P. D. Cacek

The August Special Guest Writer is

P.D. Cacek

Please feel free to visit P.D. HERE 



by P.D. Cacek

The music box played while he hurried to finish setting the table; its rippling carillon chimes accompanying his meandering steps from kitchen to table, and then from table to kitchen. Back and forth and back again. The song was so old, so familiar, so much a part of their lives, that sometimes he wondered if he really heard it or just imagined it constantly playing in the background.


He heard. He always heard. And he always would.

Their life together would be nothing without the music box.

"That's not your job, you know?"

Her voice was soft, the admonishment even softer still. It wasn't a new point between them, but one that had been polished over the years and never failed to draw blood. Not much, never much...just enough to annoy him.

As she knew it would.

For fifty-four years she had done that, waiting for the exact moment when he was the most busy—the last hour before Shabbos—to set the blade.

"You should be at prayer, not setting the table."

"I know, Shonna, I know."

"And that glass is cracked, do you know that, too?"

"Yes, Shonna, I know. But it's not that bad. I'll use it."

Silence then as he moved the glass with the not-bad crack to his place at the head of the table, but silence hard-edged and only for a moment. The moment ended when he lifted the silver candlestick from the chiffonier. And then....

"This is women's work."

It was the same thing every Shabbos.

"If there was a woman here, you don't think I would let her do this with my blessings?" His breath fogged the gleaming metal as he spoke. "We do what is required of us to do, Shonna, you know that. Now peace, please, and let me finish."

He rubbed the fog from the candlestick with a shirt-sleeve before setting it on the table. It still looked as good as the day he found it in the second-hand store.

He should be so lucky.

"You need a woman, Yaakov."

Now that was unexpected. "I have a woman, Shonna."

"I mean a real woman. You've been alone for so long, Yaakov. It's not fair."

"So where is it written that life is supposed to be fair?"

He stopped hurrying for the first time that evening and looked at her over the top of the unlit candle. Even after all the time and years that had come and gone, she still could capture him with her eyes. Pale blue, ringed in violet. The color of the Elbe at dawn. And when she smiled....

She did—and in that smile was as beautiful as she'd been that last day in the camp. The day she died in his arms.


The day of confusion and sound. Screams and whimpering and shouts, and above all else, the deafening snap of rifle fire. And then one less scream to listen to.

Clouds of steam rose from the bodies in the cold, still air, hovering like ghosts that had been caught between worlds,

Endgultige Losung. Hitler's Final Solution. Enforced even as the liberating armies of the Allies were marching to free the condemned nations of Israel.

The war was over. Lost. But that hadn't stopped the slaughter. The camp commander had ordered the executions at the same time he'd ordered his morning pot of chocolate.

For sport he'd had the prisoners roused from their barracks at dawn, so the rising sun would be in their eyes if they tried to run. Even though there was no place to run.

The Commandant was able to drink three cups of chocolate, watching from his staff car, before word came that should he wish to avoid contact with the battalion of Avenging Angels that was quickly approaching from the East it might be prudent for him to leave.

The Commandant left, as did most of the officers, leaving only the guards and their guns behind.

She had lived through the first round of killings.

He saw her through the ghostly stream at the opposite end of the camp, but she didn't see him.

He called to her, but she didn't hear.

She was running, one among many, the tattered hem of her prison uniform tangling around her knees; shielding the infant in her arms from the sights of horror and the sound of rifles.

He screamed when the old man running next to her fell, his head ruptured from the bullet's impact like an over-ripe melon.

But she didn't hear. She didn't see.

He'd been coming for her. To save her and her child. The tiny music box that had been her only other possession when they took her from the train clutched in his hand. He'd promised he'd save it. And her. Promised.

He lifted it, held it up for her to see while the ghosts of the dead watched from their swirling shrouds. He lifted it up and called her name.

And she heard.

Miracles, of miracles. She heard him. Saw the music box. And stopped running.

