EXCERPT I

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EXCERPT I (Page 2 of 3)

backward by the force of the sugary, buttery smells. DD's is a large coffeehouse at the back of a bakery. Men were sitting around at tables, some eating, but most were talking.

Rasha found her father, a very well-dressed man in a brown plaid suit with perfect white collar sticking out, who shook my hand. He sent us to a small table for two and said we could order anything we wanted. Rasha insisted we start with the crème puffs, then go on from there!

By the time it came, my stomach was purring. I couldn't wait. Then, just as the waiter placed the miraculous confection in front of me, the voices of the men suddenly got louder. Rasha's father was standing up, gesturing with his thumb in an ugly way toward a bent man leaning on the ledge of the window. "What do you know?" Rasha's father shouted at him. "Always 'bei uns in Deutschland, bei uns in Deutschland.' If it's better in Germany, why don't you go back! Taking our crusts... can't even pay for a roll. Get out. Get out!"

My face flamed. Before I could even think, I shot up from my chair. That poor bent old man…he sounded just like Papa! Rasha looked at me curiously. "What is it?" she said. "Don't you like it?" I gaped at the crème puff, so airy and high. My stomach was churning.

Rasha picked up her spoon, waiting politely for me to eat mine first before digging into hers. I stole a peek at the ragged back of the old man as he shuffled out. I didn't dare look at Rasha's father.

What could I do? Finally, I plopped down in my seat. "It looks wonderful," I said as I dipped in my spoon.

Wunderbar, I thought. I wanted to shout it out loud. That was not nearly enough to describe it. When we finished those, we ordered another. And another! I wolfed mine down even faster than Rasha. She was looking at me a little strangely. When she asked if I wanted yet another dessert, I finally said no. By now my stomach was rocking as though we were back on the torturous sea.

Outside I thanked Rasha, forcing myself to smile, and made my way home down Joffre Street. Tears welled up so thick in my eyes, I could barely see. The sweetness formed a ball inside me that seemed to harden and then curdle. I made a few wrong turns and had to retrace my steps and start over.

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