Idon’t remember falling asleep, though obviously I finally did. I’m awake now, more or less, but I feel totally exhausted. Sleeping is not restful when you’re haunted by crazy dreams. I don’t even remember what they were about.

The curtains are open. Morning sunshine is pouring into my room. What time is it? Abba knows I want to go to cheder today. Why didn’t he wake me in time?

I grab the negel vasser cup and slosh water over my hands. As I reach for the towel I accidentally kick the basin, creating a puddle on the floor. No one responds to my yelp as cold water sloshes over my foot. The house is really too quiet. Where is everybody?

I roll up my wet pajama leg before mopping up the spill and getting dressed. The clock on my desk shows 8:30. Okay, so I’ve missed Shacharis. Big deal, I’ll daven at home.

On my way down the hall I notice that Yael’s bed is made, her little pink Crocs lined up beside her fluffy fur slippers. I pass my parents’ empty room. At this hour Ima is usually davening in the living room. Nope, no one in there. Maybe this morning Yael’s therapy was early?

I continue to the kitchen. A covered pitcher of freshly squeezed orange juice and a container of homemade granola are on the kitchen table alongside two place settings set out for me and my father. No dirty dishes in the sink. That means that Ima planned to leave the house early. No reason to worry that something must have happened.

I wonder where she went. I don’t remember her mentioning any change in routine yesterday, but maybe she did and I wasn’t listening.

I make a mug of herbal tea, relaxing as I inhale the familiar aroma. It’s nearly nine. Abba will be here any minute for breakfast before he goes to kollel. I swallow the last of the tea and rinse out the cup.

My siddur is in my father’s study. It’s surprisingly easy to daven the morning tefillah with kavanah today. Strange how I never really noticed before how relevant the words are to things in real life.

When I reach Aleinu I hear the sound of my father’s key in the lock. We meet in the kitchen.

“Good morning, Meir. How’s my boy? Did you sleep well last night?”

“Baruch Hashem.” I avoid answering his question directly. “How are you today, Abba?”

I regret that I promised Shimmy I wouldn’t tell my father about the smugglers. It doesn’t feel right at all not to share the problem with my father.

Our morning conversation during breakfast rings hollow to me. “Where is Ima?” I ask, pouring milk on my granola.

“She had to take care of something.” That’s kind of a vague answer.

Is Abba looking at me funny, or is it my imagination? He seems to be studying my face, trying to read my thoughts. I shake my head to clear it. I don’t know why, but my conscience is pricking me as if I’ve done something wrong. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 712)