Recap: Bayla is living in Washington with Gloria Jacobson and interning with the Washington correspondent. There’s a new shidduch suggestion for Bayla.

I accepted the shidduch suggestion. Gloria and I had a long, heart-to-heart, and she thought I should try it. I doubted it would go anywhere, but I agreed to go out with him. Reuven Brodsky arrived exactly on time. He was tall and lanky, with short-cropped, dark hair.

“It’s so swell that you’re friends with the Trumans. I mean that’s the President.”

I nodded.

“I thought we could check out some museums.”

“I’d like that.” Would our conversation ever move past these stilted sentences?

We strolled towards the National Gallery.

“I really like this collection,” he said.

“I haven’t seen it, but I’m excited to go.” I thought of trips to the art museum with my mother when I was small. “Great paintings tell me stories,” I said, “if you know what I mean.”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

How could I explain? “The paintings of people from other time periods: You look at them and imagine their stories.”

He held the door for me and I stepped inside. I was enthralled the minute we walked in: the high ceilings, the paintings everywhere. I wanted to look at everything. Reuven was patient. He didn’t move to another painting until he saw me move. Stories swirled in my mind as I studied a little girl with a dog and then a Degas painting of a dancer.

“I was in Germany and France,” he said.

I pulled myself away to listen.

“It was hard. I was in the Air Force. I caught pneumonia and was sent home. I feel guilty about it.”

I wasn’t sure what to say. The sadness in his eyes spoke volumes.

After the art gallery, we toured the Smithsonian. I loved the car exhibit.

“I want to buy a car one day,” he said.

I didn’t ask when, because a discussion about the future was not something I wanted to have with him.

When he walked me back to the apartment, he said, “I had a good time.”

I mumbled, “Thank you.”

Gloria let me in.

“How was it?” she blurted.

I shrugged.

I had enjoyed the museums, but the company? Had I enjoyed it?

“Did he have a good time?”

“I think so.”

“Bayla, maybe give it more of a chance?”

I didn’t want to, but I understood what she was saying. I wasn’t really open to getting to know him. I couldn’t tell her why.

“This came for you today.” Gloria handed me a letter.

I recognized Mimi’s curling script on the envelope. I sat down on the small couch in the sitting room and began reading. The Cantors’ victory garden was blossoming. They’d picked tons of tomatoes and cucumbers. She was working hard on the farm. She’d broken in a wild horse. I didn’t like reading that. It was dangerous. There was no mention of any news or any engagements, but that didn’t mean anything. She might not think it was important to include in her letter.

She wrote that a letter came from Tante Aimee that the war seems to be ending.

That was the best news. The Germans had surrendered but the Japanese were still fighting.

The phone rang the next day. “Hi, this is Mrs. Brewer.”

It was the shadchan. I was dreading her call.

“So, Reuven called. He had a very nice time and he would like to continue.”

I felt my heart contract. What could I say? I didn’t have any reason to say no, only I didn’t have any to say yes.

“Okay,” I mumbled.

“Wonderful,” she said.

We went on two more dates. He started hinting at a future for us and I felt my stomach clench.

When I got home, the phone rang.

“Hi,” Margie’s voice was hoarse. “I have one of my awful colds.”

“I’m so sorry.”

“My mother called a doctor. I really don’t want to see any doctor.”

“Well, you need to get better.”

“Please come over. My parents had to go out and I don’t want to be alone when the doctor comes.”

I filled Gloria in on the situation. “We’ll be right there.”

I changed out of my dating outfit and put on a casual skirt and sweater. I brushed my hair back into a ponytail and Gloria and I headed out to the White House.

To be continued…

Susie Garber is the author of Secrets in Disguise (Menucha Publishers 2020), 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). Fiction serial in The Jewish Press – Falling Star (2019), article in the Winter 2019 Jewish Action Magazine. She contributes to the community column for the Queens Jewish Link and writes freelance for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivos and teaches creative writing to students of all ages.