A Storyby Debra Spark
Her trip to London was purely for pleasure, but Rachel Rubenstein did have a goal. She wanted to buy presents for her nephews, something fun that wouldn’t cost too much. She found what she was looking for at the grocer: chocolate eggs with prizes inside. They were from Germany. Or maybe it was Switzerland. Anyway, they were hollow chocolate eggs, lined with white, as if the shell were on the inside. Rachel cracked open a few, while still in London, to make sure they’d please. She found tiny puzzles, small one-toothed monsters, itty-bitty tops. Perfect. Only her eggs melted by the time she got home, so she gave the kids little misshapen brown lumps of . . .
“You know what I’m thinking those look like,” her sister Greta began.
“I’d like that to be one of those thoughts you leave unexpressed.”
“Gotcha,” Greta said.
So, months later, Rachel wasn’t surprised—not entirely—by the foil-wrapped chocolate egg in Mamie Bess’s effects. She associated such items with Europe. Ditto Mamie, who had come from Poland to Queens in the 1930s and stayed there till last week when death forced her removal to a Long Island cemetery. Not that Mamie was actually in Long Island. She’d joined the Everlasting, if Rabbi Cohen—he of the spittley lips and saggy cheeks—could be trusted. Rachel wasn’t sure she believed in an afterlife, but it was enough that Mamie did. The last time they’d spoken, it was about a date Rachel had gone on.
“So?” Mamie said. “You mind me asking what he’s like?”
“I don’t know,” Rachel said. She was in her late twenties and vague when it came to her personal life. It seemed altogether possible that she might never have one. “A doctor and Jewish, so it should be good, but I just couldn’t get much of a conversation going with him.” The man had been the grandson of one of Mamie’s friends. Rachel was in a period of welcoming blind dates, no matter what quarter they came from.