Recap: Bayla is in charge, and an air raid siren went off. Mimi has a dangerously high fever, and Bayla has to go get a doctor for her, even though bombs could still be falling.
A raccoon scampered right past me.
I screamed. The sound echoed through the silent, dark street. I kept trudging along. I thought of Mimi. She needed the doctor. I had to get help. I kept my eye on the white stripe on the road. The darkness around me felt thick and scary. What other creatures or more scary enemy people lurked in the dark?
I hurried down the block. I kept asking Hashem to help me help Mimi. Please let the doctor be home. Please help me to bring Mimi help.
I passed two blocks. I could picture the street in my mind, but everything looked so different and invisible in this dark night. As if Hashem was sending me an encouraging message, suddenly, moonlight filtered through the trees. I was able to see more of the houses. I had two more blocks to go. Keep going, I told myself. You’re almost there.
Finally, I spotted the house. It was a corner house with a distinct curved door frame and two columns in front. I knocked hard. It was very late, but this was pikuach nefesh.
An older woman answered the door. She was wearing a night robe and night cap. Strands of gray hair peeked from the top of her cap. “Yes?”
“Is the doctor available now? It’s urgent,” I said.
“Wait here,” the woman commanded. She shuffled upstairs.
She returned with another woman. “Come in, child. What can I do for you?”
“Please, I need the doctor to come quick. My sister is burning with fever. She tends to get pneumonia.”
My voice rose.
“Gena, you can go back to sleep.” She spoke to the house maid who had answered the door. “What is your name?” she asked me kindly.
“Bayla Karmel. We’re staying with my aunt and uncle.”
When I told her their names, she said, “Yes, yes. I know your aunt. I am sorry, dear, but the doctor, my husband, was called away an hour ago. There were injuries from the bombs.”
I wrung my hands. “What will we do? My sister is so sick. I’m afraid she could, chas v’shalom, die.” I didn’t mean to, but I burst out crying.
The doctor’s wife patted my shoulder. “I know what we’ll do. Dr. Laurent. I will send him with you.”
“He’s my husband’s assistant. I’ll go downstairs and wake him.”
I felt my hopes rising.
She reappeared a few minutes later with a young man who looked too young to be a doctor.
He was putting on his coat and holding a doctor bag. “I’ll go with you,” he said.
I looked back at the doctor’s wife. “I need a real doctor.”
“Dr. Laurent is a real doctor, dear,” she said. “Daven for Hashem’s help and go quickly now.”
Outside was chilly. I pulled my sweater close and headed back. The streetlights were still out, but a thin stream of moonlight lit our way.
“Are you really a doctor?” I asked. I realized as I blurted it, that it was not a polite question.
“I am almost finished with my internship with Dr. Norman. He’s a fantastic teacher. I’m planning to open a practice in Missouri once this war ends. My uncle is a doctor there and he’s retiring soon.”
“Where is that?”
“It’s in the United States.”
“I never heard of Missouri.”
“Where are you from?” he asked.
“I’m from France.”
“Really? My aunt and uncle and cousin are from Paris.”
I told him the family name. “Yes, I know them. And you are Karmel. Are you related to Shimon Zev?”
“He’s my brother.”
“Ah, I learn with him at night in the yeshivah when I am able to go.”
Knowing that he knew Shimon Zev helped put me a little at ease. I just prayed he was as good a doctor as Dr. Norman.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of 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 various magazines including A Bridge in Time, historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). She writes the community column for The Queens Jewish Link and she writes freelance for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivahs and she teaches creative writing to students of all ages.