Recap: Yonah wants to warn Mickey about the danger he is in, but Mickey just shrugs it off.
I decided I would say something to my mother tonight about the scary feeling I kept experiencing. I replayed what had happened in my mind. A scary, far away, fuzzy feeling. Short-term memory loss. Why was Hashem doing this to me? Please, Hashem, take it away. Please. I dreaded telling my mother, because I dreaded the worried look she would have in her eyes. I didn’t want a name. I didn’t want a label put on my symptoms.
I entered the kitchen. I spotted my mother by the stovetop, stirring the meat sauce for dinner. Now, I told myself, say something. Suddenly, the back door opened and Tatty rushed in. “Good news!” he exclaimed.
“That davening Parshas HaMann really works. Thank you, Ruchama.”
“You got a job?” I cried out happily.
“It looks like I do. I was offered a job in Yeshiva Tiferes Yaakov as their accountant. It starts in two weeks, and I am so grateful to HaKadosh Baruch Hu.”
Maybe soon I could switch to Hinda Reicher with my friends, I mused.
I lost the moment to speak to my mother, because she and Tatty went into the den to discuss his new job.
Dinner time was filled with excitement and questions about Tatty’s new job. The boys were home for dinner and they were all asking questions.
“Tatty, that’s great!” Elazar said. “You’ll get off for all the Yamim Tovim and you’ll get off early on Fridays.”
Somehow, the night was so busy. Everyone was talking, and my mother was so preoccupied that I didn’t get a chance to be with her alone to tell her my problem.
I slipped into my seat ready for another writing lesson with Mrs. Lewis. Mrs. Lewis put on her reading glasses. She glanced at a few papers on her desk and looked around the room. When her eyes fell on me, she broke into a big smile. “Class,” she began, “I ‘ve been reading through your rough drafts for your research papers, and Ruchama’s paper contains so much historical information that I’ve submitted a pitch to a newspaper and they are interested in seeing the finished paper with a possibility of publishing it.” My cheeks grew warm with the praise. I couldn’t believe it. I was making a difference in the world. I tried to concentrate as Mrs. Lewis began her lesson on using strong verbs.
Pencils were moving quickly as everyone took notes. As always, the class time seems to just fly by. I bent down to get another piece of paper to write notes on when I noticed an envelope peeking out of my bag. I plucked it out and pried open the glue. Big block letters stared out at me: “YOU ARE BEING WATCHED. DROP THE RESEARCH PAPER OR YOU’LL BE SORRY!”
I felt a chill run through my veins. I glanced around the room. Everyone seemed glued to Mrs. Lewis’ lesson. I glanced at Vivian. She was taking copious notes. Did she send this letter? What did it mean that I was being watched?
I couldn’t focus for the rest of the day. I ran the whole way home, glancing behind me to see if anyone was following me.
I sat in my room, thinking. It was strange how this research paper was affecting my life. I thought about what I’d read in the journal so far. Yonah was incredibly brave. He didn’t give up his connection to Andy, Mickey, and James, even in the face of threats and all the danger there at that time. I sat there, thinking about prejudice. Where did it come from? How could people be that way? Was it fear of someone who is different from you? It was so wrong!
I was slowly becoming tolerant of people who were different from me. I saw the world in a different way. I thought about Ella and how different she was from me and what a beautiful neshamah she had on the inside.
Surely Hashem would want me to continue writing this, now that this message could be shared in a real newspaper.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of 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). She writes for the community column for the Queens Jewish Link and she writes the Queens page for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivos and she teaches creative writing to students of all ages.