Hillary Leftwich resides in Denver with her son. In her day jobs she has worked as a private investigator, maid, and pinup model. She is the associate editor for The Conium Review and Reader/Marketing Coordinator for Vestal Review. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Hobart, Matter Press, WhiskeyPaper, NANO Fiction, Monkeybicycle, Dogzplot, Cease, Cows, Pure Slush, FlashFiction.net, Gone Lawn, and others.
For the past three weeks, he had done everything he could to distract himself. Today, he decides to take a walk down to the beach. He holds Rivka’s letter in his hands like an injured bird. The crease where he folded the paper into a square is two days old. It is too late to make it smooth again.
The waves are frantic that morning, frothing and leaving suds like dish soap on the shoreline. He sits down in one of the white plastic chairs left in the sand, his bones creaking like an old ship. How many days has his grandson, Naftali, been held hostage? He shied away from the news, locked inside his room. He counted his coins, prayed, stared at the beach, hoping to see a young man with light in his hair.
When his son died, Rivka was left to raise Naftali on her own. He was a beautiful boy who looked like he swallowed the sun. Naftali’s face lit up whenever he saw him. Saba! he would shout, running—always running—toward him. Cover my eyes and spin me until I’m dizzy! He did his best to be a father figure to his grandson. Even so, Naftali was untamed like the waves hitting the shore in front of his chair. The city was dangerous but alluring to a young man. Rivka could never keep him under her thumb.
He feels the edges of the letter with his finger, touching what he knew was written on the paper. It was from Rivka. She told him she would only write to him when they found Naftali. If he was alive she would send a car for him. The car never came, but the letter did. Even the softest touch, Saba knew, cannot make the words it contained less cutting. He covers the letter with both of his palms, as if he is praying, and stares at the water. He wonders how long a man can hide. How long he can hide here, on this shore. He wonders how long Naftali fought until his abductors overtook him. He remembered when Naftali was still a boy and always asking him questions. Why do the birds sing, Saba? Is the sun always yellow? One night, after Rivka went to bed, Naftali asked him quietly: How long until I become a man? Saba stares at the waves, gripping the letter, remembering his reply: Sometimes in the blink of an eye.