"Shonna, NO!"

He thought she was about to smile when the bullet found her heart.

His Shonna.


"My Shonna."

"What did you say, Yaakov?"

He blinked as she stepped from the familiar shadows near the front windows of their four-room apartment—third floor in the rear—that they'd shared for so many years


"There, you see." Her eyes flashed, churning the languid waters. "You clutter your mind with so many things that shouldn't concern you that you don't even know what you've said. What am I to do with you, Yaakov?"

He leered at her with as much enthusiasm as memory could serve.

"Stop it," she said. But not in anger, "I said stop looking at me like that."

"And how am I looking at you?"

Her hand moved slowly to the scarf that covered her head, touching it the same way she had for the last five decades even time he looked at her. It was as if, even after all this time, all that they'd been through, she was still embarrassed by the way she looked.

But there hadn't been time to bring a dress or shawl once the shooting began.

"Yaakov...the music box in winding down."

She had moved without him noticing and now stood in front of the one place at the table that was always set for Shabbos but never used—the gleaming dishes never filled, the polished silver returned to their velvet lined box without needing to be washed. Her place at the table.

And with her stood other shadows, those that wrapped themselves around her, smothering her in the past.

"No," he hissed at them, the vague shapes that came with the anticipated silence like vultures drawn to a corpse. "Leave her alone. She's mine."

But these shadows didn't listen. They moved closer and clung to her rags, to her poor thin arms like demanding children, eager to be away. She was so pale in their grasp, so very pale.

"Please, Yaakov. Let it stop."

It was always the same thing, always the same words. For the last fifty-four years, that same thing. Let it stop, Yaakov. Let it finish

As if he could do such a thing.

He shook his head and waved the words away as if they were troublesome summer flies.

"Please, Yaakov."

"Sha, Shonna. Enough." A command, one of the few he'd ever given her. "You'll feel better in a moment, just wait. Here, let me turn on the lights."

"Yaakov, no! You can't. The sun has set."

His fingers trembled when the finally found the light switch on the wall. So many worries for nothing.

"Look," he said and pointed to the narrow patch of daylight beyond the window. "The sun is still up, don't worry. I'm not breaking any law. There, that's better."

But it wasn't.

The shadows that held her, clung to her, became more distinct in the light while she seemed to fade.

No. You can't have her. Go away. There is nothing here for you. There never was. Leave us alone.

More words, but not spoken, He didn't have time to speak then. Rushing to the mantel, he picked up the music box and carefully began to rewind its clockwork spring.

In the momentary silence that came with turning the small brass key, he heard the music of her voice lose its tone.

"Yaakov... "

"It will be all right, Shonna. Don't worr—" His fingers slipped but the music still didn't start and all was quiet.


So very quiet

The slow beating of the train's steam-driven heart was the only sound that filled the night.

There were no screams or cries or prayers. Not then. Not yet. They simply stood on the wooden platform, bathed in the lights from the guard towers, silent as if they couldn't believe what was actually happening to them. But how could they? How could any sane person?

They were so quiet. Waiting in that horrible silence.

Even the children. Silent. Some holding onto their mothers' skirts, others hanging limp in their mothers' arms.

The lucky ones.

The screaming began when the guards tried to take the dead ones away. Insanity. Why scream for those already dead? Why bring pain and notice onto yourself for those who are beyond any need?

He never understood that. Never.

Until he saw her. And then he knew.

She was huddled against the front of the boxcar; eyes downcast, crying baby clutched to her breast. Silent, he thought, until he got close enough to hear that she was humming in time with the small music box she held as tightly as the child.

Strange that he could hear the gentle song above the screams and cries...stranger still that she believed him when he took the child from her arms and told her not to be afraid, that he would protect her.

She believed him.

In that place and that time, surrounded by the screams of the condemned, she had believed him.


He struck the box gently and the music—finally—filled the room.

Boruch Hashem! Thank God.

"Ah, now. That's better."

