Recap: Libby brings Sabrina home. She’s all nervous about how to make her happy. At night, Sabrina is crying for Marnie. Libby assumes that Marnie is Sabrina’s mother. She has trouble calming her.

In the morning, Sabrina was her smiley self. I offered her Cheerios. I’d purchased a big box, assuming that Cheerios was something children liked for breakfast. We added some blueberries, and she enjoyed her breakfast. She didn’t ask for her mother, so I didn’t bring it up.

“We’re going to drop you off at school,” I said.

I handed her a bag with some pretzels and apple slices for snack.

Avi said good-bye and headed towards yeshivah. “Good luck with your classes,” he said. “Bye, Sabrina. Have a nice day.”

She waved at him.

I’d been so focused on Sabrina, that I hadn’t even thought much about my second day of work that was just about to start.

I dropped Sabrina at school. She headed happily into the room. The teacher stopped me. “How is she adjusting without her sister?”

I was about to answer when I stopped cold. “Her sister? I didn’t know she had a sister.”

“Yes, she is so close to Marnie. I am sure this is a big adjustment for her. I will try to help her deal with her feelings.”

“Please,” I said. “Tell me about her sister. I had no idea.”

“Well, that’s surprising. She has a big sister who is 11. They are so close. Marnie always took care of Sabrina. I’m surprised you weren’t told about her sister.”

I left the pre-school feeling dazed. Marnie. That’s who she was crying for – not Mommy. I called Avi.

“I’m in the middle, Libby. Can I call you back?”

“Yes, but did you know Sabrina has a big sister?”

“I’ll call you back.”

I didn’t know if he heard me.

A big sister she is so close with who took care of her. Marnie. I recalled her sobbing last night. Poor thing. She wanted her big sister.

I decided to call Ozer. Mrs. Kahn answered. “Is everything all right?”

“Yes, Sabrina is really delightful. I just was wondering why it wasn’t mentioned to us that she has a big sister.”

There was a beat.

“Mrs. Perlman, I wasn’t sure how you would feel about taking on an 11-year-old. You were so adamant about getting a baby. So, I felt it prudent not to mention the connection in hopes you would take Sabrina.”

My head was miles away, trying to process all this new information. “But she was up crying last night for her sister. She’s apparently very attached to her.”

“Yes, I know. We were concerned about that––”

“I think you should have told us. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be impolite, but this was important information.”

“You’re right. I apologize. Does this mean you want to bring her back?”

“No, no.” I was already too much in love with this adorable little girl. “No, I just want to––” I couldn’t believe the next words I would say. “––I want to meet Marnie.”

Did I want to meet her? Was I ready to take on an older child from a dysfunctional home with all the issues she must have?

Mrs. Kahn’s voice rose with happiness. “That would be wonderful. We would love for you to meet Marnie. I’ll call the home where she is now and have them bring her over after school. They were asking for her to leave anyway.”

Uh-oh. An alarm went off in my head. Why were they asking for her to leave? It was too late now. I’d just said I wanted to meet her.

 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).