Recap: An FBI agent came to their house to ask about the two Arab students in the aviation school. Libby and Avi ask what this means and if they are in danger. The man says that usually these things don’t amount to anything, but they are investigating these two men.
The next morning, Marnie helped me get Sabrina ready for school. Sabrina looked so cute with her hair pinned back and wearing one of the faded pink dresses.
“We are going clothing shopping after school,” I announced.
I noticed Marnie wore the same skirt and shirt as the day before. She could use some new clothing, too.
“It’s not necessary,” Marnie said.
“It’s my pleasure. I don’t care if it’s necessary,” I said. I passed her the box of Cheerios.
Marnie just shrugged.
“Sabrina, would you like a new pair of fancy Shabbos shoes?” I leaned close to Sabrina.
Sabrina looked towards her sister, but Marnie was looking down in her cereal bowl.
“Will Marnie get new shoes, too?”
“I don’t need new shoes, Sabrina,” Marnie said.
“I don’t need new shoes,” Sabrina said.
I sat down to eat my cereal, wishing I had never asked Sabrina in front of Marnie.
Just then, the phone rang. “Hi, Libby, can I ask you a big favor?” Daniella’s favors usually revolved around babysitting.
“I have a big meeting in Arizona next week. Can Lauren stay with you guys for five days?”
I hesitated. Where would I put her. Well, it could be like a slumber party in the girls’ room. I realized with a start that Daniella knew nothing about our two new additions.
Should I tell her about our two new additions? Well, she would find out soon enough anyway. “Of course Lauren can come. It’s our pleasure.”
“Thank you. You are the best sister-in-law.” I was about to mention about the two roommates she would have, but Daniella was in a rush. “Thanks so much. Got to go. Love ya.”
A short while later, Daniella arrived with Lauren in tow. Sabrina and Marnie were in the bedroom, playing together.
“Hi, Lauren.” I bent down to kiss my niece’s head.
Lauren was dragging her little pink suitcase on wheels.
“She has to be in bed by seven. No candy. We had a cavity last week. Donald will pick her up to take her to school and he’ll bring her back in the afternoon. Oh, wait. What time do you get home from work?
“Can I call him when I’m home?”
“Okay, that would work. Thanks so much.”
She was heading towards the door to leave when Sabrina appeared in the room.
“Hi,” Sabrina said.
Daniella stared at her. “Who are you?”
“I’m Sabrina and my sister is Marnie. Who are you?”
“Neighbors?” Daniella asked me.
“We live here,” Sabrina said.
Daniella stared at me.
“Sabrina, this is my niece Lauren. Please take her to your room.”
Lauren happily followed her new playmate.
“What’s going on?” Daniella’s eyes were wide.
“Well, we took on two foster children. They’re sisters.” I motioned her to come into Avi’s office. I whispered. “We were originally trying to get a baby, but they had this cute four-year-old who needed a home. I found out when she came that she had a big sister, so––”
“You didn’t tell me.”
“Well, with Mom and Dad so upset with us, we didn’t want to add more upset to them.”
“Foster kids. Do these kids have issues?”
“Please whisper,” I said. “They’re nice girls. You could see how sweet Sabrina is.”
“How are you paying? I mean it’s expensive and Avi’s not working and––”
“The agency gives us money.” I didn’t like her way of questioning me like this.
“Is that why you––”
I felt anger rising inside, and I tried to hold back the reply I wanted to make. Of course we didn’t take them to make money.
“I have a job now Daniella. We wanted children.” I kept my voice even.
“Sorry. I’m just shocked.”
“Please, please, don’t say anything to Mom and Dad.”
“Okay, but you can’t hide children forever.”
She headed back towards the door. “Uh, are you sure that this isn’t too much with another child?”
I shook my head wondering if I was being a little too quick to take all this on. No, hopefully, the girls would get along. Lauren was already playing happily with Sabrina.
That night, I had the three girls seated at the table, waiting patiently for supper. I was boiling up noodles. Aliza told me you can never go wrong with noodles and cheese.
Marnie had cut up some tomatoes and cucumbers.
Avi was coming much later, so I would warm up a different supper for the two of us. He liked chicken and rice and a vegetable.
It was while they were eating that the phone rang. Marnie answered. “It’s for you.” She handed me the phone.
“Mrs. Perlman, this is Mrs. Kahn.”
Was she calling to see how it was going? “Hi. Baruch Hashem, everything is going well.”
“I’m glad. I just wanted to let you know that Mrs. Lerner will be calling the girls tomorrow before Shabbos.”
It took me a second to realize who Mrs. Lerner was. When I realized, I felt my stomach sink. She was Sabrina and Marnie’s mother. “Why is she calling?”
“Mrs. Perlman, she is their mother. She wants to speak with them. You must understand that.”
“Yes,” I tried to make my voice sound less upset. “Yes, of course. We will look forward to her call.” My hand was trembling as I hung up the phone.
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).