Recap: Yehudis discovers the truth that she was adopted. She feels upset and betrayed by her parents for not telling her.

It took me a few minutes before I could speak.

It was true! The secret question I’d harbored all these years – now I knew the answer. I was adopted.

After that little talk, which was like an avalanche piling layers and layers of suffocating snow on top of my heart, we pulled into the college parking lot.

“Hudi, are you okay? You’re not saying anything.”

“I’m just trying to take this in.” Angry words burst through the avalanche before I could contain them. “I mean why didn’t you tell me till now? I mean why didn’t Ima want me to know?”

“Hudi, I don’t know, and I’m sorry that it’s hurting you now. I would do anything to prevent you from being hurt.”

We headed into the college.

“I want you to meet someone,” Aba said.

A lady came out from behind the desk. “Binyamin, hi, is this your daughter?”

I was surprised that she called my father by his first name.

“Yes, this is Yehudis. Yehudis meet Chava Gross, librarian par excellence.”

I glanced at the librarian. She was a petite woman with short brown hair, and she had warm dark eyes and freckles. She looked to be around 35 or so.

“Chava was the one who got permission for me to bring home the journal for you.”

He was calling her Chava. What was going on here?

“Thank you,” I mumbled.

She smiled at me. “Fascinating story, this story about Aaron Burr, isn’t it?”

I nodded. I didn’t smile back at her.

“Well, enjoy your day,” she said.

“We’ll speak later,” Aba said to her.

Then Aba ushered me into his office and began showing me some of the books he was researching for his book.

“Aba, is…are you…?”

“Chava and I are dating. I wanted you to meet her.”

Dating? I’d never thought of Aba as someone who would be dating. This could mean one thing. Another shocker for me. Aba might marry this woman.

“What did you think?” he whispered.

I shrugged. I thought it was a terrible idea for Aba to date anyone and definitely wrong to marry someone else. And I knew I was being selfish and childish. Aba needed to have a life. Why was I feeling all the wrong feelings?

“I invited Chava to come tomorrow night for dinner. I want you to get to know her. I value your opinion so much, Hudi.”

I felt this chocking sensation inside like my world was closing in on me and there was nothing I could do to stop it. You’re adopted. Your father wants to remarry a stranger named Chava Gross. This was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, like the picture book I remembered from when I was little about Alexander having a rough day. Mine was topping his.

I sat down in a swivel chair and stared out at the river. The view was pretty but it was hard to concentrate on the view.

“I have a few things to do over in the reference section. You can just hang out here,” Aba said.

I sat there for a while, staring at passing boats and wondering about myself as a three-year-old. Where did I come from? Who were my real parents? Did I want to know? Hadn’t I really known this for a long time. No baby pictures and no baby stories. Wasn’t it obvious? I wanted to call Tema but not yet. Not until I was back in my room.

“No, sir. I don’t have it.” I heard Miss Gross’ voice. “Sir, we don’t have it,” she repeated.

I stepped out of the office. Miss Gross was behind the library checkout area, and a tall, thin man wearing dark glasses, a hoody sweatshirt, and a red bandana around his neck stood in front of her.

“You must have it. It’s in this library and I’m not leaving until I get it.” The man’s voice was sharp and angry. “I have ways of getting what I want, and they aren’t pleasant,” he snapped.

“It was checked out and it won’t be back for a while.”

“Like I said. I’m staying right here till I get it.”

Miss Gross backed away from him. She glanced towards me. She motioned me to follow her. She strode into Aba’s office and shut the door. “That man is acting strange,” she said. “I’m calling the campus security. Stay here in this room with me.”

My heart started pounding. A few minutes later, there was a siren and two policemen marched into the library. The man saw them and dashed away.

One of the officers asked Miss Gross what was going on. She told him the man had refused to leave even though the book he wanted was not available and she had politely told him twice. “He threatened to stay until I produced it and he threatened me,” she said.

They took down his description and told her to call if he came again and bothered her.

“What did that man want?” I asked.

“He wanted the journal that you borrowed.” 

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).