Recap: Marnie and Sabrina’s mother comes for a visit, but Marnie won’t talk to her, while Sabrina is upset because her mother has to leave at the end of the visit.
Just then, the phone rang. Aliza was on the phone. “Libby, Basi has a high school interview set for after Pesach. We’re thinking of bringing the whole family for a little Florida vacation. My sister in South Beach can put us up. So, Libby, we’ll be able to get together.”
Amazing how one phone call can send your heart from the lowest to the highest in just one minute.
Pesach flew by and, before I knew it, Aliza and Basi were on their way to Miami.
Sabrina and Marnie helped me clean up the apartment. “My best friend is coming,” I said.
“How did you meet her?” Marnie asked.
“I grew up in Maine and Aliza is the Chabad rebbetzin there. She came into my grandmother’s souvenir shop, and we just clicked. She’s so special. She is the one who taught me about Shabbos. It’s because of her that I became frum.”
“You weren’t always frum?” Marnie asked.
I shook my head. “Avi also wasn’t brought up frum. That’s why Lauren – you know, his sister’s daughter – doesn’t know that much yet.”
“She’s so into it though,” Marnie said.
Sabrina was watching by the window. “A car just pulled up. A woman and a girl got out. Is it them?”
I rushed to the window. “Yes, they’re here.”
All three of us ran out the door and down the steps to greet my friend.
Aliza and I hugged and hugged.
“Now who are these lovely ladies?” Aliza asked.
“This is Sabrina, and this is Marnie.”
“Hi, I’m Basi.” Basi smiled at the girls. “I heard you like to read,” she spoke to Marnie. “Who’s your favorite author?”
Soon, Basi and Marnie were strolling back inside, deep in conversation. Aliza bent down and spoke to Sabrina. “I heard so much about you, Sabrina. Is it true your birthday is next week?”
“How did you know?”
“Tante told me. And I brought you a present.”
Aliza pulled a wrapped box from the big carpet bag she had.
“Let’s go inside and you can open it,” I said.
Inside, Sabrina tore open the paper. There was a sketch pad and markers. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Draw us some pictures, please.”
Sabrina sat down to begin drawing.
“That was so thoughtful.”
“Let’s have tea and catch up,” I said.
We sat down, and it was how it always was when I saw Aliza. It was like we’d never been apart, though it had been two years since we last saw each other.
“How is it being a kollel wife?”
“Baruch Hashem, Avi is so happy. The hard part is his parents. We haven’t spoken since Avi told them. That was before Pesach.”
I handed Aliza a cup of hot water. I brought in the tea selector. She chose peppermint.
“That’s a long time. I’m sorry. That must be hard for both of you.”
“I really think things will get better. You just have to hang in there. They’ll come around.”
“I hope so.”
“I’m davening for you.”
We spoke about the girls, and I told her about the disastrous visit with their mother.
“I feel bad for their mom,” Aliza said.
“The worst part is that she’s going to take them back in the fall. That’s what the agency told me.”
“That will be hard. You must enjoy them while they’re here and not worry about the future.”
When Aliza said it, I could absorb it. She just knew how to comfort me.
“How’s the flying school?”
“Fine. And teaching is getting a bit better. It’s a gorgeous day. When is your interview?”
“So, let’s take everyone to the park. I can pack us a picnic lunch.”
The palm trees glistened in the sunlight. Marnie and Basi strolled ahead, and Sabrina held my hand as I walked beside Aliza. The sun warmed our faces. We entered the park and Sabrina headed to the slide. Marnie and Basi sat on a bench. They each had a book and they looked like they’d been friends forever.
“I can’t believe Basi is up to high school already,” I said.
“I know. It’s so fast. I’ll miss her if she ends up going here in Florida.”
“Can’t you all move here?”
“I don’t think so.”
Sabrina fell and I ran over to tend to her.
I glimpsed two men passing by where Aliza was seated.
I hugged Sabrina and took her over to the swings. Aliza joined me.
I pushed Sabrina until she was pumping on her own and then I headed back to the bench. I glimpsed the two men seated on a far bench. There was something familiar about them. One of them glanced up and our eyes met. I realized that he was the man with the mustache I’d dealt with at the flight school.
I went back to Aliza. She was staring thoughtfully in the direction of the two men.
“Libby,” she whispered. “Let’s go back.”
She whispered in my ear. “Don’t look towards the back bench but those two men. I overheard them speaking.”
We told the girls we had to head back. Sabrina didn’t want to leave but we managed to bribe her with a promise of baking cookies, and we headed back to the apartment.
Once we were settled inside and Sabrina was busy stirring the cookie recipe with Basi and Marnie supervising, Aliza and I went into Avi’s office to talk.
“What is it? What did you hear?”
“Libby, those men were talking about a plan to––” She took a deep breath. “…to attack our country.”
“I think we should call the Police.”
I pulled out the card I had from the FBI agent. I can do that. “I even recognized one of them. He was signed up for flight lessons at the flight school where I work.”
I called the agent and Aliza got on the phone and told him what she heard.
“It’s not anything we can prosecute or arrest them for, but we can take a ride over to the park and see what’s doing with these people.”
Aliza put me back on the phone.
“Did they see you?” he asked.
There was a beat as I recalled the second that my eyes met the man with the mustache.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“Not good,” the agent whistled. “Not good…”
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of the newly released historical fiction novel, Flight of the Doves (Menucha Publishers, 2023), Please Be Polite (Menucha Publishers, 2022), A Bridge in Time (Menucha Publishers, 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).