By Esther Rapaport
At the nurses’ station in Pediatrics, there wasn’t a moment of quiet. Doctors passed by, giving instructions and comments; parents or children came and asked for things. “And here comes Rachel to cheer us up. How are you, sweetie?” Olga asked as the girl approached.
“Rachel?!” Elsie, bent over a drawer, stood up, eyebrows raised. It was one thing when Rachel came for Shabbos when she wasn’t supposed to, but when she suddenly appeared the following Wednesday, unannounced…
“I had a fight with Ilana, and I really just had enough of it,” the girl said placidly, putting down her backpack under the desk. “So I decided to take a vacation for a week or two.”
“Really. A girl in ninth grade can’t just decide to take a vacation in the middle of the year like that!”
“Sometimes she can,” Rachel said. “How can I help you, Elsie? Do you think they need me in the kitchen?”
“If you would know how to get along with your friends the way you know how to avoid talking about things you don’t want to, it would be wonderful. The kitchen is locked now, but it won’t do any harm to make some order over here. This backpack, for example, does not belong here.”
“Fine, I’ll take it away. What else? Should I make you some tea?”
“It would be good if you’d sort the mess in these drawers a bit. Don’t throw any papers out, even if something looks old or not important.”
“Okay. Hey, what are those earrings?”
“You can close that drawer; it’s the lost and found.”
“But I know whose they are! They belong to that Struk lady, Dovi’s mother!” Rachel slammed the drawer closed with sparkling eyes. “We have to tell her they are here. Do you let me call her?”
The call caught Chaiky just as she was braiding an excited Naomi’s hair. “Naomi, this is the last time,” she told the wriggling little girl. She undid the braid. “Do you want a braid for the siyum? If yes, please stand still. You don’t want a crooked braid, do you?”
“No way!” Naomi shook her head. She was beyond thrilled. Savta Brodsky had come all the way from Be’er Sheva to Yokne’am for this siyum, and Bubby Struk had called to say that she was leaving in ten minutes, and that Dovi had already arrived at her house and was playing with the twins, and that everything was fine.
“She’s calling again!” Naomi exulted. “Maybe she wants to come now already, Ima! Could it be that grandmothers also don’t have patience?”
Mira Brodsky, sitting on the couch, smiled at Chaiky, who reciprocated with a smile of her own. Due to the circumstances, her mother had offered to make the long trip in for Naomi’s siyum, and Chaiky was happy for her daughter—and for herself. They could all use the boost.
Esther Rapaport is a prolific author whose novels include Diamond in the Rough, Divided Attention, Behind the Scenes, Without a Trace, Dance of the Puppet, Blood Brothers, and The Kenya Conspiracy. She resides in Israel.