Recap: Libby has a difficult time with her first day working in the second-grade class. Mrs. Kahn calls about a foster child. She and Avi meet Sabrina Rachel, and Libby decides she wants to bring her home.

“Okay, I’ll call Mrs. Kahn.”

After davening, I started cleaning up the house. I wanted to make the second bedroom inviting for Sabrina. I made a list of things to buy. I wanted to get a pink quilt, a teddy bear, and some dolls. We’d have fun going shopping together; Sabrina and I would look for pretty dresses and Shabbos shoes. Excitement was bubbling inside of me. I hummed a song. Books. I need to buy Goodnight Moon and some Dr. Seuss books. Sandra Boyton books, like But Not the Hippopotamus.

The phone rang. I jumped.

“Hi, Libby. I need to speak with you,” Daniella said.


“You okay?” Daniella asked.

Just terrified. “I’m fine.”

“What are you and Avi thinking?”

Was she talking about Sabrina? Why was she criticizing our decision? It was none of her––

“Mom and Dad are devastated. How can Avi just walk away from medical school? How can you support that?”

Oh, that was what she was upset about. “Can we talk later? I have to go––”

“Call me later.” Daniella hung up. She sounded mad.

I called her back. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to––”

“Libby, my parents are so upset. Can’t you talk Avi out of this?”

“You should see him. He’s so happy now. He doesn’t want to be a doctor.”

“But how will you manage?”

I took a deep breath. “I’m working now.” That reminded me I better work on some lessons for tomorrow. “So, please, Daniella, don’t be upset at Avi. He’s doing what he wants, and he doesn’t want to upset your parents. Please try to understand.”

“Look, it’s your life. I just feel bad for Mom and Dad.”

“I understand.”

We hung up and I headed out to shop. I tried to shake away the sad feeling she’d just thrown over me. I can control my attitude. No one can make someone happy or unhappy.

Thirty minutes later, I walked in the door with two huge shopping bags. I carefully lay the pretty pink-and-white-checked comforter on Sabrina’s bed. Then I placed the pink teddy and the cute doll baby on top. Next, I took out the big sparkly white letters that spelled out her name. I hung the letters over her bed. I stood back to admire my handiwork.

“I spoke to Mrs. Kahn. I’m going over to pick up Sabrina,” Avi said.

All of a sudden, I felt a knot in my stomach. What should I make for her first meal here? How will I make her happy?

I called Aliza.

“What do three-and-a-half-year-olds like to eat?”

Aliza laughed. “You’re taking her in?”

“Yes, please. I’m so nervous.”

“You have to be confident. You’re going to be like a Mommy to her. She’s so lucky to have you. They like spaghetti and meatballs or noodles or chicken soup.”

“I don’t have any of those. I have veggie burgers.”


“Aliza, help!”

“Can you go to the store? Do you have enough time?” She asked.

“I guess if I rush over. Okay. Spaghetti and meatballs. Sounds like a plan.”

“Good luck.”

I flew out the door and then I realized I’d forgotten my purse. I doubled back and then ran out again.

The spaghetti was bubbling and the meatballs were simmering when Avi appeared with Sabrina.

She looked smaller here, away from the Ozer office.

“Welcome,” I said trying to sound confident.

“Thank you.”

“Do you want to see your new room?”

She nodded.

I took her hand and led her to the bedroom. Avi followed behind, carrying a small suitcase.

“I like it!” Sabrina said. She rushed over and hugged the teddy bear and the doll. “Thank you!”

Avi smiled and gave me a thumbs up.

“I’ll help you unpack.” I unzipped the suitcase. She was busy playing with the teddy bear and the doll. So, I unpacked the three faded dresses and her other sparse belongings and placed them in the drawers.

I glanced at her scuffed shoes. We were going to go shoe shopping as soon as possible. I wanted to buy her Shabbos shoes and new weekday ones.

I headed into the kitchen to set the table. Sabrina was content to sit on the bed, playing with her new toys.

“Avi, I just realized, I don’t have anyone to watch her tomorrow when I go to work.” Normally I would have asked my mother-in-law, but now that was not an option.

“I thought of that. I asked Mrs. Kahn what to do about that. She told me that Sabrina goes to a pre-school. She gave me the address.”

I piled some big books on a chair so Sabrina could reach the table. We needed a kiddie table. I made a mental note. I brought her the spaghetti and cut it up in smaller pieces.

She thanked me when she was done and she helped me clear the table. She was such a little doll.

“What’s that?” She pointed at the scar on my wrist.

“Oh, I have it on both wrists.”

“What is it?”

“It’s scars. I had a bad burn when I was baby.” I glanced at the familiar red lines on both of my wrists. Avi had asked me about those scars, and I told him what my grandmother told me. She never explained what happened. When I asked how I got burned when I was a baby, she would always change the subject. She never liked to speak to me about when I was small. It was like those stories were hidden away and secret. I couldn’t remember much before I was five or six, which was when I went to live with her.

Sabrina came over and kissed my wrist. “That makes boo-boos go away,” she said.

I felt a lump in my throat. Such a sweet little girl.

That night, I tucked her into bed and said Sh’ma and HaMal’ach HaGoeil.

“Thank you,” she whispered sleepily. Marnie always says that for me.”

“I’m going to buy some bedtime books for you,” I said.

“Marnie tells me stories,” she said.

“Good night.” I turned out the light.

Her mother must tell her stories, I mused. It was the first time I heard her mention her mother.

That night, I kept coming back into the house before leaving for my flight school job. “Avi, listen for her…in case she cries out when I’m not here.”

“Don’t worry. The apartment isn’t that big. I’ll hear her.”

“Call me if you need anything.”

“I will. Libby, you better get going. You’ll be late.”

After my third reentrance, I finally left for work.

It was quiet as usual at the flight school. Mr. Boren wasn’t even in tonight. It was just me answering phones. At one point, the phone shrilled.

I picked up.

“No, Mr. Boren is not here. Can I take a message?”

“This is Mrs. Tilney from the Venice school. Please tell Mr. Boren that there is an issue with the two students from the United Arab Emirates that he sent me a few weeks ago. They are acting rudely to the female instructors, and I recommend we expel them or at least the one named Atta.”

I’d had the same feeling about them, that something wasn’t right, yet it was hard to know what it was.

“Please tell Mr. Boren that I want to cancel their registration.” I jotted down their names.

“I’ll give him the message.”

I thought about those two men. Maybe now Mr. Boren would cancel their enrollment.

I was wakened at midnight by someone crying.

Avi woke up, too. “It’s Sabrina,” he mumbled. “Can you go to her?”

I pulled on my robe and slippers and rushed into her room. Sabrina was sitting up in bed, sobbing.

I sat beside her. “What’s wrong, sweetie?”

She was gulping air and couldn’t talk.

I stroked her head and helped her to lie down. Her bear was wet with tears. “You must have had a bad dream.”

“No! I want Marnie.”

She wants her mother. Now what?

“Your Mommy will come when she can,” I said, not knowing what else to say.

“I want Marnie.” She kept saying it over and over.

“She’ll come.”

Sabrina shook her head. “Marnie. I want Marnie.”

Mrs. Kahn hadn’t prepared us for this.

I couldn’t calm her down. I went back to Avi. “She wants her mother. What are we supposed to do?”

“Hold her and tell her we’ll try to call her mother tomorrow.”

I went into the room and to my surprise she had fallen back asleep. I pulled the cover close over her and tiptoed out.

Now, I was wide awake, wondering how I would be able to reach her mother and not really wanting to reach her.

I wanted Sabrina to be mine.

 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).