A simple man named Abraham Kosofsky watched his tiny town of Berezovka grow tinier every day. Fannie, he asked his wife, What will become of us when all our neighbors are carried away by this coughing fit and buried? But Fannie was too sick to answer. She lay in their bed in the grip of a fever and sweated through the night. The doctor blew into the room, white like a sail before the wind and thin as canvas. His bag was empty. When Fannie and the doctor died, Abraham gathered Benjamin and Rebecca Kosofsky and traveled with them to the home of Rose Kosofsky Yachines, took her to collect Lena Kosofsky Rosen and Sonya Zelniker Kosofsky and together they trudged the forty hard miles to the Baltic Sea as the icy roads thawed and turned to mud. They sold their silverware, the samovar, all their pelts and the gilded frame that held the family photograph to book their passage on a steamer to New York. Besides the clothes on their backs, they had no possessions, but Charles Kosofsky of Kaliningrad gave them an empty steamer trunk to carry on board to hide their shame. The first day of their journey, Lena succumbed and her clothing went into the trunk. As passengers died, their clothing too went into the trunk, with crusts of bread and tins of sardines, an orange, cooking utensils and things they found or were given or earned, or traded for or noticed untended. When they landed, the men in coats said, Drop the luggage, Men this way, Women and children that way. Abraham told the others, Go. It’s more than we’ve ever had. Go where they tell you and hope to meet back here. The fewer we are, the sadder and richer we will be.

Copyright © August 17, 2009 David Hodges

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Borrowed Luggage by davidbdale is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at davidbdale.wordpress.com.

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