writing from Long Island university’s

Southampton Campus. She presently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband,

Kevin and dog, Henry.

To learn more about her books visit: https://www.dldbooks.com/hubschman/

This story appears in the spring/summer issue of Magnets and Ladders found at: https://www.magnetsandladders.org

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2 Comments

  1. This is based on the life of a very good friend of mine. She was touched when I showed her the story. Thank you Patty for putting it in Sips of
    Wine

  2. Hi, you are very welcome. It was quite good. My pleasure to share it.

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