Recap: Shoshana is frightened about being home alone and asks Penina to come over. They meet halfway, and then there’s a strange encounter with a car of girls. Someone yells out the window at Penina. Shoshana suspects that the girl yelling out the car window was Penina’s sister. Penina is embarrassed. In school, Aviva is snubbing Shoshana. Shoshana goes to her cousin’s house and Ilana gives her the journal to read to distract her from her troubles.
I woke to the sound of voices whispering in the living room. My two cousins were still asleep, and the sun was just starting to rise.
I slid on my slippers and, after doing neigel vasser over the tub, I tiptoed out of the room.
“Aharon, look who’s here.”
“Aharon, it’s so nice to see you again.”
Ilan was one of our New York cousins. He was around 21 or so, and he was tall and lean and had wavy red hair and a red beard.
“What brings you to Vermont?”
“It’s a long story, but I’m getting married and we wanted to have a little vacation here before we start our work in New York.”
“Mazal tov. When are you getting married?”
Ilan smiled. “Our wedding date is March 22. You’re invited. The weather’s so mild, we’re hoping to have an outdoor chupah right here by Cousin Nathan and Miriam.”
I helped Aunt Mimi to load the wood stove.
“You two best go daven. I’m sorry we haven’t a minyan in these parts, Ilan,” Aunt Mimi said.
At breakfast, Ilan told us about his kallah. “She’s from Pennsylvania and her name is Chaya Feiga. She’s due up here on March 11 by train. She sent a telegram. It’s her first time traveling alone. She’s only 17.”
“She’ll be fine.” Aunt Mimi passed around a plate of steamy rolls.
“I hope this fine weather holds up,” Ilan said as he bit into a griddle cake.
I gazed outside at the miles of green farmland. The sun shone in the sky like a fine spring day.
Later that day, after we’d helped with the farm chores, Ilan and I sat down to learn together. We went over a passage in the Gemara that had been giving me trouble for over two weeks.
Ilan explained it and it was like a light went on and I understood. “Thank you!”
“Hey, what are cousins for. You are a sharp learner. We could use you in our yeshivah in New York. I’m studying for s’michah, and I hope one day to start a mesivta. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you joined me and you became a rebbe?”
Traveling to New York and studying in yeshivah sounded like a dream. “I would love that.” The words flowed from me before I had time to stop them and to block out the dream. I was going to be a doctor. That’s what Uncle Nathan and Aunt Mimi wanted. That’s what was expected.
Just then, Uncle Nathan joined us and we reviewed some of the things we’d learned so he could hear about them.
“Very fine,” he said.
“Your kallah’s due on the train on late Sunday night?” he asked.
“I read the weather report. It’s supposed to be fine weather all along the coast. No worries.”
Uncle Nathan rose. Suddenly, he paled and he plunked back down onto the chair.
“You okay?” I asked anxiously.
He was breathing heavily and clutching his side.
“Just a passing pain. I get it sometimes. I’m fine.”
I recalled how he’d held his side in pain on our ride home from the Slotkins. Was Uncle Nathan okay?
It took him a few minutes before he stood again.
Uncle Nathan shuffled out the door. “I have some rounds to make. I’ll be home later.”
My eyes met Ilan’s. “Do you think Uncle Nathan is okay?”
Ilan nodded slowly but there was a look of concern in his eyes that he couldn’t hide.
To be continued…
By By Susie Garber