Recap: Shoshana confronts Aviva and asks her why she’s ignoring her. Aviva says she can’t be friends as long as Shoshana is friends with Penina because of Penina’s sister. Shoshana is surprised and hurt and thinks Aviva is judgmental. When she gets home, she discovers her mother had to go on a business trip. She doesn’t want to stay alone so she asks Penina to come sleep over. During the sleepover, someone comes to the door and keeps knocking.
“I’m scared. He’s not going away,” I said.
“He will,” Penina said.
We waited. Almost an hour went by, and he was still there knocking.
“Let’s sneak out the back and go to my cousin’s house,” I said.
“It’s almost midnight.”
“Uh, I didn’t realize.”
Now I wasn’t sure what to do.
I tried my mom’s cell phone number, but she didn’t answer.
“Should we call your parents?” I asked.
“Well, we could, but I don’t know what they could do. Just ask your parents if we should call the police.”
Penina pulled out her phone.
The knocking got louder, like the man was trying to knock down the door.
“I don’t want to call them. They won’t let me come here anymore.”
“They’re big worriers.”
“Okay, then let’s go to my cousin. I’ll call her and tell her it’s an emergency.”
My hand trembled as I dialed Ilana’s number.
A groggy Yehoshua answered. “Who is it?”
“Sorry, sorry. It’s Shana. I’m in a bit of trouble. I mean we have an emergency.”
I told him about the knocking, that my friend was here, and my parents were both not home.
“Should I come over?” he asked.
“I don’t know.”
He hung up.
“What if it’s a dangerous criminal with a gun? Yehoshua wouldn’t know what to do. I was endangering my dear cousin’s husband. I felt terrible.
A few minutes later, we saw headlights. We were peering out of the corner of the window from behind the curtains. I recognized Yehoshua’s car. He pulled up to the house. The man stopped banging on the door and turned towards Yehoshua’s car. Then he ran away.
“Look.” Penina gasped. “The man left.”
“Oh, baruch Hashem,” I said.
Yehoshua strode up to our walkway and called me on the cell phone.
“Come on, you can come to our house tonight. Ilana made up beds for both of you.”
I was so grateful I was crying with relief.
We both put on our bathrobes and bundled into the car.
“Thank you so much for rescuing us.”
“Hey, what are cousins for? Who do you think that man was?”
“I don’t know, but he kept knocking and banging for an hour.”
“You should tell your parents. They should report it to the police.”
Ilana greeted us. She was holding Shlomo. “He woke up. I think he has a cold.”
“Thanks so much. I’m so sorry for calling in the middle––”
“Shani, I’m glad you called us. It sounded scary?”
We headed to the guest room, which was Ilana’s office during the day. I showed Penina where everything was.
“If you need anything.” Ilana yawned.
“Thanks. I’m so sorry for waking you.”
Ilana shook her head. “Shlomo woke me. You can’t have the credit, and besides, we are happy to help, Shani.”
The next morning, I had to run home to change for school. Penina headed to her house. “Are you sure you’ll be okay there alone?”
I told Penina I’d be fine and thanked her for coming to sleep over last minute.
“Will your mom be home tonight?”
“I hope so.”
“If not, call me. I’ll come again if my parents let.”
“Thanks, Penina. You’re a great friend.”
We parted and I raced home. I had only 15 minutes to dress for school and run to the bus stop.
I punched the code for the front door and it creaked open. An envelope, wedged between the door and the door jamb, fluttered to the floor.
I bent over. Scrawled in black marker, the front of the envelope said, “Please contact me. It’s urgent!”
I opened the envelope and inside was a card. I read the message and swallowed.
I need to reach Dr. Karmel immediately. Call this number A.S.A.P. It’s about the virus study. It’s urgent.
What should I do? I tried calling my mother’s number. She still wasn’t answering. She probably had meetings going on and I had no way to reach my father. Should I call this number? What should I do? If it was urgent, did it mean someone was after my father’s information? Was my father in danger?
I was getting a headache worrying about it. I decided to head to Ilana’s house. She always had good advice, and besides, I couldn’t just go off to school with this hanging over my head.
I had to reach my parents. I grabbed the note and raced back to Ilana’s house.
Ilana answered with a worried look. “You didn’t go to school.”
“No, I found this in the doorway.”
I handed her the note.
“What’s it about?”
I explained about my father’s work and how he’d warned me that some unscrupulous people want to get his valuable information. “This note seems to be implying these people are after it and I need to reach him.”
I was breathing hard.
“Come in and I’ll get you a drink. You look so pale.”
I felt my heart pumping hard. I stepped inside and suddenly I felt dizzy. I headed for the closest chair and plunked down. The room was spinning. I put my head between my knees.
“Shani, here’s a drink.”
Ilana’s voice was far away.
I took a deep breath and lifted my head slowly the way my doctor taught me.
“I’m worried. Should I call your doctor? You were so pale.”
Ilana didn’t know my secret. No one but my parents and I knew it, and I didn’t feel like disclosing it now.
“I’m okay.” Baruch Hashem, I feel better. Really.” I sipped the water.
“I’m not sure what to do about this note. It’s troubling. You say he was knocking for hours?”
“It must have been this person with a name starting with “A” who left it. I don’t know why he didn’t sign his full name, but Aba did say I should contact Mr. Abraham if there was a problem.”
“Oh, so “A” must be for Mr. Abraham. Do you have the number?”
“Aba left it in his office. I’ll have to go back to get it.”
”Well, wait, there’s a number here.” She pointed to the bottom of the card.
“Do you want me to call it for you?”
“I can do it. Should I?”
“Your father wanted you to protect his information. I think you have to.”
I punched in the number.
It rang and rang but there was no answer.
“I don’t get it. Why isn’t he answering?”
“It doesn’t matter. We can try again later. Come help me bake cookies for Shlomo. He wanted to take some to school for his friend’s birthday.”
Just then, Shlomo bounded into the room, holding his knapsack.
“Good morning, Shlomo. Tatty will be home soon. Let’s get you dressed.” Ilana handed me the journal. “Why don’t you read this? It will take your mind off…”
To be continued…
By Susie Garber