Recap: Bayla calls home and is surprised that her parents want her to stay longer. They don’t say why, but she hears fear in their voices about the situation in Poland.
The next two weeks slid by with the easy same routine as the first. Sophie chose not to go to shul, so I stayed home with her and davened at home on Shabbos; Shimon Zev came for Shabbos each week. I was enjoying being with Sophie and I tried to push away my homesick feelings. We called home towards the end of the second week.
“Mama, it’s been two more weeks almost. Can we come home at the end of this week?” I said.
Mama sounded so far away. “Things are still unstable, but, yes, I suppose so, dear. Call and let us know which train you plan to take.”
I hung up, relieved. Just four more days and we could go back home. I called Shimon Zev at yeshivah and asked him to get the tickets. He said he already had tickets and we could use them whenever we wanted. “So, let’s go home on Sunday.”
The next night, Shimon Zev took me aside and whispered. “I have amazing news.”
He pulled out a ticket from his suit pocket. “I got a ticket for Palestine.”
I tried to smile at him. “That’s great. I know you wanted that, but don’t you think you should ask Mama and––”
“I will ask them, but I wanted to have the ticket in my hand. It makes it more of a real request. I worked hard tutoring at night after yeshivah, so I could earn the money for this.”
Shimon Zev’s eyes were shining. “I can’t wait to step off the boat – and be in Hashem’s land. Dovid helped me get the ticket. He’s excited I’m coming”
“Well, only if Mama and Papa let you go.” I felt a knot in my stomach thinking of Shimon Zev traveling so far away.
Later that evening, two friends came to visit Sophie. Nanette ushered the two girls into the large hallway. She told them to wait in the living room. I was seated, reading. I went over and introduced myself. One girl had long, auburn-colored curls that spiraled to her shoulders. She had green eyes and a warm smile. “Hi, you’re really from Poland. Wow, so far away. I’m Elsie. I’m in Sophie’s class.” The other girl was tall with a long neck like a swan and short dark hair. She wore glasses that gave her an owlish look. “I’m Danielle. It’s nice to meet you.”
Nanette wheeled Sophie into the room. Sophie sparkled and bubbled, telling jokes and keeping up a constant chatter.
We played some card games and then we played marbles on the long dining room table.
“We’re getting ready for camp now,” Elsie said. Danielle shot Elsie a warning look.
“Oh, yes, you’re lucky. I can’t go this year.” She pointed to her feet.
“Sorry, it was thoughtless of me to say—”
“No, treat me like regular, Elsie or I’ll get upset. It’s okay. I have Bayla here.”
I swallowed. I hadn’t told Sophie I was planning to leave in four days.
After Elsie and Danielle left, the doctor pulled up in his shiny black car. He asked to examine Sophie in the drawing room where there was a lot of light. Sophie asked me to come with her. Tante Aimee joined us in the drawing room.
I felt a little awkward being there, but the doctor was kind and tried to put me at ease. “So, Sophie, let me see how your feet are progressing. He lifted her foot and she screamed, “Ow!”
“Sorry,” he said. He did some tests with a small hammer. Then he looked up at Sophie and asked, “Are you doing the exercises I prescribed?”
He turned to Tante Aimee. “Sophie must do the exercises. Her feet and muscles are getting used to disuse and we don’t – we can’t have that.”
Tante Aimee wrung her hands.
He turned back to Sophie. “It’s up to you, young lady. You must make up your mind to do the exercises.”
“It hurts too much.”
He shook his head slowly. “You must move through the pain. It is not a choice.” He looked at me. “You are her cousin?”
I nodded. “You must encourage her to do them.”
I felt a lump in my throat. I was only planning to stay another four days. How could I convince her to do exercises in that short time?
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of Denver Dreams, a novel (Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials and features in various magazines including A Bridge in Time, historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). She writes the community column for The Queens Jewish Link and she writes freelance for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivahs and she teaches creative writing to students of all ages.