A Seder With The Dead

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

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A lonely soul finds joy in one night of unlikely companionship, food and song.


The late February morning sun was just peeking over the great cedars on Little Conejo. Jayne and her three legged retriever Buddy were just rounding the small cove of her private island on their daily jog when they saw the first one washed ashore. It  seemed to be intact. Dead, but intact. Buddy was fascinated. They both were. Jayne stepped up and punted a blue crab off the fresh corpse. Buddy chased the crustacean as it cartwheeled across the sand. She shaded her eyes from the bright morning as she looked up. ‘Gulls will find it soon enough, I ‘spect.’ she thought. Then an idea struck her. It struck her funny, too. A smile stretched across her thin weather beaten face and a childish giggle escaped her mouth. The older woman stood alone on her private beach, yet turned and looked around as if someone might have seen what she was thinking. Her cheeks went hot and she covered her face in embarrassment. Just then Buddy came galloping back. He did a few circles around her, all while tossing something in the air and catching it again.


“Drop it, Buddy!” she said.


The three legged dog did. Right next to the corpse. His whole body seemed to wag as his master knelt to see what it was. Jayne picked the blue crab leg up and tossed it down the beach again. Buddy took off. Still kneeling, Jayne couldn’t help herself. She ran her hand through the corpse’ long gray hair. She made her mind up right then.


Jayne was born Mary Jayne Rothfelder, great granddaughter of Cornelius Rothfelder, railroad baron, Pilot’s Cove city father, golden age venture capitalist and madman...or so the stories go. Jayne never knew the truth. Her father committed suicide at age thirty, like his own father, so Jayne never got the chance to ask him. That was such a long time ago. Her family were all gone now, like the fortune. All she had left was a trust fund and the island her great grandfather bought for conducting his experiments in private. Jayne moved to the island many years ago. She didn’t have much use for the people of Pilot’s Cove anyway. The whispering as she walked through a store, the sideways glances, people listening through her TV,  people standing in her garbage cans. They didn’t think she noticed, but she did. One night they put mushrooms in her mac and cheese to try and kill her. That’s when she decided to take the neighbor’s dog and move to the island.


‘God must be smiling on me.’ Jayne thought, two days after the first gray haired corpse washed up on her beach. She now stood over two more. That made two men and one woman. Jayne didn’t need to change her great idea. She just expanded on it. Buddy was running in circles around them, yipping and barking. Jayne smiled. They were both happy.



By the time the 28th rolled around Jayne was ready. She had been making preparations for a week and a half now. That Wednesday morning she got up early and started her baking. By the afternoon everything was set. Her and Buddy walked to the beach to get out for awhile. As the two crested the last dune before they reached it, Jayne and Buddy got a surprise. Sheshe almost passed out from panic.


The sun was now set. Jayne lit the candles on the table and looked happily over her spread. The table was heavy with brisket, sweet braided challahs, hearty bean soup, potato-spinach latkes and a plate piled high with Hamantash. She thought ‘I’m sure glad I was able to make room for the unexpected guests.’ She had almost gone crazy when she saw the late arrivals on the beach this afternoon. Now Jayne smiled and raised her glass of Manischewitz in a toast to all eighteen of her seder guests.


“Purim Sameach!” she shouted.

“Woof! Woof!” Buddy barked.


Later that evening, after the last game of Twister, her and Buddy got away for a breather. The two of them walked back down to the dune overlooking the sea. They sat there quietly for awhile contemplating the events of the day, the feast and the houseful of guests. Jayne’s head was pounding from all the wine, singing, laughing and conversations shouted over the din. ‘It’s nice and quiet out here.’ Jayne thought. She put her hand on Buddy’s head and scratched absently behind his ears. The two of them watched as the moonlight played on the waves that gently crashed over and around the wrecked ship that was slowly burning down to the waterline in her cove.


After a while she pulled in a deep cleansing breath. With her eyes closed, she let it out again and exclaimed


“Oy Vey!”


Buddy turned his head and expressed his agreement with the sentiment. The flames from the wreck were reflected in her eyes when she opened them again and said


“I just wonder... What time are they all going home?”


A story by

R. Guy Barringer




Submitted: January 11, 2018

© Copyright 2022 R.Guy Behringer. All rights reserved.

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