He held the music box out to her and felt the song vibrate against his hand. The shadow of his arm snaked across the worn carpet, but the other shadows—the ones that had tried to take her away—were gone. For the moment. But that was enough.

He was about to say something, perhaps a joke to get her to smile or maybe more of the gossip he'd overheard at the bakery, when the downstairs buzzer sounded.

"They're here," he told her as if she hadn't heard and carefully put the music box back on the mantle, "and I still haven't gotten half of the things ready for Shabbos."

"You've never had half the things ready for Shabbos for as long..." The buzzer rang a second time. "...as I've known you."

He caught the faintest hint of a smile on her pale lips as she turned and walked to the front door.

"You'd better let them in," she said. "It's getting dark and the children will be cold. Is it warm enough in here?"

"Warm as an... Warm as toast, don't worry." Nodding, he followed her into the small entry way and buzzed Shonna's family up. He could hear them on the stairs: The children and their children pounding up the three flights instead of trusting the temperamental elevator; shoes stamping the cold into the carpeted wooden stairs, voices
raised in Shabbos greetings to those neighbors who'd opened their doors to view the ascent.

He smiled as he opened the door into the bright hallways and spread his arms as they rounded the final newel post. The children, although none of them could be called that anymore.

Benjamin, Shonna's son, was in his early fifties, his wife half a decade younger—if that. Even Rachel, the youngest, dark and beautiful like her mother, had already argued (and won) that twelve could hardly be considered a child these days.

She was the first to fill the emptiness against his chest.

He closed his arms over the chill that clung to her coat and hugged it into himself.

Spring had come late that year but hoarded its warmth like a miser hoarding gold.

Just like it had that last spring in the camp.


The uniforms had never been designed to keep out the cold, but they were all the prisoners had.

He had watched men and women, driven by the cold, strip the dead and then fight over the thin scrapes of cloth like animals fighting over a bone.

At first she wouldn't take the coat he'd brought her—thick and warm and trimmed with fur the color of burnt-coffee. Wouldn't even look at it. She knew it came from one of the storage buildings, but what she didn't know was what he'd had to do in order to get it; what bargains and deals he'd had to make.

He would never let her know.

But still she refused it. Shook her head and turned away when he held it up to her. Why should she be warm when everyone else was suffering? Why should she be singled out?

He couldn't tell her that he loved her. Had loved her from the first moment he'd seen her. Not then. Not yet. So he simply held the coat open and nodded to the shivering baby in her arms.

"For him," he said. "For your son."


"For heaven's sake, Rachel," Shonna's son laughed, his voice booming through the apartment like fireworks. "Give your poor grandfather a chance to expand his lungs, will you? You're going to crack one of his ribs hugging him like that."

Rachel released her grip instantly and stepped back, looking worried as only a twelve-year-old could.

"I'm sorry, Zaideh. Are you all right?"

Having never failed to be inspired by whatever moment presented himself, as Shonna often reminded him, he staggered away from the child who didn't consider herself one, and rolled his eyes toward her father.

"Got! What are you feeding her, Benjamin? Spinach so she'll be another Pop-Eye?" He staggered back and planted a kiss on the seam-straight part on the top of the girl's head. "Gut shabbes, Pop-Eye."

Rachel tossed her head, thick black braids dancing, and swatted him lightly on the arm.

"Hah, hah, very funny. Good Shabbos, Zaideh." Taking a step back, she held up a brown paper bag that had seen much better days. "Look, I made the Challah all by my—Oh!"

"Rachel," her mother said and that one word spoke volumes.

"Boy, it's a good thing you didn't want to make kakosh." This was from Josef, who hadn't, in fifteen years, ever missed an opportunity to torment his little sister. "Otherwise we'd be having smushed chocolate pancakes with dinner."

Tears were already forming in the corners of Rachel's gray eyes by the time he reached out and took the bag from her.

