Prose, Grades 7 – 9: Honorable Mention

Uncle Elliot — Justin Krelitz

       I leapt out of my mom’s car, excited to see my family. I walked up the concrete steps that lead me to the grand oak door of my uncle’s house. I turned the copper door knob and thrust the door wide open, ready for Shabbat dinner. I was followed in by my father, mother, and brother. As I walked towards the kitchen, the scent of beef, potatoes, and green beans found their way into my nose. I took a deep breathe in, savoring the sublime smell. As I entered the kitchen, I found my Uncle Elliot carving a giant piece of brisket with an electric saw. As he saw me his face lit up,

       “Hi, Lovebug,” he said cheerfully as his strong arms embraced me in a bear hug.

       “Hi, Uncle Elliot,” I responded cheerfully. He washed his meat-covered hands, then gestured for me to sit down and talk in the living room.

       “So have you gotten any tests back?” my uncle asked.

       “Ya, I did.” I mumbled.

       “Well…did you do well?”

       “Ya, but I didn’t do as well as I thought I would.”

       “Well, maybe instead of beating yourself up, you can take it as a learning experience.” I smiled at my uncle.

       Soon after, the conversation ended, he called up to his son, “Time to eat, Asher!”

       “I’m not hungry, Elliot!”

       “Come down now please!”

       “I’d rather not!”

       I flashed back to when I went to work with my uncle one day. He oversees sales at a software company. I remembered as we walked in, he barked, “Get to work everyone! Time is money, and you’re wasting time.”

       Holding my uncle’s hand, I walked down the long hall to his large office. He sat down in a chair made of split grain leather, behind a large desk. As the day went on, I watched as his employees asked him for a raise, wondered about a project, and asked him to sign a contract. Each time he responded with a well-crafted and precise answer. I could tell that since he had become accustomed to total control at work, it tortured him that he could not control his own child.

       I snapped back to reality at the sound of my uncle stomping up the stairs and mumbling under his breath about a rotten child. Minutes later, he returned with Asher at his side. The tension between them was palpable as we walked to the dining room and sat at the large beech table. We said the prayers over the wine and bread, my uncle’s cheery voice loudest of all, then started to eat the Shabbat dinner.

       Just before we were about to eat our meal, my uncle spoke, “We all should be very grateful. Not only do we have food on our table, money in our pockets, and a roof over our heads, but more importantly, we have a family to share it with.” Something about what he said made the already delicious food taste just a bit better.

       After our stomachs were full, we retired to the living room. I sat on the couch by the fireplace enjoying the heat. As the fire crackled, my older cousin Mason played a song on the saxophone. My uncle looked so proud as Mason perfectly hit the last note. His proud face vanished as my other cousin Asher left to go to his bedroom. He leapt out of his chair and ran after Asher. As if clockwork, my aunt escorted us out the door, hoping to cover up the approaching fight. When I left the house, a cool breeze gently touched my skin, as if saying good-night.