Recap: Yehudis’ father is away, and in the middle of the night she and her grandmother are awakened by a strange noise. They wonder if they should call the police.
The noise stopped. We decided not to call. Grandma Henny said, “Go back to sleep. It was probably nothing.”
I wasn’t sure if she was right, but I went back to sleep and tried not to think of the strange lady who had warned us about bad things happening in this house.
I woke to the sunrise. I went downstairs and opened the front door. I wanted to see if there was any evidence of all that noise last night. I saw a shovel leaning against the side of the house. I didn’t remember that being there.
I was about to tell Grandma Henny, but then I changed my mind. I needed to show it to Aba. I got my phone, took a photo, and emailed it to him.
He called me. “You’re up early. What’s going on?”
“Aba, there was this strange moaning sound last night and like a clinking or digging noise. It woke me and Grandma Henny and then I we found this shovel leaning against the wall outside this morning.”
Aba was quiet for a while. “Old houses creak and moan. The shovel could be from a gardener. Don’t let your imagination get the best of you. I’ll be home by Minchah time, G-d willing.”
I sat down on my bed to write in my journal. With the sunlight streaming in the window, all the scariness of last night seemed really silly.
Grandma knocked on my door. “Are you wasting time again with that journal? If I was your father, I’d tell you to burn it. You spend too much time writing in that.”
I quickly closed it. The thought of her burning it made me shudder.
“The mail came. You got a letter.” She handed me the letter.
It was from Tema. I read it twice. She wrote all about camp and how it was being a junior counselor. “We’re going on a canoe camp-out next week. Wish you were here. It’s not as fun without you.”
I sighed and started to write a letter back to her.
Later that afternoon, when Aba returned and left for Minchah, I was in my room writing and I heard a loud shriek: “Help!”
I rushed out of the room. Grandma Henny was sprawled on the floor in the kitchen.
“What happened?” I tried to help her get up.
“Ouch! I hurt my ankle. Someone left a can on the edge of the counter, and when I went to move it I slipped.”
“Should I call 911?”
“No, call your father. Please, hurry!”
My hand was shaking so much it was hard to punch the numbers.
“Hurry,” Grandma Henny said.
I reached him and he rushed home. Aba directed me and we helped Grandma Henny to her feet and then, leaning on Aba, she hobbled painfully to the car.
Later, Aba called from the hospital’s emergency room. “I think we may be here a long time, Hudi. I’m sorry for leaving you alone in the house.”
After I hung up, I recited some more T’hilim for Grandma Henny and then I called Sari to see if she could come sleep over.
“I’d love to come,” she said. She asked her mother and a half our later she was at my doorstep.
“I’m really glad you came,” I said. I didn’t want to scare her about the house, but being alone all night here was not something I wanted to do.
She surprised me when she commented. “I know it’s a little scary in this house at night. I’ve heard stories about this place; I didn’t want you to be alone here.”
“You’re not scared?”
“Naw, I don’t believe in ghosts or anything.”
I told her about the visit from the lady with the black shawl and then the moaning sounds and clinking sounds, as well as the shovel outside.
“Sounds like stuff right out of a mystery novel. I think I’ll include it in my next story. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation for all this,” Sari said.
We sat together in the living room and chatted for hours about our favorite hobbies, our wishes and goals for the future, where we wanted to attend seminary, and how we both wanted to marry young and have big families. She shared how it’s sometimes hard to be the rabbi’s daughter and have to have so many guests. You share your father with the community and your mother, too. I shared how it’s lonely being an only and how I wished I knew my mother.
“Do you have a picture of your mother?” she asked.
“There’s a portrait of her in the den. My father brought it here from his office at home.”
I showed her the portrait.
“Your mother was beautiful. She must have died very young.”
“I don’t remember her at all. I was around three or four when she died.”
“You don’t remember anything?”
“Well, maybe her soft touch and some songs she used to sing to me but otherwise, not really.”
“Was she sick?”
“You know it may sound strange but I don’t know. My father doesn’t like to talk about it. It’s too painful for him so I never asked.”
She studied the portrait. “You don’t really look like her.”
“Yeh, I know.”
We went back into the living room and played a game of chess. “It’s my favorite game and the only other friend I have who likes to play is Tema,” I told her.
“Well, so now you have me.” Sari started setting up the board.
“I’d love to meet her someday.”
“She said she will come to visit. I’m sure you’ll like her.”
My phone rang. Aba said Grandma had a bad sprain but it wasn’t broken and they were heading home now. It was close to midnight.
After Aba came home and settled Grandma in her room, he came back out and told us to go to bed.
“Aba, did you bring back the baby album?” I asked.
Aba sighed. “I didn’t have time to go to the storage center. I’m sorry.”
Later when we were in bed, Sari asked a question that had been bothering me for a long time.
“Why are your baby pictures in storage?”
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of A Bridge in Time (Menucha Publishing, 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 various magazines. Fiction serial Jewish Press Falling Star (2019).