Jul/Aug 2000 spotlight

A Temporary Solution

by Eric Bosse

Benjamin's mother screwed her face into a grimace. "You're twelve years old, Benny. The holocaust happened fifty years ago, halfway across the world." She pushed a box of Wheaties across the table. "You're not even Jewish. Now eat some cereal."

Benjamin sipped his grapefruit juice. He wiped his chin with a napkin. "You can't fool me, Mother."

"I'm not trying to." She crossed her arms over her chest. "Take a piece of toast."

Benjamin leaned forward and whispered, "I remember what I remember."

"You can't remember what never happened to you, Benny." She began to clear the breakfast dishes. "You need a psychiatrist."

"I don't need a psychiatrist, Mother. I need the truth." He pounded his small fist on the table. "When did you adopt me?"

Rinsing spoons in the sink, she shook her head. "After you kicked around in my womb for nearly ten months. You want a Pop Tart?"

He shook his head. "I want to know if I was cryogenically frozen after the War."

"At least drink the rest of your juice, Benny."

Benjamin hurled his half-empty glass at the refrigerator. The tumbler shattered and sent a sputter of pink juice dripping down the refrigerator, trailing a rainbow of rivulets through Bnjamin's sister's watercolor portrait of the family.

"Don't lie, Mom. They froze me after they found me in Dachau at the age of four. They didn't know what to do with me so they froze me until they could find parents. I remember it! I remember the bunkbeds and the rats and the gas chambers and the Nazis and the "

With a soft grunt, Benjamin's mother pitched the porcelain cookie jar at the refrigerator door. The jar didn't shatter, but broke into three big shards that fell with a clank. Two dozen chocolate chip cookies rolled around the linoleum like so many fat coins spinning into stillness.

Benjamin's mother placed a fist on her hip. The other hand pointed a finger down the hallway. "Get to your room, Benjamin, before I show you a real gas chamber. If you're still a holocaust survivor in one hour, well, then we'll go straight to the goddamn mental health clinic and check you in. You got that, mister?"

Benjamin nodded. He sulked down the long hall to his bedroom, hanging his head and sucking in his gut in an effort to look gaunt and oppressed. He closed the bedroom door behind him. He gingerly rubbed the little serial number drawn in ball point pen on his forearm.


"A Temporary Solution" was previously published in Exquisite Corpse.


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