"Sha, Josef...so where is it written that Challah can't also be flat bread?" He lifted the squashed bag to his face and breathed in deeply. The rich warm aroma filled him like wine and he smacked his lips. "Ah, manna."

He carried the crushed loaf to the table while the rest of Shonna's family hung their coats in the hall closet.

"See," he whispered to her as he passed, "they are fine."

"So, can a son get a hug from his papa?" Benjamin asked and, half-turning so no would see, slipped two fat cigars into his hand. "For later. Gut Shabbes, papa."

Nodding, he tucked the gifts into the pocket of his sweater and watched Benjamin's wife sweep into the room. She, as she liked to tell everyone, was a modern Jew with none of the old world phobias and guilts...but with more than enough new ones to comfortably take their place. Cholesterol would kill you, as if life wouldn't. Alcohol was bad, but tobacco worse.

His daughter-in-law was bound and determined to keep him healthy and well in spite of himself. He thanked God daily that her husband understood the joy of moderate sin to an old man.

"The table looks beautiful, Papa-Jacob." Papa-Jacob. How modern of her. But as beautiful as the table looked, it didn't stop her from straightening a napkin here, a fork there, and making sure the crushed Challah was covered before placing the casserole she'd brought on the table. "And you've been cooking."

As if that was the First Trumpet of the Apocalypse.

He'd tried to ignore the tone of her voice, but could not help but smile when he heard Shonna tsk. She had never completely approved of her son's choice for a wife.

He looked up quickly, to catch her eye, but she had already moved back into the safe shadows next to the window. He'd had a Rabbi bless every window and doorway of the apartment the day after he moved...they moved in. To keep the evil out and goodness in.

To keep her.

"What, you think I don't know a little something about cooking?" He winked, first at Shonna and then at Benjamin as he walked to the head of the table. "You forget I kept your husband fed throughout his childhood without killing him more than once or twice. Besides, how hard is it to boil kasha?"


Rachael and Josef moaned in unison. One of the benefits of having a modern Jew for a mother was that they'd never been subjected to the questionable delights of boiled buckwheat groats on a regular basis.

"Oh, Zaideh, you're not really going to make us eat that, are you?" Poor little Rachel asked, eyes growing wide in exaggerated fear.

"Half a mouthful," he said, then added quickly, "and maybe a full mouthful of raisin kugel with sweet cream to wash away the taste. If you're good.

The children beamed their promise while their mother/Benjamin's wife/the modern Jew huffed her disapproval.

"Sweet cream and kugel. Then it's a good thing I made low-fat lamb stew. Good Shabbos, Papa-Jacob."

"And to you, Helen." He kissed the offered cheek and felt his eyes water in a miniature dust storm of face powder the glancing touch had produced. "It smells delicious."

She fluttered her painted lashes at him. "And only thirty-eight grams of fat per serving."


He clasped his hands together over a belly that had taken a good portion of the past fifty-four years to create, and looked over the top of the Modern Jew's lacquered ringlets to see Shonna staring back at him. She was so thin...so very thin.


"Here," he said as he put the rolls into her hand. They were still warm, fresh from the Officers' kitchen, and the heat sent steam swirling into the cold morning air.

He was afraid. If one of the guards noticed....

It was only the fear of them being seen that made him push her into the blind corner of the building. Only the fear. Nothing more. But the sudden movement had frightened her and she'd cried out, waking the baby in her arms.

And it began to wail.

Loud and shrill. A guard would hear. A guard would come and find them.

His fear for her was the only reason he took the knife from his pocket and held it against the baby's quivering throat.

He wouldn't have harmed it. Never. Not her child, but he had to make it stop crying.

"Please," he told her. "Quiet it or I'll have no choice. You understand, don't you?"

She did, but the look on her face as she rocked and cooed the infant from tearsthat of a trapped animal looking up at the hunter—made him want to plunge the blade into his own heart.

