20 October 2017

Published October 18, 2017 by rochellewisoff

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This is a scene from AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN, the third in my Havah Cohen Gitterman trilogy. By the third book, the characters have survived the hardships of Eastern European persecution. Many of them are dealing with what we know today as PTSD. This scene takes place in 1907 when little was known, much less addressed. 

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 100


            “All these years the only thing I remembered was her suicide. I’ve hated her for it,” Shayndel shuddered. “How could I forget why?”

            “You were only five,” whispered Fruma Ya’el. “It’s understandable—”

            Shayndel buried her head in her hands. “‘Jew bitch,’ they called her. ‘Get help!’ she begged me. But I couldn’t move. I—I watched as they—”

            Protracted memories riddled Shayndel. “Bayla never spoke again—until the morning she…she climbed the tree in the yard to the highest branch. Naked. Great with child. She spread her arms, smiled at me and said,” Shayndel choked, “‘Goodbye, little sister.’”



109 comments on “20 October 2017

  • Dear Gertrude Vanderbilt W(T)F

    A chilling scene here. I read it three times. What horrible events to witness, to experience. Outstanding writing as usual. It makes the reader want to give the characters a big hug.

    Gomer Pyle, PFC

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Björn,

      I don’t know about PTSD being hereditary. Hm. I’m sure there’s more of it than we know and back in 1907 when this story takes place, there was no term for it. I’ve no doubt it happened, though. Thanks for commenting.




    • Dear Sandra,

      The irony of this scene is that it almost didn’t make it into the books at all. Originally I’d put it in PSKFM but it didn’t do anything to pulse the story forward. Lo and behold, it fit like the proverbial glove in AOMOC. The lesson learned is that one never throws anything away. Keep it filed and it might just resurface. 😉 Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

  • I can’t imagine what was going through your character’s mind as she climbed up to that tree. I see it as a statement, surely – pregnant, naked, she was sending a message to the world, of course about the pain she was going through, the desperation that drives a person to put aside the love of their own life, the life of their unborn child and do such a thing. That’s an image that will haunt me, Rochelle. So movingly written

    Liked by 2 people

  • A highly emotional read this week. I can surely see Bayla’s pain turned inward in this. My heart goes out to Shayndel, too. Witnessing a suicide is such a – a- It is difficult and something you never forget.

    Liked by 1 person

      • It is amazing what the mind can block… and oh, the pain, when it decides you can remember it. Really feel for Shayndel. Hubby is presently cobbling me together some kind of computer so I can do NANO. I forgot and used my laptop to register and dwnld Scrivener and within the hour my laptop started tanking. Now, it’s dead to the point of not even powering up.


  • Before I read your fiction, I wrote mine. And I’m finding the similarities eerie! I posted a scene from my novel WIP, too. Two characters who are also sisters.

    Your scene is so heart wrenching. Shayndel seems to have witnessed possibly her older sister’s rape and subsequent suicide. While with child.
    And they didn’t know how to deal with PTSD let alone diagnose it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Fatima,

      Alas, our subjects and stories are universal. They’re learning more and more about childhood PTSD, but during the time my story takes place they didn’t. 😦 Thank you for your affirming comment.




  • Your excellently written story really touches my heart. I once watched my dad, in a fury, beat a dog mercilessly. You block it, but you never forget —and them memory always comes with pain and tears. I think it’s harder to watch suffering than it is to experience it yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Christine,

      I base a bit of Shayndel on some of my own experience. In my thirties I started having flashbacks and thought I was losing my mind. Those things couldn’t have happened, right? Thank you for your affirming comments.




      • I hope you were able to get a handle on the past experiences. As I mentioned in one post, I needed some specific revelations to help me understand and come to terms with some memories.

        Looking back a person thinks, “That was horrible! How could people be that way?” But they so much lacked a better example. Society’s attitude toward family violence has changed so much over the years. Our parents saw and experienced a so much rougher world than we. And no one ever said, “This is wrong. You shouldn’t be doing this.”

        (No one but their conscience — and guilt is never an easy companion. My Dad was often up in the night, couldn’t sleep.)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dear Christine,

          For the most part, I’ve worked through the flashbacks, buried memories and depression. I was blessed with a wonderful support system, people who had the wisdom to pray for me and cry with me. There were those, however, who judged. Accused me of vying for attention or those who told me to “snap out of it.”

          In retrospect, I think my father might have suffered from PTSD. What did we know then?




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