Recap: Bayla is at the general store doing an errand for Mrs. Cantor. She meets Margie Truman there and they head out together. Suddenly, a twister blows in. Margie takes her hand and tells her to run with her towards Margie’s grandmother’s house. Bayla is struck by a flying tree branch, and when they get inside the house, it’s clear she needs a doctor.
A while later, I woke up. Dr. Laurent was giving instructions to Margie’s grandmother. He stepped back over to me.
“I’m sorry I had to stitch you, but I think it will heal nicely. Come to my office in five days and I’ll remove the stitches.”
I wanted to say I didn’t know where his office was, but my mouth wasn’t forming words and my mind was still groggy.
Margie’s father drove me home in his Jeep. Margie sat in front with her father.
“Next time you come, we’ll do something more fun,” she quipped. Then she whispered in my ear, “Dr. Laurent is handsome, don’t you think?”
I blushed. She didn’t realize that this was not something appropriate to talk about and that we had a whole shidduch system when we reached marriageable age. When I thought of Dr. Laurent, I thought of someone kind and competent. It was embarrassing, though, meeting him again and in these circumstances. How strange that he was living in the exact same town as us. The United States was such a vast country. What were the chances?
“Yeah, it better be more fun. Thank you, sir, for driving me and for getting the doctor.”
“A friend of Margie’s is a family friend,” he said. Sunlight glinted off his glasses. I noticed he wore a bow tie and checked shirt. He looked like a regular typical Missouri famer, not how I pictured a government official looking.
Mr. and Mrs. Cantor came outside when we pulled up to the house. “Thanks so much, Senator,” Mr. Cantor said.
“How’s my furniture coming along?” Mr. Truman asked.
“Well, twisters aside, it’s getting there.”
Mrs. Cantor nodded at me. “Go on in and have some dinner. I don’t know why you were outside during a tornado.”
“Well, it came in mighty fast,” Mr. Truman said.
I appreciated his defending me. I couldn’t believe she was criticizing me for getting hurt. I thought of my parents and grandparents. They would have rushed over with a hug and care. Tante Aimee also would have given me love, not criticism. One day, I told myself, they will all be here, and I won’t have to stay with this cold relative anymore.
Sophie and Mimi greeted me and wanted to know all about what happened. “I was so worried about you.” Mimi hugged me tight.
I told them about Dr. Laurent giving me stitches.
“What are the chances he would be here?” Mimi asked. ”That’s amazing.”
I glanced at Sophie. She was walking totally on her own now. The fresh farm air and food must be agreeing with her. Her cheeks were rosy. So this was a good thing about having to be here. I heard her crying into her pillow softly at night, but during the day she never said anything about missing home and she never complained.
Mrs. Cantor strode into the dining room. “You girls will have to go to school tomorrow after you take care of the animals. Mr. Cantor will drive you tomorrow, and after that you’ll walk there every day.
After she left, I poured out my feelings. “I don’t want to go to school here. My English isn’t good and the kids will make fun.”
“We have to be brave,” Mimi said.
“I don’t think they’ll make fun. They’ll admire us for coming here across the ocean and all.”
“I wish I was a positive thinker like you,” I said.
“I’m with Bayla. I don’t want to go either. I have double embarrassment with limping and my English isn’t good.”
“How are we going to do all our work in English?” I complained. “And I hate the uniforms we have to wear.” Mrs. Cantor had bought us school clothing. It was stiff material that would wear well during the Missouri winters, she said. I thought the long-pleated navy skirts were ugly. I didn’t like the itchy white button-down blouse either, but I thanked her. I thought of the pretty dresses Mama sewed for us for school and sighed. Sophie’s mother also sewed her pretty clothing, but we’d all grown over the summer so any clothing we brought was too short now, and we would have to make do with these ugly school clothes.
“No one here will have nice clothes, Bayla. Everyone here comes from farms or simple homes. We’re not alone with that. And you forget, Margie and her friend Gloria offered to help us. It will be fine,” Mimi said.
I wished so hard that she was right.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of 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 various magazines, including A Bridge in Time, historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). Fiction serial in The Jewish Press – Falling Star (2019), article in the Winter 2019 Jewish Action Magazine. She contributes to the community column for the Queens Jewish Link and writes freelance for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivos and teaches creative writing to students of all ages.