"I-I'm sorry," he told her. "I didn't mean... Please, forgive me. "

But she only stared at him while he picked up the rolls and placed them back into her hand. They had grown cold.

"For the child," he said, "you have to eat so the child will have milk. Please."

After that, she ate whatever he brought her. But for a long time after she looked for the knife.


"So, are we almost ready?" he asked without expecting an answer. "The sun's almost set I think. Josef, go check."

The boy looked up from the bowl of oranges and purple grapes he'd been eyeing and blinked. There was more than just a bit of his grandmother about the eyes, more still in the half-smile on hips lips.

"Sunset," he repeated and pointed to the window, "go check."

"Oh. Sure."

Lanky and loose-limbed, Josef walked from the table to the window, directly through the spot in which his grandmother stood. And she lifted her arms, closing them into an embrace as Josef's living body emerged from her ethereal one.

For a single instant grandmother and grandson had become one, and, watching it, he felt his heart tremble. They were so much alike, but in five years time Josef would be older than she was the night he had brought her the candles for the only Shabbos meal they would ever share.


"Where did you find them?"

Her eyes went wide when she saw the candles, even more than they had when he showed her the food he'd smuggled into the cluttered storeroom—fresh milk bread, salted fish in a small wooden box, even a tin of canned peaches that had come from a far-away place called Fresno.

She was used to his gifts now, accepting them without hesitation. . . the trapped, frightened look a thing of the past, but it was the gift of the candles that made her turn and kiss him.

The first and only time.

He wouldn't have told her about the candles even if she hadn't kissed him. He knew himself too much of a coward to do that. She would have hated him if she knew.

Rumors about where the fat had come from to make the pale yellow candles... jokes about how many could be rendered from a single corpse.

These were things better left unspoken.

Instead he asked if the would do, if they were what she need for the Sabbath

"Shabbos," she corrected and smiled. She'd begun to do that more often. Now. "And yes, they're perfect. Come, kneel down and we can begin."

A prayer shawl had been harder to find than the candles, but she forgave him and untied the makeshift scarf to drape it loose over the razor scabs and stubble covering her head.

To him she looked like The Madonna.

She smiled at him through the sulfur fumes as she struck the match and lit the candles.

When both were ablaze, she covered her eyes with her hands and slowly began rocking back and forth, reciting the prayer he did not yet understand.

But was learning.


"Baruch Atah Adonai Elohaynu Melech
"Ha-Olam Asher Kid'shanu b'Mitzvotav
"v Tzivanu L'hadleck Nayr Shel Shabbat."

He nodded as his daughter-in-law concluded the prayer of blessing for the candles on the table. His own blessings, those for the wine, the bread, and the children rolled across his tongue as easily as sighs. After so many years, they had become as natural to him as breathing.

"Y'simcha Elohim k'Ephraim v'chi Memasheh," he said and motioned all to sit as he did. "May God make you as Ephraim and as Menasseh. Ohmain."


And one more—"Ohmain”—whispered from the shadows near the window that was instantly lost in the sounds of cutlery against china, and voices raised in competition with one another.

Shonna's family. His family.

"Ah." He applauded as the low-fat lamb stew was presented. "Helen, you have outdone yourself beyond measure."

"You say that every week, Zaideh," Josef said, smiling around the small bunch of grapes he'd plucked the moment he sat down.

"So, if I say it every week it can't be true this week?" He chuckled when the fifteen-year-old couldn't come up with an answer. "Josef, don't ever go into politics. You are too easily distracted from your point of view."

"Ohmain to that, Papa," Benjamin said as he filled a plate with the stew and traded it for an empty one. "But at this point I'd be happy if he just gets passing grades."

"Oh? You have something you'd like to tell your Zaideh, maybe?" He lifted one eyebrow and found himself staring at the embroidered yarmelkeh on the top of the boy's head...while the boy himself was busy studying the pattern on the dinner plate he had eaten from since he'd been old enough to hold a spoon. "You are having that much trouble in school, Josef?"

