Recap: Devori starts classes in her new school. The English teacher seems to not like her and singles her out for a very challenging assignment. When her father calls to see how everything is going, she notices a lot of static on the line and asks where he is. He says he’s out of the country, and he hangs up before she can find out anything else. Later, when she heads with her friends to the Kosel, to her horror, she spots someone wearing a blue-threaded bracelet.
My heart began to pump furiously in my chest. “Vera, I’m not sure it’s safe,” I began.
“No worries,” she interrupted as she skipped ahead. “Security is good here.”
There were a ton of people in back of me, and I’d already passed through into the Plaza. I looked all around. There was no sign of the man I’d seen at the conveyor belt.
A woman approached and asked me in Hebrew for money. I handed her some shekalim. There was a surge of people near the front of the Kosel; I tried to weave my way through the crowd. As I neared the front of the women’s section, I just stood still and stared at the Kosel. I found a spot and edged close to the Wall. I pulled out a note I’d brought along and slid it into a crevice. Then I took out my pocket siddur and began davening. I had so many things to daven for. First, I asked Hashem to please protect me and everyone here from that man with the blue-threaded bracelet. Then I davened, pouring out my heart to Hashem. I thanked Him for bringing me here to this holy place and for my new friends. I thanked Him for protecting me against the man on the plane. And I begged Hashem for the one thing I hoped for most.
A while later, Vera tapped me on the shoulder. We both backed away, facing the Kosel. I kept looking around and I was relieved that there was no more sign of that man I’d seen earlier.
I looked all around. There was no sign of the man
I’d seen at the conveyor belt
Vera gave me a short tour of some of the stores and places in the Old City. There was a certain scent here like ancient spices and silks, mingled with falafel and humus and coffee. I admired the bright-colored scarves and tichels on display.
“Over there are the tunnels. We usually go with the school on the Tunnel Tour. You’ll love it.”
“I really want to go,” I said. Part of me didn’t, though, because I hate enclosed places. I didn’t tell that to her. I thought back to when I discovered my fear of enclosed spots. It was when I was like seven or eight, and a few neighborhood kids convinced me to play hide and seek. For fun, they told me to hide in a closet in my neighbor’s house. The closet was in a dark basement. I still shivered thinking of it. I sat there cramped up for a while. No one came to look for me. After a while I decided to leave. The door was jammed, and I couldn’t get out. I still remembered that panicky feeling. I don’t know how long I was in there, but I remember screaming hysterically until someone finally let me out.
That was the beginning of my fear of enclosed spots.
We headed towards the bus stop. Our shoes clicked on the stone-paved road. I stared up at the sky. It was sprinkled with stars. Yerushalayim was truly magnificent. I wished that my parents were here with me. It would be special to experience this together.
As if reading my mind, Vera asked, “Is anyone coming to visit you this year in Israel?”
I shook my head.
She hooked her arm around mine. “You’ll come to my family for the Yamim Tovim.”
I felt a warm feeling inside. I thanked Hashem for my new friend, Vera.
… At an unearthly hour, I sat struggling with the Hebrew version of The Count of Monte Cristo. I had to look up almost every other word. While reading and looking up words in my Hebrew-English dictionary, I consumed two whole bags of Bamba.
Vera was sitting at her little desk by the window, doing her math homework.
As I struggled through yet another impossible paragraph, I thought back over the events of the day. Did I really see the blue-threaded bracelet? Maybe it was just something similar and I was being too panicky. Should I call my father’s friend Nat? I thought about it. I decided not to.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of 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 various magazines including A Bridge in Time – historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). She writes for the community column for the Queens Jewish Link and she writes the Queens page for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivos and she teaches creative writing to students of all ages.