Recap: Feter Dan and Shimon Zev are getting ready to take Feter Dan’s yacht to Dunkirk to help rescue the Allied soldiers stranded there. Tante Aimee is worried about them going.
I couldn’t sleep that night, so I tiptoed out onto the terrace. I stared at the stars and thought about Zeidy teaching us the constellations. It felt like such a long time ago. I thought about Mimi, and my heart felt empty.
Just then, I heard voices. The terrace door was ajar. Tante Aimee and Feter Dan were in the living room.
“What time are you leaving?” Tante Aimee whispered.
“Shimon Zev is meeting me by the boat at midnight.”
“Dan, I think we have to give up on Sophie ever walking again. She’s so frail and she complains of pain. I think I have to stop pushing her to try to exercise.”
“But the doctor said––”
“I can’t cause her more pain. She’s so sad.”
Her voice cracked. She was crying.
I felt so bad for my aunt and uncle.
“I hate to give up hope,” Feter Dan said.
This was terrible. They couldn’t give up on her. I had to help Sophie.
The next morning, I woke to the trill of birds and the scent of roses drifting in the window. It was a beautiful spring day, only the house felt empty. I recalled with a jolt that Feter Dan and Shimon Zev were risking their lives trying to rescue trapped soldiers. Tante Aimee was in the living room davening. “A few women are coming over later to say T’hilim. Almost everyone had a husband or brother or son who took off in a fishing boat or some other boat to help the trapped soldiers.”
Sophie was seated near her mother on the couch. Her face was paler than it usually was, and her eyes were wide. “Let’s play chess later,” I said. I wanted to erase that frightened look in her eyes.
It was during the T’hilim group that a woman approached me. “How are you doing? It was so nice seeing you in shul this Shabbos.”
I glanced at Sophie. She shrugged.
“I’m sorry. You must have mistaken me for someone else.”
“No, it was you,” the woman insisted.
Tante Aimee approached just then with some cakes and tea and I didn’t have to keep arguing with this woman.
This was the second person who claimed she’d seen me in shul. How strange.
Sophie motioned me over. “Don’t worry. People always have doubles. You must have one in England.”
“I never heard of that,” I said.
Sophie laughed. It was the first time I’d heard her laugh since we came to England. “Well, two of you, Bayla. That means two girls bothering me to exercise.”
That night I had a dream. It was the first dream I could remember since I’d left home. In the dream, I heard flute music. I recognized the country dances I’d played with Mimi. The music was lively and sweet. It made me feel tranquil and happy. In the dream, all at once Sophie stood up and started dancing faster and faster, twirling and pirouetting to the music. We were both twirling around and around and laughing and laughing. I woke feeling happy and hopeful. The moon had risen, and silver light glowed in the room. Sophie was breathing evenly in her sleep. I took out my T’hilim and davened for the safety of Feter Dan and Shimon Zev, as well as the safety of all the troops. Hashem should bring them home safely. Suddenly a cloud covered the moon and the room darkened. I crept back into bed and went back to sleep.
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.