"It's just because he has so many things he has to do, Zaideh. He has chess club and soccer and he works after school two nights a week at the library."

Rachel, the peacemaker, looked up at him shyly from under her lashes. He'd seen Shonna do the same thing throughout the years.

"Besides," she continued, "he always helps me with my homework."

Shonna's son laughed and raised his hands to the ceiling, imploring God.

"So now you see why I'm so worried, Papa?"

"You don't have to be, Bennie," he said. "Josef will pass if not with flying colors then with colors at half-mast...just like you did, remember?"

"Oh?" Josef's face lifted from its deep contemplation of his dinner plate.

"Yes..." He turned to the boy with his sternest grandfather glare. "...but you will study harder than your papa so the past won't repeat itself. Yes?"

Josef blushed. "Yes, Zaideh."

"Then it is settled and we won't talk about it any more tonight. But next Shabbos I'd better hear of some improvement or you'll get nothing to eat by kasha."

Their laughter drowned out the sound of the music box, but he could still hear it playing. Could still feel Shonna's gaze from the shadows.

And felt the tears beginning at almost the exact moment that Benjamin noticed them.

"What's the matter, Papa?"

"Nothing," he lied, reaching out to pat the younger man's hand. "I am just missing your mamma. Like always. Rachel would you go wind the music box again? So we can make sure grandmamma will share the rest of the Shabbos with us, yes?"

Even though she had just defended him to both her father and grandfather, Rachel succumbed to the sin of pride and stuck her tongue out at her brother. Josef might be older and heir to the family dry-cleaning business, but she'd been asked to rewind grandmamma's music box.

Her heard Shonna laughing as Rachel left the table, head held high.

"Mamma would be proud of the way you've kept her music box all these years, Papa," Benjamin said, almost as if he'd heard his mother from the shadows. "I just wish I could remember her better."

"No. Anything you remember, Bennie, is from what I've told you. You were too little when she ... died. Just a baby."


He'd learned much about her and the husband who had been named Yaakov, and who had died one bright autumn morning while he stood in front of his philosophy class, lecturing on Thomas Hobbes and the Foundation of Justice.

One of his students had stood up and shot him in the head while another shouted, "He was only a Jew. Class dismissed."

He'd learned so much.

But today she was quiet, perched on the edge of the chair in front of his desk, hands clasped in her lap; her nixie eyes watching him bounce the baby on his knee.

Happy. Giggling. Too young to know any better.

But she knew.

And so did he.


"It's almost over," she said without looking into his eyes. "All of this. There are rumors in the camp."

He chucked the baby under the chin, hoping the newest onslaught of giggles would somehow lighten the darkness that had crept, unnoticed, into the room.

It was amazing how wrong he could still be at trying to understand her. This time the sound of the child brought tears to her eyes.

"Shh, no. There are always rumors, Shonna. If you listen to them you'll go insane."

"More insane than watching men and women and children walk naked into imaginary showers and never come out while my child lives and grows strong and I..." The tears slid into the hollows of her cheeks as she looked up at him.

"Insanity is a relative thing, Hendrik."

It had taken her longer to call him by his first name that it had to accept the possibility that one who wore a brown shirt and swastika could actually love her.

And want only to save her and her child.

"They won't leave any witnesses behind. That is what the rumors say."

He couldn't look at her while the truth hung in the air between them, so he stood and cradled her child to his chest and felt the little fingers grab at the shiny insignia on his collar. Only that morning the orders had come, sealed and stamped, to implement Hitler's planned extermination of God's Chosen People on a camp to camp basis.

Starting immediately.

He kissed the infant's cheek and carried him to a small cot he'd set up in his office.

"You don't have to worry," he said as he tucked a blanket around the little body. "I won't let anything happen to you or Benjamin, Shonna."

When she didn't answer, he looked up to find her standing at the office window, staring into the pale spring twilight. He didn't call her away, no longer worried that the guards would see. It was too late to worry about discovery now.

