Recap: Shoshana follows Ruty, because she wants to understand why Ruty is telling her not to go home and meet the man whom she called. She follows her into a dilapidated house. There’s a mean person who is ordering Ruty and a girl named Barrie around. She hides in a closet in the kitchen. Then she escapes and runs to Penina’s house. Penina says Ruty is involved with a terrible gang called the Alligators. Shoshana leaves and goes to Ilana’s house. No one is home. She pulls out the journal to read.
“No, Nathan, I’ll go. It’s my mother. You’re not feeling well.”
“I’m much better now.”
They argued back and forth, and in the end they both decided to go to Aunt Mimi’s parents’ house.
Aunt Mimi showed me what to prepare for Chezky and Shmuel for meals. “Now, I hope we’ll be back soon. The storm can’t last forever.”
The boys were busy playing with blocks and they didn’t seem to mind that their parents were leaving.
Outside, the storm shrieked and howled like a wild beast.
I watched my aunt and uncle mount their carriage and disappear into the white world.
I turned back towards my two cousins. “Okay, Chezky, can I help you with that tower?”
“Yeh, let’s make it really, really high.”
“Wow, you’re the best builder,” Chezky said.
Shmuel climbed onto my lap.
These two guys were the cutest cousins.
We played hide-and-seek and catch. Chezky caught the ball and asked, “Can you make up a story for us?”
We sat on the couch, and I began a story about two boys playing in the snow.
“It was a stormy day with snow pouring from the sky. The younger brother asked his brother to build a snow fort.”
“How did they do it?” Chezky interrupted the story.
“Well, I was getting there,” I said.
“So, they packed snowballs and put one on top of another until there was a thick icy wall. Then, they built another one right next to it and attached them with more snowballs. It was a great shelter from the snow.”
When I finished telling the story, Chezky raced over to the window. “I want to do it,” he said. “Let’s go outside.”
“No, no,” I said. “This is just a story. We can’t go outside now. It’s snowing way too hard.”
Just then, the wind howled like a vicious beast and Shmuel ducked his head into my lap.
After lunch, Shmuel lay down, looking at books, and fell asleep on the couch. Chezky stood by the window, watching the tree branches cracking and the snow blowing.
It was around three o’clock that someone came knocking frantically at the front door.
I opened it and Mr. Slotkin rushed in. I closed the door hard against the wind.
“I need Doc Nathan.”
“My uncle’s not home. I’m sorry.”
“We need him. It’s urgent. Our baby’s got the croup. We need Doc Nathan now. Our baby’s having trouble breathing. We can’t lose this one. We just can’t lose this baby.” His voice ended in a sob.
“I don’t know when he’ll be back.”
“It’s an emergency. You come. You’re the doc’s assistant.”
I thought of my last visit to the Slotkins’ home, when I almost fainted from the appendix operation. They sure had a lot of medical problems, this family.
“I just started training. I’m not really qual––”
“Get on your coat. I need you. The Mrs. is beside herself.”
I ran to get my coat, and then I remembered that I was in charge of my two little cousins.
“Chezky, come here. I need to tell you something important.”
Chezky obediently ran over to me on his skinny nine-year-old legs.
“Listen, Chezky, I need you to be very grown-up.”
His eyes widened.
“You’re a big boy now. You’re almost ten. I need you to be in charge here of Shmuel and to make sure he’s safe. There’s an emergency and I have to go with Mr. Slotkin. Their baby is sick. When your parents come home, can you remember to tell them where I am?”
Chezky nodded slowly.
I hurried out the door with Mr. Slotkin, wondering what in the world I was going to do to help his baby…
To be continued…
By Susie Garber