Recap: Grandma Bea visits, and Libby wants to ask her about a recurring dream but she gets interrupted. Someone calls and says in a threatening voice that she shouldn’t speak to Mrs. Tilney.

“Who was that?” Avi asked.

“Uh, I don’t know,” I said. My hand was shaking.

“Libby, come speak to me in the office.”

I followed him into his office. “You look so pale. What happened?”

I told him about the strange phone call and then I remembered the message from Mrs. Tilney.

“She told me to tell Mr. Boren to cancel their registration at the flight school. One of the men, she said, is extremely rude to the female instructors, and they also aren’t citizens of the country they claim to be citizens of. She said there was something else odd, but she got interrupted and never told me what it was.”

“Then call that FBI agent again and give him that information. He can tell Mr. Boren. It’s not your job to tell Mr. Boren what to do.”

“Thanks, Avi, I’ll do that.”

I called, and he thanked me for the information, and he said they would send extra surveillance, and if any more calls came, we should call him right away.

Weeks passed and thankfully there weren’t any more calls.

It was already the next to last week of school, and I wanted to do a special writing lesson for all the classes but especially for the second grade. We’d been through so much together. Since Ralph’s accident, Michael had stayed seated more, and they didn’t run around the room together anymore.

I instituted a star chart with prizes and that helped a bit.

Today I was going to start one of my favorite units, poetry.

I had a stack of large, white drawing paper and a shoebox filled with markers. When I walked into the second-grade classroom, the children all said good afternoon. Michael was eyeing the shoebox.

“We are going to start one of my favorite writing units,” I said.

“I don’t like writing,” Michael said.

“Me neither,” Ralph piped in.

Suri raised her hand. “I want to hear about your favorite thing, Mrs. Perlman.”

“Thank you, Suri.”

“Poetry. Do you know what a poem is?”

Lisa raised her hand. “I have a funny book of poems and one is about how to cure hiccups.”

“Oh, I know that book,” I said. “That’s by Shel Silverstein. His poems are funny.”

I held up a big book and showed them how a poem looks on a page. “You see it doesn’t go all the way across. The words stop and form stanzas. It’s called line breaks. Poems have a rhythm like a song.

Suri raised her hand, “They rhyme.”

“Yes. Good, Suri. Many poems rhyme, too, but they don’t have to rhyme.”

I read them a poem from the big book called “Where Do I Find Poetry?” by Georgia Heard. Then I said. “You see you can write a poem about anything: ants, sand at the beach, anything.” Then I held up a large piece of paper with a heart drawn on it. “You see, boys and girls, this heart is divided into sections, and in each section I wrote down something I like to do or something that is important to me. This will be the map I will use for what I write my poems about. So, today you will create your own poetry heart.”

Ralph called out. “I can’t draw no heart.”

“Ralph, you have to raise your hand, please.”

He raised his hand. “I can’t draw no heart.”

“You can’t draw a heart but I have a pre-drawn heart here for each student so you don’t have to worry. Ralph you should say ‘any,’ not ‘no.’”

I handed out the papers.

I realized, smiling to myself, that no one was out of his seat and no one was talking or calling out. We’d come a long way.

They thanked me for the hearts and they each began work.

Just then, the principal walked into the second-grade classroom while I was teaching. There was a young woman standing near her. She had shoulder-length reddish hair and millions of freckles.

“Class, this is Mrs. Winer. She will be your teacher for the rest of the year.”

Mrs. Winer smiled at me. “Mrs. Perlman, Mrs. Winer will take over now.

“They are making their poetry hearts now,” I said.

I hoped she didn’t plan to stop them now.

“Yes, please fill Mrs. Winer in on what they are doing. Thank you, Mrs. Perlman.”

I showed her my heart and whispered the explanation of what they were working on.

“I love it,” she said. “I want to make one.”

“Sure.” I handed her a paper. “Good luck with everything,” I whispered. “You can call me for any help. I have a star chart that I can explain to you and I’m happy to help.” I jotted my number on a Post-it note.

“Thank you.”

I was so glad they finally had a regular teacher for this class.

At the end of the day, I drove Marnie to her appointment with the pediatrician, Dr. Sommers. I could see these appointments were helping. Marnie was smiling more, and she even spoke to her mother now on the phone regularly when Mrs. Lerner called. Mr. Lerner had started calling, too, and she spoke to him, as well.

At the end of the appointment, Dr. Sommers asked Marnie to go into the waiting room for a minute.

“I see progress for Marnie. I am sure you see it, as well, in her relationship with her parents.”

Baruch Hashem, thank you, Dr. Sommers, for what you doing to help her.”

“I wanted to let you know that I plan to see the whole family starting next month. I feel it’s important so we can make a smooth transition when the girls move back to their parents’ home.”

I swallowed.

“I think it would be good if you spoke to both girls about the family sessions coming up and encourage them that it will help for when they move back home.”

“When will those be starting?”

“Well, as soon as possible. Are you comfortable driving the girls here? I am still wary of having Mrs. Lerner pick up the girls, as it brings false hopes for Sabrina.”

“I understand. Yes, I can do it.”

I tried to ignore the sad, sinking feeling inside. I had to do what was best for the girls and stop worrying about my feelings.

That night at supper, Avi announced, “We are going on a family vacation, girls. Tante and I and you.”

“Yay!” Sabrina was always excited when she saw others were excited.

“On September 9, we’ll fly to New York, and I’ll take you to all the famous places. Tante will meet us there a bit later.”

“Why can’t Tante come with us?” Sabrina asked.

“Grandma Bea is having surgery,” I explained. “She will need me to help her, so I will come as soon as she is recovered.”

“The trip sounds like fun,” Marnie said.

That night at the flight school, Mary Thompson, one of the instructors, called. “Hello, is Mr. Boren in?”

“No, he only comes in on Monday and Wednesday nights,” I said.

“Well, can you please leave him a message.”


“Tell him that we have two students, Mr. Atta and Mr. Al Sherri, who are quite difficult. Especially Mr. Atta. They refuse to listen during the take-off and landing lessons. They are on their phones or they walk out. I’ve tried explaining numerous times that a pilot can’t be licensed if he doesn’t know how to take-off or land.” I could hear the frustration bubbling in her voice.

“I will give him the message,” I said.

Why wouldn’t they want to learn how to take off or land? How strange, I mused.

 To be continued…

Susie Garber is the author of the newly released historical fiction novel, Flight of the Doves (Menucha Publishers, 2023), Please Be Polite (Menucha Publishers, 2022), A Bridge in Time (Menucha Publishers, 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 Binah Magazine and Binyan Magazine, and “Moon Song” in Binyan (2021-2022).