Recap: Hope takes Bonnie to Rivkah’s house and the girls are introduced to baking challah with the Jacobsons. Mrs. Jacobson invites the girls for Friday night dinner. Hope would love to go but doubts Mrs. Bowers will let her. She probably has to work at the Five and Dime store then.
There was a blue car parked in front of the house. Bonnie started jumping out of her stroller. “Father! Father’s home!”
I lifted her out and she rushed towards the front door.
A tall man with a warm smile opened the door in one fluid movement and scooped her into his arms. “Ah, Bonnie.”
They hugged for a long time. Then he noticed me.
“Are you the cousin?” he asked.
“Hope, is it?”
He closed the door. “Come. Lunch will be served, and I want Bonnie to sit right beside me.”
Mrs. Bowers saw me and scowled. “I don’t know what took you so long. We were waiting a half hour for lunch.”
“I’m sorry,” I stammered.
“It’s fine, Dayla,” her husband said.
“Eddie, let’s sit down. Diana has to leave to go study with her friend.”
It was the first time I was seated in the regular dining room with the family. Bonnie was seated next to her father on a booster seat.
I stood to help serve the food.
Mrs. Bowers handed me a plate with a small portion of spaghetti and meatballs. Then she handed Diana a plate heaped with spaghetti and meatballs.
“We’ve had such a hard time while you were gone,” she said to her husband. “There were some problems at the Five and Dime and then with our new boarder here. I’m glad you’re home now.”
Mr. Bowers cleared his throat. “I’m home for a few days but then I have to fly to Florida. There’s some merchandise there that I want to look into purchasing for the stores.”
“I found a perfect little coat for the winter,” Diana said. “It has a white fur color and fur cuffs.”
Her father nodded.
He turned towards me. “I remember visiting your parents’ home when your mother had just given birth to their first child. So, it was before you were born. They had just been married a year or so. I remember that beautiful mansion they lived in in South Carolina.”
Their first child? What did he mean? I thought I was the only… I wanted to ask him so many questions, but he had already turned towards his wife and they were discussing a social engagement and some household bills.
When she left the room to see about something in the kitchen, Mr. Bowers turned towards me. “You know that your mother’s second cousin was my first wife.”
I shook my head. I had thought his wife was the cousin. “Violet passed away last year.” He whispered so Bonnie couldn’t hear. “It’s been very hard on Bonne. She adored her mother.” His eyes misted. “She was a wonderful person and beautiful inside and out.” He sighed.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
“I don’t know if your mother was in such close contact with Violet. We visited your parents when they were first married and then we lost touch. It’s a shame but those things happen.”
“Diana is Dayla’s daughter from her first marriage.”
Now, a lot made sense. I couldn’t imagine my mother having such a mean second cousin. Diana and Dayla were cut from the same small-minded meanness. I wondered if he had married Dayla to be sure Bonnie had a mother and if he regretted his choice. He wasn’t home very much. Was it to escape her?
“We need a new kitchen,” Mrs. Bowers stormed back into the dining room. “You should see how old and chipped those cabinets are. My friends all have new kitchens. I want one.”
“We’ll look into it,” Mr. Bowers said.
“That means you won’t do it. I want it.”
I’d never heard my mother raise her voice to my father. I didn’t know that a mother could act like that.
“I told you we’ll look into it. Let’s not a quarrel about it, dear.”
Mrs. Bowers sat down. She turned and whispered to her daughter.
I excused myself.
“May I go to my friend’s house tonight for dinner?” I asked. I let the question fall between them not directing it at either one, hoping Mr. Bowers would prevail.
“I don’t see why not,” he said.
“You can go if you take Bonnie,” Mrs. Bowers said.
That was fine. I didn’t mind taking her.
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).