Recap: When her stepmother is out and her aunt is babysitting, Bonnie comes down to the basement and marches into Hope’s dreary basement room, wearing expensive jewelry that she took without permission from Mrs. Bowers’ jewelry box.  Hope tells her to return all of the jewelry back upstairs to her stepmother’s room, where she got it from. When Mrs. Bowers returns and discovers her diamond ring is missing from her jewelry box, she accuses Hope of stealing the ring and orders her husband to go downstairs to see if it’s in Hope’s room.

 “Dayla, I’m not doing that.” He strode away to his office.

Mrs. Bowers grabbed a flashlight and headed down to the basement. I heard her high heels click-click on the steps.

Bonnie was in the den, playing, and I sat down on a chair to watch her. I was so tired from working, and I felt so much anger bubbling inside that I didn’t know what to do.

Suddenly, I recalled the sound of something dropping when Bonnie was downstairs wearing all that jewelry. What if she dropped the ring? I davened. Please, please, Hashem, don’t let her find anything.

A while later, I heard the click of her heels on the stairs.

“I don’t know where my ring is. Edward, you have to do something.”

Just then, there was a soft knock on my bedroom door.

I opened the rickety door. Diana was standing there with a flashlight. “Can I look down here.”

My cheeks flamed. “I didn’t take your mother’s––”

She flicked on the light and got down on her hands and knees. She scoured the floor.

Please Hashem, don’t let her find anything, please!

Just then she said, “Here it is. I found it.”

My heart started pounding. “Bonnie was down here and––”

Diana looked into my eyes. I saw something. Was it a flash of indecision?

“I’m not going to tell.” She hurried away.

Did she mean she wasn’t going to tell that Bonnie had brought the ring down here or that she found it down here?

I stood in the doorway and held my breath. I heard Diana talking to her mother.

“Mother, I found your ring.”

I squeezed my eyes shut. I pictured myself being dragged off to jail or to some juvenile delinquent school.

“Where was it?”

“It was on the floor, stuck between the carpet and the wall by your bedroom door.”

I exhaled slowly. She’d lied to protect me. How could I ever thank her?

Diana stepped away from her mother. She noticed me standing in the doorway. “It’s okay,” she whispered.

“Thank you.”

Diana nodded and strolled towards her bedroom.

That night, I wrote in my journal. I poured out my disappointment in how Mrs. Bowers was treating me and her mean accusations. I wrote about the scary men who had taken our car and who were looking for me. The man with the hunting instincts frightened me terribly. Should I tell the Jacobsons about those men? Part of me wanted to tell them. Rabbi Jacobson was a wise person. He knew so much Torah he would probably know what I should do to stay clear of those scary people. I wrote about my mysterious older sister. Where was she? I wanted to find her. I opened the little siddur that Rivkah had given me, and I tried to say some of the prayers she had taught me. I knew there was a morning prayer and an afternoon prayer that she said.

I added my own prayer, asking Hashem to please help keep me and my parents safe.

I longed to leave this house and never come back. Mrs. Bowers thought I was a thief. How could I stay here with someone who thought I was dishonest?

But where would I go? I didn’t have any other relatives here.

It was late evening. I gazed out the small window in my bedroom. The sky was velvet black, splattered with stars. Neighbors were strolling in the warm summer night, and I was sitting here with a heart of pain and nowhere to go.

What should I do now? Could I get to Maine? I had no money. There was no way I could get to Maine without a bus or train ticket.

I found myself talking to Hashem: Please help me. I don’t know where to go. I can’t stay here with someone who doesn’t trust me.

 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).