Recap: Although bombs were still falling over England, Mimi is dangerously ill and Bayla has to go get a doctor. She makes it to the doctor’s house and discovers he is not there but a young doctor who is his assistant agrees to come with her to help her sister.
“Is your family still in Poland?” Dr. Laurent asked. He was trying to distract me from thinking about this scary walk we were taking.
I nodded. Thinking of them made me sad.
“Mine is in France. I came here to study before the war broke out. I’ve not heard from them since Germany attacked France.”
“My family is hiding in a zoo.”
I told him about the Zabinskis.
“That’s really amazing. Right under the noses of those monsters.”
“Yeh, the Nazis came in and out, Mimi told me.”
He gave a low whistle.
Finally, we reached Tante Aimee’s house. “They’re in back in the shelter. I led him to the shelter.
“Mimi, I brought the doctor.” She was lying on the cot. Her cheeks were flushed and she was staring at the walls. “Do you see the pictures, Bayla?”
“There aren’t any pictures.” My neck muscles tightened.
The doctor took her temperature and her pulse. “How long has she had this high fever?”
“Since early this evening. She started talking about the pictures on the wall.”
“Delirium.” He pulled out a vial. “This is sulfa powder. It has cured people with Scarlet fever and strep and other infections.”
“I never heard of it,” I said.
“It cured the American president’s son who was very ill with a streptococcus infection.”
I exchanged looks with Shoshie. I wished my aunt was here. What if this was a risky drug? There was no time to wait. Mimi was dangerously feverish. Suddenly, the bomb siren went off.
What a night. Shoshie huddled near me. We heard a loud whistle and an explosion nearby. It rattled the dishes in the small kitchen area.
The doctor seemed oblivious to the bombing.
“It’s a good thing they waited till you got back here with the doctor,” Shoshie said.
“How thoughtful of them!”
I started saying T’hilim. The doctor recited a brachah said before taking medicine.
He asked me to bring a cup of water and he dissolved the powdered medicine into the cup. “Can you get your sister to drink this?” he asked. He held a flashlight so I could see.
My hand was trembling. “Mimi, here, please drink.”
I propped her up. Her head was on fire. She took a sip. “Keep going,” he ordered.
I kept giving her sips until the whole cup was empty.
Then I gently eased her back onto the pillow.
“G-d willing, the fever should start to ––”
A loud whistle interrupted him, followed by a huge boom.
Benny woke up crying. Shoshie hobbled over to comfort him. We all froze waiting. Dr. Laurent broke the silence. “She should start to be herself in the morning. The fever should break then.”
There was another loud whistle and an explosion that sounded much too close.
He handed me medicine for Mimi. “She should take it for the next ten days. Send for me if there are any ill effects.”
I didn’t like that this was a brand-new medicine. Was it safe to give her this new medicine?
“Should I keep putting cool cloths on her forehead?”
”Yes, but you should go to sleep soon. You don’t want to get sick.”
Sleeping was not possible.
Dr. Laurent stepped towards the door.
“Maybe you should wait. It might not be safe,” I said.
He shrugged. “There may be others who need a doctor tonight.”
He nodded and left.
The night wore on. I must have slept. I woke to quiet. The bombs and whistles had stopped, and early morning light sifted through the grate that acted as a window for the shelter.
Mimi called me. “Bayla, can I have a drink, please.”
I rushed over to her with a cup of water. I felt her forehead. It was cool. “Baruch Hashem,” I said.
Tante Aimee and Feter Dan knocked on the door. We all moved back into the house. Feter Dan carried Mimi back inside.
I told Tante Aimee about our night. She hugged me. “Bayla, you’re wonderful. Thank you for holding down the fort and going to get the doctor. You’re a brave girl.”
I thanked her for the compliment, but I didn’t feel brave. I was terrified every time one of those whistles went off and the whole way to the doctor was terrifying.
The medicine was miraculous. Of course, it was Hashem who was making the miracle. Mimi recovered quickly. I asked her if she remembered seeing the pictures on the wall.
“I think so. It was strange, but they were so real-looking.”
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.