May It Be Written
May It Be Done
I am the third son of the fourth daughter. For years no one spoke of this pairing—it was always the seventh son of the seventh son. How Orthodox—how sexist—how far-fetched, but none-the-less that’s what was palavered about. Until now, that is.
I was tired of my family members not talking with each other at different times for reasons both remembered and forgotten so I took it upon myself to resolve it for once and for all and let them disagree and still talk—even though it’s goes against our DNA.
In a recently released but much earlier translated footnote in the Dead Sea Scrolls that only I had been privy to (since I created it), the third son of the forth daughter is the be-all and end-all in the family and in the community.
Being that one, I was entitled to a life of leisure, multiple wives (if I choose), fresh baked goods galore, the decider of all disputes and a fresh young ox on my plate whenever the urge struck me.
To break the news, I called for a family picnic which is the only way to get my entire family to show up anywhere. Everyone comes—even if they’re not speaking to others. I’m known for my picnic spreads. A word of explanation: in my family any gathering where food is served is called a picnic whether it be Thanksgiving or Passover. Don’t ask. Okay—tradition—that’s the best I can do.
I broke the news over the serving of the brisket which meant that only a fraction of the family actually heard me. My brisket is to die for. Word made it around the table after a bit and soon each person had their own interpretation. “How about the 1st daughter of the third son?” “The only child of an only child?” “The second cousin of a second cousin twice removed?”
As I had expected none got the true gist of the Dead Sea Scroll footnote.
So over desert; Babka, apple strudel and rugelach and decaf coffee with Sweet and Lo, I explained that nothing was going to change except that I was now titular head of the family. I wanted no ox, young or otherwise, no more wives and I planned to keep on working. My role was basically to settle in-family disputes. Period. I was to act as a mediator and my word was the word. I was to be the Supreme Court, the Ralph Bunche, and the Gandhi of the Mirsky clan. That’s all I told them—no big thing—no tributes—no major changes except that we will no longer have family members not talking to other family members for long forgotten or petty reasons such as we have today and have had so often in the past.
As the picnic wore down I stood packaging the leftovers for anyone who wanted whatever there was and by the time everything, including all of my Tupperware, was all gone so was my family—never to be heard from again; but who bonded as never before, only this time with a common enemy to scorn and talk about at their family picnics.
Paul Beckman was also one of the winners in The Best Small Fictions 2016! published by Queen’s Ferry Press
His stories are published worldwide in print and online in the following magazines amongst others: Connecticut Review, Raleigh Review, Litro, Playboy, Pank, Blue Fifth Review, Flash Frontier, Metazen, Boston Literary Magazine, Thrice Fiction and Literary Orphans. His work has been included in a number of anthologies. Paul earned his MFA in creative writing from Bennington College. His latest collection of flash stories, “Peek” weighed in at 65 stories and 120 pages. Paul lives in CT and his website is www.paulbeckmanstories.com