Recap: In the journal, Yishai went to help out Miriam and Ezra. Ezra is away, and there is a blizzard, and now it looks like Miriam is going into labor. Yishai must go out into the blizzard to get help. Back in the present, Yehudis is not happy in the new school. She wanted to be friends with Sari but Sari’s friend is giving her a cold shoulder. On top of that, she discovered that her father is dating someone and that someone is invited for supper.
“Hudi, I’m home.” Aba ran up the stairs. “How was your day?”
“Awful. I hate it here.”
“What’s wrong?” Aba sat down on the chair near my bed.
I told him about what happened in science class and how I left school and walked home. “I’m thinking of going back and staying with Tema,” I whispered.
“Hudi, I’m sorry. It sounds like they really hurt your feelings.”
“They don’t want me here and I don’t want to be here.”
“But Hudi, sometimes girls – and boys, too – get used to old friends and they aren’t thinking about the new kid. It takes a while to break in.”
Just then, my phone rang. “Yehudis?”
I recognized Sari’s voice.
“Yes?” I tried to keep the bitterness out of my voice, but it seeped in anyway.
“I couldn’t find you all day. Did you leave?”
There was a beat.
“Was it science class? That partner thing.”
I didn’t answer.
“Can Chevi and I come sleep over on Motza’ei Shabbos?”
“Yeh, we were thinking it would be fun to have a sleepover by you and we’ll bring stuff you know for snacks. We’re into sleepovers. Ada wants to come, too.”
Was she just trying to make me feel good? I didn’t need this chesed, not from anyone.
“I don’t know…”
“Please, we really want to come.”
“I’ll ask my father.”
Aba was watching me through the whole call.
“Can I have some girls to sleep over on Motza’ei Shabbos?”
“Sure,” he said.
“Okay,” I mumbled.
“Great! See you tomorrow in school.” She hung up.
“Hudi, willing to give it another try?”
“Very often things appear to be a certain way and they aren’t really that way at all,” Aba said. “It felt like they were purposely leaving you out, but maybe it was just thoughtless and not on purpose?”
I heard Chevi say no to me working with them, but I didn’t want to go over that hurt again.
“Hudi, Miss Gross will be here soon. Can you come down and help me get the dining room ready?”
Miss Gross. What did we need her for? I took good care of Aba all these years. Well, she could come here and act all sweet to me, but I knew enough about stepmothers to be wary. I wasn’t going to fall for any fake sweetness.
I followed Aba downstairs and we spent an hour in the kitchen chopping vegetables for soup and salad. Aba made his favorite French chicken dish with mushrooms, sautéed onions, and wine. It smelled good while it was cooking. For dessert, he pulled out a brownie mix and asked me to whip up a batch of fresh brownies. I didn’t want to make anything for her, but I did it for Aba.
Just as the brownies went into the oven, the doorbell rang.
Aba greeted Miss Gross and invited her to come sit in the living room.
I joined them.
“How are you finding our community?” she asked me.
Mean and cold, I thought of saying, Then I thought of Sari. She had been nice before and she had offered to come sleep over.
Just then, Aba’s phone rang. “Excuse me,” he said. We heard him exclaim from the kitchen.
Aba hurried back into the living room. “Chava, I have to apologize. My mother just fell.” He turned to me. “Hudi, that was Aunt Rachel. Grandma Henny needs to go to the hospital, and she wants me there. I have to go. I’m so sorry.”
“Oh, my, did she break anything?” Chavi asked with concern.
“My aunt thinks she broke her leg.”
“R’fuah sh’leimah. Nothing to be sorry about, Benyamin.”
Hearing her say his name felt like fingernails grating on a blackboard.
“You have to do what you have to do. Hashem is in charge, not us,” she said.
“Hudi, will you be okay here? With the hour drive and then going to the ER, I don’t know what time I’ll be back.”
I nodded slowly, trying not to think what it might be like in this house alone at night.
“I can stay with you,” Chava said. “This will give us time to get to know each other and that supper smells delicious.”
Part of me wanted to scream, now what? This awful day just keeps getting more awful, and yet part of me was relieved she’d be staying. I didn’t want to stay in this haunted house alone.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of A Bridge in Time (Menucha Publishing, 2021), 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. Fiction serial Jewish Press Falling Star (2019).