Recap: Dr. Laurent is in Washington. He came home from the Army because he had pneumonia. President Truman had asked him to come to Washington. A shadchan calls to tell Bayla that Dr. Laurent would like to go out with her. She is confused as she thought he was engaged. She finds out he isn’t.
Gloria whistled. “I can’t believe you’re going to go out with Dr. Laurent.”
“Stop. You’re going to make me nervous.”
On the first date, he picked me up at our apartment. Gloria answered the door and made small talk. Sadly, my parents weren’t here to meet him, and Mama would be offering him her special oatmeal cookies.
I was wearing my favorite beige sweater with pearl buttons that I usually wore on Shabbos. I wore a gray pleated skirt and patent leather pumps. I’d fixed my long blonde hair in an up and down style. Gloria called it a half pony, but my mother always called it up and down.
We strolled towards the center of the city. “Is there any place you’d like to go?” he asked.
“Anywhere is fine,” I said. I hoped my cheeks weren’t too red.
We sat under the shade of a maple tree after we’d walked down the street with all the museums, and he said, “You must be wondering what happened with, with––”
“It’s okay,” I interrupted. “You don’t have to explain.”
“Things just didn’t work out. Hashem had another plan.”
I felt my cheeks warm again.
“I’m glad you agreed to go out with me,” he said. “Have you heard from your family, Bayla?”
“No, well, from Tante Aimee. My parents are still in Poland.”
He nodded grimly. “I haven’t heard from my family in months. I’m worried about them.”
There was that horrible unspoken worry that neither of us wanted to verbalize.
“The war is almost won,” I said. “Germany surrendered.”
“It’s the Japanese we have to contend with. President Truman will have some difficult decisions ahead. I’d heard rumors that they may want to bomb Japan.”
We spoke of memories in Missouri.
“It’s amazing that you ended up in Missouri. I mean America is huge. What are the chances?” he said.
“It is unbelievable.”
“I remember that night when I first met you,” Dr. Laurent said.
“Bombs were flying.”
“Yes, and you asked me if I was a real doctor.”
I felt my cheeks burn. I wished he had forgotten about that.
“It’s okay, I understood. You were worried about your sister. I couldn’t get over how brave you were that night, walking through the bombing to get help for your sister. It was quite impressive.”
“Mimi needed a doctor.”
“She’s lucky to have a sister like you.”
I felt my cheeks flame again.
We strolled ahead, each in our own thoughts. We stopped near a blossoming cherry tree. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
“So, are you still writing?”
“How did you know I like to write?”
“I remember you used to keep a journal.”
For a second I recalled the pink journal that Mrs. Cantor had taken away. I’d bought quite a few since then. “Yes, I still do and actually; well actually, I’m working on a novel.”
I nodded. “It’s not finished yet but its historical fiction.”
“What time period?”
“Mm, actually World War II.”
“That is really interesting. I can’t wait to read it.”
“I never said you could.”
He laughed. “I bet you’ll let me.”
“Bayla.” He cleared his throat. “There’s something I wanted to say. I, uh, well, I know you’re quite a bit younger than me but I consider you very mature and, and I think of that night – the one we were just speaking about. Well, that was when I first knew you were the girl I wanted… actually no, it was when I’d heard you walked through a tornado.” He stopped himself. “This is just the first date.”
I recalled the tornado and how Dr. Laurent was the one who gave me stitches. “It’s wartime. Things move more quickly in wartime,” I heard myself blurt. Please say it.
“Well, those homemade cookies you sent me off with. I think that’s what did it.”
I glanced at him and saw he was teasing me.
“Bayla.” He smiled at me. “Will you marry me and build a bayis ne’eman with me? You are the girl I have always wanted to be my wife.”
My cheeks were flaming, and my eyes were tearing. “We have to ask my Papa, but if he agrees, then yes.”
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.