The Center Does Not Hold By Fred Skolnik

December 30, 2013 Comments Off on The Center Does Not Hold By Fred Skolnik

It started when the toilet fan went. I got it going again by pulling it out of the wall and oiling it up but after a few days it gave out again and I figured that was that and just started using the other toilet. Then one of the sinks got stopped up and I tried unclogging it with a plunger but all I got was the water trickling down the drain which I could live with because sooner or later the sink would empty out. The next thing to go was the washing machine so I started doing my laundry at the laundromat.

I’d always been pretty good about maintaining the house but it gets to a point where things start to overwhelm you and you’re too tired to make the effort to keep it up. Things just take their inevitable course. I stopped mowing and watering the lawn and naturally it died after a time and things started coming up wild and the plants in the house died too and I left the burnt-out bulbs in their sockets so the house was pretty dark. It was amazing how everything added up and pretty soon there were dozens of things to fix and I knew it had gotten to a critical point where I couldn’t catch up anymore. I stayed in bed most of the time and then I felt my body burning and a sharp pain in my chest and though the phone was right beside the bed I couldn’t bring myself to use it.

© 2013 Fred Skolnik, previously published at Concisely, Issue 2, Winter 2010.

Fred Skolnik was born in New York City and has lived in Israel since 1963. He is best known as the editor in chief of the 22-volume second edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, winner of the 2007 Dartmouth Medal. His novel The Other Shore (Aqueous Books, 2011) is an epic work depicting Israeli society at a critical juncture in its recent history. His stories, essays and poems have appeared in over 100 journals, including TriQuarterly, Gargoyle, The MacGuffin, Minnetonka Review, Los Angeles Review, Prism Review, Words & Images, Literary House Review, Underground Voices, Third Coast and Polluto.

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