Author: Tovli "Linnie" Simiryan
Location: Charleston, West Virginia
Tovli is an award-winning writer currently living in West Virginia with her husband, Yosif. The family came to America as refugees from the former Soviet Union (Moldova) in 1992. Tovli's writings have appeared in a variety of publications. She has published two books of poetry: The Breaking of the Glass,
and Fixing the Broken Glass.
A collection of short fiction, Ruach of the Elders-Spiritual Teachings of the Silent,
will be marketed in 2008. The story below, Sarah,
received an award (2nd place) in the 2006 West Virginia Writers’ Annual Writing Competition.
The orange glow announced that Eged Bus #21 had melted into Ben Yehudah Street. Sarah was sitting near the exit, appreciating the comfortable seat, when the boy hugged the backpack close to his chest, disappearing like ice on a spring morning. She’d occasionally wondered if she could survive war, or how she might escape the twisted metal remnants of buses that appeared like gutted trout on the nightly news. She held her breath and struggled for freedom.
Scorched air amid chaos smothered the quiet hysteria invading her soul. Soon Jerusalem, the holy city, would demand vengeance, like a lioness protecting her cubs. Sarah’s body dictated a need for stillness. She calmed herself with a sigh that answered her rescuer’s frantic calls. She was that kind of woman, concerned for the success of others. She was not interested in retribution. There would be time for anger when the missing emerged unscathed from darkness and fire.
The sound of voices became distant and Sarah’s body remained so still amid turmoil that she wondered if she’d forgotten how to move. The bus cooled, as corpses do. She felt steel and asphalt freeze with rigidity as volunteers in plastic vests scoured blood from the air. Her expensive shoes turned up burnt, yet she was not missing limbs, nor did she feel injured.
She had dressed quickly that morning. Her dark blue skirt and white cotton blouse with crocheted ruffles were comfortable, yet professional. Sarah always felt the need to present herself as dignified and worthy of power. The nylon stockings she’d laid out the night before were sheer and had replaced her skin as the bomb grew from a strange rusty whimper to a scream emanating from the dark soul of the enemy’s despondency. The essence of all that mattered was subdued within a sound so deafening that the meaning of noise and anger were reconsidered—as light disappeared from faces smiling moments before. All that remained were pieces within her memory: the son she kissed goodbye, the successful husband, and her elderly, proud grandmother who closed the apartment door carefully once she witnessed her sweet girl board the city bus.
In time, the afternoon’s loss would fade, the way her ruined shoes became a pin-point disappearing into the horizon before she was ready to bid farewell. Sarah did not feel the hands that finally reached her, carrying her into fresh, spring air, or the white sheet stretched flat to catch her reflection into a dark, red sunset separating an entire nation from life into death. She did not recall disappearing, but embarked upon a poorly planned journey of uncharted holy places. With each step she felt less than she was, her power speculative at best. As evening approached, Sarah returned home, barely recognizing her child sitting near the bus stop tossing kisses into the breeze. She rejoiced as this final remnant reached its tiny fingers into her air and embraced what would no longer be held.