Ettie and Sadie: A Jewish Story

    April Passover 2004 Edition            
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Ettie and Sadie

By Jason Endfield © 2004

Ettie and Sadie sat in the cafe, each with a cup of tea and a small plain cake. It was a scene that was repeated every Wednesday afternoon at three o'clock.

The two ladies were a familiar sight at the busy cafe in town, though nobody had ever ventured to get to know them any better; such is our world where strangers remain strangers through a fear of commitment. It is easier to let somebody be than to discover anything about the person. Ettie and Sadie, however, knew each other well. Their husbands had been schoolfriends and grown up together and so Ettie and Sadie were "friends-in-law" you might say, through marriage.

These two old ladies were very close but, nevertheless, had fallen out with each other many times over small matters. Now their husbands were gone and the two women had mellowed, as we all do, through age and life's experience.

Ettie took a sip of tea, then ventured, "Did you see Miriam's wart on Shabbas? It's even bigger than it was!" Sadie nodded and answered, "and on the end of her nose too! May we never have such a tragedy; the poor woman is barely more than a walking disaster."

Ettie took a bite of cake, then spoke with it still in her mouth, "that woman has such sorrows - what with her feet and her schlemiel of a son, and now, to put a top hat on it all, a wart that is replacing her very nose. You wouldn't wish it on a fish!"

Sadie nodded in agreement, but added cautiously, "still, you know it's payback for what she did to her daughter..." Ettie grunted vigorously in recognition of the unspoken secret.

Just then, a smart, middle-aged gentleman, who had been watching from a nearby table, stood up and approached the two old ladies. He nodded at Ettie who nodded back in curious acknowledgement, flashing a glance at Sadie who was staring at the man. The well spoken man then addressed Sadie, "do please excuse me for interrupting, but do you have the time?"

Sadie stared back at him for a second then fumbled on her wrist for her watch; "yes of course it's three fifteen pm," she said precisely. The man smiled at her and said, "thank you, then it's about time I think." With that he walked away quickly and into the distance.

Ettie looked over at Sadie who appeared to be thinking and a little confused. She looked back at Ettie and asked her, "Did you know him?" Ettie shook her head. Sadie continued, "I thought I knew him from somewhere." Ettie giggled, "are you having a secret whirlwind love affair, Sadie dear? Because if you are then I want one too!" The two ladies collapsed in laughter and were barely able to finish their cake without choking.

As they walked slowly to the bus stop, they chatted some more about Miriam's wart. Two old friends, invisible to the world - a world full of people who never take the time to know the person next to them; a world full of people whose hearts are crying out for the love of another but whose minds are closed and cold.

Ettie waved Sadie off on her bus and made her own way home. It was to be the last time these two old ladies met. Sadie died that night in her sleep. Ettie - well, Ettie became another lost soul in the crowd; wandering, existing, longing - until it was about time for her to go too.

Jason Endfield is a UK based Jewish writer. He invites comments and is currently seeking a publisher for his collection of short stories. He can be contacted via:


from the April Passover 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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