Recap: Libby started her job as secretary at the aviation school. The two rude Arab men reappeared and demanded to know why it was taking so long to process their applications for the school. Libby had a bad feeling about them and tried to tell the boss.

Driving home, I ruminated over the fact that Mr. Boren was determined to enroll those two men in flight classes. I tried to shake off the dread I felt as I stepped into the house. The phone was ringing.

Avi answered. “Oh, hi, Danielle. Okay. Sure, you can come with Lauren. No, it’s fine. Where is Don going to be? Sure, come. Wish him a safe trip for me.”

Avi greeted me. “ Hi, Libby. How was work?”

Before I could tell him about my concerns, he said, “Danielle wants to come Friday night. Her husband will be away on a business trip.”

“Okay, I like Danielle. It’s funny that she wants to come, since she doesn’t like coming here on Shabbos.”

“She doesn’t want to be home alone with just her and Lauren.” Avi sighed. “Deep down I don’t think she dislikes Shabbos. She just doesn’t understand it.”

I thought of the last time Danielle came with Lauren for a Friday night meal. She kept complaining that we were too strict and too religious, and the food wasn’t healthy. I resented all her negative comments, but Avi just ignored them. Lauren seemed to enjoy being with us and singing the songs. When Danielle saw Lauren was having fun, she suddenly announced she had to leave.

“I’m surprised she wants to come back after the way she stormed out last time and yelled that we better not try to influence her daughter.”

Avi went into the kitchen to finish putting away the dishes. “You have to realize where she’s coming from. We grew up with no Jewish background. We had no concept of anything Jewish.  She doesn’t understand it. She’s scared of something she doesn’t understand.”

Okay, I mused, but it’s not nice to accuse your relatives of trying to influence your daughter when you come to our house for a Shabbos meal.

Thinking of Lauren, I feel a familiar pang. It wasn’t fair. Hashem had blessed Danielle with a beautiful daughter. Lauren was nine. It wasn’t that I begrudged her the daughter, but why did she – the anti-religious sister – have a daughter, and we – who worked so diligently to keep all the mitzvos – have no children?

As if he had read my mind, Avi pulled a slip of paper from his pocket. “I got the name of the rabbi. We can meet with him on Motza’ei Shabbos, if that’s okay with you.”

I felt my cheeks warm. “Thanks,” I said without looking up.

“I’ll call him tonight to make the appointment.”

The rabbi was the director of a fertility organization. I’d never dreamed I would have to meet with someone like him, but four years had gone by – really flown by – and we’d davened so hard. We thought we would have ten kids. That was our dream, and that they would start coming immediately. Instead, there was this empty void that grew emptier and deeper with each passing month.

When I lit candles Friday night, I said a special prayer asking Hashem to please help this rabbi be a messenger to help us have children.

To be continued…

Susie Garber is the author of Please Be Polite (Menucha Publishers 2022), 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 Binah Magazine and Binyan Magazine, and “Moon Song” in Binyan (2021-2022).