Kansas City native Rochelle Wisoff-Fields is a woman of Jewish descent and the granddaughter of Eastern European immigrants. She has a close personal connection to Jewish history, which has been a recurring theme throughout much of her writing. Growing up, she was heavily influenced by the Sholom Aleichem stories, the basis for Fiddler on the Roof. Her novels Please Say Kaddish for Me, From Silt and Ashes and As One Must, One Can were born of her desire to share the darker side of these beloved tales—the history that can be difficult to view, much less embrace.
She is also the author and illustrator of This, That and Sometimes the Other, an eclectic anthology of short stories.
Before becoming an author, Rochelle attended the Kansas City Art Institute, where she studied painting and lithography. Her preferred media are pen and ink, pencil, and watercolor. Her artwork is featured on the covers of her books and within them as well. Her coffee table companion book to her trilogy which will feature character portraits, A Stone for the Journey, is due out in the spring 2017.
Rochelle maintains a blog called Addicted to Purple where she facilitates the internationally popular flash fiction challenge known as Friday Fictioneers. She and her husband, Jan, raised three sons and live in Belton, Missouri. When she takes a break from writing and illustrating, Rochelle enjoys swimming, reading and dancing.
Sarah says: I’m delighted to welcome Rochelle to my blog as this month’s guest storyteller. I know her as a person of great talent, both on the writing and artistic front, and have read her two published novels, both of which I’ve awarded 5 stars (links to my reviews below, plus links to the books on Amazon). She’s also known to me for her inexhaustible commitment to running Friday Fictioneers on a weekly basis, which I can only imagine is a huge but rewarding undertaking.
It’s now time to hand you over to Rochelle for a beautiful, tender, and haunting piece of storytelling…
The splintered sign above the door hung by a single nail. The red paint boasting “Miller’s Burger Barn” had faded to pink. With his handkerchief Neil brushed a layer of dust from the window and peeked inside. The counter where he used to chow down on grilled cheese sandwiches and grease-laden Suzy-Q fries was piled with trash. Broken chairs littered the chipped linoleum floor. Hard to believe this ramshackle building was once the hub of youthful activity.
He took a step back and stared at his mottled reflection. A spindly old man with thick-lensed glasses and stringy white hair returned his stare. His rumpled suit and skewed bowtie wanted for attention. He shrugged. What difference did his appearance make now?
His mind backtracked to his senior year in high school. 1955. That’s when the Millers moved to town and opened the diner. Their curvaceous daughter Evalyne served up sodas and snacks three afternoons a week and all day Saturday.
Every muscled athlete in school hung out there to compete for the pretty blonde’s attention. Neil didn’t stand a chance. Myopic and thin as a barber pole, he was a straight ‘A’ student and captain of the debate team. What chick would want to be seen with a square like him?
He’d accepted his lot until one Saturday the object of his secret fantasy asked him for help with her geometry homework. After dinner on Sunday, his sweaty hands shook as he rang the Miller’s doorbell. Evalyne opened the door, displayed a plateful of chocolate chip cookies and flashed a timid grin. “I baked them myself.”
While geometry was not her strong suit, she excelled in chemistry and biology—a goddess with a brain. For the next five years they studied together, sharing complex equations, chemical formulas and dreams. Like brother and sister.
Music from inside the deserted building brought him back to the present. The Platters sang “Twilight Time.” Evie’s favorite. How could it be? It had to be in his addled, grief-stricken head.
He pushed open the door. The air smelled of hamburgers and onions. He blinked and rubbed his eyes. Balloons and streamers hung from the ceiling. It was June 1961 again. The day of their college graduation.
Hands on her hips, Evalyne tapped her saddle-shoed foot. “Neil, where have you been? I called your house three times. Your mom’s worried sick.”
“I…I went for a walk…to clear my head. I’ve been accepted to Harvard Law School.”
“Terrific! I’ve been accepted to NYU’s med school. That’s not too far from Boston. Isn’t it exciting? I’m going to be a doctor!”
“Of course! You were…are… I mean…will be a cardiologist. One of the nation’s best.”
Her aquamarine eyes glittered. “Neil, what’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Tears fogged his glasses. “Your…funeral. It was…today, Evie. We were married for fifty years. We have three sons, four grandkids and a great granddaughter.”
“It was just a dream and this silly thing is always crooked.” She straightened his tie with both hands and pressed her lips against his. “Married? Us? Oh, darling, I thought you’d never ask.”
Available in print and on Kindle
Review: Please Say Kaddish For Me
And not yet published but on its way, the last part of the trilogy!