“I can’t believe what’s happening in this neighbourhood!” My hands move spastically as I mindlessly rearranged the plates on the mantle, gnarled fingers endlessly picking at specs of invisible dust.
My mind flipped through the pictures of things the way they used to be. When Levi and I moved here this was such a beautiful place, close to the inner city but warm and welcoming. I remember the first time we met Mr. Epstein at the deli and Mrs. Huong at the Chinese takeaway down the block. When the sun shone, the park across from Epstein’s would be full of old men playing chess while the women drank coffee and gossiped. The restaurants would be packed every moment from when the churches got out till Sabbath ended at sundown.
But the neighbourhood wasn’t ‘little Israel’ any more. It had changed when my Levi died, although at least a few of the old friends had come to sit Shiva with me in a house full of echoes. It changed more as time, and the inner city, bite by bite, ate away at the gentle charm we had loved.
It didn’t take my son getting mugged for me to know this wasn’t home anymore. Not ten steps from my door, it happened, and I didn’t hear it, dear god, I didn’t hear it.
I heard the police bring Abram home though, the loud knock at the door drowned out the television and woke me. Then it was bandages and reports and pictures of his broken head and black eyes. All the while I just sat there mutely, holding Abram’s hand. He was comforting me. Am I that old that my own son should comfort me.
The Epstein’s came over when they heard, bringing coffee and more sympathy. I don’t want sympathy, I want my neighbourhood back with it’s deli and it’s mix of people whose names I remember. I want, well I guess I don’t get what I want.
I want the past.