Recap: Sender travels to Kitty Hawk with the Wright brothers. He’s settling in and takes a walk by the beach. Suddenly, a strong wind picks up. He finds he can’t walk back, and it takes his breath away. He hears Orville call to him that it’s a cyclone.

If life wasn’t already pretty challenging with being forced into the seventh-grade writing club, with the teacher expecting me to be a star writer like my older brother, and then Kalman, the new boy in my class, a mean bully who was focused on making fun of me, even more trouble lay ahead.

What should I do for the writing club project? I kept thinking of ideas, but they didn’t feel right. I wanted something I was interested in. Should I do something about outer space? No, someone else was doing something similar. A history of bridges in the country? No, not sure. Too broad.

I was heading to the kitchen for a snack when I overheard my parents whispering.

“When did it happen?”

“I just got the call. The father said the fire destroyed their entire home in a matter of minutes.”

“How terrible.”

“Is everything okay?” I asked.

Ima glanced at Aba. “A family that Aba’s been working with just had a terrible fire and their house was destroyed. They have nowhere to live.”

“That’s awful. So, what are they going to do?” I had a feeling as I asked it that I knew what Ima was going to say. My parents are always the first to step up to help people. Of course they would offer their help to a family Aba was being m’kareiv to come live with us.

“Well, actually, I’m glad you asked. They have two babies. We’ll put the family in the guest room downstairs and the two young children can stay in the playroom downstairs, near their parents’ room.”

I was used to my own room and my own privacy. I was relieved that no one was going to be in my room, but still I didn’t really like the idea of a whole family moving in.

“How long will they be staying?”

Ima shrugged. “Until they find a place to live or until their house is rebuilt. I can’t imagine how devastating it must be to lose everything. They don’t even have clothing.”

Now, strangers were moving in and they had little kids. I didn’t like the idea. Why couldn’t they go stay with their own relatives or something? Why did we always have to be the ones to do the chesed – whatever it was? Last summer, Abba volunteered to keep the Torah in our house while the shul was being painted.

That was okay, except when the minyanim had to be at our house. It was so hard. You couldn’t make any noise or go near the kitchen for big slabs of time.

I headed back to my room, thinking life was going from bad to worse. Then a question popped into my mind, and I headed back to the kitchen. “Is this family frum yet?” I asked.

Aba was pouring some coffee into his mug. “They’re not frum yet, but they are very interested. I’ve been learning with the parents.”

I knew it. Not only were we having this strange family I’d never met come live with us, but on top of it they weren’t even frum!

“How is that going to work? They don’t’ know about keeping kosher or anything.”

“We will work it out,” Ima said.

“But Ima, I don’t see how that will work.”

Aba put his arm on my shoulder. “Ezra, we will work it out. Come on, buddy. Look at this as a big mitzvah opportunity.”

I sighed and headed back to my room. First there was the writing club project I was expected to come up with, then the new kid who turned out to be a mean bully and who was targeting me, and now our family was taking in another family in our house. I glimpsed the journal on my desk. I needed a distraction right now. I plopped on my bed and began to read.

To be continued…

 By Susie Garber