Recap: The Cantors’ niece, Eliana, is visiting and will be going out on a shidduch she doesn’t really want. Bayla realizes, much to her chagrin, that Eliana is going out with Dr. Laurent.
Eliana went out every night with Dr. Laurent. On the last night of the week, she told Mrs. Cantor, “We’re unofficially engaged. He won’t make it official because he is going off to war.”
We all wished her Mazal Tov. “We are going to live in a big city like St. Louis or even New York,” she announced.
“I don’t want to stay here in this tiny place. I want a large house like the one I grew up in, and a lot of people to socialize with. I want to furnish our home with the latest fashion in furniture.” She took off her silk scarf and placed it on the dresser in her room.
“Does Dr. Laurent know what you want?” I asked.
“Michoel – that’s his name – he wants me to be happy.”
I nodded, wondering how he would be happy with someone whose values were so different from his.
Eliana left the next day. She kissed each of us goodbye and invited us to come visit if we were ever in St. Louis.
She was nice and she was very beautiful. I sighed as I watched her being driven away in a chauffeured car.
That afternoon, Margie had asked the three of us to come to work on the show. Mimi carried her flute under her coat. She was hiding it from Mrs. Cantor’s disapproving eye. The air was a little warmer. The sky was menacing gray. The snow underfoot had started to melt a little. We trekked to Margie’s house.
She and Gloria greeted us with hugs. “I am so glad you could come. I’m so excited about the play. Did you work on it some more, Bayla? I want to know what happens.”
“I can work on it here. I will be able to work quickly.”
Margie handed me the papers from the beginning of the play that I had written, and I sat down to write the next few scenes. First, Gloria took my hand. “Come. I want to show the scenery to you.”
She had painted on large white canvases a palace with a beautiful garden.
“It’s perfect,” I said. “How did you find the large boards to paint?”
“Margie had them in her garage.”
I plopped down on a comfortable beige couch and began writing.
I decided to add in that the princess was of age to marry and the wicked person who had forced her to leave her land wanted her to marry his son, the wicked prince.
There was a kind doctor who came to the wicked king’s palace when the princess was ill. She wished she could marry him instead of the wicked prince.
I was so busy creating a scene in my story that I didn’t notice someone come into the room.
“Well, hello. You must be Margie’s friend. I heard you know how to play the piano.” Senator Truman smiled at me.
“I also play the piano. Feel free to play the piano whenever you want to practice.”
“Thank you, sir,” I whispered.
Mr. Truman wore a checked shirt and casual pants. He just seemed like a regular father.
While we were practicing the play, Mimi glanced out the window. “Look, it’s snowing.”
We stood by the window, watching the swirling flakes. They picked up speed and soon the whole sky was filled with snow that danced on the air like a million feathers.
It’s beautiful,” Sophie said.
“We should probably go home,” I said. “We don’t want to get snowed in.”
“You won’t get snowed in. Please don’t go yet. We have to finish practicing.”
Gloria was standing by the window. “I should go home. My parents will worry.”
“Just stay a little longer, Gloria. We need your feedback about the scenes.”
I should not have listened to her pleading, because two hours later there was almost two feet of snow and walking home was not possible.
“Margie,” Mrs. Truman said as she came into the room. “It’s a blizzard. Your friends will have to spend the night.”
“I’m so sorry. We should have left earlier when it started snowing,” I said.
“I suspect there were powers of persuasion that kept you here,” she said, glancing toward her daughter. “When Margie practices, nothing else in the world is important.”
“It’s fine, dear. Now you’ll all have plenty of time to practice with your friends.”
“That’s true,” Margie said.
Sophie whispered in my ear. “Bayla, we can’t eat here. What will we do for supper?”
“We’ll eat fruit and raw vegetables. We’ll explain.”
“We have to be proud of who we are and what we do. There is nothing embarrassing about following Hashem’s will,” Mimi said.
Later, at the dinner table, we each had grapefruit, melon, and cucumbers.
Mrs. Truman apologized. “I wish I could give you girls a decent meal.”
We had explained about keeping kosher.
Mr. Truman nodded. “It’s good that you keep to your religion. I admire that.”
Mr. Truman spoke about the war and asked about our families. Mimi stepped on my foot. I knew what she wanted. This was my chance to say something – to follow through on what Shimon Zev had asked me to do.
I cleared my throat. “Sir, my brother sent a letter with disturbing information.”
Everyone’s eyes were on me. I asked Hashem to help me find the right words to enter his heart. “Jews, women and children, are being murdered by the Nazi tyrants. They’re being sent to concentration camps and ghettos in German-occupied Europe. The Jewish people need help from the American government. Please, sir.”
I felt my cheeks flame, but I was glad I had said it. Gloria colored. “Uncle Harry, my father told me the same thing. Our people are in terrible danger.”
Margie squeezed my hand. “Daddy, you have to help the Jews.”
“Yes,” he said. “I know what you are saying. Gloria’s father, Eddie, spoke about it just yesterday when we were playing poker. I am glad you strengthened my resolve.”
Later that night, Margie came into the room where we were sleeping. I was just dozing off but her words woke me. “Daddy said I could show you his speech for Chicago.”
As I read, by the light of a little night light, I felt tears form in my eyes. Hashem was definitely helping right now.
In conquered Europe, we find a once free people enslaved, crushed, and brutalized by the most depraved tyrants of all time… Jews are being herded like animals into ghettos, concentration camps, and the wastelands of Europe…
Today, these oppressed people, still with spirit unbroken, look for succor to us, we people of the United States, whose flag has always stood for liberty, freedom, and justice for all.”
“Thank you for showing me this.”
She hugged me. “If you’re people are in trouble, then my daddy will not stand by. We’re good friends.” She took back the paper and skipped out of the room.
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.