"What are you looking at, Shonna," he asked once the baby began drifting into sleep.


"Shh, don't say things like that."

"But it's true," she said without turning away from the approaching night. "And there is nothing you can do to stop it."


He walked back to his desk and picked up the music box. Her music box.

"Do you think I was able to save this and still be unable to save you?"

She lifted her hand to the scarf covering her head as she turned. There were no more tears in her eyes. No fear etched in the lines of her face. There was nothing but acceptance.

"You're right about one thing, Shonna," he said as he wound the music box to life, "it is almost over...but when it is, the world will return to normal."

"But which world will that be, Captain?" she asked. "Yours or mine?"


"Still," Benjamin said, "I wish I could remember just a little bit about her."

"It is better than you don't, Bennie. They weren't good times and wouldn't make for good memories. Besides," he swiped the air with his hand, "these are the times to remember. Theses and all the times to c—"


He felt his heart stop beating, the air freeze in his lungs, and yet, he still lived.

"Rachel, what's the matter?"

Benjamin's wife was the first up, worry destroying the carefully applied mask of powder and rouge. Benjamin rose more slowly from the table, shrugging the way all fathers of teenaged daughters must sometimes do. Whatever had happened could not be that bad. It never was.

Josef popped a grape into his mouth, unconcerned.

"Good-bye, Yaakov."

Her voice was so soft. So loving. Already a memory.

"What?" He didn't know if he was shouting or whispering, but when he looked up she was gone. Night replacing the shadows where she'd stood for so long.


"What has happened?" he shouted, knowing he was shouting this time, as Rachel came to him, holding the silent music box. Tears had already blanketed both her cheeks and stained the front of her dress, but still more came.

"I-I'm sorry, Zaideh. I didn't mean to turn it so hard, but..." More tears. "I'm sorry."

He swallowed and heard the click in his throat. After so many years the silence was deafening.

"Oh, Papa." Benjamin took the box—just a box now—from his sobbing child and placed it into the hands of the only father he had ever known.

He had promised her when he took the baby from her arms that day, the day she died, to raise him as his own. To become the father he had lost. And to keep her alive in their memories.

To keep her.

While the music box he'd saved instead of her played on and on and on.

The tattoo was the easiest part.

No one, Allies or Axis, would suspect a racially pure Aryan to tattoo himself with the number of a dead Jew. Nor slip into the stripped, tattered remains of another man's life.

He became Yaakov that day for her, for his Shonna.

"I know this watchmaker on Broadway," Benjamin told him. "I'll drop it off on my way to work Monday and have it repaired. It'll be good as new in a couple of days, Papa, you'll see."

He looked up and shook his head.

She was gone. His Shonna. Gone.

"No," he said, "it's all right. It's over."

Kneeling, he cupped the silent music box in his hands and began reciting the first prayer he had ever learned.

Kaddish. The Prayer for the Dead.

The winner of both a Bram Stoker and World Fantasy Award, P.D. Cacek has written over a hundred short stories, six plays, and five published novels. Her latest THE SELKIE, is currently available on Amazon.com.

Her work has appeared in Cemetery Dance Magazine,
999Joe Lansdale’s Lords of the RazorNight Visions 12,Inferno, Women of the Night, Masques V, Shelf-Life, Full Moon City, Postsctipst 10 and the inaugural YA anthology of horror fiction from Scholastic Books, 666:The Sign of the Beast.

Cacek holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English/Creative Writing Option from the University of California at Long Beach and has been a guest lecturer at the Odyssey Writing Camp.

A native Westerner, Cacek now lives Phoenixville, PA…home of BLOBFEST, and only a short walk away from The Colonial Theater where the famous “Run Screaming From Theater” scene was filmed.

When not writing, she can often been found either with a group of costumed storytellers called THE PATIENT CREATURES (www.creatureseast.com), or haunting local cemeteries looking for inspiration.



































































































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